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197 Responses

  1. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    No creed but the Bible?

    Good article

  2. Michael says:

    Yes it is…we’ve only been saying the same thing for about 15 years… 🙂

  3. Paige says:

    Busy day for me, so I haven’t had time to read most of the links.
    Thank you anyhow

    I did want to comment, tho, on the death of a church link…. such an interesting perspective. We’ve been attending a very sweet, tho small, church for the last 8 months…. it’s not a show, the people are solid and consistent…. but…. I have wondered every week if the church was dying…. There is a distinct lack of what I would call ‘visionary leadership”… everyone is tired. It’s not like there is obvious sin, and I wouldn’t say the lack of energy is apathy…. it’s just an odd sensation that I wonder about as we leave services. My husband and I talk about it every week…. and we definitely pray for the pastor and his wife, the other leadership and various active folks… Everyone so nice. … love the Lord, long time believers…. but….but….. hmmmmm.

    So I appreciate the biologist’s perspective on the natural cycle and circle of life…. God knows.

  4. Steve Wright says:

    I must admit I find articles like how EVANGELICALS are losing an entire generation very puzzling. Is there evidence that this same generation is flocking to non-evangelical Christian churches?

    In fact, of those millennials who DO go to church, even if those numbers are decreasing, are they more or less likely to be found in some sort of evangelical, community church? Anyone see any stats?

    I also think the person who wrote the article needs a little more of a history lesson, especially as she bemoans how she and her friends “grew up with war” that the older generation did not have to deal with. Say what?

    It sounds sometimes to my ears a little too “occupy wall street” – you know, where all the protesters sat around drinking Starbucks and playing with their iphones all day.

  5. Steve Wright says:

    Paige, thanks. You prompted me to read that article and it is thought provoking.

    I know of several churches that are basically dead. A relatively few number of senior citizens who faithfully attend each week. An elder pastor who has other sources of income and no dependents left, and no other bills really to speak of, maybe the water and electricity.

    However, they are sitting on a debt-free piece of property that might be worth a small fortune. Have you seen the amount of LAND some of the older churches own along with their building.

    Assuming the city itself is not dying off (and where I live that is a fair assumption – which is why the land is worth so much), just imagine if more of these churches were willing to sell to the younger, growing church that needs a permanent home (and that is paying some outrageous rent or contemplating a massive debt funded building project).

    If the sale was arranged so the new church got a great deal and the proceeds were such that the old church was able to supplement the incomes as needed of its remaining members in their retirement. If the new church likewise made a commitment to honor and cater to those remaining members of the older church until they went to glory.

    I think the life cycle article (and argument) has much merit.

  6. Michael says:

    I’ve gotten some pushback on the millennials and evangelicals article.
    The reason I included it (and put it on Facebook as a stand alone link) is because it’s a great example of what I hear in my email and in talks with unchurched people of all ages.

    They don’t go to other churches…they often reject the institutional church, period.

  7. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Millennials are not joiners and do not sign up for stuff. The Millennial issue is not a church issue.

    Angies List had to make viewing of their site free – why? The Millennials would not sign up and pay to look at a web site.

  8. Dallas says:

    Enjoyed the CS Lewis in the Public Square.

    One little sentence jumped out at me, “Lewis wrote in the service of public conversation.”

    My wife asked me what my goals were in writing, and ultimately that is a big goal I would love to achieve somewhere out there on the horizon.

  9. Jean says:

    “No Creeds but the Bible?”

    I read something in a book this past weekend that just about blew my mind:

    “Three venerable formulae together add up to Christianity: the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer, summarizing respectively the Christian way of believing, behaving, and communing with God.”

    Now, if I were reading a Luther book, I might have yawned, because every Lutheran knows that Luther’s Small Catechism is constructed on the 10 Commandments, Apostles Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

    But this quote was not from Luther. It was from J.I. Packer. Someone who’s work I understand Michael appreciates. 🙂

  10. Owen says:

    On the death of a church article…

    I moved back to my hometown area several years back. Shortly after I arrived, I spoke to the man who ran the youth group I used to go to years ago, and inquired about the church I had attended then. We were looking for a home church for our family. My old friend told us that the church was basically dying, there were no young families left, no Sunday School, no youth group, etc…. I was, of course, very sad to hear this.

    I think the writer did well to equate the life cycle of trees to that of a church, there is a lot of food for thought there. In my area, forestry is talked of frequently, logging happens and is debated, the environmentalists protest any logging, with the cry “we must save all trees or we won’t have any left!”
    I think they forget who started trees to begin with, and who has maintained trees on the earth since it began. They don’t seem to notice that trees come back.
    I agree with the writer – churches could be viewed much the same way.

  11. Jean says:

    I have two lovely dogs who are pro-tree. 🙂

  12. Xenia says:

    The No Creed but the Bible article is good.

    Most evangelical statements of faith start out with something like “We believe in the Bible.” The Nicene Creed starts out with “I believe in one God.”

    Most statements of faith have a lot to say about their church’s particular view of soteriology and eschatology. The Nicene Creed has nothing to say about how one is saved and as for the End Times, it just says the Lord will return to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end.

    Some here will say that without the Bible we wouldn’t even be able to make the claims of the Nicene Creed so the Bible needs to be given the number one slot but I think this is a mistake. At the very least, one could say “I believe in one God who has revealed Himself in the Scriptures.” But often what one gets are statements about inerrancy, etc and statements about the Trinity show up in 2nd place.

    I had to come up with a statement of faith for the CC high school I used to work for and I read a zillion online statements from a zillion evangelical churches and they all started out with a statement about the inerrancy of the Bible in the number one slot.

    Stick to the creeds.

  13. Em ... again says:

    sitting here after reading Ammy Gannet’s indictment of Evangelicals… thinking back over an 80 year lifespan …
    began in the privations of the Depression when survival wasn’t a given, sucked into a world war when survival wasn’t a given, coming out the other side of conflict at age 9 and wondering what a world without war was going to be, spent the next five years as the proud citizen of a nation that would see to it that there were no more wars (Woodrow Wilson’s plan?) as we poured our resources into the conquered lands in order to rehab the belligerents of yesterday, all the while lurking and simmering was the Soviet Union wanting the top dog’s seat – along came the unhappy, double-minded and, no doubt, useful fools – the Koreans launching quite a successful push-back against the germinating western move toward a globalism – and all the while the church-going and, basically, God fearing American citizens tried to build something good – a land of the free, but also the home of the brave fighting for THE right, but that slogan and the people of that dream have been overrun by the mindless power lust and greed of human nature – not very encouraging
    we can do with much less navel gazing – quit telling me that evangelicalism has failed you because, if you’re Christ-centered, you aren’t trying to build a relevant-to-the-world denomination of any kind – we are just passing through – each left here for a time with the instruction to be one of God’s lights in an otherwise very dark world …
    IMHO today

  14. Xenia says:

    The Orthodox Church appeals to hipsters so we always have a good number of young men who like the excuse to have a good beard and read obscure books.

    See, we manage to be hip and relevant without even trying!

  15. Michael says:


    You are correct about my deep affection for Dr. Packer… 🙂

  16. Owen says:


    About a month ago, Michael “introduced” me to Packer, I had never really heard of him much beyond the name. I read an article called “Losing sight, but seeing Christ”, a fairly recent interview. Loved it.
    I have since read more about him, (was interested to find he’s a fellow Canadian!) and learned he has some Lutheran background , although I”ve not read much more yet.

  17. Owen says:

    Jean @ 11 – LOL!!! Thanks for the chuckle!!

    See, God thinks of everything!! 😉

  18. Em ... again says:

    #9- i have seen in the last decade or so two instances of congregations passing their large and well constructed buildings on to the younger generation – one to a non-denom for a nominal price on a prime piece of central real estate and the other (old Baptists) given for free to a thriving young group flying that stylized pigeon thing 🙂
    so it is happening… however, i find the described group of old folk and their old pastor faithfully living out their days in their church-home quite poignant – maybe they could make out a will of some sort?
    that reminds me of an old gal, a life long resident of Colo. Spr. who willed her properties to the city and the city bulldozed them, leaving the sizable piece of land sitting vacant – she was a faithful church-goer; why didn’t she leave her property to her church? hmmm

  19. Michael says:


    Dr. Packer is a British Reformed Anglican who came to Canada to teach at Regent College.
    If you have never read his book “Knowing God” you may still be in your sins… 🙂

  20. Steve Wright says:

    Why do “We believe in one God”?

