Literature—Including this Issue—Matters
In 1871 Spurgeon wrote in his editorial for The Sword and the Trowel, "We should be very greatly obliged if our readers would endeavour to increase the circulation of this magazine. Our work upon it is never light, and therefore we should be glad to have double our present constituency, and we might have it at once, with a little exertion from each subscriber. … Our area for doing good would be so much the larger if our readers were twice as numerous. If we have ministered unto edification of some, it is our duty to wish to be useful to more, and equally the duty of those benefitted to assist us in so doing."
So it is with us. Every subscriber could with a little effort induce one other person to subscribe. None of us would object to the subscription being increased because the production of an issue takes the same amount of work no matter how small or large the subscription. Since the writing of Moses, the prophets, and the apostles, literature, the written word, has proved to be vital for the propagation of the gospel of Christ. We certainly claim no divine inspiration; and we claim none for Augustine, Luther, Calvin, the Puritans, or the Baptist worthies. We do, however, believe that the principle of argument for ideas, advance of the truth, and preservation of thought through the written word is a God-idea, an extension of Christian proclamation and a manifestation of Christian apologetics. In this way ideas may be present where the acerbic aspects of personality do not detract, or may more easily be overlooked so that content eventually rises to the top and the superfluous dissipates. If you think that worthy ideas have been communicated and a distinctive approach to truth and ministry has been promoted in these pages through the years, then help with their profusion by giving a gift subscription or encouraging a friend or pastor or family member to subscribe.
This issue is devoted to interaction with a book that advocates a theology for Baptists that minimizes, or rejects, historic confessional Calvinism. Kenneth Keathley, who spoke at the "Building Bridges" conference in November of 2007, has written a defense of Molinism as a viable option to Calvinism as a way of framing Salvation and Sovereignty, the title of his book. I have sought to engage this thorough and robust proposal with the seriousness it deserves in the space permitted.
Many times denominational life becomes cluttered, necessarily so, with discussion of organizational structures, delivery models, ministry leadership, financial arrangements and entity relations. We should do that, but not leave the compelling matters of theological weighing and sifting undone. A tightly structured and efficient delivery system becomes an evil if it is in service of a garbled message. The kind of discussion this volume promotes, though serious about the necessity of coherence throughout the larger system of the gospel, is also useful for clarifying, highlighting, preserving and promoting those central gospel themes jointly embraced while participants are at loggerheads on the intricate, but nonetheless important, support structure for those central themes. May this modest attempt increase our grasp of gospel glory.