Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wayland on Baptism and the Lord's Supper

Wayland explains why Baptists practice "restricted communion," not allowing pedopbaptists to partake in the Lord's Supper:
We baptize by immersion, because we believe it was so commanded. We do not baptize infants, because we find for such an ordinance neither example nor command in the New Testament. And still further in the case of infants, as neither the manner of the act, nor the spiritual exercises essential to the act, as we understand it, are present, we do not perceive how we can recognize such an act as the baptism of the New Testament.

For this reason we were formerly designated Anabaptists. We baptize those who have been sprinkled in infancy, because we do not consider them to have been baptized. We consider ourselves not to baptize again, but to baptize those who have never yet submitted themselves to this ordinance. So with respect to restricted communion, the doctrine held by most Baptists in this country. We, with most other denomination, believe that a person must be baptized before he is admitted to the ordinance of the Supper. If, then, we do not admit to the table of the Lord those whom we do not believe to be baptized, we do precisely the same as our brethren who differ from us. The question may yet be raised among us all, whether this is the true limit to communion; but as we hold it in common with our brethren of other Christian denominations, it is a general question, in which we are no more interested than others.

These remarks are not made in the spirit of controversy. Inasmuch as inquiry is frequently made respecting our view on these subjects, it has seemed proper, in a plain manner, thus to set forth what we believe is commonly received among us. As we differ from the greater part of the Christian world in these respects, it is well that the reasons of this difference should be distinctly seen. We believe that we act conscientiously. We freely concede that same belief to others. We will cooperate with them in all that does not compromise fidelity to the Master. We can go no further, nor should they require it of us. We are by no means particularly anxious to propagate our sentiments. We freely and frankly bear our testimony to what we believe to be the truth, referring those who differ from us to the teachings of Christ and his apostles for our justification. We believe the points of difference to be important in themselves, but vastly more important on account of the principles which they involve. To us they seem to hold a place among the corner-stones of Protestantism.

Source: Francis Wayland, Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches (1857): pp. 98-99.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wayland on Sermon Length

Francis Wayland's views on sermon length:

A word may be said respecting the length of sermons. Cecil remarks that a written sermon should not exceed thirty or thirty-five, and an unwritten sermon forty-five minutes. This is probably a judicious direction. As sermons are of infrequent occurrence, and as they had better be confined to a single topic, or to a phase of a topic, the length of time which may occupy may profitably be within these limits. It is of small benefit to an audience to be wearied with the length of a sermon. A preacher should always bear this in mind, and by no means continue his discourse after his hearers have lost the power of attention. Sinners are rarely converted or saints edified, when they are half asleep.
Source: Notes on Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches (1857): pp. 326-27.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wayland on Baptist "Sabbath Services" c. mid 19th century

Wayland offered these observations on "Sabbath services" in Baptist churches in mid-19th century New England:

Our services in the house of God have suffered no change. They consist of (generally) a prayer of invocation, singing, reading the Scriptures, prayer, singing, sermon, prayer, benediction. In some of our churches we sing twice, in others three times, and in others, the prayer at the opening of the service is omitted.

According to our former custom, we stood in prayer, and sat in singing. Of late, we have adopted, in part, the practice of the Episcopalian brethren, by standing in singing, and sitting in prayer…. To kneel in prayer is exceedingly appropriate, and I wish it could be universally adopted. To stand is expressive of reverence, when we approach into the presence of God. To sit listlessly gazing around, when we profess to be offering up our supplications to God, can surely be justified neither by religion or good taste. I must, therefore, consider our change in this respect to be a failure. It would have been better had we remained as we were. Our love for imitation has overstepped itself, and excluded what was good, both in our own usage and that of others.

Again our notion of worship is simply this. We meet together on the Sabbath to offer up to God, each one for himself, the sacrifice of prayer and praise, and to cultivate holy affections by the reading and explanation of the word of God, and by applying its truth to our own souls. The preacher has a particular portion of Scripture to which he directs our attention. It is his design to unfold the mind of the Spirit, as it is made known in this part of revelation. To this end he selects his hymns, and the portion of Scripture which he reads, desiring, so far as possible, to have every part of the service aid in producing a definite moral effect. From beginning to end it is one act of worship, from which every thing irreverent, is to be from the nature of the case, excluded. Nothing should divert the mind from the great moral object for which the assembly has convened. This idea was formerly carried out among us. No notices were read, or announcements made, except they pertained to the religious meetings of the church, and lest they should distract the attention of the audience, they were given at the close of the last singing, just before the congregation was dismissed.
Source: Notes, pp. 159-60.

