Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I'm Not Reformed: Why Not?

During one of James White's videos, he called me reformed, among many, many other careless or purposeful errors.  I said I wasn't. Then he came back in another video to "correct" it by saying he was relieved I wasn't.  OK.  So I'm not reformed or restless or unfortunately young.  Why not?  This will be short, because I want to give you less than the cliffs notes.

One, I'm Baptist.  That might rile reformed Baptists, but Baptist history is not reformed.  We never needed reformation.  I don't trace my history through the reformation.  Our doctrine was never lost.  I don't believe in that.  True churches have always been around since Christ and those are my forefathers.

Two, I take a literal interpretation of scripture, that is, I believe in premillennialism and I guess I should just say that I'm dispensationalist, which is nothing more than a structuring of what already existed, the literal interpretation of scripture.  These first two relate.  If you are Baptist, you predate the allegorical interpretation that characterized the state church or Roman Catholicism, which is also amillennialism.  I'm not going to go further here, even though I'd like to.

Three, I don't think that doctrines were lost to be found.  They weren't altogether perverted to be reformed or regained.  I'm less than reformed in that my doctrine isn't reformed, but I'm also saying that I'm more than the reformed, because my ecclesiology and eschatology are literal and historical, true to the Word of God.  I take the prophetic passages grammatically and historically.  I am not state church or never have been.

Four, I don't believe the truth was preserved in Roman Catholicism.

There it is in four reasons.  I could give more, but this really does cover it.  Now I'm teaching Hebrews in eight minutes.


Farmer Brown said...

This reverence for the so called reformers is really odd. I grew up learning from BJU press and Abeka, two systems that revere the reformers. It is odd, like a national case of cognitive dissonance.

These men were not good men. They were war profiteers, murderers, jew haters, baby sprinklers, and Christ deniers in words or actions. We would certainly have no fellowship with these men if they were alive now, and probably would be in fear of our lives if we lived in their countries.

David Cloud has done some good work on this. He has a couple books about it. Ken Brooks also wrote a book called "Why Cumbereth it the Ground" where much of this is addressed.

This information is all widely available, and yet people still take these lands ideas doctrines and names. It is hard to understand.

Colin Maxwell said...

Farmer Brown, I would take David Cloud's comments with a veritable pinch of salt. His website is peppered with positive references to Protestants. See, for example, his page on the various Bible commentaries available. Fair enough, there is some kind of a token warning sign, but he must know that he is basically endorsing their works. Even Brother KH's site here has enough positive references to those whom you brand as Christ deniers. John Owen seems to be a favourite and other Puritans. Many of the old Baptists on both sides of the Atlantic seemed quite happy to take the term Protestant and were referred to by Baptist historians in that light.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I might write about my relationship to the reformers some time, sort of put it all together. This was a very short post to say why I don't consider myself to be reformed. The idea that Baptists were Protestant was not believed by Baptists, it seems to me, until Whitsitt did his work based on a particular view of history. He lost his job at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary because of it, and much was written in reaction to it. I have written about this some here. Baptists didn't disagree with everything anyone else was writing. They wrote mainly where they disagreed, or at least we possess what they wrote about that. I believe John Owen represents historic doctrine and where I agree, I agree. Where I don't agree, I don't, but I'm not motivated to write about where he and I disagree. I'm happy to point out all the areas I agree with him. Especially when it comes to sanctification and preservation and certain doctrines, I like to show that we do agree and I believe Baptists also would have agreed then.

Colin Maxwell said...

Thanks Kent for your reply.

There are several documents available from Baptists long before Whitsitt ever appeared identifying themselves as Baptist. One example here are the framers of the 1689 Baptist Conefession: Another are some of the early NC Baptists:

Farmer Brown said...

I have corresponded with David Cloud on the matter of the reformers because of a statement he made in an article about Martin Luther. He said, "Whatever doctrinal differences a Baptist would have with Martin Luther...we share the same God, but that is often not true for Contemporary Christian Worship."

