RBS Tabletalk

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Spiritual Declension: Lessons from Early 18th Century Particular Baptists, Part I—An Excessively Inward Focus

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  1. Jeff,

    How did evangelical Christianity as a whole fair during this time in England? Was it just our churches that suffered decline? Did other evangelical churches experience great blessings? In particular, did the General Baptist flourish while the Particular Baptists were in decline?

    David Charles

    David Charles

    January 9, 2009 at 7:06 pm

  2. David,

    In the first blog “Intro” I make this comment

    “Of course, other denominations in England during the late 17th and first third of the 18th centuries also experienced declension. But as we’ll see, this problem continued among the Baptists even during the early decades of the Evangelical Awakening that began to occur in England in the late 1730’s”

    Evangelical Christianity as a whole was in decline in England up until the Evangelical Awakening. However as I am going to argue and seek to demonstrate many PB’s reacted negatively to the Evangelical Awakening and it is not until the later 18th century that PB’s as a whole(there were numbers of exceptions, obviously I am speaking generally) were partakers of it’s fruit.

    Concerning General Baptists I really do not know very well off hand how they reacted to the Awakening and what the state of their churches were prior to it and immediately following it. I’m sure someone else following these discussions could probably help us on that or I could dig further into it.

    Jeff Smith

    Jeff Smith

    jsmitheasley

    January 10, 2009 at 1:24 pm

  3. […] and guard against spiritual declension.  He has introduced his topic and considered the danger of an excessively inward focus already.  Andrew Fuller provided some remedies for this […]

  4. “But in the context of a culture that often views us as oddballs; that often views us as churches that are out of step with the spirit of the times and out of step with mainstream evangelicalism, it can be easy for us to develop a fortress mentality.”
    Pastor Smith

    I notice today that another dangerous response to the other extreme is the fear of being viewed by the world and mainstream Christians as an oddball. To combat this fear, some with good intentions, support the pragmatic blending in with the spirit of the times. The danger is when the lines become blurred between the church and the world and the call to be salt and light is compromised.

    What the church should remember is the worlds view of the church being an oddball can be true in both negative or postive terms. Being called an oddball can be a compliment and nothing to fear or be ashamed of if it is with regards to our attempts to adhere to biblical holiness. If we are just mere clanging symbols then the worlds perception is correct by labeling the church oddballs and the remedy for that problem is not pragmatism but is repentance.

    Frank Pontillo

    frank pontillo

    January 10, 2009 at 8:44 pm

  5. Frank,
    I very much agree with you, brother. This is, indeed, an opposite danger that we must avoid. On the one hand there is the danger of what I referred to as developing a “fortress mentality; the danger I think some of the early 18th century PB’s fell into. However you are correct that the fear of being viewed as oddballs can lead to compromise and the adopting of an unbiblical pragmatism in order to avoid that perception. I don’t think this was as much a problem with the PB’s in the period that I’m analyzing. However I think both sides are very real dangers for us today.

    jsmitheasley

    January 12, 2009 at 5:10 pm

  6. I know I am late on the post..but I agree with Frank that an opposite danger is always on the horizon, no matter where we find the battle. We can always be tossed “to” or “fro.”

    In the current discussion I think it is important to define what the “world” is. People who begin to be inwardly focused will naturally consider anything outside of their own tradition as worldly. Not everything the “world” does is “worldly.” They wear shoes and drive cars as we do. I have observed in myself the tendency to want to “baptize” and defend my way of doing things as God’s way, even though it is obvious that our brethren from hundreds of years ago did things differently… and our present day brethren in other countries also do things differently.

    Thanks for sharpening us!
    Matt

    Matt Troupe

    January 27, 2009 at 2:50 am


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