Awakening to the Possible Implosion of the Southern Baptist Convention

by Dr. James Willingham

We have just had notice of one of our largest reductions in our missionary force in history.  Could it be the harbinger of things to come?  While we are in economic decline, I would call attention that in at least three areas in my state and in two of them in other southern states we have seen the removal of jobs and income of  our members who gave generously.  Since the late eighties, we have had textile and furniture plants moving either South of the border or overseas.  In addition, there is the repudiation of tobacco (probably not a bad idea in itself, due to the threat to health), but a problem for Baptists in two or three states.  Churches in the tobacco areas were consistent givers to the CP and Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offerings.  With the removal of the textile and furniture jobs, however, we had a real problem as such forms of employment along with others in industry reduced employment in many states. of the SBC.  The effort to get retrained and then to find that the jobs were limited in the fields of new employment (e.g., medicine, technology) has been a real bummer.  Automation, robotics and computerization have likewise removed many jobs from the economy.  Just look at the flying robot arms on an auto assembly line. Continue reading

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Awakening to Persuasion as the Only Method God Allows Us to Use

by Dr. James Willingham

“We persuade men.”  So wrote Paul in II Cors.5:11.  In that instance, he preceded his remark with these words, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord.”  However, the term for persuade means that we seek to win people by reason and reason alone.  We do not pull stunts.  We do not manipulate.  One evangelist of whom I heard many years ago told a deliberate lie.  Having called for a show of hands after a week of preaching without any results, he was determined to get decisions.  When no one raised a hand, he acted like they had and said, “I see you young man.  I will pray for you.  I see you young lady.  I will pray for you.”  He continued that way for some time, and the pastor and his deacons who had not bowed their heads saw that none raised their hands.  Finally, someone did raise a hand. Continue reading

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The Awakening To The God-Given Faith

Awakening a Thousand Generations

     The Third Great Awakening will involve the awakening to the fact and reality of the God-given faith.   In Mk.11:22 the KJV, ESV, and many other versions render the phrase as, “have faith in God.”  However, the form in the Greek is in the Genitive-Ablative case (if you use A.T. Roberson’s eight case declension of nouns and adjectives or the Genitive, if you don’t).  The Genitive, of course, refers to the source of faith, that is, a faith that is from God or a God-given faith.  Interestingly enough, I first encountered this in a center column reference in one of my KJV Bibles many years ago.  As I checked it out in the Greek, I became convinced that that is the best rendering, that it tells us the kind of faith we are supposed to have, the faith that comes from God.  A sermon which I have preached on the…

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Admonitions to a Disappointed Young-Earther

This article was also published at SBC Voices

by Ken Hamrick

Recently, I came across a paper in the Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry, written by Dr. Kenneth Keathley in 2013, entitled, “Confessions of a Disappointed Young-Earther.”[1] The piece is well done and gives an informative summary of the various arguments and supposed problems of the Young-Earth Creationism movement. After reading it, I must say that I’m just as disappointed as Dr. Keathley, but for different reasons. I’m disappointed that the enemy, who is delegitimizing the truth-claims of Christianity by undermining the authority of Scripture, is often met with so little resistance and so much well-meant, reasonable-sounding cooperation. I’m disappointed that not even the best among us are immune from a skeptical evidentialism. And I’m disappointed that one so capable of competent reason would falter in thinking that evidence has bearing on the question of a recent miraculous creation.

I’m no scientist, and I do not claim to be able to present all the scientific intricacies of the various arguments. To be fair, there do seem to be some valid points brought against Young-Earth “creation science” and even a few points in support of it. Nevertheless, I do not argue for a “young” earth, but for an old earth recently created—what Dr. Keathley presents as Philip Henry Gosse’s “Omphalos argument” or the mature earth view. The Bible clearly and explicitly reveals a recent creation by divine fiat. Miracles being what they are, we should not expect to find proof in physical evidences for this recent miraculous act. But, neither should we expect the secular scientific view to be free from error, overconfidence, and overreaching. Ultimately, though, the scientific argument is irrelevant to the vital question at hand—and that fact is sadly missed by Young-Earthers and Old-Earthers alike. Continue reading

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Awakening to a New Scientific Method

Awakening a Thousand Generations

About nine years ago, I was engaged in a discussion with a woman who was the science educator for county school system.  At that time she was working on a Ph.D. in science education and the state’s leading university.  During the conversation I said to her, “You know there is a problem with the present scientific method, namely, the null hypothesis.  What does one do, when the null hypothesis is also true.”  She looked at me with a startled expression: “How did you know that?”  After all, I was a poor dumb preacher, and what is he supposed to known?  I went on to explain that I had stumbled across the problem, while writing a master’s thesis in American Social and Intellectual History some 35 years earlier. It had turned out that both my thesis and my null hypothesis were true.