Note the simplicity of the service and the scripturally regulated elements. Baptists at this point were still influenced by the Regulative Principle. The order:

Prayer of invocation
Scripture reading

Notice that there is no "hymns of invitation" or "altar call." There is also no offering collection. He also expresses little approval of "announcements."

On posture, Wayland expresses his preference for standing for prayer and sitting for singing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Francis Wayland on the Value of Mid-week Meetings

Photo: Francis Wayland (1796-1865)

Francis Wayland in Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches (1857):

These meetings are of great importance to the spiritual prosperity of the church. Christians are prone to lose the impression of one Sabbath before the next Sabbath arrives. An intermediate meeting of some sort is useful to break the hold of the world upon the heart, and turn the thoughts upon God and eternity. Such meetings should by all means be encouraged, and they will be found to have great effect upon the soul of the believer.

The preaching, on such occassions, may be more familiar than on the Sabbath. The audience is composed of men and women who have turned aside from the pressures of worldly business for the sake of spiritual refreshment. They need it, and they should have it. Dry discussion and learned interpretation are here out of place. Practical or experimental truth is far more apposite. Something is needed which shall enable the man, with a deeper sense of Chrsitian obligation, and a firmer hold upon Christian hope, to enter anew upon the cares of every-day life. He who will devote himself to furnishing this refreshment to pilgrims on the way to Zion, will not lose his reward (pp. 330-31).


Unlikely Disciple

I ran across an announcement for the book Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose (Grand Central Publishing, 2009), a Brown University student who spent a semester undercover at Liberty University. You can read the Barnes and Noble synopsis here.

Couple of observations:

First: If he wanted to go to a conservative school, it would have made more sense to go someplace like Bob Jones rather than Liberty.

Second: I wonder if he realizes that at one point Brown University was essentially the equivalent of Liberty University, a Baptist school with strict standards for moral behavior.

Third, the notice stuck because I just finished reading Francis Wayland's Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches (1857). Wayland (1796-1865), an evangelical Baptist Pastor, served as President at Brown from 1827-55. You can look for some Wayland quotes in upcoming posts.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Joel Beeke on Practical Reasons for Retaining the KJV

Thirteen practical reasons for retaining the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. By Dr. Joel R. Beeke who is the president and professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

1. The Standard Text of the English Bible

It is wiser to choose the known over against the unknown. The weaknesses and disadvantages of a particular version of the Bible cannot really be assessed apart from a thorough trial of daily usage over many years. Many who welcomed the New International Version (NIV) with great enthusiasm when it first appeared are now prepared to admit its serious weaknesses as a translation.

The KJV is well established in the market-place and in the literature of Christian scholarship. It will continue in production in many editions for years to come. Helps and reference works are commonly available. It is not likely that the KJV will fade from view and disappear as have many versions produced to supplant it.

Likewise the KJV is widely studied and commented on in the literature of biblical scholarship. It will always be a standard of reference and comparison of Bible commentators. All other versions are compared to it, contrasted with it, tested by it. Campaigns to sell other versions must attack it. The same cannot be said of any other Bible version.

2. Based on the Full Text of the Hebrew and Greek Originals

Based on the Textus Receptus (the Greek NT), and the Masoretic Text (Hebrew OT), the KJV gives the most authentic and fullest available text of the Scriptures, with none of the many omissions and textual rewrites of the modern translations such as the Revised Standard Versions (RSV) and the NIV.

