Baptist Successionism

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Daniel Dunivan, Oct 30, 2002.

  1. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    How has successionism influenced your group? Has this been a major emphasis for your group's historiography? If we deny succession, how do we claim catholicity? (for the discussion of this question see the tread in Baptist Theology)
     
  2. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    In Baptist circles (primarily in the South), successionism created an atmosphere of ownership and belonging for folks who had mostly been on the outside. Staking a claim to the only authentic church/faith tradition had/has a strong pull on folks who otherwise had little going for them.

    To the positive, in Southern Baptist circles, it assisted in establishing fierce local church and denominational loyalties which helped to usher in results like strong ties to mission sending agencies and seminaries.

    To the negative, it led/leads to a unneeded restriction of one's scope.

    I personally prefer the perpetuity model of church history (i.e. in every age, Christ has had churches faithful to Him) over the successionistic model (i.e. my church was founded by x church which was founded by y church which was founded by z church...which was physically established by Christ on that big old strata at Caesera Phillipi).
     
  3. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    Jonathan,

    The successionist model was primarily invented to combat the inroads that the Campbellites were making in baptist circles.

    The perpetuity model is really only a sub-model of successionism, and just as unhistorical. It would be different for you to say that God has had his "people" in all times (this would be outside the scope of historical inquiry, more or less), but to say He has had his "group"/church in all times and these are connected in some way is simply not supported in the evidence of history. After all this isn't a theological question, but a historical one. We can wish whatever we want, but history proved otherwise.

    I brought this up in another string some time ago, but do you think this has bearing on the way baptists have theologized not only about the church but things like providence, biblical inspiriation, etc.?
     
  4. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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  5. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    What you are saying is that if history doesn't support your theological claims, then the evidence is not available. And if it were available it wouldn't matter, because your narrow interpretation of scripture is infallable.

    Read my reply again. This is what I am refuting.

    What you are preposing is theological interpretaion of history--both history and theology. If your theological possitions find themselves in the arena of history, then you should allow historical inquiry the opportunity to confirm or discredit them. You are breaking what is know as the falsification principle. If something cannot be proven wrong under any circumstances, if there is no way to falsify a claim, then it lies outside of scientific (history is a science) inquiry.
     
  6. imported_J.R. Graves

    imported_J.R. Graves
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    Dear Brother Daniel,

    You wrote:
    The successionist model was primarily invented to combat the inroads that the Campbellites were making in baptist circles. The perpetuity model is really only a sub-model of successionism, and just as unhistorical.

    I must say I disagree with the above quote. The fact is that every Baptist historian of any type (Missionary, Regular, General, Primitive, Particular, Southern, Northern, etc.) before 1880 taught Baptist perpetury/succession. By that I mean that they taught that Baptist churches originated with Jesus Christ and the Apostles and that they have been Baptist churches (in doctrine) in every age since the New Testament. I have a list of about 25 historians before 1880 and everyone fits the catgory. As a matter of fact I have not been able to find even one who taught otherwise. It is pure fiction to teach that JR Graves or anyone else invited successionism to combat Campbellionism.

    As to the statement about perpeturity being unhistorical, this is a much deeper subject. However in a nutshell, yes, some of the groups claimed in the Baptist "Trail of Blood" (Waldenses, Albigenses, Paulcians, Dontatists, Anabaptists, Lollards, etc.) held to some doctrinal errors. (Excatly how much is a major point of contention) However in the main they held to Baptist principles (believer's baptism, regenerate church membership, relgious liberty, etc.). Also does anyone claim that Baptists today are perfect? Every doctrinal error that can be found in the anceint baptist groups can also be found in modern Baptist churches.
     
  7. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    What you are saying is that if history doesn't support your theological claims, then the evidence is not available. And if it were available it wouldn't matter, because your narrow interpretation of scripture is infallable.</font>[/QUOTE]Youch, who says historians can't be defensive? [​IMG]

    No, what I am saying is that Christ promised that His church would not pass from the earth. Do I need documented evidence in order to believe this (i.e. proof that faithful churches have always existed since His promise)? No.

    About my narrow interpretation of Scripture: I readily admit that I could always be wrong.

    Read my reply again. This is what I am refuting.</font>[/QUOTE]Your problem is that you can't refute this simply by pointing a lack of historical documentation.

    What you are preposing is theological interpretaion of history--both history and theology. If your theological possitions find themselves in the arena of history, then you should allow historical inquiry the opportunity to confirm or discredit them. You are breaking what is know as the falsification principle. If something cannot be proven wrong under any circumstances, if there is no way to falsify a claim, then it lies outside of scientific (history is a science) inquiry.
    </font>[/QUOTE][/quote]

    No, what I am doing is pointing to a biblical promise. BTW, I also need no historical data to support that Christ walked the earth...it's nice but unnecessary.

    My point is that just because there is no scientific evidence that shows the existance of these churches, one cannot make the claim that they did not exist. All one can claim is that there is, presently, no scientific evidence to support the claim of their existence.
     
