Monthly Archives: August 2009
On Books and Blurbs
Why Calvin is More Biblical than Some Calvinists
Weighing the Pro’s and Cons of Twitter
Unpacking Forgiveness – Chris Brauns
Manhunt – James Swanson
Your Jesus is Too Safe – Jared Wilson
How to Give Away Your Faith - Paul Little (Summary, Reflections)
Are You the One Who Is to Come? – Michael Bird
The Politics of Abortion – Anne Hendershott
Jesus as Messiah: An Interview with Michael Bird
Romanian Baptist forum on SBC “Rebaptism”
“Rebaptism” – Diagnosing the Problem
On the Baptism of Small Children
On Catechism Before Baptism
New Endorsements for Holy Subversion
Remove Our Idols and Hindrances, Lord
Tear Down My Dearest Idol
May We Know You More Clearly
Cleanse Us from Our Offenses
You Are My Righteousness
In the Blogosphere
Notable Items from Augusts Past
You are my righteousness,
I am your sin.
You took on you what was mine;
yet set on me what was yours.
You became what you were not,
that I might become what I was not.
- Martin Luther
For a Romanian translation of this prayer, click here.
Tullian Tchividjian is the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL and the author of Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different and Do I Know God?: Finding Certainty in Life’s Most Important Relationship. Tullian is also a friend of mine who looked over early versions of Holy Subversion and offered valuable encouragement.
I’m thankful for Tullian’s friendship and for his kind words about Holy Subversion.
“With Francis Schaeffer-like instincts and insight, Trevin Wax aptly identifies the idols of our time and compellingly calls Christians to live against the world for the world.
He blazes a trustworthy trail for those who yearn to make a long lasting difference in the world by showing that Christians make a difference by being different; they don’t make a difference by being the same.”
–Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and author of Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different.
This is the final installment in this week’s Romanian forum, in which we are discussing Romanian Baptist practices regarding conversion, discipleship, and baptism. (Read Parts 1 & 2 and info about the participants.)
Trevin Wax: How do you deal with teenagers and adults who repent and believe?
Marius Cruceru: Usually, we spend 10-12 weeks catechizing them. After that, they go through a period in which we supervise their spiritual state. After that, we invite them before the elders for an interview. At the end, we have them testify publicly before the church how they came to Christ. And finally, they are baptized.
Doru Hnatiuc: We take them through a catechesis that focuses on discipleship, spiritual growth, and doctrinal clarification.
Corneliu Simut: I think we could make some improvements here. Generally, Baptist churches hold evangelistic services throughout the year and then fix a date for a baptismal service. The problem is that if the baptism is in the month of August, and yet we begin evangelism in January, there might be a number of people who repent during those months. Those who repented in January will go through more catechesis than those who repented in July; and yet we still baptize them all in August.
What do we do with the teens and adults? We catechize them and then seek to involve them in church ministry. We have some problems here too. We tend to direct them to only a few places of service (choir, orchestra, etc.) when there are …
This week, I am posting a forum with several Romanian Baptist pastors and theologians on the problem of “rebaptism” in the SBC. (Click here for information about the participants, and here for yesterday’s forum.)
Trevin Wax: How do you deal with children who repent and believe?
Corneliu Simut: Usually, we explain that it is better to wait until they are a little older to be baptized so that the church can see the evidence of their faith. Baptism does not save, and yet its place on the path of repentance is important. Children, generally, have no problem accepting this explanation and are fine with putting off baptism until they are a bit older. The problem is that many times, the parents are the ones pushing for their children to be baptized at fragile ages.
Marius Cruceru: We hold off baptism until we see greater maturity in a child. Usually, we wait until they are about 14 years old. In some cases (they are rare), we will baptize children under 14.
A child must be able to show a great level of maturity and a clear understanding of biblical teaching. They must also prove that they are very conscious of what they are doing. If the teenager is under 18, and if the parents are believers, we speak also with them to see if the change in their life is real.
Doru Hnatiuc: Children are encouraged to believe in Jesus. We teach them that they are saved through genuine …
Yesterday, I announced that I would be posting a forum of Romanian Baptists on the problem of “rebaptism” in the United States. Today, the forum begins with these pastors/theologians diagnosing the deeper problems of which “rebaptism” is merely the symptom.
