Skip to comments.Baptists, Lent, and the Reformation Rummage Sale
Posted on 02/27/2011 10:55:58 AM PST by NYer
In recent years there have been a flurry of news articles prior to Lent, Holy Week, and Advent about how various Protestant groups and denominations have "discovered" that Catholic and Orthodox beliefs about the liturgical year are not nearly as "unbiblical" as many non-Catholics thought. Quite the contrary, as this Associated Baptist Press piece explains (ht: National Catholic Register):
Many Baptists are seeking to reclaim that pre-Easter focus -- historically called Lent -- which has been an integral part of many Christians experience since the earliest years of the church.
Its a biblical thing, not a made-up Catholic thing, says Kyle Henderson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Athens, Texas, acknowledging a robust Baptist suspicion of spiritual practices seen as too closely associated with the Roman Catholic Church or its distant cousins, the Anglicans.
Some Baptists say they sense those suspicions -- in part a legacy of the Protestant Reformation -- have left them with a diminished spiritual vocabulary.
There is an uneasy sense that something got lost, says Phyllis Tickle, whose 2008 book, The Great Emergence, chronicles the blurring of denominational distinctions in late 20th- and early 21st-century American Christianity.
Every 500 years or so, says Tickle, the church metaphorically holds a great rummage sale, getting rid of the junk that we believe no longer has value and finding treasures stuck in the attic because we didnt want them or were too naïve to know their true worth.
The Reformation was one of those rummage sales and the current great convergence is another, she maintains. For evangelicals, the long-forgotten treasures in the attic include a wide array of spiritual disciplines -- including Lent -- with roots in the churchs first centuries.
For Sterling Severns, discovering Lent and other seasons of the Christian year was an eye-opening experience, which he encountered at the first church he served after graduating from seminary.
It tapped into something in me that surprised me, says Severns, now pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Richmond, Va. I remember I almost felt as if Id been let in on a great secret.
For many folks who have been Catholic their entire lives, such comments might be a bit surprising. "Secret? How is it a secret? Don't all Christians know about Lent and Advent?" No, they surely don't. I wasn't aware of either Lent or Advent until I attended Bible college as a 20-year-old Fundamentalist, and even then they were spoken of in mostly cautious or negative ways (most of my profs viewed the Catholic Church with suspicion or disdain, but a couple were quite positive about Catholicism). But things have changed a lot in the past couple of decades and an growing number of Evangelical groups are embracingin various ways and to differing degreesaspects of the Catholic liturgical calendar.
An excellent book for Evangelicals who are curious about Catholic beliefs about worship, the liturgical calendar, and the sacraments is Evangelical Is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament by Thomas Howard. Also see his essay, "Catholic Spirituality", from the collection, The Night Is Far Spent.
First, Baptists are Protestants.
“noun 1. any Western Christian who is not an adherent of a Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Church.
2. an adherent of any of those Christian bodies that separated from the Church of Rome during the Reformation, or of any group descended from them.”
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/protestant)
Our historical roots lie in those who rejected the Roman Catholic Church and who also rejected infant baptism. There is no line of succession from the early church to Baptists, nor would a thinking Baptist require one. Our measure is how closely we align with God’s Word, not a church hierarchy. There is a good short article here:
Since each Baptist congregation is completely independent, you can find some pretty weird beliefs. I walked out of one I visited when the preacher started claiming that the KJV is God’s Word, and any other version is heresy.
What makes us different from many Protestants is 1) believer’s baptism, 2) independent congregations, and 3) separation of church from state.
The article I linked to presents the ‘particular baptist’ viewpoint. As someone who has usually worshiped in Southern Baptist Churches while moving around with the military, I’d say that many Baptist seminarians are Calvinist, but the overwhelming majority in the pews are not. Although I left a congregation a while back over the issue, the pastor himself didn’t agree with Calvin, and I honestly have never met a Baptist minister who was a 5 point Calvinist. In 40 years, I’ve never once heard a sermon on predestination. The seminaries may be particular (or peculiar?), but the congregations are general...
I'm ok either way, but which way? Mr. Rogers' Baptists are Protestants. or Brass Lamps the false premise that Baptists are Protestants
Again, emphasis, this is not a debate on the faith of those who choose either viewpoint, just me asking as an outside what should be the naming convention. You guys call yourselves by the term "Baptist", so you are the best people to clarify this for us non-Baptists.
“I just want to know — do we include Baptists with Protestants (and ‘Protestant’ is a big umbrella term) or not when we talk about Protestants.”
Depends on the Baptist. I’m sorry I cannot give you a definitive answer, but every Baptist congregation is independent. Thus some Baptists preach and teach that we descended linearly from John the Baptist (don’t ask me why). They will resent being lumped in with Johnny come lately Protestants, since they believe they have some sort of apostolic succession of their own.
Most Baptists would never think to complain, because we don’t as a whole worry about history and succession. Are we following Christ as revealed in the Word of God now?
“And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus...17And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” - 1 Kings 19
Elijah was a prophet of God, and he was feeling pretty lonely - yet God knew who belonged to him. That tends to be how I look at the history of the church. God never says, “Those who pass a systematic theology course with a score of 80% or higher are mine...”
