by Ken Hamrick
This will be a series of informal posts chronicling my quest to understand and engage Jonathan Edwards on the ideas of necessity and certainty, and to establish where Andrew Fuller departed from Edwards’ view. In this, I’m seeking to expand the argument made in the paper, “Fuller & Inability: A Centrist Response to Tom Nettles.”
Edwards defines necessity in the following way:
Philosophical Necessity is really nothing else than the FULL AND FIXED CONNECTION BETWEEN THE THINGS SIGNIFIED BY THE SUBJECT AND PREDICATE OF A PROPOSITION, which affirms something to be true. When there is such a connection, then the thing affirmed in the proposition is necessary, in a philosophical sense; whether any opposition or contrary effort be supposed, or no. When the subject and predicate of the proposition, which affirms the existence of any thing, either substance, quality, act, or circumstance, have a full and CERTAIN CONNECTION, then the existence or being of that thing is said to be necessary in a metaphysical sense. 
He treats necessity and certainty as the same thing Continue reading
by Ken Hamrick
Having debated Calvinism for many years, I’m beginning to see the wisdom of leaving to mystery that which can never really be figured out—a view espoused by many others before me. Such a position is disdained by both sides as something of a weak and anti-intellectual compromise. But arriving at this Antinomist position after thoroughly studying the issues is to arrive in strength, not in weakness. I’ve always argued from the middle anyway, previously confident in the power of reason to explain truth. But unless the intellect is tempered by faith, it is a hindrance to real understanding; and only by faith can reason be humble enough to see its limits. Reason is just not equipped to take us beyond our finite, temporal thinking so that we can grasp the ways of the infinite, timeless God who transcends creation—that is faith’s role. Seeing that there is more to the equations involved in reality than the merely finite and temporal is also faith’s role. Accepting this, I find that I now have little interest in arguing with either side (which may be why the middle is so rarely heard from). As such, this article is intended to appeal to those who are not yet “sold out” to one side or the other, rather than to debate with those who are. The latter may strongly disagree, but I no longer feel the need to answer them beyond what is offered below. Continue reading
by Russell Moore
Tabletalk: How did you come to pursue a career as a systematic theologian and Christian ethicist?
Russell Moore: I felt a call to ministry early on and preached my first sermon at my home church in Biloxi, Miss., when I was twelve. I then drifted from that calling toward a career in politics. When I was working on Capitol Hill as a very young man, I picked up in the Library of Congress a copy of a Free Will Baptist manual on weddings, funerals, and so forth. After I returned home I wondered, “Why did I want this?” The Lord used that to rekindle my sense of His call to ministry. I never imagined how God would merge these callings together.
by Ken Hamrick
Old-Earth Creationists, who accept the evidence-based claims that the earth is billions of years old, ought to honestly acknowledge that their view does not rest on natural evidence, but upon their own prior skeptical denial of creation by divine fiat (or, command). It is dishonest to put forth such a view as being based on the evidence. Without first denying that a miraculous creation by fiat might have occurred, they would have no basis for giving weight to any natural evidence. This doesn’t mean that they have properly thought this out and realized that they must first deny the plausibility of a miraculous creation by fiat; rather, for most of them, their preconceived skeptical denial remains unrecognized, like a hidden assumption.
To answer the question, How long ago did God create the world?, they immediately look—as a matter of course—to what the scientific evidence ‘reveals.’ Ostensibly, this supposes to give equal weight to all sources of truth, whether God’s revelation in Scripture or God’s revelation in the physical world (nature). However, the bias of the scales toward nature becomes evident: whenever the two (the plain reading of Scripture and natural evidence) seem to contradict, they never opt for reinterpreting natural evidence in light of the inerrant Scripture, but always insist on reinterpreting Scripture in light of the inerrant natural evidence (at least where creation is concerned). Continue reading
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column by Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, is part of his ongoing call to prayer for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world.
NASHVILLE (BP) — Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this year was the year during which we live as “more than conquerors”? The Lord gives us the key to see how this may be accomplished in our lives — it can only be done “through Him who loved us.”
These words from Romans 8:37–39 shine as one of God’s brightest promises to His children. The passage says: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Continue reading →
While newbies in the Southern Baptist Convention might not remember the denominational explosion in 1979 when Adrian Rogers was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the senior generation of Southern Baptists surely does. A cataclysmic shift took place within the infrastructure of power in the convention ultimately leading to the “takeover” of America’s largest evangelical denomination by theologically conservative representatives. The theological notion at stake—according to most grassroots Southern Baptists at the time—was the full inspiration and total truthfulness of Scripture, a notion captured by the single word inerrancy.
The issue of biblical inerrancy was not just a theological issue among Southern Baptists. Indeed two years prior to Southern Baptists’ launch of what came to be called the “Conservative Resurgence,” the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) was founded to “clarify and defend the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.” Consequently, approximately 300 scholars, theologians, and pastor-theologians with a decidedly interdenominational profile made up the original summit in Chicago on October 26-27, 1978 culminating in the first of three historic documents being signed and published–The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Continue reading →
by Ken Hamrick
There’s something insincere about any repentant admission that says, “Yes, I’m guilty—and so are you.” I do not admit to being a racist, and neither do I think most Americans—white or otherwise—are. Many are racists, but most—or even, all? Contrary to the popular Evangelical party line these days, that cannot be established. It is not enough to point out that racism is sin, and as such, it comes from the fall of man, which affects us all. All are sinners, but not all are racists.
Some good Christian black leader, whose article I’ve since lost track of, has explained that black people view things from a racial/ethnic solidarity—that when one is unjustly treated, all feel the pain. This, I think, illuminates the differences in thinking and explains why most white people just don’t get it when it comes to racial reconciliation. Continue reading
As we near the coming of the Lord, we should be more focused than ever before. As our 50,000 plus churches and congregations partner together in gospel causes, the time is now for us to rise up like never before.
I want to ask you to consider these four things with me in 2015.
1. Personally, collectively, and cooperatively, we need to own the Great Commission.
As Southern Baptists, our missional vision is to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations. There is not one of us that can escape this vision, not because it our vision as Southern Baptists, but because it is the vision of Jesus Christ for each of us as His disciples.
When I challenge us to own the Great Commission, I mean we must own this responsibility personally. Continue reading →
SOUTH ASIA (BP) — A group of Southern Baptist pastors squeezed their way into a small area with crowds of Hindu faithful to watch the ritual slaughter of goats at the Kali temple in Kolkata, India. Those with cameras were swatted with batons by temple security guards adamant the group not capture images of the beheadings.
That scene, combined with earlier scenes of idol worship and ritualistic cleansing in other South Asian cities, was a clear reminder of why these pastors — which included Fred Luter, who was Southern Baptist Convention president at the time — had journeyed there. The Old Testament was played out right in front of them, real and tangible, even brutal. But they had come to tell South Asians that the fulfillment of the Gospel in Jesus changed everything — for all. Continue reading →
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — The phrase “Whatever it takes” is one of the North American Mission Board’s operating values. Staff members are reminded that the mission agency exists to serve Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist churches. Giving back to the community in service was a tangible demonstration of this value as staff participated Dec. 12 in the annual NAMB Day of Service.
Staff from the NAMB’s Alpharetta, Ga., office joined local ministries in a variety of service activities at Peace Baptist Church of Decatur, Clarkston International Bible Church in Clarkston and No Longer Bound of Cumming. Continue reading →
Under deep conviction by the Holy Spirit that I must do something as a Christian, a pastor, and as the current President of the Southern Baptist Convention, this past Wednesday, I conducted a conference call with four of our SBC African American pastors and two Anglo pastors. We talked openly and honestly about the growing racial tension in our nation.
The conversation we had on this conference call led to this article. When I shared with these men my desire to write on this subject, they immediately joined in and said, “Let us help, sign our names, and enlist a few others to come alongside of speaking to the issues of racism and injustice.” Various representatives of ethnicities, who have signed below, are joining us in releasing this article to the pastors, churches, leaders, and laypeople of our Southern Baptist Convention. Continue reading →
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — As a local church pastor, I am thrilled when I get to share the vision of how Southern Baptists are praying and working to reach the world for Jesus Christ. When I share with our people this grand vision and how our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is significant to what we are doing around the world, they immediately join in helping fund this vision.
With world crises occurring daily and the severity of lostness ever increasing, we have no other choice as Southern Baptists than to do all we can to take the Gospel to every person in the world. Continue reading →
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Imagine over 6,000 people groups — spanning billions of individual people — who have yet to even hear that God loves them. Some of them have never even heard the name of Jesus.
Meanwhile, Jesus has given us, as His followers, a clear command: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, HCSB).
We call this command the “Great Commission” and the Gospel the “good news” of what God has done in Christ. We owe this Gospel to the world. As Paul said in Romans 1:14, we are “obligated” to tell the nations this good news. Believers this side of heaven owe the Gospel to lost men and women this side of hell. Continue reading →
NASHVILLE (BP) — Not long ago, I was reminded again that our view of evangelism is closely tied to our view of eschatology. If we really believe Jesus is coming again soon, it will motivate us to tell as many people as possible about Christ.
The Week of Prayer for International Missions, an annual event planned at Christmas, is designed to remind us of the urgency of the hour. At the moment of Jesus’ first coming, few truly expected Messiah to come. But He did. And, oh what a difference He has made in our lives! Continue reading →
*This article was originally posted at Kevin’s website http://www.kevinstilley.com and was used [at SBC Today] by permission.
Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Commission tweeted the following comment shortly after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict a New York police offer in the death of Eric Garner.
And then the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention issued a press release in which Moore wrote:
“I’m stunned speechless by this news. We hear a lot about the rule of law—and rightly so. But a government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice. We may not agree in this country on every particular case and situation, but it’s high time we start listening to our African American brothers and sisters in this country when they tell us they are experiencing a problem.”
I thought these communications to be ill advised and tweeted this response, Continue reading →
NASHVILLE (BP) — Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are $31,959,358.96, or 2 percent more than the year-to-date SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget projection, and are 6.35 percent above contributions received during the same time frame last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Frank S. Page.
The year-to-date total represents money received by the Executive Committee by the close of the last business day of November and includes receipts from state conventions, churches and individuals for distribution according to the 2014-15 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget. Continue reading →
God’s Word is clear: “…For My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7) Jesus declared it this way: “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:13)
Announcements and promotions within the church sometimes gain a higher priority in planning and follow through than prayer. This is why the church of America sleeps. Spiritual lukewarmness is plaguing the church, resulting in infrequency of church attendance, declining churches, lagging evangelism, sagging giving, and generational disconnectedness.
Is your church a house of prayer or something else? Continue reading →
The mood in Ferguson, Missouri, is tense, after a grand jury decided against indicting a police officer for the killing of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. The tension ought to remind us, as the church, that we are living in a time in which racial division is hardly behind us. That reality ought to motivate us as citizens to work for justice, but also as the church to seek to embody the kingdom of Christ.
We haven’t as of yet sorted through all the evidence the grand jury saw and we don’t know precisely what happened in this nightmarish incident. What we do know is that the Ferguson situation is one of several in just the past couple of years where white and black Americans have viewed a situation in starkly different terms. White Americans tend, in public polling, to view the presenting situations as though they exist in isolation, dealing only with the known facts of the case at hand, of whether there is evidence of murder. Black Americans, polls show, tend to view these crises through a wider lens, the question of whether African-American youth are too often profiled and killed in America. Continue reading →
WASHINGTON (BP) — President Obama’s new executive actions to change immigration policy imperil the growing, widespread agreement on reform, said the Southern Baptist Convention’s lead ethicist.
Obama announced in prime time Thursday (Nov. 20) his orders, which include most controversially a plan to protect an estimated five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The president’s actions came after years of his own contentions that he did not have the legal authority to make or ignore immigration law. He chose to act at this time after a comprehensive reform bill approved by the Senate in 2013 failed to gain a vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Obama said.
The president’s decision to act on his own is an “unwise and counterproductive move,” said Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). Continue reading →
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd has released a motivational tool book to help pastors and churches across the SBC engage in concerted prayer for the next great awakening in advance of the 2015 annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
Floyd announced the release of his ebook in a press conference call Wednesday (Nov. 19), joined by Southern Baptist editors, writers and state convention leaders. The announcement also marked the release of the annual meeting theme, “Great Awakening: Clear Agreement, Visible Union, Extraordinary Prayer,” based on Romans 13:11, for the June 16-17 gathering.
During the conference call, Floyd highlighted several recommendations from his ebook: Continue reading →