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Although Pietists adhered to the inspiration of the Bible, they advocated individual feeling as being of primary importance. That may have been an adequate method for avoiding cold orthodoxy of "Protestant scholasticism," it opened the door for the equally dangerous enemy of "subjective experientialism." The first generation of Pietists could recall and reflect on its grounding in Scripture while validly advocating the need for individual experience. A second generation would stress the need for individual experience, but often without a proper Biblical or catechetical basis. This would leave a third generation that would question individual experience with no Biblical or doctrinal "standard" to serve as an objective criterion. In turn, their unanswered questions would tend to demand an authority. When Scriptures were neglected, human reason or subjective experience would fill the need as the required "standard." Thus while not causing other movements Pietism gave impetus to three other movements in the post-Reformation church: deism [reason and logic used apart from the Bible to get to know God], skepticism [doubting Biblical passages that don't seem to relate to the physical realm] and rationalism [placing personal human physical reasoning and understanding as a higher authority than the scriptures of the Holy Bible]. ... The great-grandchildren of Pietism live on in modern evangelicalism. On the positive side, much like original Pietists there is a great hunger today for spirituality. People want a spirituality that works in the trenches of life. They want a faith that is relevant, provides answers and draws them closer to God. There is little interest in "dead orthodoxy." People want to feel something - experience something. George Gallup documents this spiritual hunger in his book, The Next American Spirituality. Unfortunately much of the spirituality that he observes is without biblical foundation leading him to warn, "Contemporary spirituality can resemble a grab bag of random experiences that does little more than promise to make our eyes mist up or our heart warm. We need perspective to separate the junk food from the wholesome, the faddish from the truly transforming." But perspective is hard to come by due to the massive level of biblical illiteracy, not only in America but among Christians as well. Half, he says, "Of those describing themselves as Christians are unable to name who delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Many Americans cannot name the reason for celebrating Easter or what the Ten Commandments are. People think the name of Noah's wife was Joan, as in Joan of Ark." Then there is what some have called "the great disconnect." That is, there is a wide chasm between what Americans in general, and self-proclaimed Christians in particular, claim to believe and how they live. While the general populace claim to have a great interest in spirituality, and Christians claim to be followers of Christ, our societies, homes and churches are inundated with corruption, violence, substance abuse, racism, divorce and materialism. This "cluster of moral and theological shortcomings seemingly throws into question the transforming power of religious beliefs," Gallup admits, leading him to state, "Just because Americans claim they are more spiritual does not make them so." That leans into an excellent question, "Is the church really rediscovering its spiritual moorings - or just engaging in retreat from seemingly insoluble problems?" ... Such [emotional self-experience] "piety" is changing every facet of Christian and church life. Take worship for example. Monte E. Wilson has noted, "For the modern evangelical, worship is defined exclusively in terms of the individual's experience. Worship, then, is not about adoring God but about being nourished with religious feelings, so much so that the worshiper has become the object of worship." The cause for this type of worship, Wilson believes, is the loss of devotion to Scriptures. He writes in pejorative terms, "Others-probably the majority in modern American evangelicalism-have utterly neglected any commitment to the content of the Word and have ended with narcissistic 'worship' services where everyone drowns in a sea of subjectivism and calls it 'being bathed in the presence of the Holy Spirit.' These people come to church exclusively to 'feel' God." Pietistic leanings, of course, are not limited to worship and the gathered church. Where they are most evident, and most concerning is in the area of "God's leading." How does God speak to and lead His people according to Scripture? And how has Pietistic understanding of these things affected the way we interpret both Scripture and our subject feelings? This will be the topic of our next paper. [article link]

[Modern] Pietism - Pietism was a movement within Lutheranism, lasting from the late 17th century to the mid-18th century and later - It proved to be very influential throughout Protestantism and Anabaptism, inspiring not only Anglican priest John Wesley to begin the Methodist movement, but also Alexander Mack to begin the Brethren movement - The Pietist movement combined the Lutheranism of the time with the Reformed, and especially Puritan, emphasis on individual piety, and a vigorous Christian life

