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Joshua Convergence and the priesthood of believers

I received an email from Dr. Emir Caner, one of the participants in the recent Joshua Convergence meeting in Orlando this week, concerning my critique of imprecise and misleading theological language in the statement that they produced.

Here is what the published statement said, under the principle of “identity:”

We are wholehearted in our dedication to Baptist ecclesiology as expressed in Scripture for our understanding of what constitutes a local church. We are Baptists by conviction not by tradition alone, believing the fundamental principles which constitute a Baptist church are the very ones which made up a New Testament church. Such essential tenets of a believer’s church, founded upon the sole authority and sufficiency of Scripture, include regenerate church membership, believer’s baptism by immersion, believer’s Lord’s Supper as a memorial, church discipline, local church autonomy, congregational polity, confessional fidelity, priesthood of the believer, separation of church and state, religious liberty, and an unwavering passion to carry out the Great Commission. We should never be prideful in being Baptist, but we should always be thankful in being Baptist [emphasis added].

Here is the critique I made of that:

Regarding the theological imprecision, I find it ironic that the self-styled heirs of the conservative resurgence have actually taken up the language of the moderate resistance by affirming the “priesthood of the believer.” No individual believer consitutes a whole priesthood. The individualistic and subjectivistic spin that the moderates put on the reformation principle of the priesthood of all believers resulted in the perversion of this precious doctrine into little more than the adage that “every tub sits on its own bottom.” It is a little like advocating the “communion of the saint.”

In his email, Dr. Caner says that he agrees “wholeheartedly” with this point and requested that the language be changed. The change was in the works last week though it was only made yesterday. This revision can be seen at the Joshua Convergence website. [EDIT: the link is now fixed]

I appreciate the effort Dr. Caner made to alert me to this change.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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