  21. Em ... again says:

    #20- Bible generated doctrine? 🙂

  22. Jean says:


    If you’re a reader, I have a few things on pdf that I could send you, if you want to provide an email address through Michael.

  23. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Why do “We believe in one God”?”

    I believe in one God because there is only one God to believe in.

  24. Owen says:

    Jean, I would like that very much, thank you. I am a reader in my “spare time” 🙂

    Michael, do you have the email address I comment with? Or how do I email you?

  25. Em ... again says:

    terrible, guilt inducing article that should never have been published? hmmm… no church’s demands should be elevated above family … but

    perhaps, if it had been titled: Our Priorities Are Off When Family Is More Important Than THE Church… ? …

    this was a struggle for me as i had a mother viciously opposed to my faith, but she was steeped in her upbringing in the Holiness Movement – while she didn’t follow it, she knew the rules – and so she would demand that i obey scripture and honor her “needs” … well … i did and looking back, i think that was i wrong to do so as her demands were always self-centered with no thought to honoring God, herself

    perhaps, the question should be: Is anything in your life more important than God and your walk with Him? a day to day decision, perhaps, without a blanket answer?

  26. David H says:

    Man, I get steamed every time I see Barton’s name appear anywhere. Why do people follow that lying bag of dirt dressed in nice Western clothes?

    A doctorate in eduction still wouldn’t make him a historian. People get education doctorates to be administrators in the realm of education.

  27. Xenia says:

    There is one God whether there is a Bible or not.

  28. Owen says:


    Emailed you. I shall hunt down said book, also.

    (Wouldn’t want to die in my sins, y’know… 😉 )

  29. Dan from Georgia says:

    Maybe this has been said already, but in regards to the article on the number one reason evangelicals put their hope in trump, and in regards to the endorsements from some evangelicals of trump, my question is…

    How come character was a buzzword for evangelicals when Bill Clinton was in office, and now character doesn’t matter? Please?!?!? Anyone? My gosh, even James Dobson was on board with “character counts” back in the 90s, in the heyday of Focus On The Family’s political push!

  30. Owen says:


    “– quit telling me that evangelicalism has failed you because, if you’re Christ-centered, you aren’t trying to build a relevant-to-the-world denomination of any kind – we are just passing through – each left here for a time with the instruction to be one of God’s lights in an otherwise very dark world …”

    Well said.

    Your #26 – I had some issues with that article, myself. Your sentence “Is there anything more important in your life than God and your walk with Him?” – it seemed to me the article was going so far as to say that the personal relationship with God was not as important as the church family relationship.

    “Jesus did not primarily call individuals into a private relationship with him. He calls us to join a movement, to become part of a new family.” (from the article)

    On the contrary. I think we are part of a new family because we all have a private relationship with Him.

  31. Em ... again says:

    #31- yes, good point and i’m afraid that i went rabbit trailing off the point of the article a bit without being clear that i was doing so… i think our first obligation, which is to God, slides too easily into an interpretation that we are here to serve a church above all else… how many families have been neglected (and probably churches corrupted) in order to meet the demands of a church program?

  32. Em ... again says:

    one God? yes, by the very definition that we gain from studying Scripture …the very term “holy” demands but one God – but without the Book to define Him, would we grasp that fact?

  33. Jean says:

    I think Em is on the right track.

    We are commanded to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. We are commanded to have no other Gods. So far so good.

    So, what does that look like? Loving our neighbor as ourselves:

    1. Loving our spouse, parents, children, grandchildren, etc. (all as applicable).

    2. Being an honest and hardworking employee, manager, employer, etc. (as applicable)

    3. Being a good, law abiding citizen.

    4. Being a contributing part of Christ’s body the Church in a local congregation. However, my concern here is that the local church has stretched its vocation into something unbiblical that brings it into competition for our time. No one else can do items #1 and #2 for us, so these must take priority over #4 (as applicable).

  34. bob1 says:

    “My gosh, even James Dobson was on board with “character counts” back in the 90s, in the heyday of Focus On The Family’s political push!”

    The last two words are the answer. Sadly, Dobson has been shown to be a total sellout to political power. This election, why on earth else would he support Drumpf? That’s where Demohate takes you, I guess.

  35. Steve Wright says:

    I did not ask why there is one God. I asked why we BELIEVE there is one God. If someone is going to start professing the opening of the creed and declare those words, seems like they should have a reason to do so. Unless religion is really just brainwashing as some critics claim.

    Or to expand, why do multiple millions believe in more than one god, why millions believe in no god, and why millions believe in the wrong one god. Billions past and present if the totality of history is examined.

    The creeds are a concise, direct statement of the proper understanding of Scripture, and thus the truth about God, but one is not somehow “anti-creed” by recognizing when the cart is put before the horse, nor does one have to feel sheepish about the priority of the word of God. Faith comes by hearing the word, thy word is truth.

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well I said earlier that I believe their is one God because there is only one God.

    Now as to why millions believe in multiple gods is because they are wrong.

    Steve, have you guys ever confessed the creeds to each other in church? I think it is a great liturgical tool to help people know and or remember what it is they believe – along with the aspect that we are confessing to each other that we have a common belief.

    But for some it is too Roman Catholic, even though it is the right thing to do

    Folks who are non creedal and non confessional (such as the SBC who open admit they are) might as well be anti creedal and or anti confessional.

  37. Xenia says:

    First declare that Christians believe in One God.

    Then you may provide supporting evidence.

  38. Lutheran says:

    I think God shows His love and mercy and existence in several ways.

    Through nature (Rom. 1)

    Through His image in the humanity of others.

    Through His mighty acts, many of which are recorded in Scripture.

    Most specifically for Christians, of course, is Christ’s resurrection from the grave.


  39. Jean says:

    To add to the good input on how and where to we learn of God, we should also look at it this way:

    (1) God hidden. For example, he is hidden in nature. He is also hidden in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, although the Incarnation definitely reveals His nature and character differently than in nature. But, still, where God is hidden, He cannot help us. We remain dead in our sin; by nature children of wrath.

    (2) God revealed. However, through the preaching of the Gospel, God’s grace and mercy are revealed in Jesus Christ for you. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

    Proclamation reveals a merciful God and brings God to you, brings forgiveness and faith to you and into you.

    So, pre-canon, the Word of Gospel was passed and proclaimed through an oral tradition. The Apostles Creed and other shorter creeds and hymns may have predated much or all of the NT canon. But eventually the Gospel (and in the wider sense, the “Gospels’) were recorded into what we now call the Bible. But the key is in the proclamation of the Way, the Truth, and the Life for you. That is how a merciful God is revealed to sinners.

  40. Josh the Baptist says:

    I am the “No creed but the bible” guy here. These conversations always amuse me.

    What do you think I mean when I say I have no creed but the bible?

    That may be a good place to start, as I think there is a basic misunderstanding.

  41. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – you are the first to come out and say so and I respect that.

    Josh, what do you mean when you say “I have no creed but the Bible”?

  42. Josh the Baptist says:

    Well, it seems obvious to me, but it seems to require scholars to dedicate full blogs to its refutation.

    I was just wondering if there was a misunderstanding.

  43. Josh the Baptist says:

    Ok, maybe here is a starting point – Does anyone think that I disagree with the Apostles or Nicene?

  44. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    As you know I was SBC for 14 yrs (83-95) and I know what my 2 churches’ understandings were – (1) creeds may not stand up to scriptural authority and (2) because Baptist cherish religious freedom – the individual is free to interpret scripture for himself – a creed may somehow bind that freedom.

    Is that your understanding?

  45. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    More important than the creeds is teaching from the pulpit. With the Harvest Crusade coming up at the end of the month, teaching like this from Greg Laurie may be enough to have me go down for a look / see.
    On Facebook is a meme with his signature and the so I will assume it is accurate. It has Greg quoting Romans 10:17 – “Faith comes by hearing and obeying God’s word.”