The problem with the present method is that it…

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Awakening to an Asymmetrical Reality

by Dr. James Willingham

The truth is that we are seemingly tied to a logic of consistency, not realizing that he who is consistent with himself is consistent with a fool.  As there is the rational, so is there the suprarational. based on factors, as the saying goes, that transcend the rational.  Actually, I don’t if I agree with that definition from Webster’s/  After all, there is a theory of chaos which finds that even chaos has laws that govern the formation of the irregular, etc.  In any case, when one puts the whole together, it is obvious that we have a macro and micro universe, from the largest to the smallest and these are interrelated.  The point is that the whole is asymmetrical, at least to human observation, and any theory of the whole must take into account that fact, the fact of the asymmetrical.  Likewise the same is to be found in theology.  Wonderful consistency does not exist this side of Heaven itself.  God has left us to deal with the problem, requiring that we learn to think outside the box, that we come to understand that any logically coherent theory must take into account the quantum as well as the magnum (if that is the proper term).

In any case, the asymmetrical theological approach is able to comprehend with a rational explanation the reality of both the Divine and the human factor as in the deity and human it of Christ and the human and the divine elements in the inspiration of Scripture. Continue reading

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The Awakening Reality

by Dr. James Willingham

“Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.”(Gen.28:16).  In a lonely place where he made his pillow of stones, Jacob awoke to the realization that Another was also present in that location, namely, the Lord Himself.  The presence of God and His omnipresence and, in particular, His special presence is a truth that is seldom considered in this day and time.  That it should be otherwise, we cannot doubt.

After all, the Apostle Paul made specific mention of God’s omnipresence in his sermon on Mars Hill in Athens: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.”(Acts17:28).  Just prior to that remark, he had declared that the Lord was “not far from every one of us.”  The fact that in Him we live and move and have our being brings Him up close and person.  He is here and now.  The sense of God’s presence is what moves sinners to cry for mercy, to seek His forgiveness, especially when His presence is overwhelming in such attributes as holiness and judgment and sovereignty and wrath and love.  Just consider how, Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me,” when he saw the Lord high and lifter up in the temple and heard the Seraphims cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”(Isa.6:3,5) Continue reading

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Awakening to the Hardships of Second Class Citizenship

by Dr. James Willingham

The recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the US, an exercise in political correctness much desired by the folks who run things, is beginning to bear the expected and desired fruit, namely, that of making Christians second class citizens in their own country, the nation our ancestors and predecessors founded.  Yes, this was a Christian nation.  The Supreme Court in 1792 and in 1892 said so.  However, it was not a Christian nation, because the Court’s ruling made it so; the court then was simply recognizing a reality.  What was the basis for calling America a Christian nation?  It was the fact that the Bible was at the root of its laws.  When President Washington kissed the Bible at his first inauguration, he was simply recognizing the truth about the source of the laws for the new nation.  Contrary to the effort to sell us a deistic origin for the USA, King George acknowledged that his colonies had run off with a Presbyterian parson.  That was a bit of an overstatement.  Had he said they ran off with a biblical parson that would have been closer to the truth.  After all, the Congregationalists, Baptists, Reformed, Presbyterians, Episcopalians,  along with the Lutherans and a few others, had a lot to do with the founding of this nation. Continue reading

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Is your accountability group like the Kingdom, or is it more like a water cooler?

success-failure

by Mike Nichols

Men need accountability. Look at any biblical model you choose to study, and you will see that every leader had someone to whom He was accountable.

Moses had his father-in-law, and he had Aaron. David had Jonathan, and then Nathan – whether he wanted the latter or not. Christ had the ultimate such partner, His Father, but He also had His “inner circle” of Peter, James, and John whom He taught but also with whom He shared His human thoughts and concerns. Paul had first Barnabas, then Silas, perhaps even Luke. Accountability keeps us focused on God, on being humble, on admitting our faults, and on repentance and growth in Christ.