(a) Oldest Does Not Mean Best - The Westcott and Hort arguments that 'the oldest manuscripts are the most reliable' and that 'age carries more weight than volume' are not necessarily true. It could well be that the two oldest, complete manuscripts were found to be in such unusually excellent condition because they were already recognized as faulty manuscripts in their time and therefore were placed aside and not recopied until worn out as were the reliable manuscripts. This is further supported by numerous existing differences between the Vatican and Sinaitic manuscripts.
(b) Volume - The King James Version is based upon the Traditional Text. The vast majority of the more than 5,000 known partial and complete Greek manuscripts follow this textual reading.
(c) Church History - The 'Received' or 'Ecclesiastical' Text has been used by the church historically. The English, French, Dutch, and German Reformation churches all used Bibles based on the Traditional Text. (The Dutch 'Statenvertaling' is also based upon the 'Ecclesiastic' Text.)

3. A More Faithful Method of Translation

The KJV translators employed a method of verbal equivalence ('word for word') rather than the method of paraphrase of dynamic equivalence ('meaning for meaning') used in the NIV. The result is that the KJV gives you what biblical authors wrote, not what a committee thinks they meant to write.

4. A More Honest Translation

The text of the KJV used italics to identify every word or phrase interpolated (supplied by the translator) and not given in the original. Such a practice was not followed in the NIV, lest the loose method of its translators be unmercifully exposed to view.

5. A More Precise Idiom

Often attacked at this very point, the KJV actually is a more accurate and helpful translation precisely because of the archaic pronouns ('thou, thy, thee,' etc.). Both Hebrew and Greek distinguish clearly between the 2nd person singular ('thou') and the 2nd person plural ('ye,you'). In many statements this makes an important difference (e.g. John 3:7). In a sense it is correct to say that in praying the Lord Jesus used 'Thou' - God is one, not many! - for he definitely used the Hebrew or Greek equivalent.

6. The Best Liturgical Text

The KJV excels as a version to be used in public worship. That is why it has been used so widely in the churches. The requirements of the sanctuary are not those of the classroom. Other versions may be helpful on occasions to the student, but none is more edifying to the worshipper.

7. The Best Format For Preaching

The KJV traditionally has been laid out verse by verse on the page, rather than in paragraphs; though for most of the text, paragraphs are indicated by a sign. The Hebrew and Greek texts, of course, have no paragraphing at all. The verse-by-verse format best serves the purpose of verse-by-verse consecutive expository sermonizing.

8. The Most Beautiful Translation

The KJV gives classic expression to many important passages in the Bible (e.g. Ps 23, Isa 53, Luke 2, and the Parable of the Prodigal Son). Our seniors need to hear these passages as a comfort and help as they draw near to the end of life's journey and our children need to hear them in the KJV as part of their nurture and education. They need to understand that the KJV is an important part of the spiritual and cultural heritage of all English-speaking Christians, and a key to our greatest literature. Children well instructed in the KJV will be greatly advantaged over other children, spiritually, linguistically, educationally, and culturally.

9. An Ecumenical Text For Reformed Christians

No other version has been used so widely among evangelical Christians. More significantly for Reformed Christians, this version is used by preference in many conservative Reformed congregations. The KJV is also used in the Christian schools these churches sponsor. Using the KJV is one way to underscore our unity and identity with other conservative evangelical and Reformed Christians.

10. A Practical Choice

The KJV is available in many editions; with a full range of helps and reference materials, not to mention computer software; in large-type, clear-print editions; and often priced well below modern translations.

11. 'Sounds' Like the Bible

More than any other version, the KJV sounds like the Word of God, even to unbelievers. The KJV translators aimed at this very thing. Even in 1611 the KJV sounded old-fashioned, ancient, a voice from the past. This was to command a reverent hearing, and to suggest the timeless and eternal character of God's Word.

The modern unbeliever, if he has any spiritual concern at all, is well aware that the contemporary scene really offers him no hope. He expects the church to speak in a way that is timeless and other-worldly.

Many church-goers and occasional visitors to a church go much more by 'feel' and 'mood' than by intellectual content or apprehension. They are more likely to take seriously what is said to them if they sense that this is something more important than a casual conversation.

12. The Character of the Translators

The fifty men appointed to translate the King James Version were not only well-known scholars, but were also men of sound religious faith. They were strong believers in every word of the Bible being inspired by God and in all the central doctrinal truths of Scripture. They were God-fearing men whose lives testified of a saving knowledge of these truths. This same testimony cannot be made of all translators serving on modern translation teams.