    So what from this saying would attract me down to the Big A to watch? I want to see if Greg arrives in the stadium in the Pope mobile. Full circle back into RCC theology.

  46. Josh the Baptist says:

    “(1) creeds may not stand up to scriptural authority and (2) because Baptist cherish religious freedom – the individual is free to interpret scripture for himself – a creed may somehow bind that freedom.”

    I don’t like the way you stated (1). It is too vague. I’d say it like this: Any creed or statement of faith must agree completely with Scripture, and is therefore subservient to Scripture. If the creed is found to be in contrast with scripture, it is to be discarded. Thus, while we may affirm many creeds, it is only as they align with Scripture.

    I’m not sure I understand what you are saying with # 2. The person must interpret Scripture for himself, the same as the person must interpret the creed for himself. Rather than religious freedom (which we do value), this would be better filed under soul competency.

  47. Jean says:

    “For by grace you are saved through faith-Eph. 2:8 It is why we do what we do for the glory of God. ‘Faith is obeying God in spite of feelings, circumstances or consequences,’ says Pastor Greg.” (Harvest Website)

    Well, MLD, regarding the quote in your #46, I am glad you brought that up. I saw it yesterday and was going to post it myself, but I didn’t because I thought you have a soft spot for him.

    Anyway, I add his quote commenting on Ephesians, because it is consistent with the other quote. Apparently, Pastor Greg is reinterpreting the meaning of “faith”. And it line up nicely with RCC theology from Trent (can’t speak for the present).

    Personally, I think this is preaching malpractice.

  48. Xenia says:

    It’s been my experience that obeying Christ has the effect of increasing my faith in Him.

  49. Josh the Baptist says:

    Why does it seem like Lutherans are the sermon police?

  50. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia, I think you may be confusing words. I don’t know if you can increase your faith – it is a gift from God that comes only through hearing his word. What you may be expressing is that in your obedience you feel more confident in the faith you have received.

    Or, perhaps that is not what you were trying to say 😉

  51. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean, I do have a soft spot for Laurie – but not a blind spot. Look I was ‘saved’ at his church – perhaps I am a closet Catholic. 🙂

  52. Jean says:


    All of the online discernment ministries are non-Lutheran as far as I know. They do far more “policing” and I won’t event comment on whether much of it is rational or correct.

    But, aren’t you interested when high profile preachers are going heterodox?

  53. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – like Luther we don’t blindly accept false teaching.

    But let me ask – you don’t have a problem with that quotation with the scripture reference? This is not what Rom 10:17 says.

  54. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean – Chris Rosebrough at Fighting for the Faith is an ODMer – but he will play entire sermons to show their error.

  55. Josh the Baptist says:

    Well, I didn’t see the quote. I do know that is not what the verse says, and would wonder why he would post that.

    That being said, I am agnostic towards Greg Laurie. Don’t know him. Never listened to a whole sermon of his. Before I would go to deep into criticizing him, I’d at least do that.

    But I don’t want to. Seems like typical light-fare mega-church Christianity.

  56. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, I like this Baptist pastors take on the creeds – good article and the comments are good also.

  57. Josh the Baptist says:

    I don’t know him, but he doesn’t understand what a creed is, or why we don’t have one. As a Southern Baptist, he is free to preach on the creeds every Sunday. If he is looking to actually be creedal (he is not), he’ll have to join a creedal denomination.

  58. Josh the Baptist says:

    Did you just google “Baptist and Creeds” or something. A 2009 post from a guy who pastors an 80 member church? Oh well. 🙂

    I’ll do you one better. I know an SBC church in my town that recites the Apostle’s Creed together every Sunday.

  59. Josh the Baptist says:

    “Creeds and Confessions

    In some groups, statements of belief have the same authority as Scripture. We call this creedalism. Baptists also make statements of belief, but all of them are revisable in light of Scripture. The Bible is the final word.

    Because of this distinction, we are generally more comfortable with the word “confession.” Still, we are “creedal” in the sense that we believe certain things, express those beliefs and order our institutions accordingly. There have always been Baptist limits. And within these limits, there have always been Baptist preferences.”

    That is the official SBC position. That’s what I mean when I say “No Creed but the bible”

  60. Josh the Baptist says:

    This link has a bunch of sermons from Al Mohler preaching through the Apostle’s Creed in 2007/2008. Surely the chuck guy doesn’t think he was being too radical by preaching these sermons…2 years after the president of Southern Baptist Seminary did the same thing.

  61. Josh the Baptist says:

    So, my point in all of this is to say, I think most of the arguments, including Scot Mckinght’s argument against “No Creed but the bible” are born from a very basic misunderstanding, and are thus fighting ghosts, not having an actual discussion with real people.

  62. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – “A 2009 post from a guy who pastors an 80 member church? Oh well. ?”

    Would his blog statements be more valid if he pastored a church of 2,000? Odd that you would say that.

    It’s funny because “No Creed but the bible” is in itself a creed. But it is a creed that is saying something about negative about creeds. I don’t see the misunderstanding.

    All anyone needs to say is creeds may be valid but we don’t use them.

    Perhaps they are like altar calls to a Lutheran – we don’t use them 😉
    (Although we actually do have altar calls each week – a call to the altar to meet Jesus in the Supper)

  63. Em ... again says:

    reading the thread brings questions to mind
    weren’t the letters of Paul and other Apostles shared before the canon was assembled?

    isn’t the prime Gospel message the salvation message?

    would anyone who is serious about the Faith hold onto a creed without considering how it lines up with the Bible?

    would it be wise to memorize the creed of choice and never go further into study of Scripture? can we assume that Faith solely feeds (& grows) on a doctrinally sound creed?

    no agenda – just random questions from the pew as i read this morning 🙂

  64. Josh the Baptist says:

    “It’s funny because “No Creed but the bible” is in itself a creed.”

    That is the stupidest of the common cliches used in this conversation.

    Is “I like pizza” also a creed?

  65. Em ... again says:

    it occurs to me – might be a stretch – when it comes to Faith and spiritual health, creeds are like multi-vitamins while the Bible itself (the canon is IMV a miracle) is as 3 square meals a day

  66. Josh the Baptist says:

    “weren’t the letters of Paul and other Apostles shared before the canon was assembled?”

    Yes. The cannon was basically intact, though not official, by 100AD. Peter affirms that Paul’s writings are circulating, and being accepted as Scripture, possibly in Paul’s own lifetime.

    “would anyone who is serious about the Faith hold onto a creed without considering how it lines up with the Bible?”

    As Xenia articulated above, for some, the teachings of the church are on par with Scripture. Thus, a church creed would be equal to Scripture in authority, and not need to be weighed against anything. I disagree with this type of creedalism.

  67. Xenia says:

    The Scriptures ARE a teaching of the Church. When St. Paul wrote his epistles he was doing so as a member of the Church.

  68. Josh the Baptist says:

    Right. So isn’t it your view that the Creeds are on par with Scripture? Both teaching of the church, right?

  69. Xenia says:

    Over the past 2000 years of Christian history, very few people were literate and even if they were, they had no access to the Scriptures apart from what they heard read to them at church. But everyone had the Creed memorized. Nowadays people have the luxury of a shelf full of commentaries and Bible translations and who knows what all so they can pick the Creeds apart. Not me. I will stick to the faith of my ancestors.

  70. Xenia says:

    The Creeds are a summary of the Scriptures. Is a summary “on par” with its source material? The Church produced both with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

  71. Josh the Baptist says:

    But you do read, correct?

  72. Xenia says:

    Since I belief the Nicene Creed is perfect and since I believe the Scriptures are perfect, there is no need to make comparisons.

  73. Josh the Baptist says:

    “The Church produced both with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

    There we go. I was trying to get that stated correctly. That’s much better than my attempt.

    “No creed but the bible” disagrees that the creeds are inspired.

  74. Xenia says:

    Yes, I knew that. 🙂

  75. Josh the Baptist says:

    I affirm both the Nicene and Apostles Creed.