History: Although pietism surely had roots prior to the Reformation and to some extent the cause of it, as a distinct movement within Protestantism pietism became identifiable in the 17th century. The Lutheran Church had continued Philipp Melanchthon's attempt to construct an intellectual backbone for the Evangelical Lutheran faith. By the 17th century the denomination remained a confessional theological and sacramental institution, influenced by orthodox Lutheran theologians such as Johann Gerhard of Jena (d. 1637), and keeping with the liturgical traditions of the Roman Catholicism of which it saw itself as a reformed variation. In the Reformed Church, on the other hand, John Calvin had not only influenced doctrine, but for a particular formation of Christian life. The Presbyterian constitution gave the people a share in church life which the Lutherans lacked, but it appeared to some to degenerate into a dogmatic legalism which, the Lutherans believed, imperiled Christian freedom and fostered self-righteousness. However, in the pietist view, ritualistic elements which Luther wanted to remove were captivating the mainstream of the Lutheran church, squeezing the pietists into fellowships with which they were comfortable. ... In Pia desideria "Pious Desires" (1675), Spener made six proposals as the best means of restoring the life of the Church: 1. The earnest and thorough study of the Bible in private meetings, ecclesiolae in ecclesia ("little churches within the church"). 2. The Christian priesthood being universal, the laity [people] should share in the spiritual government of the Church. 3. A knowledge of Christianity must be attended by the practice of it as its indispensable sign and supplement. 4. Instead of merely didactic, and often bitter, attacks on the heterodox [variant views] and unbelievers, a sympathetic and kindly treatment of them. 5. A reorganization of the theological training of the universities, giving more prominence to the devotional life. 6. A different style of preaching, namely, in the place of pleasing rhetoric [examples directed from news, events and stories], the implanting of [Biblical] Christianity in the inner or new man [spiritual man], the soul of which is faith, and its effects the fruits of life. - This work produced a great impression throughout Germany, and although large numbers of the orthodox Lutheran theologians and pastors were deeply offended by Spener's book, its complaints and its demands were both too well justified to admit of their being point-blank denied. A large number of pastors immediately adopted Spener's proposals. ... In modern societies where Pietism has had a profound impact its religious foundations are no longer apparent. Atheistic pietism is a term used by Asgeir Helgason to describe a pietistic (moralistic) approach to life without religion. "We have denied the existence of God but kept the pietistic rules". Atheistic pietism has been suggested to be one of the characteristics (traits) of the modern day Swedish national spirit. The term is first known to have been used by W.H. Mallock in 1879. [article link]

[Modern] Anabaptist - Anabaptists "re-baptizers" or "adult baptism" [believer's baptism - credobaptism (reciting the well-known "Apostles' Creed" or a personal Bible verse or a Psalm at baptism)] are Christians of the Radical Reformation - Puritans of England and their Baptist branch arose independently, but were influenced by the Anabaptist movement - Where men believe in the freedom of religion, supported by a guarantee of separation of church and state [government], they have entered into that [Anabaptist] heritage - Where men have caught the Anabaptist vision of [N.T.] discipleship, they have become worthy of that heritage - Where corporate discipleship submits itself to the New Testament pattern of the church, the heir has then entered full possession of his [N.T. - Anabaptist] legacy

[Some] Anabaptists rejected *conventional [common and Biblically acceptable] Christian practices such as wearing wedding rings, taking oaths, and participating in civil government. They adhered to a literal interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount and Believer's baptism. The name Anabaptist is derived from this, because credobaptism ('Believer's baptism' - adult baptism) was considered heresy by all other major Christian denominations at the time of the reformation period (specifically, all major Christian denominations saw [infant] baptism as necessary for salvation and necessary for infants, and held that it was wrong to delay baptism until the child had reached a certain age; they did, however, require that those who converted later in life should confess a baptismal creed [the Apostles' Creed] at baptism (credobaptism). Anabaptists required that candidates be able to make their own confessions of faith and so refused baptism to infants). As a result, Anabaptists were heavily persecuted during the 16th century and into the 17th by both Roman Catholics and other Protestants. ... Somewhat related to this is the theory that the Anabaptists are of Waldensian origin. Some hold the idea that the Waldenses are part of the apostolic succession, while others simply believe they were an independent group out of whom the Anabaptists arose. Estep asserts "the Waldenses disappeared in Switzerland a century before the rise of the Anabaptist movement." Ludwig Keller, Thomas M. Lindsay, H. C. Vedder, Delbert Grätz, and Thieleman J. van Braght all held, in varying degrees, the position that the Anabaptists were of Waldensian origin. ... The Anabaptists were early promoters of a free church and freedom of religion (sometimes associated with separation of church and state). When it was introduced by the Anabaptists in the 15th and 16th centuries, religious freedom independent of the state was unthinkable to both clerical and governmental leaders. Religious liberty was equated with anarchy; Kropotkin traces the birth of anarchist thought in Europe to these early Anabaptist communities. According to Estep: Where men believe in the freedom of religion, supported by a guarantee of separation of church and state, they have entered into that heritage. Where men have caught the Anabaptist vision of discipleship, they have become worthy of that heritage. Where corporate discipleship submits itself to the New Testament pattern of the church, the heir has then entered full possession of his legacy. [article link]

