Ready for Reformation? Pt. 2

One of the values of Dr. Nettles’ new book is the vast amount of historical research that it weaves together. For example, he cites Paige Patterson’s writing in the Shophar Papers of 1980 as an “early reformation proposal.” Nettles writes:

Patterson noted that “denominational executive offices can become ‘Protestant Meccas’ to which all must bow, with ‘programs’ being substituted for righteousness.” Any questions or doubts make a person susceptible to anathemas by “those who claim to be ‘loyal'” (p. 6).

A little later Nettles’ offers this astute, if measured, observation:

“The warnings that Patterson issued in the initial glow of challenge to the dominant theological and administrative culture of the Convention do not lose their relevance when the doctrinal stance of the denominational leadership changes toward conservatism. Some would wonder if the ‘king-maker’ operations that he detested and criticized are once again firmly entrenched” (p. 8).

After showing the “health of confessional Christianity” in chapter 2, Nettles turns his attention to preaching in chapter 3. Here he acknowledges that though the recovery of inerrancy has provided some impetus for the recovery of expositional preaching, “sufficient cause for deep concern still reverberates from Sunday to Sunday in Baptist pulpits….Though inerrantists have a better theory about biblical authority, sermons of biblical substance pop up much less frequently than needed. They come as refreshing interludes to give relief to the droning run-on sentence of mesmerizing emptiness in much that passes for preaching” (p. 33).

Nettles gives several examples of problematic preaching to illustrate the need for the “priority and power of truth in proclamation.” Kindly and dimplomatically, he does not name the preachers cited as examples. But he has the references documented in his private notes. By not naming them–though some are very prominent–he avoids the charge of being unkind and also prohibits personalities from confusing the issues or blunting the force of his arguments. Some readers, no doubt, will nevertheless recognize preachers who are quoted.

-to be continued-

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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