  76. Josh the Baptist says:

    @ 75 – I know you knew that, Xenia. I am trying to explain the view to those who misunderstand the “No creed but bible” claim. Your eloquence was a great help. 🙂

  77. Xenia says:

    If an evangelical pastor writes his church’s statement of faith and tells folks that “God gave me this” is this pastor making the same claim we make for the Nicene Creed?

  78. Michael says:


    I’ll speak from my experience only…the “no creed but the Bible” crowd (and it’s not just Baptists) were usually people who rejected any historic understandings of doctrine or the faith other than that which they believed about their own sect.

    I find this highly problematic.

  79. Xenia says:

    Josh, glad to be of help. 🙂

  80. Josh the Baptist says:

    Xenia – Yes. I would be wary of anyone who made such a claim. I know that they do, but they shouldn’t.

    Michael – Definitely some truth to that.

  81. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean, I was just re reading your #48 about Greg defining faith and actually doing it by misquoting scripture.

    It’s funny because sometimes you can say “well he just misspoke. But when it begins to look like a pattern, then perhaps it needs to be called out as false teaching.

  82. Kevin H says:

    As the discussion has parsed out, it would seem the “no creed but the Bible” crowd is actually not uniform but is made up of at least two groups that differ in attitude (with probably even others falling somewhere inbetween).

    There are those like Josh who affirm the creeds and do not think badly about them. But they prefer to emphasize the Bible instead of the creeds and do not regularly recite the creeds.

    Then there are those that do think badly about the creeds and anything creedal. Those who rely highly (if not entirely) on their personal own or their sect’s own interpretation of the Bible and don’t want to have anything to do with the creeds and think derogatorily of those who are creedal.

  83. Owen says:

    For what it may or may not be worth, I’ll throw in my 2 cents on the “no creed” thing…. my experience has been pretty much the same as Michael’s. The no-creeders I have met/talked with (mostly of the local Baptist church, a few non-denoms) have painted the creeds with a rather negative brush, sometimes even to the point of inferring that being creedal was close to idol worship.
    However, I can respect and have no problem with a view that is more towards “we choose not to use a formal creed”, without adding a negative connotation to it.

    I just recently read somewhere (might have been in one of the links, but my memory fails me right now) that the Apostles and Nicene creeds can function as sort of a “Christianity for Dummies” explanation. Hmmm……

  84. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    We were speaking a bit yesterday about statements of fait. Although Lutherans do have 500 pages in the Book of Concord, we do have a statement of faith on our web site. The discussion yesterday was which comes first – the Bible or God. I am happy to say ours has 4 points about God before the Bible.
    I would like to point out the very last item which I don’t think you will see in many statements.

    At Abiding Savior Lutheran Church we believe in the triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    We believe that God the Father is our Creator loves his creation and longs for all his children to come to salvation through Jesus Christ, his son.

    We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who became fully human and lived a perfect life so that he could take the sins of the world upon himself and to suffer and die with them, on the third day after his death he rose from the grave. He did this in order to secure the forgiveness of sins for those who believe in him so that we might have victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil.

    We believe in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works faith as a gift in the hearts of people through God’s Word and Sacraments.

    We believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God and serves as the norm and rule for our faith and life. The Bible’s purpose is to introduce us to Jesus our Savior so that we can find hope and strength as we live our lives for him who gave his life for us.

    As Lutherans we believe that we are saved by Grace alone. This means that God loves the people he has created despite their sinfulness and rebellion. To us people who don’t deserve his love he sent Jesus to die with our sin and rise again victorious over it.

    As Lutherans we believe that we are saved by Faith alone. Because we believe that Jesus died for our sins and so forgives our sins we trust in his power to be our only Savior from death. Through the work of the Holy Spirit God creates faith in our hearts so that we can confess Jesus as our Lord.

    As Lutherans we believe that the only way we come to faith in Jesus is through the Bible alone. The Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word that leads us to salvation and instructs us as to how God desires and empowers us to live out our lives now.

  85. Michael says:

    Greg is the perfect example of what happens when a sect has no soteriological confession to ground doctrine in…

  86. Xenia says:

    From my conversations with evangelicals who say they affirm the Nicene Creed I have found that they can only do this if they redefine certain phrases in order to line up with their non-sacramental theology. Yet the Nicene fathers were very sacramental in their theology. So when the Creed states:

    “[I believe] in one baptism for the remission of sins,” it means something different to, say, a Baptist, than to a 4th century Church father…. or a modern-day Orthodox Christian. It is redefined to mean something other than the original intent about physical water baptism actually saving people.

    “I believe in One Holy Apostolic Church” also means something quite different.

    And of course, the original Creed did not contain the filioque which all western Christians include.

  87. Owen says:

    Kevin @ 83…..

    I should have waited a little longer before making my comment, you summed it up way better than I did.

  88. Josh the Baptist says:

    Xenia – totally agree. People always point out that people are really believing their own interpretation of the Bible. That is obviously true. As you have pointed out, we also believe our own interpretation of creeds or confessions.

  89. Josh the Baptist says:

    Do you find people who are negative about the creed itself, or are they negative about it being considered equal to Scripture?

    I would guess that the latter is actually the more prevalent view.

  90. Josh the Baptist says:

    My # 90 was in response to Kevin and Owen 🙂

  91. Xenia says:

    I just don’t have that much confidence in my own ability to interpret the Scriptures.

  92. Kevin H says:

    Josh, as I attend a Calvary Chapel with an old school CC pastor, there is a distinct negative connotation just about whenever anything creedal or liturgical or denominational is mentioned. The negativity would seem to go beyond just the circumstance where creeds are considered on par with Scripture.

  93. Josh the Baptist says:

    Xenia, are you confident in your own abilities to interpret the Creeds?

  94. Xenia says:

    I accept them, as handed down from the early Church.

    Just as I accept the Scriptures, which were also handed down from the early Church.

  95. Josh the Baptist says:

    Kev – You said “creedal” and yes, that I can understand. I just wonder if there is a problem with one the creeds, or is the problem creedalism. And perhaps, it hasn’t been thought through and some people would see no distinction.

  96. Xenia says:

    I am referring to the Nicene / Constantinopolitan Creed, by the way.

  97. Josh the Baptist says:

    Xenia – right. But if you read both yourself, you will have to interpret. Unless you are just saying there is less to interpret in the Creeds and thus, not as big an issue. But, you’ve already pointed out above that there is an interpretive dance we do when we affirm the creeds, or at least when evangelicals do so.

  98. Xenia says:

    We don’t do an interpretive dance. 🙂

    When the Creed states “I believe in one baptism for the remission of sins,” there is no need to interpret the words because they seem pretty clear.

  99. Xenia says:

    I see no value whatsoever in parsing all the words of the ancient Christian Creeds to see if they line up with my own darkened modern mind’s interpretations of the Scriptures.

  100. Michael says:

    For me, the creeds set the boundaries for what it means to be a Christian.
    That is why they are invaluable to the church universal in my opinion.

  101. Josh the Baptist says:

    No xenia, in your mind they are clear because you hold to certain definitions for words like “believe”, “Baptism”, “remission”, and “sin”. But you must admit, that each of those words has variation on its definition across Christendom, (and probably even within Orthodoxy). So if one, held a slightly different definition of Baptism, recognizing that there is more than one type of Baptism noted in Scripture, then their interpretation could be very clear to them, but may differ slightly from the pretty clear interpretation that you have settled one. Right?

  102. Owen says:


    I would agree with you on that, they seem to be more negative about it being considered equal to Scripture.

    Whenever we say the creeds in our church, it is understood that the creeds are simply a summary of beliefs based on Scripture. It’s never meant as a replacement. We even have a few in our midst who won’t say certain portions of it because they either don’t agree or don’t understand a portion.

  103. Josh the Baptist says:

    Does the Bible itself not set boundaries for what it means to be Christian?

  104. Xenia says:

    Josh, I will grant your #102.

  105. Dallas says:

    Just my experience, but I recall from my time in the SBC that a lot of the sentiment that I heard against creeds came from those who are raised in what they felt was a nominal christianity that asked them to memorize creeds and catechisms. There was a rejection of things that they felt were less than genuine, things that they couldn’t own themselves.

