Friday, September 25, 2009

Unauthorized Consent: An Old Essay Addresses New Problems

Yesterday, somebody affiliated with the Baylor community re-posted a paper on their discussion forum, which I originally wrote in 2002 . If you have not heard, the Baylor University Administration is seeking to shut down all dissent by swallowing the independent Baylor Alumni Association whole. Read about their attempt here.

For Moderate Baptists

It is somewhat curious to me that a school community affiliated with the more moderate side of the Baptist equation now includes an appeal to the work of a conservative Baptist scholar. Why? Because moderate Texas Baptists, who have prided themselves on being Baptist, find that they are losing their Baptist way of being community. If that popular-style essay, written some 7 years ago, is of any help to these fellow Baptists, I will rejoice, even across the moderate/conservative divide.

A Warning For All Baptists

But moderate Baptists are not the only ones who need to be reminded of our principles. In light of the fact that we are always in danger of losing our Baptist identity when some Baptists seek to remove other Baptists from their rightful place at the table, I am re-posting that essay. "Unauthorized Consent" applies to more situations than the gross practice of liberal-leaning self-perpetuating boards.

The only way we will remain Baptists (i.e. New Testament churches) by conviction is when we remember the theological principles upon which we are built. The priesthood of all believers and congregationalism are non-negotiable essentials in our Baptist identity. If we neglect those truths, we will become Baptists by convenience rather than Baptists by conviction, and, eventually, we will lose the name as well as the substance.

You may access the essay, "Unauthorized Consent," originally published in the Missouri Baptist Pathway, in Adobe format here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Top Twelve Reading List Recommended for All Christians Everywhere

Recently, I was asked (yet again) for a recommended reading list for young people preparing for ministry. Next to the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, I recommend that every Christian read the following works, which span the history of the Christian witness. They will increase your personal faith and deepen your theological convictions as you also bear witness to a fallen world of the saving grace available only in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do hope they compel you to a closer walk with the Lord, as they did and still do with me.

Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word

Augustine, Confessions

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther

Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian

Balthasar Hubmaier, The Christian Baptism of Believers

John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress (both books)

Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria

William Carey, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (or simply, Discipleship)

John Stott, The Cross of Christ


Note: Some of these books are longer than others; some will be more difficult than others (so don't get bogged down, just keep going!); some may be available in multiple translations; some are available freely on the web; others will require purchase or library loan. If you can read these books in the original Greek, Latin, German or English forms, so much the better; however, modern translations will be more than adequate. Although it would be best for you to learn both Greek and Hebrew, so that you may more adequately approach the original biblical texts, you may want to begin your biblical language studies with an Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, or an interlinear text that correlates the Greek New Testament with your own primary language.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Tribute to My Father

My father is known as Mel Yarnell to his friends and family. He is the son of a Pennsylvania farmer who left the farm to join the United States Air Force, where he served for 27 years as a security officer and recruiter, before retiring in Louisiana. A strong believer in Jesus Christ who is a consistent witness to lost souls, he has always looked for ways to bless others who are in need. The dynamic nature of his love for others is seen in how he continues to do what he can for them in spite of having suffered a debilitating stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body a few years ago. My father's life story was recently summarized in "The Posse Press," a publication offered by the Bossier Sheriff's office. This provides some details about my father, a Christmas blessing to the people of Korea, and how he met my mother. I am proud of both of them.