Promise Keepers started the modern conversation on accountability anew when it burst on the scene in the ‘90s. Every man who is familiar with the wildly but only briefly successful men’s movement knows the “Seven Questions” and how awkward they can be when you don’t want to answer them, particularly the dreaded last one: “Have you been truthful in answering the other six questions?” Continue reading

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Teens and College Students, Attention: Ten Things Guaranteed to Ruin Your Life Before Age 30

photo for sbc open forum

by Mike Nichols

If I said to you, “I’ve got a plan for you to take ten easy steps that will ruin your life,” would you jump at the opportunity? Of course not! “Ruin my life” is not exactly the stated goal of the average high school or college graduate. No one tacks that to a bulletin board to remind themselves to take steps toward accomplishing ruination today. It isn’t anyone’s essential in a life plan. Teens don’t dream of becoming an alcoholic or drug addict, students don’t enroll in college-level courses teaching how to go bankrupt, and newlyweds don’t say their vows planning to fail one another or themselves.

Ruination occurs when we are faced with tough decisions, and make the wrong choices. The plan may be to do well, but the execution lacks commitment. These are the tough decisions your family has helped you make, up to this point. But you are now entering a phase in your life when the only one who can make those tough decisions is you. You are now old enough to be making important decisions about life, but young enough for those decisions to go south and become disastrous rather than successful.

How can you avoid making such mistakes? Below are ten things people can do to ruin their lives before age thirty. These are things not to do, or things to stop doing immediately if you already do them. Continue reading

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Awakening to the Intellectualism of the Bible

by Dr. James Willingham

The Bible is an intellectual book; it is the most intellectual book ever written.  Holy Writ tells us of the Being who inspired it:  the God who is Omniscient.  Since Scripture is so inspired, it follows that we can expect that it should reflect the intelligence commensurate with such a source.  The source of Omniscience is revealing Himself (the masculine term is used in deference to the revelation God has made of Himself in the Book – not to any chauvinistic adherence.  God is truly above the sexual differences between male and female, having created them for His own purposes.  As to the pronoun usages which indicate sex, the real purpose is to make known that the Being who created us is personal.  In fact, there are three persons, the three person God, three in one) in a manner that communicates with human beings.  The use of logic in the written word, Roms. 12:1, reasonable service in the KJV, in the Greek, logikan,  a form of the term for logic, tells us that God is communicating in a logical, rational manner or, in other words, He is communicating in a manner to be understood.  The problem with the understanding will, usually, be the result of dislike for the ideas, concepts, precepts, practices, and natures revealed. Continue reading

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Awakening to Biblical Egalitarianism

by Dr. James Willingham

In these days of recovery of the Reformation and its theological perspectives, we find that we face a complementarianism that is careless, thoughtless, and lacking in historical research.  One of the major failures of the complementarian position is the failure to recognize that authority is a function of position, not a given that is hard and fast, never to be question, examined, etc.  We have forgotten that even the King was under law, the argument of Samuel Rutherford in Lex Rex.  We have also forgotten that the ekklesia is a body members who are considered to be equals.  Beginning with the Greeks, it was incipient democracy.  We have also forgotten that the Pilgrim congregation was an outgrowth of a Separatist movement in the Church of England which recognized that every member in the church had a part in the government of the said body.  In other words, we have the beginnings of congregational government.

Congregationalism came to full flower in America with the Puritans and the Baptists in particular.  John Robinson, the pastor of the Pilgrims who did not make it to America and who did participate in the debates over the Synod of Dordt, handed us a key to the intellectualism of the Bible, when he declared, “Who knows what new light is getting ready to break forth from God’s word?”  Continue reading

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Awakening to the Great Conspiracy

by Dr. James Willingham

Conspiracy is a subject the evokes disdain, unbelief, and ridicule.  However, the truth is that it is a biblical doctrine, one plainly taught in no uncertain terms, one the flies in the face of the brainwashers, the propagandists, and their manipulated mouthpieces.  Listen to Psalm 2:2,3: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and case away their cords from us.”  Those verses are a good prophecy of the conspiracy that sought to rid the earth of our Lord, when He was here in the flesh. And Daniel 2 speaks of the OLD IMAGE THAT BEGINS WITH THE HEAD OF FINE GOLD AND CULMINATES IN THE FEET AND TOES OF IRON AND CLAY (2:32-35), the last part surely extending into our day and time in history.