    I know my wife practically jumped up and ran away when a non denom we were trying out started reciting a catechism.

    I think that if pressed, most would affirm the creeds, but that they represent a time of dead religion in their lives.

    Again, just what I’ve seen.

  106. Josh the Baptist says:

    I’ve seen that, too, Dallas. Good point.

  107. Kevin H says:


    I can hardly recall ever any specific criticism of anything in the creeds (or for that matter any specific criticism of things wrong in liturgies), but it is a regular condescension towards anyone or any church who like to use creeds or who like to use liturgies (or who like to be a denomination).

  108. Josh the Baptist says:

    Understood Kevin. So probably like an anti-tradition kind of mindset. I get that. I’m softening on that as I get older.

  109. Michael says:


    If one studied the Bible with great diligence and understanding for a very long time, they should come up with the same conclusions the creeds make.
    However, the average person throughout history has not had the time or ability to do the work necessary to produce an accurate understanding for the Trinity, for example.

    On the other hand,they may come up with some form of Arianism.
    All heresy is “biblical” in some fashion.

    The work that went into formulating these simple statements of faith was prodigious…to me it is utter folly to minimize their importance.

  110. Xenia says:

    I don’t think nominal Christians could really affirm (from the heart) the Creeds. If they did believe everything the creeds say they could no longer be nominal.

    But there are people who might mindlessly recite the words in church and not take the words to heart.

    I was a nominal Christian my last year at Calvary Chapel. I was a nominal Baptist the first half of my life.

  111. Xenia says:

    The deadest time in my entire life was that last year at Calvary Chapel. A good recitation of the Creed might have jolted me awake.

    (I am not blaming Calvary Chapel, by the way.)

  112. Kevin H says:

    I think much of what I have observed is probably rooted in what Dallas described.

  113. Josh the Baptist says:

    Michael and Xenia, I agree with both those statements.

  114. Dallas says:

    Xenia, I think that was part of it. They perceived that the religion that they grew up in was hypocritical and dead, so that when they came back to it they avoided the things that reminded them of what they saw as hypocrisy.

    It really can happen in any environment, I seem to remember a chart that was shared here a while ago that was showing some drift from the SBC into the creedal denominations (could be remembering wrong). Perhaps a sign that there were young people who found that same experience, but in reverse.

  115. Xenia says:

    I think this attitude is common among certain groups:

    “The Catholics recite creeds. The Catholics are not Christians. Therefore, there is no value to the Creeds and I avoid them as they are the product of an apostate group.”

    This attitude explains a lot of evangelical behavior, IMO. It was my attitude at one time so I am extremely familiar with it.

  116. Jean says:

    The juxtaposition of the Bible and the Creeds is a straw man in many cases. It’s really a power game. Most pastors know that most of their members are not dedicated Bible students.

    Therefore, the members are going to have to rely on something or someone for their Christian beliefs. If the pastor tells them that the traditions, such as creeds and liturgies are bad, then they persuade the members to look at the pastor and the pastor can be their members’ theological gurus. The creed becomes: “That’s what pastor XYZ says.”

    People are so gullible. Does anyone on this blog seriously believe that any new doctrine has been discovered over the last 500 years, which wasn’t known to the Church previously. Anti-creed, anti-tradition just ensures that the old heresies will continue to be repeated.

  117. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia – to your #116 – I said that yesterday at my #37

    “But for some it is too Roman Catholic, even though it is the right thing to do.”

    If the Roman Catholics do it, the evangelicals sure aren’t. Roman Catholics brush their teeth – I am surprised that evangelicals haven’t knocked out theirs.

  118. Josh the Baptist says:

    Well, you can try to explain and discuss all day, but we’ll always go back to the lowest hanging fruit.

    Never mind. You guys are right. We are against Creedalism because it is too catolic-y and our backwoods redneck pastor told us to be against it.

    You win.

  119. Michael says:


    I think people are just trying to share the experiences they have had.
    I think everyone here respects you and knows that you are a thoughtful and careful theologian.
    A lot of folks aren’t.

  120. Xenia says:

    I am from North Carolina and most of my relatives down there are SBC and a college-educated cousin asked my Lutheran sister if Lutherans believe in God.

    My own CC pastor believed Lutherans were too close to the RCC and were problematic. (He said something harsher than “problematic” but it was a long time ago and I can’t remember his precise words.)

    So yeah.

  121. Michael says:

    Any denom that can boast of both Thomas Schreiner and Russell Moore has a lot going for it…

  122. Xenia says:

    I certainly respect Josh.

  123. Xenia says:

    I want to say though, that even though I have said plenty of negative things about evangelical Christianity here over the years, they are the backbone of Christianity in this country and much of what is right about America today comes from them and their sincere love of the Lord.

  124. Josh the Baptist says:

    Most people are not careful and thoughtful about their faith. This is certainly true. This is also true in creedal churches, but generally when we go looking for the best example of their beliefs we aren’t finding a random backwoods pastor to quote. That is usually reserved for evangelicals.

    It just gets frustrating for people to tell me – Here is what you guys believe. I say, “No we don’t. Here are examples from some of our top guys that show otherwise” WE change subjects for a while before finally getting back to “Here is what you guys believe”.

    Anyway, you know I respect all of you. Just got a little frustrated with the lack of progression in this conversation. All is good.

  125. Kevin H says:


    I pretty much line up with you on how you think about the creeds. Most of my life and other church experiences haven’t been with those who spoke negatively about creeds or those who liked to use them. Since you had asked me about my experiences with those who were negative towards creeds, I then spoke about my CC experiences which have been quite anti-creed, anti-liturgy, and anti-denomination.

  126. Michael says:


    We had one Baptist leave here in a blaze of glory because he did believe these things and his family believed these things and he thinks me a horses ass for mocking them.

    I believe you when you say what you believe…I believe him too.

  127. Michael says:


    I see it constantly in traditional CC’s…

  128. Josh the Baptist says:

    That’s my point though Michael. You had one guy. Surely we don’t judge every tradition by their worst example? I’ve shown in this thread several others, notable, I might add, including the SBC website itself that disagree with your one guy.

    Our only Anglican church around here holds an annual gay pride picnic. Should I judge J.I. Packer by their actions?

  129. Josh the Baptist says:

    Kev – I appreciated your input. Wasn’t frustrated by it. Sorry I took this down the stupid path by letting MLD get under my skin…again.

  130. Michael says:


    I hear you…and if anything I would like to amplify you. 🙂
    When I think about the SBC these days I think of Moore…who is becoming something of a hero to me.
    I’ve pushed Schreiners works until people are now calling him “my buddy”.

    Having said that there is still a large group in your tribe that loathe both men…and those are who I think we’re addressing.

  131. Xenia says:

    I would be upset if Orthodoxy was judged by a few loonies back in Mother Russian who make icons of Joseph Stalin and Rasputin. Every group has its whackadoodle contingent.

    But being against Roman Catholicism and its trappings can be found almost universally in the evangelical world. I don’t think it’s a fringe position? Am I totally off base here?

  132. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, how did I get under your skin. I gave a pretty good SBC affirming answer to the creed issue way back before 7am with my #45 – and you picked apart both of my examples
    1.) that they were not up to scriptures and 2.) it may bind a memeber and restrict the religious freedom.

    I then quickly – like the next comment – turned my comments to the real RCC guy in the crowd = Greg Laurie and you kept coming back like a chihuahua biting at my ankles 😉

    Then I thought I gave a nice article from a Baptist who thought there was a place for the creeds in a Baptist church – you didn’t like that either. So regular conversation does not work well with some.

    There is nothing that requires the creeds to be used

  133. Josh the Baptist says:

    Michael – the SBC is full of scumbags. We’ve got all kinds of problems, the largest of which is that people aren’t coming to know Jesus through our witness.

    I’m not an SBC apologist. I do love a lot of things about the SBC, and agree with most of her convictions. I believe we have most of the finest conservative scholars in the world.

    We also have what we call the Sandy Creek tradition, which is just as influential in the convention as the Charleston tradition, which is more high-minded, educated, etc.

    The Sandy Creek tradition was born on the frontiers during the 2nd Great Awakening and has attempted to stay wild for the last 200 years. Truthfully, I owe most of my Christian heritage to that tradition.

