A fresh look

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by Iconoclast, Aug 23, 2015.

  1. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast
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  2. rsr

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    A reminder to keep the discussion civil. I don't want name calling and vituperation; this is a discussion forum, not a debate forum, and civil discussion is required.

    Now, as to the substance of the article:

    I think the evidence is overwhelming that calvnistic soteriology was widespread among the Baptists of the the first Great Awakening, though not always in a form amenable to a simple TULIP theology. The Separates came out the calvinistic preaching of Calvinist George Whitefield, after all, and it seems clear that the documentary trail points to calvinistic doctrines among the Separates as they spread through the South and along the frontier.

    The author rightly does not set out to prove that Calvinism has been the only soteriology among American Baptists; his point is to prove that Calvinism is not new to Baptists and Calvinists once dominated Baptist life. I think the first is easily provable, and the second is fairly well-established, though "Calvinism" could take various forms among American Baptists.

    On the first point, there is some evidence that General Baptist thought was alive among New England Baptists before the first Great Awakening; First Baptist Church of Providence split in 1652 and became a Six-Principle Baptist church (not Calvinist), leading to the formation of the first Baptist association in the English colonies, which also was not Calvinist.

    And the Free-Will Baptists predate the rise of the Separates, founding a church in North Carolina in 1727.

    As I said, it seems clear that calvinistic Baptists held sway not only in the older Regular churches of New England the Mid-Atlantic, but also in the new churches of the South and the frontier. Otherwise the union of the Separates and Regular would have been unthinkable.

    But -- one can wonder how deeply the new churches were committed to calvinistic soteriology. The author credits a new culture set free by the Revolution as leading to more Arminian influence in the Baptist churches. That may well be, although I suspect that cross-pollination with the thriving Methodist evangelists on the frontier contributed to a blurring of theological distinctions.

    Circumstantial evidence lies in the rise of Campbellism on the frontier. Alexander Campbell, though not initially anti-Calvinist, had a different understanding of baptism than the Baptists did, which would eventually become clear.

    From John Mark Hicks, “‘God’s Sensible Pledge’: The Witness of the Spirit in the Early Baptismal Theology of Alexander Campbell,” Stone-Campbell Journal 1 (Spring 1998) 5-26, as quoted in Hicks' "Mediating the War between Arminians and Calvinists on Election and Security: A Stone-Campbell Perspective," Stone-Campbell Journal 6 (Fall, 2003): 163–184.

    And that understanding was rooted in disagreement over the doctrines of grace. The fact that so many churches and associations split or went over to the Restorationists suggests that what we might consider the traditional view of calvinistic theology was not so strong among those churches as their statements of faith and their lineage would lead us to believe.
     
    #2 rsr, Aug 23, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 27, 2015
  3. rsr

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    I take it that the response was unsatisfactory.
     
  4. Reformed

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    Icon drives a big rig for a living. He is not always able to respond quickly. I am sure he will respond when he is able.
     
  5. rsr

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    That came out much snarkier than was intended. My apologies.
     
  6. agedman

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    Just a bit of clarification upon which you posted.

    Actually, some "Six principle Baptists" WERE also calvinistic in their views. Holding to the six principles laid out in Hebrews does not an Armenian or Calvinist make.

    Roger Williams who was schooled in Cambridge, associated with the church of England as a minister, was a calvinistic thinker.

    His disagreement over the rigid puritan "not right with God" thinking as well as the baby baptism is what led him to separate and join the separatists who were generally calvinistic in thinking, also.

    Certainly, the church Williams began did become Armenian thinking for a bit of time, however, during the mid to late 1700's they switched back to the Calvinistic thinking and generally remained.
     
  7. agedman

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    I have had occasion to confront more than one church that had no idea that their statement of faith and doctrine were not in step with what the people were being taught from the pulpit.

    There are a number of Baptist preachers who want to "cherry pick" quote Spurgeon, call him the "prince of preachers," and hold him in esteem, yet would not allow him to preach to their own congregations, today - because he was Calvinist and the truth he consistently taught rubs them the wrong way.
     
  8. rsr

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    It appears that calvinistic churches existed within the fellowship for a time, but they were a minority. The wording I used was "non-calvinist," in that the Six Principle Baptists did not -- like the later Regulars -- explicitly embrace calvinistic soteriology.

    Certainly much depends on the time period being examined. Calvinistic Baptists declined among the Six Principles over time, so that by the First Great Awakening the split was total.
     

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