Iron and clay do not mix too well; they are images of strengths and weaknesses.  The cabal that runs the world today is a mixture of power and force with fault and defect.  Right now the numbers seem to be in their favor until we remember that one plus God is a majority.  In any case, the ruling of the US Supreme Court today clearly displays the reality that there are people behind the scenes who have been manipulating things in order to achieve the goal of licentious behavior.  Continue reading

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Awakening to the Most Compassionate Book Ever Written

by Dr. James Willingham

The most compassionate Book ever written was and is and ever shall be the Bible.  Even what seems to be its most repulsive parts have some caring, loving purpose involved, especially when viewed through the lens of some other verse or verses bearing on the same issue.  Consider Psalm 2:4: “He that sits in the heavens shall laugh:  The Lord shall have them in derision.”  Now view the same verse from the perspective of Luke 19:41, where Jesus “beheld the city, and wept (great wracking sobs, so I understand) over it.”

The whole affair involves the most abasing, abrasive, and abhorrent issue in all of Holy Writ, namely, the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Think of how the cross was regarded up to that date and even beyond.  Think also of how the death of that one man changed our perceptions of the cross: it is now the symbol of God’s loving willingness to identify with sinners in their desperate need.  The tree, as it is also called, seems to stand in opposition to every thing we would expect of God, and yet such is the case.  But it is the vent on the cross that is the reason for such a change.  There in that cruel display of unjust law, Jesus shed His blood as the atonement for our sins, shed His blood to redeem us from our sins, shed His blood to reconcile us to God, shed His blood that we might have new life, new hope, new love, and a new Lord. Continue reading

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Awakening to a Future Unimaginable and Incomprehensible

by Dr. James Willingham

Yesterday I began to download a paper on teleportation published by Warp Drive Metrics and carrying the approval of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.  Teleportation!  Imagine that!  As in “Beam me up, Scotty!”  I have printed some 30 pages of the 88 page paper, and it reads like a serious, scientific discussion of the various forms of teleportation (and I thought there was only one, generally sci/fi, until a few years ago).  The fact that an outfit bearing the title, Warp Drive Metrics, should have been commissioned to do the work surely implies that there is more, much more, to the whole subject, one that has a background going back more than a few decades.

And then there is the science educator on youtube discussing faster than light travel, like perhaps, as much as 200 times the speed of light.  We also had the testimonies of several engineer alumni of UCLA telling about the late Ben Rich, former head of the Skunk Works of Lockheed (developer of the stealth programs), speaking at a meeting in ’93 or ’94 and saying, “If E.T. were to come to us and asked for help in getting home, we could take him there.”  Imagine what that has to say about the Physicist, a Dr. Alcubierre, of the University of Mexico, who set forth a theory in ’94 or ’95 for faster than light travel. Continue reading

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Awakening to the Smiting of the Iron and the Miry Clay

by Dr. James Willingham

Daniel speaks of the iron and the miry clay in the feet of the image of a great evil, a monstrous cabal throughout history, since the days of the Babylonians.  Did Washington know it, when he spoke of the illuminati being in the land. For the past103 years a cabal has run this nation, involving it in a series of wars, causing depressions, and use the cover that monetary system to rob the American people as Jefferson indicated they would do.  It is perhaps the last great struggle before the 1000 generations (note: not a millennium of years but of generations) of the peaceful settlement of THE starry heaven (mt.24:31).  The stone smiting the old image in its feet, hits it in its weakest point, the feet of iron and miry clay.  Without its feet, the image cannot stand.  But what of the stone?  The stone represents the Gospel which is found to fit the age and every age like interlocking parts, so to speak.  Our failure is twofold, a failure to understand the cabal in its strengths and weaknesses (note the miry clay is not even mentioned in the smiting).  The strength is in the iron, but it cannot endure due to the miry clay and the smiting of the stone.