  134. Josh the Baptist says:

    MLD – the problem is that none of your examples were true to SBC convictions, as I showed you with links from official SBC stuff.

    Don’t let that sway you though. Keep repeating the same already refuted stuff.

  135. Josh the Baptist says:

    Xenia – No, you are correct. By being a protestant, one is anti-RC.

  136. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    MLD – the problem is that none of your examples were true to SBC convictions, as I showed you with links from official SBC stuff.

    It was all relevant during my near 15 yrs with SBC
    1.) the Baptist objection was always that the creeds do not equate to scriptural accuracy – you even said they had to be perfect matches to be considered.

    2.) The SBC thought of priesthood of all believers, that individuals are free to handle scriptures for themselves may be restricted if creeds were to be held to in any authoritative way..

  137. Josh the Baptist says:

    MLD – though your wording is vague, and could possibly hold some weight, I responded to, and corrected both of those in #47. Must we go over and over the same stuff?

    I’ll let you tell me what Lutherans believe. I’ll tell you what baptists believe.

  138. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia @ 121 – “My own CC pastor believed Lutherans were too close to the RCC and were problematic.”

    And now we have here, probably their most public voice and person of greatest influence, Greg Laurie, has gone full Rome on them. 🙂

    Life does take funny turns.

  139. Jean says:

    Depending on where you live, I will admit that there is a contingent of Lutherans who also think some things which appear too Catholic-y should be avoided. I will give you 4 examples:

    1. Some Lutherans have avoided crucifixes in favor of crosses because they thought the former was too Roman;
    2. Same with genuflecting in front of the cross;
    3. Same with crossing oneself;
    4. Some Lutherans use white wine, because Rome uses red wine.

    All of these are irrational reactions to the RCC.

  140. Randy Davis says:

    Josh, Southern has no official position on creeds. In fact southern baptists have no official theology of any kind. The Baptist Faith and Message, a confession is as thin as water and cannot be imposed on any baptist except those institutions that require one to agree with it to teach, etc. the Second London confession was the most extensive and that was because it was the Westminister confession with modifications. Baptists use to include the Apostles Creed and The Athanasian Creed in their operating documents. I preached through the Apostles Creed and we recited it from time because it reminds us we are part of the larger Christian community, it is basic beliefs.

    And by the way Al Molher does not represent Southern Baptists. No one does. Al represents Al and Southern Seminary.

    If Greg what’s his name is a Southern Baptist, it’s news to me. Even so he represents no one but himself and his church.

    The Southern Baptist Convention is not a denomination, though some are trying to change that. We have a lot of common theology but if you want to know what Southern Baptists think, you have to as all of us. I don’t think like a lot others Baptists. Interestingly, I find myself agreeing with MLD a lot. Is that good or bad?

    One more statement. I have never had anything to do with CC except the music. I was listening to Love Song last night. I’m not even dispensationalist I’m an evil almil. So I have no dog in the CC discussion. But I find the discussions fascinating. And I think it is because of the diversity.

  141. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Randy Davis,
    ” Interestingly, I find myself agreeing with MLD a lot. Is that good or bad?”
    I don’t know good or bad but it does speak to good taste 😉

    “Greg what’s his name” is a Calvary Chapel pastor – big gun for over 40 yrs. He hosts the various Harvest Crusades.

    I love my Amil brothers.

  142. Em ... again says:

    over my lifetime i have been blessed… from childhood i have seen R.C. priests in my grandparents’ home showing respect to them, Presbyterian ministers likewise and the Episcopalian priest who married our spinster neighbor cordial and respectful to the two Nazarenes (where they’d moved on from the Holiness Movement)…
    i know that they all would have defended their doctrines, but respected the Faith, the evidence of Christ, in each other – or so it looked to me as a child in the 1940s… the Pentecostal preacher (well known in L.A. circles of that time) who married my grandmother’s niece however was another matter – my grandfather considered him an opportunistic bounder (there’s a story behind that – not to be told here). i just don’t listen much when folk start tearing into each other’s denominational affiliations… show me the fruit and the love of Christ and i’m happy

  143. Randy Davis says:

    MLD, Greg is speaking at the SBC next year and leading some kind of Harvest campaign. Confusing. It makes me to want to become a monk or a hermit.

  144. Lutheran says:


    I appreciate your observations on what Lutherans do to steer away from the RCC.

    Here’s a couple from my locale:

    — Relief that in the Apostles Creed, we state “holy Christian church” vs. “holy catholic church” (even though I’m pretty sure the ‘catholic’ in the creed refers to that which is believed by everyone everywhere, not the RCC). You know…just to be sure. ):

    — Using incense in the Divine Service (has never been done at my church but I’m pretty sure what the reaction would be. I think it’s a lot more common in the Anglican church.

  145. Josh the Baptist says:

    Hey Randy, about half way down that page is where I copied the “official statement”. Though I get what you are coming from, I think you’d agree that a “Position Statement” from is more official than the random guy that MLD googled from 2009.

    2 – I never said Mohler represents Southern Baptists. He is the president of our flagship Seminary. That at least says that he is fairly influential, shaping 1000’s of new pastors and all.

    3 – What are you coming at me for? Did I post something that made you think I don’t understand the SBC or how it works?

    4 – You may have some different theology, but if you can’t affirm the BF&M you won’t work at a seminary or be a missionary. That is the statement the we “all agree on”, and thus no CP money goes to funding those who don’t. (in general).

    Umm…what was your point again?

  146. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Hey Lutheran,
    I sent you an email a couple of weeks ago – perhaps its a dead email.(or you didn’t want to talk to me) 😉

    Email me mld1517 at yahoo do com

  147. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I love it when Baptists fight – it’s almost as good as girl fights. 🙂

  148. Josh the Baptist says:

    We weren’t fighting. We were having a business meeting.

    Nah, i just looked back again. Confusing that he disagreed agreed with me…about nothing. Maybe I wasn’t clear.

  149. Randy Davis says:

    Josh, not coming at you, just making some corrections. Southern is not our flagship seminary that is a Molherism. It is the oldest, but not a flagship. Money is dispersed according to size, not age which means Southwestern gets more. Everything is bigger in Texas. There are 6 seminaries that receive CP money. I went to the third one. And I noted that that one has to agree to the BF&M to teach since I have taught for NOBTS but it is not a binding statement on any church or individual for that matter. The only thing that is binding is the church has to be baptist (and that has become loosely defined) pay money and not accept homosexuals as members. That last one is hard to enforce because who knows?

    No, I do not agree about any position statement from the SBC. No one can make a position statement for the SBC, unless it is a broad, general statement. Like we follow baptist principles. The president of the SBC executive committee can make a statement for the committee. R. Moore can make one fro the ethics commission or a seminary president can make one for the seminary. But the SBC only exist 3 days of the year. See, I don’t think you understand the structure. So, I’m not coming at you, just clarifying. And for anyone else that makes a blanket statement about what S. Baptists believe. Most S Baptist have no idea how we are organized. Just to point out, Molher seems to be in favor of a soft creedalism and a Few others like Timothy George. There are several books out that says we are not anti creed, all by Calvinists

    Of course there are state conventions that are probably more important than the SBC but that is another story for another day. Hope I have not bored the others. MLB. This is not a fight but a conversation. Baptist fights involve cutting and shooting. Literally!

  150. Randy Davis says:

    Oh, I do apologize if I make anyone mad. I just have that spiritual gift it seems. I try to control it but sometimes it goes wild. It’s why I keep my mouth shut most of the time.

  151. Josh the Baptist says:

    You aren’t making me mad, Randy. Just that most of the things you have corrected me on, we actually agree on, so its a little confusing. I do understand how the SBC works, but some of that is just in theory, and then there is the real world.

    Are you gonna tell me I din’t link position statements from the SBC website above?

  152. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Randy / Josh – I know all about having a meeting.
    At a small Baptist church I was the Council president for 4 yrs and at the same time president of the elementary school board.
    In the early to mid 90s I was the chairman of the board of a 4,000 member SBC for 3 of 5 yrs on the board – and I just came off a 4 yr term on the board of my Lutheran church – the last 2 as president. All congregational governance. I have the scars to prove it.