Apologetics Training Videos - Shepherd's Fellowship of Greensboro - In part I of our series on apologetic and evangelistic methods, Dustin S. Segers defines the problems inherent in modern evangelistic and apologetic methods and then goes on to discuss biblical methods of apologetics and evangelism {Apologetics Training from a Reformed, Calvinistic Theology - Good material but with the patented Reformed biased view. Charles Finney (1792 -1875) one of the greatest men of the Christian faith is referenced in the teaching as a heretic but it's not true. [Finney was a primary influence on the "revival" style of theology which emerged in the 19th century (1800's). Though coming from a Calvinistic background, Finney rejected (Shepherding) tenets of "Old Divinity" Calvinism which he felt were unbiblical and counter to evangelism and Christian mission. - Wiki.com]. Many of the Reformed theologies and Apologetics teachings in this series are excellent it is just that a heavily biased Reformed Only (Shepherding) view is never that excellent of a way to share, teach or preach the Holy Bible to fellow Christians.} (YouTube)

Why Do We Exist? - 5. Restoring (Shepherding) Biblical Pastoral Oversight [vs. body of Jesus Christ fellowship, individuality (grace), freedom, ability and equality in Jesus Christ]. Many church leaders have neglected the duties of overseeing the spiritual welfare of individuals and families. Programs, facilities, and finances are managed and promoted by many pastors. If pastors and elders fail to care for souls, they fail to obey God to the great detriment of the church (1Pet. 5:1-2; Acts 20:28). We desire to see each individual in Shepherd's Fellowship mature to the glory of God so that each life produces a great harvest in the kingdom of God. While we want to purpose to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3), we wish to see continually good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ (Col. 2:5). Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:17) In conclusion, our desire is to glorify God in all that we do through proper preaching, teaching, ministering and evangelizing (Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Cor. 12:31). We pray that God will cause His gospel to spread quickly through our local area to bring honor and glory to Christ and to seek and save those who are lost (Eph. 3:21). [article link]

The Nicene Creed (325 A.D.): ... And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And I believe in one holy catholic [universal] and **[A]postolic Church [based on the foundation of the Apostles] - I acknowledge one Baptism [personal - individual identity (cross and resurrection) with Jesus Christ] for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come - Amen

The Three Ecumenical or Universal Creeds -- The Apostles' Creed [The title, Symbolum Apostolicum (Symbol or Creed of the Apostles), appears for the first time in a letter from a Council in Milan (probably written by Ambrose himself) to Pope Siricius in about 390 A.D. - Wiki.com]: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic [universal] Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen. -- The Nicene Creed [adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first (second) ecumenical council (Jerusalem Acts 15:6 was the first ecumenical Church council), which met there in 325 A.D. - Wiki.com]: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And I believe in one holy catholic [universal] and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen. -- The Athanasian Creed [The use of the Creed in a sermon by Caesarius of Arles, as well as a theological resemblance to works by Vincent of Lérins, point to Southern Gaul as its origin. The most likely time frame is in the late fifth or early sixth century A.D. (475-525 A.D.) at least 100 years after Athanasius (293 A.D. - May 2, 373 A.D.) - Wiki.com]: Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic [universal] faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic [universal] faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the catholic [universal] religion to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none: neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood; Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ: One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic [universal] faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved. [article link]

1689 Baptist Confession of Faith - "The Baptist Confession of Faith adopted by the ministers and messengers of the General Assembly which met in London in 1689" the Second London Confession, originally composed in 1677, has ever since been called "The 1689 Confession"