I challenged that and he responded, "I didn't say that Luther was saved. I have warned loudly and often about the errors of the Protestant leaders and their murderous persecution of Baptists. I think my statement was clear in the context, that those men were writing about and teaching about the same God as we do as opposed to the CCM crowd."

His response was accurate in that he was not saying Luther was a believer. He may be parsing it too finely, I would object that Luther knew of my God. He followed that with the single largest email I have ever received, 13,173 words detailing the murderous intentions and actions of men like Calvin. I think it was the text of one of his books.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm pretty sure that I didn't write what I was thinking, out of hurry. There are Protestant Baptists for sure, men who believe they are Baptists that started out of the reformation, but it wasn't until Whitsitt that someone wrote a paper that said they were only reformed, all Baptists are reformed as a matter of, you're wrong if you don't think that. I'll look at your links.

Farmer Brown,

Thomas Ross has written a ton on this blog and then over at his on the condition of Martin Luther, etc.

Colin Maxwell said...

Thank you both Farmer Brown and Kent for taking the time to answer my questions here.

FB: Would you advocating then separating from those (past or present) who saw Luther and Calvin as great Christian leaders? I am thinking of men like AW Tozer, HA Ironside, CH Spurgeon, John R Rice etc., who are on record as appreciating these Reformers. For example, AW Tozer used Luther's Reformation as an example of "NT Christianity" and a result of the "operation of the Holy Spirit" (quoted from the "Price of Neglect" p84)

Kent: There are several occasions (that I know of and have documented on my blog) where the Baptists concerned saw themselves as "Protestant Dissenters" CH Spurgeon is on record as saying: "I trust I am as ardent a Protestant as any man living...

Again, thank you for your engagement here.

Farmer Brown said...

I do question the relationship with these men. Not the reformers, but the men who have written so many books that we use and appreciate. We would not have fellowship with many of these men.

For example, John William Burgon was a tremendous defender of scripture and warrior against modernism, but he was an Anglican. Those who believe as we believe, in his day, would not have had fellowship with him. I am fine with that. He is not my pastor, he is a writer who did some excellent work.

What about the modern writers and theologians who are in other camps but do good work on a variety of issues? Can we use their material without endorsing them?

I appreciated "God's Word the Final Word on Worship and Music" by Dean Kurtz. I am certain I would not go to his church because of the position on preservation, but his book on music has been helpful.

So what does that all mean? Is it hypocritical to use his book while not having fellowship? Am I a co-laborer if I use something he wrote when I teach on music? I am not 100% on what is proper in that situation.

Farmer Brown said...

Colin, I posted that last comment before I saw your comment. I cannot comment on all the men you cited, but the pastor I grew up under was pointing out the error of John R Rice in early 1979. Probably earlier, but that was the earliest I have heard.

I remember what it was that stirred him up. It was an ad that Rice put in some magazine or paper, probably SOTL. It contained a Hyles-esque gospel message (Do you want to go to heaven?!) and had a tear out attached. If you answered yes, you were to ask the Lord to save you, tear out that card, and mail it in. Then you had assurance of eternal life. The card was like an altar call.

When he saw that, he brought it into church the next Sunday and preached against it. He marked Rice and said he was to be avoid.

I do not believe because someone is a GMOG (Great Man of God) he should have different rules of separation and loyalty. That goes for Rice, Spurgeon, and the whole crew. Those men are all dead now, but the one who was alive when I was alive was marked and avoided, along with his doctrine and followers, by my pastor.

Colin Maxwell said...

Farmer Brown,

I was referring to your hardcore stuff earlier when you branded the Reformers as Christ deniers and claimed Luther worshipped another god. This is a millon miles away from not liking So and So because he uses the NIV or b/c his musical standards aren't quite yours. Should we put (say) AW Tozer on the same level as Luther because he (AWT) claimed that Luther's Reformation was a move of the Holy Spirit and was New Testament Christianity? Like JOHN Rice who claimed that God raised up Luther and Calvin? If I or Kent said that we believed that Joseph Smith or Charles T Russel was raised of God and practiced NT Christianity, then would you apply a different standard to us instead of AWT or JRR?

Colin Maxwell said...

