Friends at the Founders Journal,
I am writing for two primary reasons. First, your publication and ministry have been a great encouragement to me through the seminary years and now into the first year of the pastorate. Thank you and may God grant your ministry favor to the glory of His name. Second, several letters written in the Winter 1998 issue addressed questions that have been weighing heavily on me lately. Namely, are there reformed SBC churches, and if so, how does one find them? And further, how should reformed pastors begin teaching what must seem like a new gospel in their churches? We have a generation of young pastors returning to the reformed faith but with no idea of how to peaceably introduce it to their churches. I have become convinced that the reformed faith must not be relegated only to coffee house discussion groups, but must influence every aspect of our practice. It should not be a doctrine only for the seminary trained, but for the masses. I wish you could address these subjects in a future issue. Even though the SBC is historically a reformed denomination, how long should its reformed pastors continue to stay within its gates? I recently finished The Forgotten Spurgeon, a book I received with my subscription to Founders Journal, and from my own analogy between Spurgeon's times and ours, I am not convinced he could stay within the camp, even though it has returned to its conservative roots. I love the people in the church I serve, and will patiently stay the course as long as the Lord leads us to stay. I am trusting Him to be my Guide and Teacher, but I am looking to you for wise counsel.
B. P., SC
There is a growing number of Southern Baptist churches that are returning to the reformed theology of their heritage. Leading a church to understand and apply long-neglected truths from God's Word takes patience, love and is best accomplished through an expository ministry. Let the Word speak. The kingdom of God is certainly bigger than the SBC and every pastor must determine for himself, under God, where he should expend his labors. For my part, there has never been a better time since the early years of this century to labor within Southern Baptist borders. Every Southern Baptist church is independent. Our associations are voluntary. Before a man leaves the SBC for connectional reasons he should ask himself these two questions: 1) What can I do tomorrow that I cannot do today if I were to leave the SBC tonight? 2) What can I not do tomorrow that I can do today if I were to leave the SBC tonight? Answers to these questions can help give direction to those who wrestle with this issue. --Ed.
Just a little note to let you know how very much I enjoy the Founders Journal. I read it through as soon as it comes! The article on baptism by Spurgeon is especially good. All of it is, of course. There is nothing quite like the doctrines of sovereign grace in all of Christian living. To be able to ascribe all praise and glory to the Lord is such a self-emptying and gratifying way to live. "None of self, and all of Thee," as the last line of an old poem says so powerfully.
Thanks for your needed ministry!
M. H., via e-mail
Dear Founders Journal,
Could you send me your free Founders Journal sample. I became a Sovereign Grace Baptist instead of a Southern Baptist because I lost all hope and concluded that all Southern Baptists were Arminians! You've renewed my hope!
T. J., MO
Dear Brother Ascol,
I have just read from cover to cover the latest online edition of the Founders Journal. As usual, you and your contributing writers have done a fantastic job!
I cannot tell you how much it encourages my heart to see godly men in the Southern Baptist Convention taking a bold, uncompromising stand for God's truth and against the Devil's lies. The very thought of modern-day SBC pastors calling upon their brethren to practice formative and (where needed) corrective church discipline thrills my soul. I honestly thought we would never again see these things in the SBC.
May God continue to bless you, your family, and your church family!
Your friend in Christ,
J. K., Meadow Bridge, WV
I wanted to drop a note and say hello. I can not tell you how much I have enjoyed the FJ Web site! Which of course is where I got your address from. I pastor a small Baptist church (independent)…I am relatively new to Calvinistic and reformed theology and at times I still scratch my head and wonder if it is ever going to all come together for me! I have found the Founders Journal to be a big help and a real blessing. Keep up the good work and the fight for truth. I so admire the tenacity of those who desire to move a whole denomination, I am just trying to figure out how to move the church that I pastor. Which brings me to the heart of my reason for writing: Can you give a new pastor (less than 2 years), who is new to the doctrines of grace any helpful ideas of how to move a church into an understanding of these truths? I was hired as a "4-point Calvinist", although in hind sight I realize I was a "no-point" Calvinist; and if the church truly understood what the 4 points were I am sure they would not have even wanted a "4-point Calvinist"! My dream and goal now is to eventually arrive at the place in our church's theology where we can embrace the 1689 confession.
I hope that I am not consuming too much of your time. I am seeking help from someone who has more experience than I and is much wiser than I. If you are too busy to respond I would certainly understand.
S. E., CT
The best way to introduce a church to the doctrines of grace is expositionally. Help them develop a love and hunger for the Word. As people gain confidence in the Scriptures they respond increasingly well to being instructed and corrected by them. These doctrines are revealed to us in the Bible. We should teach them from the Bible. Obviously, there are some practical steps which can help in this process, and those who have done it are an invaluable resource from which to seek counsel. But, in the final analysis, what we desire as pastors is to see the churches which we serve rooted and grounded in the Word. As this occurs, doctrine will be seen to be important and doctrinal expression inevitable. --Ed.
I just found your journal on the web. I hope that Southern Baptists will return to the old confessions, such as the Philadelphia or Second London confession. Only when we, as Baptists, recognize that our heritage is Calvinistic will we again have the power that we so urgently need.
In His Name,
W. R. S., via e-mail
Thanks for the information found in your web site. I have used the winter/spring 1995 issue to add to a presentation given to a history club in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My topic was the roots and founding of the Southern Baptist Convention. Your information helped me greatly.
Keep it coming,
D. W., via e-mail