This became the most popular confession of Calvinistic Baptists in the English speaking world. It enjoyed editions in Britain in 1693, 1699, 1719, 1720, 1791, 1809. In 1855 C. H. Spurgeon issued a new edition. It was only the second year of his ministry at the New Park Street Chapel. Spurgeon wrote, "I have thought it right to reprint in a cheap form this excellent list of doctrines, which were subscribed to by the Baptist Ministers in the year 1689. We need a banner because of the truth; it may be that this small volume may aid the cause of the glorious gospel by testifying plainly what are its leading doctrines ... May the Lord soon restore unto Zion a pure language, and may her watchmen see eye to eye." He addressed these remarks to "all the Household of Faith, who rejoice in the glorious doctrines of Free Grace." Other British editions have appeared in 1958, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1972, 1974. -- In the later 1600's Benjamin Keach and another minister of London published the 1689 Confession with two articles added, one on "the laying on of hands" and another''the singing of psalms". When Elias Keach, son of Benjamin, became a Baptist minister in America in 1688, he became a part of the Calvinistic Baptists who formed the Philadelphia Baptist Association in 1707. Through him the Second London Confession with his father's addenda was adopted by the Philadelphia Association. For years the association appealed to the confession, formally adopting it in 1742. The first edition of the "Philadelphia Confession of Faith" was printed by Benjamin Franklin in 1743. Under this name the 1689 confession became the definitive doctrinal statement of Calvinistic Baptists throughout the colonial and early United States periods. Associations in Virginia (1766) Rhode Island (1767), South Carolina (1767), Kentucky (1785), and Tennessee (1788) adopted the confession. It came to be known in America 85 "The Baptist Confession". Familiarity with the Confession and its doctrines declined in the latter half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. But since God has remarkably revived Biblical Calvinism among Baptists in recent days, interest in this historic confession has been renewed. [article link]

Historic Baptist Documents - Confessions, Catechisms, Creeds

Many contemporaries have a deep-seated suspicion of catechisms. In our own Baptist denomination, many would consider the words "Baptist catechism" as mutually exclusive. A popular misconception is that catechisms are used in times and places where inadequate views of conversion predominate or the fires of evangelism have long since turned to white ash. If the Bible is preached, they continue, no catechism is necessary; catechisms tend to produce mere intellectual assent where true heart religion is absent. This concern reflects a healthy interest for the experiential side of true Christianity. Concern for conversion and fervor, however, should never diminish one's commitment to the individual truths of Christianity nor the necessity of teaching them in a full and coherent manner. An Encouragement to Use Catechisms, Tom Nettles -- I am persuaded that the use of a good Catechism in all our families will be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times, and therefore I have compiled this little manual from the Westminster Assembly's and Baptist Catechisms, for the use of my own church and congregation. Those who use it in their families or classes must labour to explain the sense; but the words should be carefully learned by heart, for they will be understood better as years pass. ~ C. H. Spurgeon -- "There never was a man in the world without a creed. What is a creed? A creed is what you believe. What is a confession? It is a declaration of what you believe. That declaration may be oral or it may be committed to writing, but the creed is there either expressed or implied." ~ B.H. Carroll [article link]

***Highly Recommended - (PID) VFTB 048: Sarah Leslie - False Christs and False Prophets - The *New Apostolic Reformation is lifting up a generation of self-appointed, self-anointed apostles who believe they're on a mission from God to take over the world {Note: Back in the day (mid-90's) I read several of the books and bought a few [especially books on prayer by Cindy Jacobs] proposing a modern apostolic movement based on 'globally' impacting ministries. The modern definition of a modern apostle being a global ministry and at the time this seemed reasonable to me however after more Bible study it's easy to see that the modern term for apostle has been redefined. A Biblical Apostle is strictly one of the people [the Apostle Paul being the last Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:8)] who personally witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ and who primarily wrote the New Testament scriptures based on the teachings of Jesus from their personal time spent with Jesus. Also Note: A Christian ministry was always intended to have a global impact and regular Christian ministry is mentioned in the Bible apart from any reference to any local apostolic authority or mandate. - Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your [regular Christian] faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. -- *No global apostolic mandate is mentioned or referenced here by the Apostle Paul.} (Mp3)

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