Trevin Wax: It has been estimated that 40% of the baptisms reported in Southern Baptist churches are “rebaptisms.” Why do we see this problem in the United States? What is your diagnosis?
Paul Negrut: I do not know all the details regarding the situation of evangelical churches in the USA, so my perspective may need to be corrected at times. But I think that there are two theological currents that have swept evangelical churches into dangerous waters.
The first is Charles Finney’s belief that man can take an active role in converting other people through well-tuned evangelistic services.
The second is the Church Growth Movement, which has put a major emphasis on sociological and cultural factors of church growth.
Both of these currents have diminished the conviction of believers that we must be totally dependent on the sovereign work of God in spiritual conversion and growth. Prayer and fasting, preaching the whole counsel of God, systematic study of the Scriptures for those newly converted – these activities have been replaced by services of religious entertainment designed to please the average man on the street. Superficial conversions and rushed baptisms, without true repentance and faith that is based on knowledge of the Scriptures, have been reported as a way of demonstrating church growth.
Numbers have …
I have a number of friends who have grown up in Baptist churches. Many were baptized as children, again as teenagers, and then again as adults. (I remember one church baptizing the entire youth group after a special weekend retreat. Nevermind that most of these teens had grown up in church and been baptized once or twice before!)
Most of those who have been baptized more than once will claim that their earlier baptisms were invalid because they were not truly saved, or they did not know enough about what was going on to see their baptism as personally meaningful. Dr. Danny Akin recently estimated that perhaps 50% of our baptisms are “re-baptisms.”
During my five years of ministry in Romania, I discovered that this problem (which seems to plague Southern Baptist churches in the States) was virtually non-existent in Eastern Europe. In five years time, I never once witnessed a “re-baptism.” Never once did someone in a Baptist church there even ask for such a thing.
Why do Baptists in America have this problem? And how do Baptists in Romania avoid this problem?
In answer to this question, I will be posting a forum featuring several Romanian Baptist theologians and pastors. I have asked some specific questions about Baptist practice in Romania, and have translated their answers for the benefit of Southern Baptists in the U.S.
Americans send missionaries elsewhere to train others. But I believe that we in America can benefit from hearing from our brothers and sisters overseas as well. …
in whom we live and move and have our being,
whose face is hidden from us by our sins,
and whose mercy we forget in the blindness of our hearts:
cleanse us from all our offenses,
and deliver us from proud thoughts and vain desires,
that with reverent and humble hearts we may draw near to you,
confessing our faults,
confiding in your grace,
and finding in you our refuge and strength;
through Jesus Christ your Son.
- Book of Common Worship
Dr. Gregg Allison is a professor of Systematic Theology at Southern Seminary and is the author of Jesusology: Understand What You Believe About Jesus And Why and Truthquest Getting Deep: Understand What You Believe About God and Why. I took Dr. Allison for one of my Theology classes and found him to be an excellent teacher with an appreciation for art. He is also an expert in Roman Catholicism.
I called “Dr. A” and picked his brain when I was first starting work on Holy Subversion. I am grateful for his recommendation.
Using a definition of subversion as “pushing something back down into its proper place,” Trevin Wax seeks to subvert the idols of our society—self, success, money, leisure, sex, and power—in a theologically responsible and challengingly practical way.
These false gods must be thrust back into their proper place, and that subversion is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ—the message about the crucified and resurrected God-man who is Lord over all bogus lords—equips us to do.
Wax wonders, “What would it look like today if we reclaimed the subversive nature of Christian discipleship?” Read this fine book if you wish to live as the true Savior and Lord Jesus Christ would have you live.
– Gregg R. Allison, Ph.D.
Professor of Christian Theology
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Bultmann and Tillich shared the same birthday… and the same problem.
Newsweek’s main reporter on issues related to abortion recounts her experience witnessing one.
A helpful site full of quotes from J.C. Ryle.
Tullian Tchividjian asks, “What is a Gospel-Centered Church?”
Russell Moore asks, “Will the Devil Be in My Classroom Today?”
Albert Mohler’s presidential forum on the future of the SBC. This will likely cause some good discussion within the SBC.
Top Post this Week at Kingdom People: Jesus as Messiah – An Interview with Michael Bird
Coming next week… I will be hosting a forum of Romanian Baptist pastors and scholars on the problem of “re-baptism” within the Southern Baptist Convention.