Friday, February 27, 2009
The Climax of the Reformation
In 1977 I wrote an article bearing the title, the Climax of the Reformation, for the Link, the newsletter of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association. In that work I set forth what was accomplished that indicated the Reformation had reached a point where it moved from being a Gospel recovery operation (in which the medieval mind-set was still present - meaning the parties in it persecuted others who disagreed with them) to becoming an outgoing, creative effort). Among the things accomplished was religious liberty (adopted from one of the minor groups in the Reformation - the Baptists who first put it into law in Rhode Island), the great missionary movement (the attempt to win the world by simple persuasion in preaching and not by force), the uniting of Separate and Regular Baptists in 1787 which produced the United Baptists with the result that 50 yrs. later a church was organized in MO bearing in its name the term United, and the writer of this blog would pastor that church in the 1960s for a brief period, the founding of educational institutions (Brown, Furman, et.al.), persuading of 255 Congregational Churches to become Baptists (God must have done that as the Baptists were always squabbling (the ferment that leavens the whole loaf), helping to found the freest nation on earth, beginnings of agitation against slavery (the Friends of Humanity Baptists in VA and KY), using educated and uneducated minsters in the Lord's service, and more. The theology of this period was calvinism or Sovereign Grace (the term I prefer due to Calvin's persecution of people who did not agree with him). Such a theology then involved Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption is th preferred term), Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. Predestination and Reprobation are also included. Dr. John D. Eusden in his introduction to his translation of William Ames' Marrow of Divinity put it well, "Predestination is an invitation to begin one's spiritual pilgrimage." Every one of the above teachings constitute an invitation. Our Lord preached particular redemption and unconditional elction to the syrophonecian woman, when He said, "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." she was not a Jew, but she treated His teaching as an invitation to worship. She fell down before Him (Mt.15:21-28) It was this theology with the heavenly presence that explains the First and Second Great Awakenings; it is this theology and the heavenly presence that will lead us to the Third Great Awakening, the one in which the whole world is won to Christ by persuasion - not manipulation or force. My prayer is God speed the day. For 36 yrs. I have been praying for such a visitation. Others have prayed even longer. I invite, encourage, and press the reader to join in such prayerful effort on a daily basis, interceding for the whole world and that day, when God shall take it with His truth for the glory of His Son.