“A Call to a New Reformation”

This was the theme for the dedication week of the new facilities of First Baptist Church of Sweetwater, Florida, May 3-10, 1998. Speakers included R.C. Sproul, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Timothy George, Al Mohler, J.I. Packer, Mark Dever, Alistair Begg, and the church’s pastor, Bill Haynes. The new seven million dollar campus includes a 1300 seat worship center, educational and office building, prayer chapel, and preschool and children’s buiding. The congregation moved into the facilities debt free. Tapes of the conference messages are available from the church. For more information call 407/862-3893 or write FBC Sweetwater, 3800 Wekiva Springs Road, Longwood, FL 32779.

Former Ethics Prof makes amazing confession

Henlee Barnette, professor emeritus of Christian ethics at Southern Seminary, admitted in the December 16, 1997 edition of the Western Recorder that he signed the Abstract of Principles in order to teach at Southern Seminary, even though he did not believe all of the articles which it contains. He states, “Before I joined the faculty in 1951, I informed the administration that I could not accept some of the theological statements in the Abstract. For example, I could not in good conscience accept the article on election.” This crisis of conscience did not, however, keep him from signing the document in order to secure a faculty position.

Barnette takes exception to those who find fault with seminary professors who sign documents which they do not believe. He declares, “Some have implied that those of us who signed [the Abstract] before the seminary was taken over by the fundamentalists but did not accept all the principles in toto were hypocritical. This is a false charge.”

The charter of the seminary requires that every professor will teach “in accordance with and not contrary to” the Abstract. Every professor in the history of the school has signed his or her name to that statement. Citing examples of other teachers whom he claims also signed the Abstract without believing it (including that late champion of final apostasy, Dale Moody), Barnette tries to justify his duplicity by revealing that former seminary administrations encouraged such practice.

“The acting president of the seminary assured me,” Barnette states, “That the Abstract of Principles was: 1. an abstract and not a complete theological statement; 2. a statement of principles and not a set of rules; and 3. the result of a compromise by those who put it together.” As an example of such compromise, he contends that some founders of the seminary insisted that the term “authoritative” be used instead of “infallible” as a description of Scripture.

Evidently, this assurance was taken as a license by Barnette and some of his colleagues to sign a document which they did not fully believe. The ethics professor sees no moral dilemma in his actions. On the contrary, he proudly declares that the result of his actions was “a frutiful teaching ministry for more than a quarter of a century.”

The current administration of Southern Seminary grants no such indulgences. Faculty members are now required to sign the Abstract of Principles and mean it.

Baptist Rinnak Phuannak 1689

This is the title of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith translated into the Falan dialect of the Chin tribes in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Michael Zahau, pastor of a Baptist church in Yangon, completed this recently published translation last year. When Adoniram Judson arrived in Burma in 1813, his missionary zeal was fueled by his understanding of the sovereignty of God in salvation, as outlined in the 1689 Confession. May the Lord be pleased to own this new translation and the work of His people to recover the gospel in that land.

Regional Founders Conferences

The first annual Ark-La-Tex Regional Founders Conference met at Heritage Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana February 6-7. The theme was “Holiness” and Erroll Hulse, editor of Reformation Today, was the keynote speaker. Cassette tapes of the messages and information about next year’s meeting may be obtained by contacting Bill Ascol at 318/798-7088.

The third annual Midwest Regional Founders Conference convened once again at the First Baptist Church of Harvester near St. Louis, Missouri. Four speakers addressed the theme, “The Church and the Cross,” in eight sessions, including helpful biographical presentations on J. Gresham Machen and William Screven by Terry Chrisope, History Professor at Missouri Baptist College. Audio and video tapes, as well as information about next year’s meeting, are available from Curtis McClain at 314/428-4079.