FB: Just seeing your last reply now. So basically, just to be clear on this: You are saying that we should avoid Spurgeon whose influence is still wide among us through his sermons etc.?

I appreciate you replying to my questions here and to Kent for facilitating this discussion on his site.

Farmer Brown said...

I gave an example regarding a book on music of how a man with whom I would not have fellowship has benefited me. Although I am not personally interested in Spurgeon, I suspect others could use some of what he teaches the same way.

Were he alive, I am certain we would have no fellowship with him or his followers. He denied a literal creation and instead believed in an evolutionary process. Would you fellowship with a man who taught deistic evolution? Would you let him preach in your church?

Regarding Luther and Calvin, I do not think it is hardcore to say that men who believed in baptismal regeneration and the murder of believers who refused to submit to infant baptism served another god. They served a god who sanctions the murder of those who will not become part of the church\state machine, and who needed men's works to complete the process of regeneration.

Adding baptism to repent and believe denies the finished work of Christ. Hence "Christ deniers". That is not the God I serve.

Colin Maxwell said...

So, FB, who do you actually fellowship with, as opposed to getting )a bit of help from their books? And if they in turn stood by the Reformers and spoke of Luther and Calvin (again to quote Rice and reference Tozer and if I had the time, I suppose, a whole lot more) as men raised of God and examples of NT Christianity, then would you deny that their god was your god? if I stated that I believed in the god of CT Russell or Joeseph Smith, then you would say 9would you not) that my god was not your god? Was the God/god of Spurgeon, Tozer and Rice etc., your God/god too?

Kent: I came across a couple of days ago, another case of ancient American Baptists who "stiled [sic] themseves as "Protestant Dissenters":


James Bronsveld said...

Farmer Brown wrote, "So what does that all mean? Is it hypocritical to use his book while not having fellowship? Am I a co-laborer if I use something he wrote when I teach on music? I am not 100% on what is proper in that situation."

One Scriptural precedent for consideration in this matter could include an example such as Jesus commending the Pharisees for their tithing and recognizing they sat in Moses' seat, while condemning them for their omission of the weightier matters of the law, calling them children of Hell, and repeatedly pointing out their self-righteous hypocrisy. These men were certainly Christ-deniers, yet there were aspects of obedience manifest in their lives (e.g. tithing) even if the motivation was wrong (unto salvation).

Another example could be Paul's quoting of Epimenides in Titus 1, or his quoting of Aratus (possibly) in Acts 17. That there was truth in their statements doesn't suggest he was sitting at their feet in acceptance of all their doctrine, nor does it suggest that were they alive at his time, he would have accepted them to travel with him and preach their false gospels.

I would say that in citing the reformers, it's imperative to understand the theological underpinnings of their writings and weigh their overall usefulness. For example, I am more willing to sift through something written by John Owen than I would be for men like the Wesleys, with their baptismal regeneration, Christian perfectionism, and uniformitarianism. Even with Owen, though, there are areas of subject matter as a whole that I would have to reject. I'd apply the same to a Baptist like John Gill with his hyper-calvinism, universal church theology, and amillenialism.

Along the same lines, Farmer Brown (out of curiosity), where do you draw the line in choice of hymns to be sung in private and corporate worship? Would you weigh the value of each hymn/song by the theological content of the song absent the consideration of the theological positions of the writer, or would you consider both? I ask, because your expressed reflections here are not unlike concerns I've had myself, especially in the more recently ecumenical nature of hymnbooks (recent, meaning mid-19th century til now). I have digital copies of old hymnbooks (including one by J.R. Graves) that are far more Baptist than most books used in independent Baptist churches today (for example, how many popular books in use actually have songs speaking specifically to Scriptural immersion?).

Farmer Brown said...

Kent, I think this is totally derailed from your original point. I appreciate the forbearance.

James Bronsveld, good point about Paul and his references, and Jesus and the Pharisees. That is what I have thought, although with the Pharisees, I believe he was addressing them, not citing them. I could be wrong on that though. I also agree with what you say about Owens, Wesley, and Gill.

