Posted tagged ‘Nathan Finn’

Nathan Finn on “The Gospel and Baptist Identity”

August 26, 2011

Dr. Nathan Finn has recently completed an excellent blog series entitled “The Gospel and Baptist Identity.”  I for one am glad to see the two merged together as it is my hope that the identity of Baptists would fundamentally be characterized by the functional centrality of the gospel.

Be sure to check out the blogposts in this series, listed below:

01: Introduction
02: What Is the Gospel?
03: Pondering Baptist Identity
04: Four Categories of Baptist Beliefs
05: Covenanted Gospel Membership
06: Confessor Baptism by Immersion
07: Christocentric Congregationalism
08: Cooperative Autonomy
09: Free Churches in a Free State

Nathan Finn on Reformed Baptists

July 19, 2010

Nathan Finn has written a helpful four-part series on being Reformed and Baptist that I would like to commend to you.  While those with a historical consciousness and theological acumen understand the symbiotic nature of being Reformed and Baptist, there will always be those within the SBC who will attempt to present the two as mutually exclusive alternatives.  To that end, Finn has given us some great commentary:

* Part 1
* Part 2
* Part 3
* Covenantal Credobaptism

Nathan Finn on Spiritual and Structural Problems in the SBC

February 24, 2010

Nathan Finn writes an excellent piece at Between the Times regarding the two natures of the problems in the SBC.  I have been told in person and elsewhere via conference calls by denominational employees that the problem is spiritual, not structural, and all that we need to do is keep doing what we do while hoping for revival.  I’m grateful that the GCR Task Force has not bought into this line of thinking and is attempting to make some significant reform.

Here’s an excerpt from Finn’s article:

The structural and the spiritual coincide. To argue otherwise is to perpetuate a false dichotomy. Structure to varying degrees reflects spiritual concerns, and at times spiritual issues are exacerbated by structural shortcomings. The SBC needs a renewal in both areas.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Nathan Finn to the Non-Calvinists in the SBC

February 20, 2009

On the heels of Alvin Reid’s open letter to the Calvinists in the SBC, Nathan Finn has also written an open letter to the non-Calvinists in the SBC.  Nathan is a good friend with a great mind who, in my humble estimation, will continue to have a great influence in the SBC through his scholarship as well as statesmanship.

After giving a brief biographical overview of his pilgrimage as a Southern Baptist, Nathan offers three suggestions to his non-Calvinist friends in the SBC.  They are:

1.  Articulate the gospel unambiguously in your preaching and evangelism.

Many of you have an obvious burden for seeing the lost come to faith in Christ, which I truly appreciate. But sometimes when I hear some non-Calvinists trying to evangelize, they confuse slogans or shibboleths with the gospel. The gospel is not “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” or “Jesus can straighted out your messed-up life.” This is just lingo. The gospel is also not “pray this prayer” or “ask Jesus into your heart.” These are possible ways that you can encourage sinners to respond to the gospel, but only after explaining both the good news and the nature of the response.

2. Never give the impression that the decision to become a Christian is a mere decision.

Sometimes I hear non-Calvinists imply that “all you have to do” if you want to be a Christian is believe in Christ. This makes it sound like faith is a simple free will decision that can be made apart from the gracious work of the Holy Spirit. I know the vast majority of my non-Calvinist friends don’t really believe that. Even if you disagree with my Calvinism, I know most of you believe just as strongly as I do that the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of sinners to draw them to faith in Christ.

3. Be careful not to turn your strategies into sacraments.

I have in mind here two popular practices: altar calls and “sinner’s prayers.” . . . I am not so much concerned with either of these strategies as I am the way they are sometimes applied. More than one observer has argued that altar calls are to many Southern Baptists what sacraments are to Roman Catholics: we are not sure folks can really be saved without them!

I think Nathan has addressed three important topics, the first one being most important.  I understand that there is a third post following these two that will be a sort of synthesis or consensus which I look forward to reading.  Instead of personally responding here, I think I will post them later in another blogpost. In any case, big thanks to Nathan and Dr. Reid for their constructive and fair-minded open letters. May this kind of dialogue build a greater love and appreciation for those whom we may disagree in the spirit of unity we find in the company of the Redeemed.

Nathan Finn on Baptizing Children and Church Membership

August 27, 2008

One of the important points to address in recovering a regenerate church membership is the issue of baptizing young children.  Nathan Finn was recently interviewed by Michael Spencer (iMonk) on the important issue of church membership, and I have provided a portion of Nathan’s answer to the question of baptizing children.  Reconnecting the ordinance of baptism with church membership will play a key role in strengthening the integrity of church membership.  Here’s the excerpt from Nathan’s answer (emphasis mine):

Baptizing small children is an innovation in American Baptist life. I think that this is a clear area where we have been influenced by some of the fundamentalists, though it worked in tandem with our home-grown programmatic emphasis on enlistment. The average age of baptism increasingly declined during the 20th century. In 1995, the old Home Mission Board published a study that showed the only age group where baptisms were increasing was the “under 5” category. I have a hard time seeing how this makes us very different than pedobaptists. A perusal of church records and associational minutes will show that our American Baptist forefathers did not regularly baptize pre-teens, though there were occasional exceptions when a child gave extraordinary evidence of both genuine conversion and an understanding of the cost of discipleship as entailed through meaningful church membership.