I obviously disagree with Catholics on many theological issues, but God knows who belongs to Him. I suspect many Catholics and Baptist (and others) do, and many do not. And I think that has been true for 2000 years.
” 24He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” - Matt 13
BrassLamps -- please note that non-Baptists mean no ill-well by referring or not referring to Baptists as Protestants.
basically in communion with Rome....slightly separated, but still within the belief system
Baptists are characterized by a rejection of the innovations which produced both the Protestant branch and the Catholic limb from which Protestantism springs. Really, it has been some time since I've seen someone on THIS forum turn to a dictionary as "the adult in the room". The given definition is so obviously wrong that it simply underscores the widely understood truth that dictionaries are unreliable and non-authoritative.
Besides, the consideration of a 'departure point' for Baptism brings us back to the point of NYer's response. Some consider the identity of a religion to begin with its formal institution. Baptists, however, evaluate a religion according to the preexisting system of beliefs around which the formal organization consolidates. The "Primitive Urge" which drives Baptists' interest certainly predates the development of Protestantism and the later establishment of a "letterhead institution" simply facilitates the pursuit of that interest.
Our historical roots lie in those who rejected the Roman Catholic Church and who also rejected infant baptism. There is no line of succession from the early church to Baptists, nor would a thinking Baptist require one
Baptists do disagree with Catholics about a specific apostolic succession because the consequent of a "priesthood of all believers" is that a witness succession is, essentially, apostolic. The Christianity of which Baptists give witness is not a new line. Each Baptist was witnessed to by a Christian, who was in turn witnessed to by another, and he by another and so on, back down a line of successive witnessing to the original Christians, the Apostles. This is why Baptists dismiss the claims of some other groups which also claim to "get back to the old church". Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witness's and such all originate with supposedly NEW revelations.
Baptists break from Catholics and Protestants on the matter of innovation. Main line Protestants do not deny the church's ability to innovate, they simply disagree with some of the innovations of Catholicism and deny that church's authority. Baptists believe that most innovation is unnecessary and erroneous.
The average Baptist thinks that Lutherans, "High Church" Episcopalians, and Catholics 'dress funny'.
“Baptists do disagree with Catholics about a specific apostolic succession because the consequent of a “priesthood of all believers” is that a witness succession is, essentially, apostolic. The Christianity of which Baptists give witness is not a new line. Each Baptist was witnessed to by a Christian, who was in turn witnessed to by another, and he by another and so on, back down a line of successive witnessing to the original Christians, the Apostles. “
The priesthood of all believers does NOT make all believers Apostles. There hasn’t been an Apostle since the first century. In a very general sense, it can mean anyone sent with a message, but the original Apostles were unique in their ability to speak for God, backed by miracles from God.
Yes, Christians witnessed to Christians. And there have been Christians since the beginning, but they haven’t always belonged to independent congregations. Just as God knew of a lot of followers that Elijah did not, He knows His own, and has, for 2000 years. Jesus said the visible church would have a mix of wheat and tares, and he’ll deal with it on judgment day.
“Really, it has been some time since I’ve seen someone on THIS forum turn to a dictionary as “the adult in the room”. The given definition is so obviously wrong that it simply underscores the widely understood truth that dictionaries are unreliable and non-authoritative.”
Ummm...when speaking of how to use English, dictionaries ARE authoritative. You see, most people use English to communicate, and use standard meanings in their English. You can redefine Protestant if you wish, but you have no right to be upset if others don’t follow your unique definition.
You can believe what you wish. You can no more speak for all Baptists than I can. I will say that I have never met a Baptist in the flesh who would take offense at being called a Protestant. But they exist, without a doubt. I just think it is silly.
“Main line Protestants do not deny the church’s ability to innovate, they simply disagree with some of the innovations of Catholicism and deny that church’s authority.”
Actually, any denomination that holds to Sola Scriptura says that scripture - the Word of God - is authoritative in belief, and that nothing binding can be added or changed.
Good reading on the subject here:
I clearly did not claim that believers were/are apostles. I was responding to post #51: "There is no line of succession from the early church to Baptists, nor would a thinking Baptist require one". It is important to distinguish the treatment of the subject by Baptists from that of both Catholics and Protestants. Baptists DO claim succession from the early church through successive witness, whereas Catholics point to a succession of office. Some non-Catholic denominations are founded upon successive witness from supposed new revelations. Will you claim them as fellow Protestants? The point is that Baptists feel that it is important that their religion was not later conceived in a cave or found on invisible tablets.
Ummm...when speaking of how to use English, dictionaries ARE authoritative. You see, most people use English to communicate, and use standard meanings in their English.
Funny that you would say that given that, of all the languages in the world, English has the least prescriptive dictionaries, as a matter of history. There is no English equivalent of the Académie Française. The closest thing we have is the MLA, and it is a point of religion for those people that English language dictionaries are merely descriptive. There is nothing magical about the covers of a book that they render the text contained within any more infallible that the glowing pixels before you now.
I don't know..perhaps the Catholics who wrote, interpreted, protected, established the bible ...forgot something that you know through......whatever
in the opinion of those who, 1,600 years after the fact, decided that they knew better how to form a religion than did Christ....how's that working for you???