  153. Randy Davis says:

    It’s the theory that counts and I’m saying whoever writes “SBC” positions is not representing southern baptists, It is what he or she thinks are SBC Positions. I have no Intentions of giving up my SBC heritage. I can’t help what a later generation will do. The SBC is becoming irrelevant to most churches because the leadership is made up of mega pastors and most churches run less than one hundred and the leaders have no idea how those churches operate. These little churches give their money so these leaders can make hundreds OD thousand of dollars in salaries while their pastors can’t pay their bills. This has been going on for decades. Money is declining. Many churches are sending their own missionaries. All the things that held us together are not working as well. Most churches are retreating to their state conventions and associations where they still know each other. I don’t know what the future holds for the SBC but if it abandons its root structures and try to tell local churches what to do, it will continue to decline.

    About 30 years ago seminaries started endowments because the leadership saw a day when the SBC would not be able to fund the seminaries without heavy student debt. That day has come. We still have 10-15 thousand students in seminaries and that does not include all the divinity schools that have been developed in state baptist colleges. The times they are a-changing. See CC churches are not the only ones with problems.

  154. Josh the Baptist says:

    Ehh, pretty pessimistic outlook. I’m sorry the SBC isn’t going your way right now, and I’ve already acknowledged that there is much wrong.

    There is a lot of good going on, too. We have some very good guys leading the way, and their is still freedom and authority in the local church.

    CP giving was actually way up this year. Lottie Moon offering set records.

    Chin up, buddy. You didn’t get your way in the convention, but the Lord is still at work. It will be Ok.

  155. Josh the Baptist says:

    But enough pining for the good old days…

    Randy, you sound like an interesting fellow. NOBTS is my favorite of the seminaries. Cool that you got to teach there. Did you ever work with Ed Steele? Good guy.

  156. Randy Davis says:

    It’s not about getting my way, it’s about what we are according to our constitution and bylaws and what we are becoming. In fact, your triumphalist reply show you have no idea what is going on. And It’s not just me, but pastors across the convention. Most pastors over 40 have no confidence in the leadership. And so far there is no evidence to the contrary. We just laid off 1300 seasoned experienced missionaries to be replaced by short tern mission groups that can’t possibly know the culture or speak the language. How is that good?

    CP down, there may be a blimp up but the trend for the last 10 years is down because church money is down and church money is going to continue to decline because the average church is declining. It’s not about what I think, it’s about the numbers. We have lost one million members in the last five years and that is amazing because it’s a number not normally accounted for by Lifeway. We claim 15 million members but only 5 million can be accounted for. That means we really have only 5 million members in our churches. Our decline is roughly the same as the Methodists in the 60s and 70s. These are SBC numbers, not mine.

    What has lead to our fall is sheer arrogance. Leadership has spent it’s time bragging about our size, our numbers and as if the SBC is the Lord’s work. But the Lord’s work is in the local churches not the SBC. They lie to us about the numbers all the time. That is how the IMB suddenly over spent 214 million dollars. The mega church mentality is harming us because it brings in a new kind of arrogance. Until we see repentance from the churches down to the SBC leaders, how can God bless us? In that way, we are just like every other denomination, association, or group that is in deep need of a great awakening.

    One last thing and I will shut up. On a weekly basis, we are seeing church and pastoral failures, pastors falling into sexual and other sins. One thinks of Perry Nobles and his alcoholism. We kicked a church out of our association because the pastor had an affair with a woman in his “counsel.” She ended up in a mental institution and the church would not discipline the pastor and seemed to think it was just fine. So we disciplined the church.

    Most of the men I was in college and seminary with are out of the ministry, either by their own failure, or because the church destroyed them. Often high profile pastors are caught in these problems. Churches are firing pastors at a rate of 1800 a month, according to one seminary president. And, of all things, racism has raised its ugly head in a lot of churches. I spent some time with a young man who was fired because he preached about racism and brought black children to VBS. He was still in counseling and at age 33 had no idea if he would ever pastor a church again because he was so broken. No pollyannish attitude will make these serious things go away. No strong willed leader will make it go away. I have no idea how to solve it. We are like Israel in Isaiah chapter one. We carry on as if everything is good while God does not listen to us. The only thing I see possible is if we repent from our sins and place ourselves humbly before God and perhaps he will hear us. I say perhaps because the sovereign God has no obligation to respond. We SBC people are not essential to the work of the kingdom.

    This is my last word on this matter and I apologize to Michael for taking up so much space with my drivel.

  157. Michael says:


    No apology necessary…it’s been a fascinating discussion.
    You’re bringing a lot to the table and our readers always enjoy a new meal. 🙂

  158. Josh the Baptist says:

    Ah, Stick around Randy. I need another Baptist here. It does seem that you are beat down by the years of service. All the bad the bad instances that you site are no doubt true. Is there a time in our convention’s history where there weren’t scandals. How about a time in any denomination’s history? These things will be always be with us. The wheat grow right up among the tares, sadly.

    You mentioned racism. Are you honestly going to try and tell me that racism is worse now in the SBC than the 1950’s? How about when the SBC was founded because we wanted to keep our slaves? There is a long way to go in this country, and in our convention in regards to race, but right now, it is better than it ever has been.

    The missionaries that were brought home / asked to retire early…you can’t have it both ways. In the next paragraph you talk about our former leadership over-spending by $200million. Well, the new leader (who is only around 40 himself) decided tomake the tough, but necessary changes. It is a decision that will not make him very popular, but I for one applaud it.

    AS far as what will fix the SBC – Repent of our sins? Go for it. Starts with me and you. I’m repenting daily and working to make things better. You?

    Also, the SBC will cease to exist one day, when the Lord is finished with her, and I am good with that. We are not the only people carrying the Gospel, and when we cease to be useful for the Kingdom, we should disband. I don’t think that time has come yet.

  159. Josh the Baptist says:

    What you guys are seeing between me and Randy is a larger older version of what CC is now experiencing. Randy is the traditional CC, pining for the old days when everything was great. I’m the new guy, who wasn’t around for the glory days, but like the new leadership and direction.

    Welcome to your next 100 years CC 🙂

  160. Asking says:

    Randy, Josh, honest question: when did the SBC embrace primarily reformed theology? I know that it wasn’t so n the days of Adrian Rogers, etc, but seems overwhelmingly so now. Thanks.

  161. Josh the Baptist says:


    There has always been a Calvinist wing of the SBC. I would still guess that the majority of our churches are non-Calvinist, more in line with Adrian Rogers. In the last twenty years, in line with the Young, Reformed movement in the church at large, more Calvinists have been found in leadership positions. One would assume that their influence would pass down to more Calvinist churches in the next generation.

    That being said, our current president is not Calvinist, nor was our last. Actually looking back, the vast majority of our presidents have not been Calvinists.

    Personally, I think the leadership should reflect the laity, and I think we are imbalanced towards Calvinism right now. Just my opinion.

  162. Asking says:

    Thank you. It seems the voices heard are Calvinist, Moehler, Moore, Dever, etc.

  163. Josh the Baptist says:

    Asking, that is my perception as well.

  164. Michael says:

    I think it’s a great thing to have so many able Calvinists at work… 🙂

  165. Josh the Baptist says:

    I think those guys are all great. The video I posted last week had Mohler, Moore, Platt, Danny Akin, J.D. Greaer, and Matt Chandler. I think all of those guys are fantastic. All are prominent Southern Baptists, and all are Calvinists. Maybe the last generation was unbalanced towards non-Calvinists with Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, Jerry Vines, and Johnny Hunt. Don’t know, but it never seems like we strike the right balance.

  166. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    With the Calvinist / Non Calvinist divide – what does make a Southern Baptist? Obviously not soteriology.

    I would think it would be impossible to have a Calvinist Lutheran – Just as it would be impossible to have an Arminian Lutheran.

  167. Josh the Baptist says:

    It seems that Randy would say you cannot define a Southern Baptist, but I think we rally around the BF&M.

    Key doctrines like Primacy of Scripture, Believer’s Baptism…etc. Here is the statement on soteriology. AS you see, there is room for Calvinists and non-Calvinists:

    IV. Salvation

    Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

    A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

    Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.