Regarding the hymns, I am less concerned about the authors. We use Trinity Hymnal, Baptist Edition (Thanks TDR!). The authors of the hymns we sing are all long dead and are generally anonymous to us. For that reason, the authors are not terribly relevant to the choice of hymns.

I am concerned about the words of the Hymns. We try to avoid hymns that espouse amillennialism, universal church, or other bad doctrines.

Right now, my principle with this is to not do things that cause confusion. An example of that would be citing Spurgeon vs citing MacArthur. Spurgeon is long since dead and his influence is primarily academic, but MacArthur is still very influential and his positions on many subjects are broadly known, including the positions with which we would not be in agreement. MacArthur has many good things to say, but using him would be confusing when we also have to actively refute some of what he is currently saying.

This is the same reason we would sing a Fanny Crosby Hymn, but not something by Stuart Townsend. The words in "How Deep the Father's Love" are tremendous.

"Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;"

That is very humble and penitent. However, he is currently known for his bad doctrine, practices, and associations. Fanny Crosby had her problems, but she is not known for them. Singing her hymns has little chance of causing confusion. Perhaps in 100 years God fearing churches will be able to sing "How Deep the Father's Love" and cite MacArthur along with Crosby and Spurgeon because the baggage is gone and the authors are just a footnote in history.

Those are my current thoughts. My position is neither bulletproof nor inflexible. No doubt it will grow as I grow.

James Bronsveld said...

Farmer Brown, I'd agree with your reasoning in areas related to music selection in which the content may be acceptable while the associations not. Regarding the Pharisees, I'd point out that the Mat. 23:2-3 reference was not addressed to the Pharisees, but was a command by Jesus to the people to to receive teaching ("observe and do") inasmuch as it corresponded with Biblical teaching.

Colin, looking back over the post and original comment, there is an obvious difference between reverencing or highly regarding the reformers and occasionally citing them in agreement. Bro. Brandenburg's declaration that Baptists are not Protestants is not negated by examples of Baptists who identified with Protestantism after mainstream Christendom returned to an acceptance of a number of evangelical doctrines following the reformation. That is to say, although there have been prominent post-Reformation Baptists who have identified themselves with the Protestant movement, they cannot be said to hold a historical position. Baptist doctrine pre-dates the Reformation, so those doctrines which were returned to popularity at the Reformation cannot truly said to be recovered by those who held them prior to their return to popularity. I believe there are several posts here related to the idea of English Separatism and its incongruity with the distinctive doctrines held by Baptists historically. Baptists who pre-dated the Reformation could not call themselves Protestants because the Protest had not yet begun with the Catholic organization. I suppose it was easier at times for some post-reformation Baptists to identify themselves as Protestants (in contrast to Catholics) just as some 21st-century Baptists still call themselves Fundamentalists, despite the fact that true fundamentalism means that baptism (and Bible versions) is relegated to a non-essential doctrine. In some senses, it's actually confusing when those associations are made.

Additionally, there was not a complete acceptance of Protestantism amongst Baptists following the Reformation. Note the Schleitheim Confession of 1527 (ten years after the 95 theses):

From this we should learn that everything which is not united with our God and Christ cannot be other than an abomination which we should shun and flee from. By this is meant all Catholic and Protestant works and church services, meetings and church attendance, drinking houses, civic affairs, the oaths sworn in unbelief and other things of that kind, which are highly regarded by the world and yet are carried on in flat contradiction to the command of God, in accordance with all the unrighteousness which is in the world. From all these things we shall be separated and have no part with them for they are nothing but an abomination, and they are the cause of our being hated before our Christ Jesus, Who has set us free from the slavery of the flesh and fitted us for the service of God through the Spirit Whom He has given us. [Emphasis Mine]

The Protestant Reformation was no more the cause of Baptist doctrine than John Darby was the creator of premillennialism. In both cases, certain aspects of historically held doctrine was popularized in the mainstream, but that is hardly evidence of the introduction of new doctrine, which would technically be the case if Baptists are to be called Protestant, notwithstanding the willingness of some to take on that label in the past.

James Bronsveld said...
This comment has been removed by the author.