  8. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    J.R.,

    Just because a multitude of "historians" (I would contend that the men you are describing are not historians in the truest sense) affirm something for an extended time does not defend their errors. Everyone prior to Louis Pastuer thought that milk soured because of demons. There have been times when all Christians assumed that allegorical interpretation of scripture was the only way to understand it. There have been times when everyone thought the world was flat. All of these were mistaken. No present historian affirms successionism or perpetuity on historical grounds.

    Jonathan,

    Are you saying that if someone found the bones of Jesus it wouldn't effect your belief? Our theology is tied to historical inquiry, like it or not.

    We also don't have scientific evidence to support the revelation of the book of Mormon. They do claim to have scriptural proof. Maybe you would like to say that they are right too?

    As for what you said earlier about the effect the Catholic church had upon the lack of evidence, current historical study does not rest only in the texts of the time, but also in other "sources" that would lie outside of church authority. These give no indication either.
     
  9. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    Sure and if someone pulled the curtain on the universe and found a short fat man pulling strings, it would probably affect all of us. My theology is centered on God, not the puny wranglings of flawed man. Historical inquiry is interesting but in each discovery, we learn nothing essentially new about neither God nor man.

    Your comprehension is wanting. The lack of scientific evidence does not mandate the support of a thesis. The book of Mormon is incorrect because it is contradictory to Scripture.

    So the best you can say is that you have found no documented evidence of these other groups. Does that mean that they did not exist or just that you cannot find evidence of their existence?

    [ November 01, 2002, 10:46 PM: Message edited by: Jonathan ]
     
  10. Kiffin

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    In most SBC churches I know of, Baptist Successionism is a foreign idea so I would say in the SBC it is almost a dead idea. I once held to the idea when I was a Landmaker but the theory is built upon too many obscure histories and seems to have the view if any evidence is found to contradict the view it is a conspiracy.

    The facts are that Baptists in the USA come from the English and Welsh Baptists who left the Church of England. While certaintly there is a spiritual kinship with such Baptist forerunners as the Waldenses and the Anabaptists there is no direct link between Baptists and them except to say that the English Separatists who founded the Baptist movement in the 1600's were influenced by the Anabaptists but nothing more....but early English Particular Baptists while holding to the ecclesiology of the Anabaptists held more to the soterology of the Church of England than the Arminian theology of the Anabaptists. Baptists in the end are children of both the Radical Reformation of the Anabaptists and the English Reformation of the Church of England.
     
  11. rsr

    rsr
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    I think you've got it right, Kiffin.
     
  12. imported_J.R. Graves

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    Dear Brother Daniel,

    You wrote:
    Just because a multitude of "historians" affirm something for an extended time does not defend their errors.

    You are absolutely right. Just because everyone has always believed something doesn't make it true. However this point does destory the opinion that successionism is a result of Campbellism or JR Graves. It existed long before either of them.

    You also wrote:
    No present historian affirms successionism or perpetuity on historical grounds.

    How can you make such a statement? Have you contacted all of the church historians teaching in Baptist seminaries? Or did you read this statement in a book somewhere and are just repeating it? While the English Separatist theory is held by the majority, I know of a number of Baptist historians, teaching in Baptist schools, who hold to either Anabaptist kinship or Baptist Perpeturity on historical grounds.
     
  13. Dr. Bob

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    Baptist Successionism has driven some AWAY from "exclusive" (us and no more) Baptist circles and into more "inclusive" circles (like the Free church I pastor).

    I emphasize it very slightly as I find the subject divisive. :rolleyes:
     
  14. rlvaughn

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    Successionism has greatly influenced the group(s) of my direct heritage - Baptist Missionary Association and American Baptist Association. I am not currently affiliated with either group. Certain landmark beliefs, carried to their logical extension, eventually divided these groups from the Southern Baptist Convention. But I do not think successionism itself led to the division, as the Convention leaders in Texas and Arkansas (where the major division occurred) would have been successionists as well. Do you mean has it influenced their historical research? If so, I would say yes. But I am also quick to assert that I am just as suspicious of the effect of ecumenism on the climate of the present-day research of certain scholars. For example, see my reviews of " The Baptist Identity - Four Fragile Freedoms" by Walter Shurden in the books section of the Baptist Board.
    Yes.
    I would think that some kind of perpetuity (at least of the faith) would be necessary for catholicity or unity of the New Testament church and the 21st century church.
    This is historically incorrect, as the successionist model can be shown to have pre-existed the Campbellite controversy by at least a century or two. Successionism was used to combat Campbellism, but it was not invented for that purpose. Interestingly, A. Campbell himself must have held to a kind of successionism for a time.
    But their affirmation of the thing does show that it (the affirmation of the thing) existed, which is all that is necessary to make the point that the "for combatting Campbellites theory" is incorrect.
    This statement is too broad in that it assumes more than can be believed - that you are familiar with all present historians, that you are familiar with their position on succession and/or perpetuity, and that you are qualified to judge all their qualifications and positions. If you mean that of those you recognize as historians, none affirm successionism or perpetuity, that is a different matter. Most people that are familiar with the current climate in historical study among Baptists would acknowledge that those holding the "English Separatist theory" are presently in the vast majority. That no more proves that they are right than the fact that successionists were once in the vast majority proves they were right.
     

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