Friday, November 30, 2007

The Seeds of Reformation

Question: Where does this statement come from:

We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, and faith, and newness of life.

In case you could not guess, it is taken from one of the historic Reformed confessions, namely the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1833. This brief confession was adopted by the New Hampshire Baptist Convention in 1833 and received wider acceptance in many baptist circles around the country.

Now where does this statement come from:

We believe that the Scriptures teach that in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the Gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith, and newness of life.

No, I have not lost my mind. Yes, it is a repeat of the above question, but I have a different answer. This second statement comes from The Articles of Faith found in the back of The New National Baptist Hymnal published by the National Baptist Convention.

The teaching of this statement on the nature of regeneration actually carries with it the seeds for a reformation in the National Baptist Convention. If men would take up the hymnal from which many of them sing every Sunday and teach themselves and their people what their church has historically confessed, they would find that the God they have long heard preached in their churches today is different from the God of the men who first adopted this confession.

I was raised in a National Baptist church. I attended Sunday School conventions and we sang out of the National Baptist hymnal. Yet, I was never taught that regeneration precedes faith (as the above statement suggests). I was never instructed in the theology that leads me to worship a God who is sovereign and to understand the theological implications for my salvation and life. Yet, all the time the hymnal from which we sung contained these truths, not just in the songs, but even in the confession.

I wonder how many National Baptist churches actually take the time to go over the confession with their people. I wonder how many of them actually instruct their children and youth in the doctrines that outline the confession of their church. I know I was not. If any of you are National Baptist could you tell me your experience with the Articles of Faith?
I find it ironic that the seeds for reformation is in the hands of the people every Sunday. Isn't that just like God?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn't the seed of reformation in the hands of everyone who is holding a comprehensible, accurate copy of the Bible?

ajcarter said...

Indeed, my anonymous friend, indeed.

Ebony Puritan said...

Hey Tony!

I can make a similar claim with the National Primitive Baptist. Although their articles are solidly Reformed (all but # 16), there are few in their circles which are following the teachings, even in my own church. I've even attended a Primitive Baptist church that couldn't tell the difference between a true Bible and a New World Translation (used by the Jehovah's Witnesses).

This, I can tell you, is a sad and dangerous problem in many denominational sects, not just the National Baptist.

Below is the link to the National Primitve Baptist Church Articles of Faith:

http://www.natlprimbaptconv.org/web04/inside/ArticlesofFaith.html

Reflections of a Black Christian Intellectual said...

Anthony:

Thank you for researching this one for me. I really enjoyed seeing the connection. While I am not Baptist, I do believe that Black Baptists have a wonderful and rich theological heritage of which they should be proud and that it should be celebrated with discernment through prayer and careful bible study.

The Soul Theologian said...

Tony,

I came through an NBC church was never taught any reformed or calvinistic principles.

Traditionalism, whooping, programs,annual days, and swapping yes.

But an emphasis an a theological paradigm no.

This is a startling revelation!

I pray for a change in their convention. Thanks for this post.


Sincerely,

Donald

The Soul Theologian said...

Sorry,

I left out the word money. So it should read "money swapping".

It is a painful disappointment in hindsight and not much has changed in 10 years.

Rae Whitlock said...

I wonder how many National Baptist churches actually take the time to go over the confession with their people.

I would further wonder how many NB pastors even know the confession in the first place.

Scotty J. Williams said...

It is amazing to see this indeed being that I too come from the National Baptist Convention, and my great grandfather and several relatives have been and are ministers within it. One interesting piece of information is that my grandmother and great-grandmother were apart of a group of the Louisiana wing of the convention that pressed for studying the confessions, creeds, and shorter catechisms. As a result my grandmother's family was Reformed (though they did and still don't know the technical term for it). What is funny is that my grandmother was telling me a few months before she died about how a lady on the mother board had attacked her years ago because she held to Reformed doctrine. When she pointed to the confession in the catechism to this sister and many others, she always got strange looks. I'm glad someone else sees this with the National Baptist Convention as well.

GUNNY said...

I was pastoring a SBC church and we used that hymnal as well. It wasn't bad, though it hindered our ability to have a more "blended" service, so we would later change to another hymnal.

However, I appreciated the "extra-curriculars" found in that hymnal as well.

The Soul Theologian wrote: "I left out the word money. So it should read "money swapping"."

What means "money swapping"?

The Soul Theologian said...

Gunny,

There's a tradition in a lot of African American churches, NBC churches in particular where they visit each others churches for late afternoon "programs" under the impression of a worship service and they exchange, offerings and checks. Hence Money swapping! That's the short version.