13. Upholds 'Old Paths'

Using the KJV is a clear statement of where we stand and want to be as a church walking in the 'old paths' of God's Word. 'Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls' (Jer 6:16). In choosing this version we choose to stand with all that is best in the great tradition of historic Christianity.

The penchant for new translations was part of the program of change which has done such harm to many denominations over the past century. This change to new translations was often part of an effort to strip worship services of dignity, reverence, and beauty, in favour of the casual, the contemporary, and the convenient. It also causes a congregation to lose touch with keeping the Word in memory. Memorization of the Scriptures suffers when each generation uses a different translation.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Though the Riddles have by no means gone "locavore," we have enjoyed eating fresh vegetables (yes, even Llewellyn) from our garden this summer.

Tomatoes ripening in the kitchen window sill.

Garden view.

There's nothing better than going out to pick your own lettuce for a summer salad!



Monday, July 20, 2009

In Memoriam: Howard Anderson (1943-2009)

Yesterday (Sunday, July 19, 2009) I led in one of the most difficult funeral services I think I have ever had to do as a Pastor. My dear friend Howard Anderson died unexpectedly in a boating accident near Gloucester, Virginia last Wednesday, July 15th. Howard was a regular reader and contributor to this blog. It was not at all uncommon for him to call me on the phone when a post went up to discuss whatever issue or comment was being addressed. I always looked forward in particular to seeing him at our Wednesday evening meeting at JPBC and touching base on how the week was going. The last two years, Howard went with me to the Banner of Truth ministers conference, where I was richly edified not only by the conference but perhaps more particularly by our fellowship and conversation.

Howard was an accomplished man. He graduated from UVA and had a distinguished career as an accountant. As I noted yesterday, Howard also had diverse and multi-faceted interests in aviation (he was a skilled pilot who had accomplished a life-long dream in 1994 when he built his home in Scottsville so that he could walk out of his house to his hangar, plane, and runway [which doubled as his driveway]), music (he loved bluegrass and gospel music and could play the guitar, banjo, and mandolin, among other instruments), writing, and theology (he loved the doctrines of grace!).

He and his wife Joan had a peculiarly satisfying marriage union in which Howard’s love for Joan so clearly reflected Christ’s love for the church. Our hearts have been broken for Joan as we have grieved alongside her this past week.

According to God’s Providence, the Lord’s Day before Howard’s death (July 12th) our church had gathered at the Anderson’s home for our July Church Family Fellowship. In the meeting Howard had picked up his guitar and led us in singing the hymn, "Because He Lives." As we reminded each other yesterday, we grieve not as men who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13). Howard could say with Paul, "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain" (Phil 1:21). We find immense comfort in that.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Boston on Growing in Christ

Last Sunday I made reference in my sermon to Thomas Boston’s analogy of growth that should be expected in the Christian’s life:

Though every part of the man is renewed, there is no part of him that is perfectly renewed. As an infant has all the parts of a man but none of them come to perfect growth, so regeneration brings a perfection of parts, to be brought forward in the gradual advances of sanctification.

May we continue to "grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ" (Eph 4:15).

Grace and peace, JTR

Note: Evangel article (7/15/09)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Spring 2009 Evangelical Forum Newsletter

The hardcopy of the Spring 2009 (yes, we know its already July, thank you very much!) Evangelical Forum Newsletter went out in the mail last week (thanks to the efforts of Bonnie Beach), and I've already gotten several appreciative emails and phone calls from readers. You can also read the online version here.
This issue includes:
  • An article on "Irresistible Grace," Part Five in our Six Part Series on the "The Doctrines of Grace" by Jeff Riddle (p. 22).
  • "A College Student's Testimony of Discovering God's Grace" by Byron Glaspy (p. 28). Note: Unfortunately, the print version of this article omitted the last line on p. 28.
  • "Bible or Babel: Reflections on Recent Trends in Contemporary English Translations" by Robert Stovall (p. 30).
  • Book Reviews of David Dockery and Roger B. Duke's John A. Broadus: A Living Legacy (p. 35) and Paul D. Wegner's A Student's Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible (p. 37).