    B. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.

    C. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.

    D. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

    V. God’s Purpose of Grace

    Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

    All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

    SO – it actually covers two of the points int he BF&M.

    The main part of being Southern Baptist though is giving to the Cooperative Program.

  168. Josh the Baptist says:

    By that definition, a Calvinist would be welcome, but not an Arminian : “All true believers endure to the end.”

    My perception is that most Southern Baptists are non-Calvinist in their soteriology.

  169. Jean says:

    Josh, regarding this statement:

    “By that definition, a Calvinist would be welcome, but not an Arminian : “All true believers endure to the end.””

    Calvinist are monergists. I thought Baptists believed in free will, or at minimum are synergists. your statement above in #168 says:

    “Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus”

    That is Arminian, isn’t it? I don’t think a Calvinist could agree to that.

  170. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    How do SBC guys handle the double predestination stuff? The people chosen by God for the hell fires?
    Do you know if there is a preferred lapsarian position? I would guess they go for the softer of the position or just turn a blind eye to it.

    It seems like the denominations which are built on Calvinism (Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed est) can handle it in their doctrine and confessions. But SBC which seems to use Calvinism as an overlay to their doctrine couldn’t handle the hard position.

    But if you are not a Calvinist and your church isn’t it probably has not crossed your radar.

  171. Michael says:

    “Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus”

    Yes, many Calvinists do affirm this, as Calvin himself did.


    Some of the best scholars in Calvinism are working in the SBC…they can handle the hard stuff.

    There is much debate in al Reformed circles concerning lapsarianism…which I believe to be the most foolish debate in academia.

  172. Josh the Baptist says:

    MLD – My guess ( total guess ) would be that most are supra. It is not something I have heard discussed often.

  173. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “……they can handle the hard stuff.”

    I meant the hard version of double predestination – God choosing to send his choice of people to hell. By his own decree.

  174. Josh the Baptist says:

    Jean – I’m sorry because I feel like we’ve discussed this before. What we now call “traditional baptists” self-included, are neither Arminian or Calvinist.

  175. Josh the Baptist says:

    MLD – I would guess the Mohler’s of the world are perfectly fine with double predestination. Most of us are not.

  176. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I guess what I would be asking, do any of they Calvinist SBC pastor teach that form of double predestination or do the just teach the election to grace and just let the other side sit silent.

  177. Michael says:


    I haven’t checked but my guess is that those in the “Founder Movement” arm of the SBC have no issue with reprobation…

  178. Josh the Baptist says:

    I don’t personally know, MLD. I know there are very hardcore calvinists in the convention. I’m sure someone somewhere is preaching double predestination. I’d have to do some looking around to know for sure.

  179. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – our posts crossed – you answered

  180. Josh the Baptist says:

    Good call Michael. Haven’t heardfrom The Founder’s in awhile. Yeah, I bet they preach that type regularly.

  181. EricL says:

    I had to come back and catch up on the comments. Great Discussion. Funny how you can never tell which Tuesday Link will be the one to get the conversation going.

  182. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The Founders – is that like Deaver?

  183. Josh the Baptist says:

    No, Dever is with the 9 marks guys. In fact, he may be THE 9 mark guy 🙂

    Tom Ascol is one guy I remember from The Founders.

    They promulgate a largely revisionist history of the SBC.

  184. Michael says:

    The Founders predate Dever and are serious Calvinist scholars.
    I kind of cut my teeth on a lot of their stuff…

  185. Michael says:

    The Founders Journal is excellent…

  186. Josh the Baptist says:

    The Founders are correct that what they promote is historical Southern Baptist doctrine. They ignore that there has always been the other stream, the Non-calvinist stream, from the very beginning.

  187. Babylon's Dread says:

    How did I miss a discussion of creeds that has gone over 180 comments?

  188. Josh the Baptist says:

    I think I got 120 of those, so it doesn’t really count 🙂

  189. Babylon's Dread says:

    I agree that a creed is always implied but I thought the Baptists artfully navigated the nuances of a confession rather than a creed. A confession is what holds us together. A creed is what we MUST hold together.

    The Baptist have drifted into creedalism because of the wars over liberalism.

    The days of confessional unity are probably gone.

  190. Randy Davis says:

    Baptists, for the most part in the US, started out as reformed. Their theology came from the Anglicans, since Baptist were separatist, non conformist and from the Presbyterians. There were general baptists but they were not very strong. Most of the generals became Unitarians.

    The particular Baptists occupied the east coast and later were called regular baptists. During the first great awakening, the new light Congregationalists became separate baptists, really on their own. Some of the separates moved south and mixed with the regular baptists and they got along because they were all Calvinists. The separate baptists really became the country baptists in the south and the regulars became the city churches on the east coast. These are the two main streams that became southern baptists in 1845. But as revivalism set in, they began to move away from Calvinism to a crippled form of Calvinism. And eventually into Arminianism which is now the majority of Baptists. And contrary to Josh, Arminians do not necessarily believe you can lose your salvation. So, the Calvinist- Arminian division still stands. At Southern Seminary you only have to affirm 3 of the 5 points to teach there. But there has always been Calvinists among the SBC. I come close to being one except for one point. I usually side with the Calvinists when they make sense.

    But we baptists are a lot more diverse the it might appear. Our scholarship ranges outside of baptist theology , which is fairly simple. Personally I did my ThD dissertation on a German Lutheran theologian, Helmut Thielicke. I Learn a lot from him. Josh, my major was systematic theology and we read from every theological tradition. My minor was Church history. Again we read from all traditions but we read a lot concerning Baptist history. No, I’m not really the the bitter loser you try to make me out to be, I simply know the history.

    One other thing, those missionaries , who were laid off, were not volunteers. They either left with benefits or they were going to be let go without those benifits. I know several missionaries and a few trustees.

    Baptists have historically gone from one identity crisis to another. Our biggest problem is we cannot handle success. Baptists want to be important in the world. So we have talking heads trying to sound intelligent about the latest social problem. What we have forgotten is holy living.

    I’m going to be out of pocket for a while so in will be silent for the lack of wifi!

  191. Josh the Baptist says:

    Randy, allow me to apologize, sincerely. Sometimes in my interactions at this blog I get caught up in the argument and don’t communicate in the kind, gentle manner that I should.

    MLD brings out the worst in me, but he and I have been doing this a long time, and I love him. You kind of caught me in one of my fits where I was swinging wildly at him, and I’m afraid that in the melee, you caught a few errant shots as well.

    So again, I am sorry. I do not think you are a bitter loser at all, and I hate that I made you feel that way. It is obvious you are very educated, intelligent, and knowledgeable about the SBC. I’d love to learn from you.

  192. Randy Davis says:

    I am getting grumpy and old but not bitter. We need grumpy people to challenge some of the weirdness in our world. I see myself as sort of a social critic.

    We baptist have a good history in the free church tradition. I view baptists as the completion of the reformation. But the reformation is not the end of church history but a waypoint. We are in great need for a new movement.

    The great thing about being a baptistbis we can borrow from other traditions. Unfortunately we have borrowed some of the wrong things over the last 30 years. The church growth movement did not help but did the opposite. But it seems younger baptists are rejecting some of this but they are also rejecting our rich traditions that could provide some guidelines. But history moves toward and every tradition has to rise up and confront the current culture

    I find MLD stimulating. He cuts through the the manure pile so to speak. He may be a fellow traveler on the grumpy road with the gift of hindsight.

    The reason I am posting this morning because we are flooded in. That is south Louisiana for you.

  193. Josh the Baptist says:

    Randy, I agree on the Church Growth movement. My observation is that it has consolidated attenders into bigger congregations, but not as many total people are being reached. I too would love to see a new way forward.

    Hope the floods are nothing too serious down there. Stay safe.

  194. Em ... again says:

    “I am getting grumpy and old but not bitter. We need grumpy people to challenge some of the weirdness in our world. I see myself as sort of a social critic.”

    worth repeating – i’ll take honest grumpiness over devious niceness any day 🙂

    P.S. grumpy, while abrasive at times, is not another word for mean

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