Do I Really Seem...
By Kenny Wells (email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is an e-mail discussion I had with a young man who thought I put too much faith in the Baptists. I guessed that others have thought this also. I perceive that the reason he acquired this impression is that the majority of the time I write in order to show a certain view, and then I finish the article. Personal correspondence allows others to see, given the questions they might ask, how I would respond. Basically, it is like reading a book by a great theologian, seeing him respond to a certain view. He probably does not literally hate those of a different persuasion, but he is trying to show the faults in a certain view.
Furthermore, Webster defines someone who is dogmatic as "a person who asserts opinions as if they were authoritative." I am willing to consider the opinions of others, but there are certain things I feel the Bible is clear AND AUTHORITATIVE on, and I also believe that opinions need to be based on Scripture, because it IS authoritative. Likewise, I pray that you will seek guidance from God in these situations, and if you question my motives or real beliefs, drop me a line over e-mail! (o:
1ST E-MAIL & MY RESPONSE
VISITOR: Hi. I was wandering around the net in search of material on the spiritual gifts and your page popped up. After reading your remarks about those that seem to fall into sin or backslide were never saved in the first place,
MYSELF: Those that make a superficial statement of faith, and then go off back into the world...sure we might backslide and fall into sin. I'm having some temptations I'm trying to deal with myself. Paul himself, in assuring others about people like that, said that they were not a part of us. I'm not talking about someone that lives for God the first 5 yrs. of their life, and then starts to go back to their old ways. [A certain man I know is] a preacher, and was very strong in his faith until the forces of Satan got into [a] church [situation] to start some trouble. Well, the church was getting divisive on some issues, and [this man] just couldn't take it anymore, he resigned, and quit church a few months later. [He} showed the fruits of Salvation right when he got saved, and stayed faithful for [at least 10 years]. Notice [he] did get back into church, and is now preaching again. He never truly fell away, as some would have us believe, and may! be even yourself, but that's not the point I'm addressing. I just wanted to say that I'm talking about half-sincere decisions. A true Christian won't fully fall away.
VISITOR: I'd like you to read something for yourself: article #5 of the Baptist Declaration of Faith. It can be found at http://www.utm.edu/martinarea/fbc/bfm.html. Also, the 3rd paragraph of the 17th chapter of the London Baptist Declaration of Faith (upon which the current BD of F was made): http://www.iserv.net/~mrbill/1689/1689bc17.html.
MYSELF: I haven't read it, but I'm sure it is agreeable, if it mentions the Total Depravity of man, or Perseverance of the Saints, which I believe it does.
VISITOR: If you don't believe in any One World Religion or One True Church (like the Mormons, Catholics, etc buy into), then make sure you leave room for your own Baptist heritage to be at least imperfect--since that church believes we are all sinful, dreadfully deceived, looking through a dark glass, and forever wicked in this lifetime. I find it difficult that any group of people who make that statement about themselves personally can somehow claim that what they believe is infallible, perfect, inerrant, etc.... If that is what we are, then what we believe, think, interpret, etc... is also controlled by those same things---
MYSELF: I made the statement, "For me, it is the Baptist faith. I feel that Baptists are sound in their theology and Biblical interpretation." I agree with Baptists because I feel they are closest to the Bible; not, I believe the Bible because it is closest to the Baptist. I apologize if I've misrepresented Baptists in any way. I said "I FEEL" Baptists are sound, etc. That is a general word, sound. Most of the foundation of the Baptist faith is sound...IN MY OPINION. Yes, I'm not claiming Baptists are always right. That would be almost as grave an error as the Catholic faith. Baptists are NOT INFALLIBLE, PERFECT, ETC! Just wanted to make that clear. YES! I disagree with Baptists on some issues, yet for the most part, I feel Baptists are sound.
VISITOR: I admire your fervor, greatly. Yet be careful that you know more Bible verses than you do Baptist verses. I believe that all Christians must believe that the Holy Spirit is always a better interpreter of His own Word than any denomination is.
MYSELF: Thanks for the compliment, and I know exactly what you are saying about the Bible! (o: Up until recently, after having been saved about 7 yrs. did I learn much about Baptists at all. I read information defending Baptist, Presbyterian, etc. material, and see what I agree with. Yes, the Holy Spirit is better at interpreting than the denomination is, but these spirit-led men put down articles of faith; the spirit of God worked in men to complete the books of the Bible, so we must keep an open, spirit-filled mind while reading (first & foremost) the Bible, and past confessions. Don't shy away from confessions, necessarily. They can be helpful, but I think you understand, to evaluate them in the light of Scripture. I appreciate your comments! God bless you!
THE Visitor's CLOSING RESPONSE
You're not as dogmatic as you sound on e-paper. That's a relief, for I've met so many that are more concerned about themselves being right than on Scripture being right. So, they are incapable of change.
I still think you should read those articles. I put the addresses there for you. Please take time to read them. They say a lot about the roots of Baptist-world. What they say salvation (the Lord) allows for someone to enter heaven leaves a ton of room for someone to fall away and stay that way, and still get in. Evidently you're not as extreme as the original authors.
As a teenager who went through Charismaticism, Calvinism, and then Gnosticism before realizing I didn't need to buy into any one belief system, I'm glad you've found a place to be faithful to a group of people, and yet feel free to disagree with them at some points. That means you are using your mind to serve Him, and not that of the church or its leaders.
END OF DIALOG
(Another e-mail was sent, of which came no response)
As a footnote, my views on Eternal Security MAY still remain unclear. If you still remain confused on my beliefs, PLEASE e-mail me, and I'm the first to admit that some things I am not too sure on, myself. I feel pretty strongly that there ARE some circumstances where believers will deny God, as a final act of retribution, He will take them away from this earth. I believe John 15 pertains to this. For instance, those who GENUINELY believe, but then go back to their old ways SOMETIME in their life CAN & WILL be put to a premature grave by the Almighty due to their backslidden condition. In MOST cases, however, someone who pronounces faith & then backslides PROBABLY was never genuinely converted, YET only God knows the heart...
Also, I DO believe that the Word of God is most important. I ALSO believe that it is hard to find a group that you will totally agree with. For instance, I agree with Baptists on MOST points, so I am a Baptist, and I still consider some members of other groups my brethren. Denominational lines do not affect the effectual power of God's calling unto Salvation!
Please do consider what the Bible says though, and don't rely on The Book of Concord, The Westminster Confession of Faith, The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, or any other denominational guidelines as being authoritative. Men of God wrote these works, but they were still MEN of God. Follow the Bible, and seek what it says. Only THEN, will you be happy with the faith you have found.