Thursday, July 09, 2009

In Memoriam: John Calvin (1509-1564)

Tomorrow (Friday, July 10th) will mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin. Calvin was born in Noyon, Picardy, France in 1509. He initially studied for the Catholic priesthood, but later went to the University of Orleans to study law. It was at Orleans that Calvin first encountered evangelical teaching as the ripples of the Protestant Reformation reached France. Calvin was converted sometimes around 1533 and was thereafter completely devoted to gospel ministry. His motto: "My heart I give Thee, Lord, eagerly and earnestly."

Calvin fled persecution for Basel, Switzerland in 1535. He desired to live a quiet life as a scholar "in some obscure corner," but he was called in 1536 to become a pastor in Geneva. His work for reformation there was initially frustrated, and he was expelled from the city in 1538. For the next three years (1538-1541) he led a Protestant refugee congregation in Strasbourg, France. While in Strasbourg, he met and married a young widow named Idelette de Bure. The one child given to them in 1542 lived only 22 days after his birth. In 1541 the city council of Geneva invited Calvin to return to Geneva. Despite initial reluctance, he finally agreed to return and spent the last years of his life vigorously involved in ministry in that city.

In Geneva Calvin maintained an intense preaching and writing schedule promoting the spread of the Reformation gospel. In 1558 he founded the Geneva Academy, which trained scores of Reformed pastors and missionaries. In 1559 he completed the definitive edition of his magnum opus, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. He wrote commentaries on 24 of the 39 Old Testament books and 24 of the 27 New Testament books (all except 2 and 3 John and Revelation). Protestant refugees from across Europe came to Geneva to study and learn, and many then took the gospel back to their homelands.

Calvin died in 1564 at the age of 55, leaving instructions that he be buried in obscurity without a tombstone. Calvin was the father of the Presbyterian and Reformed church movement. Though Baptists differ with Calvin in some important points of doctrine (namely in the areas of baptism and church government), there is much with which we can find agreement. Calvin stressed the ultimate authority of scripture, the sovereignty of God, and salvation by grace alone through faith alone. We can remember his legacy with thanksgiving this week.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus Online

About 800 pages of Codex Sinaiticus have been posted online. Here's a BBC article. I looked at a few pages including the ending of Mark and few pages in Acts. It is pretty amazing to be able to see it without visiting a monastery or library. Naturally, the website makes the boast that by looking at CS you can "experience the oldest Bible." That, of course, is debatable.


Monday, July 06, 2009

Exposition of Jude: Part 17 of 25

Note: This is a series of occasional verse by verse expositions of Jude.

Jude 1:17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:

After exposing the errors and dangers of false teachers who deceive the undiscerning, Jude encourages his hearers to cling to the sound and healthy teaching of the apostles. The contrast is made clear by the conjunction "but" (Greek: de). Jude addresses the "beloved" of God, authentic disciples of Christ, upon whom God’s affections have been freely and lavishly bestowed. In Paul’s great epistle to the Romans he likewise refers to the believers there as "beloved of God, called to be saints" (Romans 1:7).

Jude urges the beloved to remember the words that were "spoken before" (proeipon) by the apostles. One might well render this verb as "prophetically spoken." In fact, Jude will go on to highlight the apostolic prediction that false teachers would trouble the flock of God (see Jude 1:18; cf. Acts 20:29-30; 2 Peter 3:3). Like the inspired prophets of old, the apostles accurately predict what will transpire.

Jude 1:17 is also an important passage for understanding the doctrine of Scripture. Jude encourages the believers to look to the teaching of the apostles as a reliable standard of authority for determining truth. In Acts 2:42 Luke says that the early believers continued steadfastly in "the apostles’ doctrine." These same apostles and their inspired associates would also be moved by the Holy Spirit to write down the truth revealed to them for the benefit of the church (cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21; 3:15-16). Thus, by the Master Builder’s appointment, the household of God is constructed "on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20).

The apostles were not self-appointed. They were "the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus gave the twelve disciples the name "apostles" (Luke 6:13). They were his hand-picked men for this task. Jesus said to these men in John 15:16: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you…." They were eye and ear witnesses to his ministry and majesty (2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1).

We who live in this age can no longer listen to the apostles, but we can hear their voice when we read the inspired, canonical writings that they left behind. Jude anticipates the writing of the New Testament and the completion of the Biblical canon. In essence, he urges believers of all ages to look to the Scriptures alone as final authority for direction and counsel.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle