Friday, March 07, 2008

calvinism, baptist, wesley and Jesus

I some times wonder what has happened to the churches that we are members and servants of. Better yet, I wonder how have become the way we are. When did certain things come in to existence and when did doctrines change. This is an amateurish recollection with many overreaching characterizations and personnel biases but then again it is my blog. I expect to hear rebuttals, corrections, and rebukes, but I lovingly and gladly welcome them. It will be wonderful to dialogue about this and a chance for us all to become wiser.

From my reading it seems that there were always two groups of Baptists. Freewill and Predestined. You might have seen them written about as General and Particular. As I remember reading (and will now have to go and read more about) the General Baptist were Arminian in nature. Over time these Baptist were intertwined and with various other faith groups and dissolved into their ranks or we infected by their doctrines. The short of it, they disappeared. This left the Strict Baptist, Calvinist Baptist, Reformed Baptist, Particular Baptists or how ever you want to define them, appear to be the only Baptist group as they migrated to the Americas. Now we know that some of those pesky Free Willer’s got past the border patrol but for the most part it seems that Those that came over were establishing Churches that would have that we were Strict Baptist.

Over time this would change. For many years Churches in America were quarter time or halftime, meaning they would meet once a month or twice a month. Pulpits in churches were filled by Baptist half the time and Methodist the other. This led to a congregation having many different theologies presented to them. Additionally this influx also led to Arminian theology being injected into the church by Wesley’s circuit riders. In some case membership in these dual congregation churches was determined on who baptized you.

There are still some churches that operate this way. I heard of one in the 90’s that passed two offering plates one for each denomination.. One hilarious story of a bi-congregation tells of a Baptist Preacher that had many decisions made after he preached an in the days following. A loyal Methodist wired a message for the quarter time Methodist preacher so he could baptize them before the Baptist pastor could return. Apparently a sprinkle a day would keep the Baptist away and place them on the roll of the Anglican off spin. In some cases these churches were filled with people that were honest attending both as they sought the Lord. In short, they attended church and it just happened to be Methodist that Sunday which was better than no church. At other times, they were just going to the only entertainment venue in the area. Unfortunately the Calvinist Methodist like George Whitefield and Charles Simeon did not spread as far as the Wesleyan-Arminian version.

Revivals during this time were also spinning changes in doctrine. As people with out discipleship and poor education tired to discern the Bible, devolution or Biblical regression took place. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit some found pay dirt. Others did not. In some cases even unregenerate men preached and spread heterodox doctrine. The addition of new doctrines like Dispensational Theology also sprang up as the winds shifted.

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