Nathan A. Finn

Historian, Theologian, Teacher, Preacher

Monthly Archive: November 2010

Sunday

28

November 2010

5

COMMENTS

All I Have is Christ

Written by , Posted in Ministry, Theology

I’m not easily impressed by new hymns and praise choruses. It’s not that I’m opposed to new music–not in the least. In fact, my iPod is filled with recent worship music. But when it comes to what we actually sing in corporate worship, I have a general preference for the tried-and-true, those songs that have been sung by more than one generation in more than one culture.

That said, I’ve recently had several occasions to sing a relatively new song by Jordan Kauflin titled “All I Have is Christ.” I first heard it a month ago while I was visiting a church in another state. A week later, our worship pastor Eric Campbell introduced the hymn to our congregation, the First Baptist Church of Durham. We sang it again this morning. I haven’t been this moved by a song in years.

“All I Have is Christ” is a hymn that is both musically beautiful and theologically substantive–a combination that is not as common in modern worship songs as one would hope. It is a personal meditation on the gospel, the announcement of all that God has done on behalf of sinners like me in the perfect life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

You can read the lyrics to “All I Have is Christ” below. You should also take a few minutes and watch the video I’ve embedded below.

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI), by Jordan Kauflin

Saturday

27

November 2010

0

COMMENTS

On Baptist Resolutions

Written by , Posted in History, Ministry, SBC

Dave Miller and I have been debating the relative merits of resolutions over at SBC Voices. Our conversation started in the comments stream of an unrelated post before evolving into two different articles. Dave, who is moderately anti-resolution, fired the initial salvo with his “Be It Resolved: Resolutions Are a Waste of Time! Or Are They?” I responded with a post titled “Resolved: The Case for Resolutions“; I’m very much in favor of resolutions, though I agree that aspects of our resolving can be quite irritating. I appreciate Dave giving me the opportunity to weigh in on this topic at SBC Voices.

I leave you with my favorite resolution, adopted in 1886:

RESOLVED, That we render thanks to our Lord for the harmony, enthusiasm and brotherly love that have characterized the proceedings of the session of this Convention.

Apparently, it is possible to both adopt a succinct resolution and to enjoy “harmony, enthusiasm and brother love” at an annual meeting of the SBC. See what you can learn from studying Baptist history?

Wednesday

24

November 2010

0

COMMENTS

Tullian Tchividjian on the Law and the Gospel

Written by , Posted in Books, Theology

Back in the spring, Justin Taylor conducted an interview with Tullian Tchividjian on the relationship between law and gospel. The interview was released in conjunction with Tullian’s recent book Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (Crossway, 2010). Recently, Tullian has reprinted the interview on his personal blog. I’d highly recommend the interview as a thoughtful and helpful introduction to this important topic. If you’re looking for a good book, in addition to Surprised by Grace, I’d recommend Michael Horton’s excellent The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World (Baker, 2009).

Tuesday

23

November 2010

1

COMMENTS

Southern Baptist History: A Great Commission Reading

Written by , Posted in Books, Missions, SBC, Theology

This summer, B&H Academic published an important book titled Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Time, edited by Chuck Lawless and Adam Greenway. I contributed an essay to that volume titled “Southern Baptist History: A Great Commission Reading.” What follows is the introduction and conclusion of that essay. I hope if you haven’t done so already, you’ll pick up the book over the holiday season, read the whole essay, and read the other excellent chapters in this helpful book.

Southern Baptists have always been a Great Commission people. The Southern Baptist Convention is comprised of almost 45,000 local churches that voluntarily cooperate in numerous Great Commission endeavors. We are served by two mission boards that appoint, equip, and fund Southern Baptist missionaries who are preaching the gospel and planting churches in unevangelized regions of North America and every corner of the globe. Our six seminaries train present and future pastors, missionaries, and other Christian leaders to model a missional lifestyle in whatever ministry context they find themselves. LifeWay Christian Resources publishes materials that aid Southern Baptists and other Christians in missional living. Our Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission defends the freedom of all to preach the gospel and advocates gospel-centered values in our pluralistic culture. Even our annuity ministry, Guidestone Financial Resources, cares for the financial needs of pastors, missionaries, and denominational servants who seek to lead Southern Baptists in being a Great Commission people. The Great Commission has been Southern Baptists’ raison d’être from the very beginning.