The stone has been set before us in the Great Reformation, the First and Second Great Awakenings. and the launching of the Great Century of Missions.  That stone is the theology is the Gospel, the Good News of the theology preached and taught in those visitations. Continue reading

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Awakening to the Lost Masterpiece of Reprobation

by Dr. James Willingham

Reprobation seems to be one of the most reprehensible of doctrines.  It is often portrayed as simply being predestined to Hell.  Actually, it a decision of God to let the sinner alone, to leave him or her in their sins.  The condemnation to Hell is for sins actually committed – not because of reprobation.  All men are lost, fallen, sinful, dead in trespasses and sins.  Dr. John Gill declared that God did not decree to damn any man but for sin.  It is sort of like giving the criminals the leeway to commit a crime in order to make their conviction sure.  To put it another way, they condemn themselves.

Interestingly enough, the doctrine of reprobation is just as much a doctrine of invitation to salvation as is the doctrines of predestination, total depravity, unconditional election, particular redemption, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.  We find our Lord combining depravity and reprobation in His statement to the woman of Canaan, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.”(Mt.15:26)  The term dogs is a denigrating word in church history; it expresses how the Jews felt toward the Gentiles in our Lord’s day. Continue reading

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Awakening to the Lost Masterpiece of Perseverance of the Saints

by Dr. James Willingham

“If I believed that, I would be the happiest person in the world.”  This was the saying of a Methodist lady in the 1800s to her Baptist friend, when the latter presented to her the teachings on the perseverance of the saints or eternal security as it is sometimes called.  Actually, the doctrine involves two ideas, namely, perseverance and preservation, and it is not meant to be an indulgence for a person to live any old way the pleases or, rather, it is intended for a person to live any old way he or she pleases so long as that way is pleasing to the Lord.  The precepts that promote perseverance in the Bible are intended to move the believer to become responsible, to take responsibility for his or her conduct.

There are times, when one must stress perseverance.  At other times the idea of preservation must be emphasized.  Sadly, some have put so much weight on the preservation of the saints, eternal security, it would seem, that many have in the 20th century taken it for a license to self indulgence.  Others have used perseverance in such a way as to cast doubt on the possibility of anyone every succeeding in finishing the course as a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Continue reading

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Awakening to the Lost Masterpiece of Unconditional Election

by Dr. James Willingham

Picking upon the theme of the doctrines of grace constituting a lost masterpiece, we will look in this post upon unconditional election as a lost masterpiece of evangelism,   Certainly, it is true that this doctrine was a part of the body of divinity, a term used in years gone by to describe the theology of biblical faith, which played such an important role in the Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions (the Modern Missionary Movement).  The preaching of so many of the leading ministers of the 18th century was very much concerned with setting forth these truths with a view to winning people to Christ, that is, the evangelism of the lost.  Our Lord apparently thought unconditional election  was a doctrine of evangelism, because He used it in two cases, one with wonderful results and the other with sore outcome.  And, in both cases, His teaching of the truth of unconditional election was of someone else being the chosen persons.

In both cases, as we shall see, it is not only election that our Lord preaches, it is that some else is the elect and not the person involved. Continue reading

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Awakening to the Lost Masterpiece of Irresistible Grace

by Dr. James Willingham

“Oh, it was so wonderful that I could not resist it.”  Those were the words that a convert uttered in response to the pastor who had won her to Christ, when he asked her, “Why did you respond so readily.”  He had used one of those soul winning patterns often recommended and frequently used by so many today who believe that it is all up to man and his or her free will decides.  However, if we look at John 6:44,65, we find the word draw used, a term also used to describe the drawing of a sword from the scabbard and of dragging Paul and Silas through the streets.  Hardly illustrations of power that can be successfully resisted.

Even so, the idea of the Gospel being so winsome that one cannot resist it has often been stressed in the history of the church, especially do we find this to be the case in many of the converts of the First Great Awakening.  Illustrative of this idea is a circular letter by one converted in the period of the that awakening.  The author was John Gano, and the circular letter bore the title, Effectual Calling, a term also used to describe irresistible grace.  The idea stressed is that grace is successful.  Ps.65:4 gives a statement that describes it:  “Blessed is the man whom you choose and cause to approach unto you.”  The Hebrew verb for cause is the Piel, the verb used to describe the causative idea (if memory serves correctly).  In any case, I do know that it is the causative verb form. Continue reading

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