The practice of baptizing pre-teens has affected church membership in a number of ways. First, it has contributed to the growth of our membership roles—the majority of our baptisms are of elementary aged children and preschoolers. Second, it has contributed to the phenomena of multiple “baptisms” and rededications as teenagers and adults have to assess the validity of childhood spiritual decisions that they can sometimes hardly remember. Third, when coupled with an inadequate view of eternal security, it has led to millions of inactive members who are convinced they are Christians because they walked the aisle as a kindergartener during Vacation Bible School forty years ago. Finally, it has greatly contributed to the decline in redemptive church discipline: what church wants to discipline an eleven year old for having premarital sex, vocal racism, or habitually getting into fistfights with his classmates?

I do want to offer one clarification before moving on. I think it is very possible for small children to be regenerated. There are many people I know who can clearly remember being converted at a relatively young age. But being able to understand the basics of sin, judgment, redemption, and faith and being able to maturely covenant in membership with a local church are two different things, in my opinion. Some will argue that virtually all of the New Testament baptisms happen almost immediately after conversion. This is true. I would respond that almost all New Testament examples are clearly adults who are older than even teenagers. Furthermore, we have absolutely zero examples in the New Testament of when to baptize children who are raised in Christian families. Our pedobaptist friends address this situation by baptizing infants. Most Southern Baptists and Independent Baptists address this by baptizing anyone who can articulate a prayer for salvation. I am an old-fashioned Baptist who believes we should withhold baptism until a child is old enough to publicly identify with a local church through covenant, meaningful membership, though I would be reluctant to arbitrarily set a particular age requirement for baptism.

Read the whole interview.

Between the Times – New SEBTS Group Blog

June 6, 2008

A new group blog (no comments allowed however) called Between the Times has come forth from a corner of the SBC land which I find much hope and encouragement.

Nathan Finn shares,

Between the Times is dedicated to living faithfully before Christ between His first and second comings. The regular contributors include Danny Akin, David Nelson, Ken Keathley, Bruce Ashford, and yours truly. We also hope to periodically feature “guest bloggers” who will weigh in on important issues. Some of the topics we will be blogging about include theology, cultural engagement, mission, preaching, American Christianity, and of course, the Southern Baptist Convention. We also hope to regularly post book reviews and book lists.

I commend this blog and the vision these men carry for a Great Commission Resurgence in the SBC. May the Lord use their efforts in the blogosphere to raise the level of discussion and deepen our commitment to the gospel consensus and cooperation.

Our Hope

April 25, 2008

Nathan Finn writes,

I hope you will pray that we recover the gospel and quit acting like we can do missions, cooperate together, engage the culture, educate future pastors, or have a healthy ecclesiology without it. Our hope is not in the Cooperative Program. Our hope is not in Calvinism. Our hope is not in Landmarkism. Our hope is not in inerrancy. Our hope is not in better statistics. Our hope is not in a program. Our hope is not in convincing all those young guys to stick around. Our hope is in the good news of all that God has done through Jesus Christ to bring redemption the world that He so loved. I just pray that Southern Baptists will continue to be relevant in that world.

Please, go read Nathan’s entire article. It will be worth every second of your time. Then share it with others. We all need to hear this!

Interview with Nathan Finn

January 10, 2008

My friend Doug Baker, public relations director of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, recently had an interview/podcast with Nathan Finn, whom I deemed the best SBC blogger, regarding various matters in Southern Baptist life. Nathan has been on the forefront of the great need for gospel resurgence in the SBC and for gospel-centered churches. This is an excellent interview, and whether you are Southern Baptist or not, it would be of great benefit for you to listen.

From the BSCNC:

Released today was the newest podcast with Dr. Nathan Finn, Instructor in Church History at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. “Dr. Finn helps us understand all things ‘Baptist,’” Baker said. “Dr. Finn deals with the definition and origin of the word ‘fundamentalist,’ as well as the popular slogans of ‘Baptist means freedom, the priesthood of the believer, no creed but the Bible, and soul competency.’ Anyone who listens to this interview will come away with a better understanding of how Southern Baptists relate to the historic Christian church and how Baptists can better minister in these changing times.”

You can listen or download to the podcast with Finn, and I also encourage you to check out their previous podcast with J.D. Greear.