From time to time controversies have threatened our Great Commission priorities. This remains true today. This chapter offers a “Great Commission reading” of Southern Baptist history by articulating some historical and present threats to our Great Commission cooperation. It also contends that the time has come for our churches and denomination to move beyond hindrances to our cooperation and renew our commitment to the Great Commission.

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This chapter has argued that the Great Commission has always been central to our convention of local churches. Despite our shared missional priorities, there have often been threats to our corporate pursuit of the Great Commission. This was true with the antimission movement of the mid-19th century and the programmatic and progressive status quo of the mid-20th century. It remains true for the contemporary convention as the varieties of Southern Baptist conservatism attempt to live together peacefully and cooperate together faithfully.

As this chapter comes to a conclusion, it bears repeating once again that Southern Baptists must not confuse the ends with the means. If we are content with simply having theological conservatives leading our various ministries, then the Conservative Resurgence was only a half-victory. As Timothy George has quipped on a number of occasions, the mere replacement of one set of bureaucrats with another doth not a reformation make.[1] The Conservative Resurgence must result in a renewed zeal for the Great Commission. This is why so many Southern Baptists have called for a “Great Commission Resurgence” in recent years.[2]

The use of the word resurgence is deliberate. Just as our commitment to conservative theology was interrupted during the generation prior to the Conservative Resurgence, our commitment to the primacy of missions and evangelism was interrupted during and after the Conservative Resurgence, at least in practice.[3] There were important battles being fought within our denomination, battles that conservatives rightly believed would ultimately lead to theological renewal. With the success of the Conservative Resurgence, that theological renewal is underway.

The time has come for a missional renewal that flows from our doctrinal convictions. Zeal for the Great Commission needs to be restored to its place of prominence in Southern Baptist life, not just in theory and rhetoric, but in practice. Although work still needs to be done to bring about further theological renewal in the convention, we cannot lose sight of the “one sacred effort” that has united us since our earliest days. The interruption is over. The distractions must be set aside. God is at work reconciling the world unto himself, and Southern Baptists need to get serious again about making ourselves available to the Lord to use in his great work of bringing salvation to people all over North American and in every corner of the earth. Theology and missions go hand in hand. One without the other is an incomplete agenda. One without the other is destined to fall short of what our Lord intends.

 


[1] For example, see Timothy George, “Toward an Evangelical Future,” in Southern Baptists Observed: Multiple Perspectives on a Changing Denomination, ed. Nancy Tatom Ammerman (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993), 277.

[2] In addition to this volume, see Daniel L. Akin, “Answering the Call to a Great Commission Resurgence,” in Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialog, 247–60; Idem, Axioms of a Great Commission Resurgence (Wake Forest: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009); “SBC President’s Declaration Calls for a Great Commission Resurgence,” Baptist Press (April 28, 2009), available online at http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=30387 (accessed July 6, 2009); Thom Rainer, “A Personal Great Commission Resurgence,” in Florida Baptist Witness (June 30, 2009), available online at http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/10439.article (accessed July 6, 2009).

[3] See Rainer, “A Resurgence Not Yet Realized.”

Monday

22

November 2010

5

COMMENTS

On Landmarkism: Some Book Recommendations

Written by , Posted in Books, History, SBC, Theology

November 19 witnessed the passing of Morgan Patterson, a longtime church historian and Baptist higher education administrator. You can read about Patterson’s life and contributions in his obituary in Associated Baptist Press.

Though he served as a seminary academic dean  and college president, Patterson is perhaps best known among scholars of Baptist Studies for his critique of Landmarkism. Though now regrettably out of print, Patterson’s short book Baptist Successionism: A Critical View (Judson, 1969) was for a generation the best succinct criticism of Landmark historiography. In recent years, Patterson’s work has been surpassed by James McGoldrick’s Baptist Successionism: A Crucial Question in Baptist History (Scarecrow, 1994). If you are interested in learning more about the theological principles that undergird Landmarkism, I’d recommend former SEBTS professor James Tull’s High Church Baptists in the South: The Origin, Nature, and Influence of Landmarkism, 2nd ed. (Mercer University Press, 2000).

For those interested in reading more about a key Landmark pastor-theologian, be sure to check out Thomas White’s SEBTS dissertation, titled “James Madison Pendleton and His Contribution to Baptist Ecclesiology,” which has been published in the first volume of The Selected Writings of James Madison Pendleton (Baptist Standard Bearer, 2006). White is the editor of this important three-volume work. Also, be on the lookout for James Patterson’s forthcoming biography of the important Landmark leader J. R. Graves, which Lord-willing will be published by B&H Academic in the next year or so.