(Apologies for any lay out discrepancies in this post. Numerous attempts have been made to be consistent, especially in spacing between paragraphs, but it doesn't always work out as desired.)
WHY I AM SURPRISED MY FRIEND #WYLIE WANTS YOU TO LEARN YOUR BAPTIST HISTORY
My friend #Wylie, like myself is a bit of a history buff. Every now and again, he goes digging up some new name for us to think about, mostly some half ancient Baptist preacher and evangelist from his home state of Texas. Well and good. I owe it to #Wylie for introducing me to men like BH Carroll, RC Burleson and CE Jefferson. Google is well and fine, but you need to be able to type something into the find box before you even start and #Wylie done the early part of my homework for me.
Having said all that, I stand over the observation that forms the title of this blog post. Notice his lament at the top. It can be easily broken down into several easy parts and quickly analysed as I see it:
1) Protestant history is well known to "most Baptists" (Protestants do have a history)
2) "Most Baptists" obviously like what they know about Protestant history (They know and talk about it. Generally favourably.)
3) #Wylie says "we" (presumably "most Baptists") have neglected Baptist history
4) This neglect is "sad" (because mostly Baptist History is as glorious as Protestant history, but (see previous point) it is not as well known. And the Baptists still like and talk about the overall Protestant history and not just the Baptist segment.
Fair enough. It is natural that people within the several denominations within Fundamental Christianity should have a desire for their own. Presbyterian history floats my boat, more (with due respect) than Methodist or Anglican stuff, although I do read widely and rejoice accordingly. I want those outside of Presbyterianism to rejoice in what God has done through men like Calvin and Knox and others. And to be fair, they do and do again. And it animates their prayer life. See here, where a good Baptist pleads with God to send a man like Calvin (and others) to Texas. FTR: I rejoice in the ministries of all who love the Lord in sincerity and truth. In my preaching etc., I readily and positively refer to the efforts and writings of men like Wesley, RA Torry, HA Ironside etc. Let's move unto our next tweet from #Wylie:
#Wylie really is on a roll with this subject. In many ways, it is a natural outcome of his lament above. It is a call to Baptists (although they are not specifically named) to dig up old books and read about the great Baptist leaders and soul winners. Presumably, to relieve the "most Baptist" people of their ignorance and give them something else to talk about, other than great Presbyterians and Methodists.
Before we move on to #Wylie's next tweet in his roll, it needs to be said that digging into Baptist history certainly won't be kind to Wylie and his somewhat modern brand of Independent Fundamental Baptists. #Wylie thinks it does (bless him) but it really doesn't. Fair enough, his heroes baptised only believers by immersion and kept the decision making processes within the four walls of a congregation, but beyond that (outside of sharing the fundamental doctrines that all Christians believe) there really isn't much more. I develop this thought more here, but keep reading this post and circle back again. # Wylie's next tweet is significant:
Here, #Wylie gives us his thoughts on one WE Penn. He was "an uncompromising Baptist" who (example given of this uncompromising man) "refused ecumenical meetings." Does this mean that he didn't preach outside Baptist circles? Or to word it another way - does preaching outside Baptist pulpits make you an ecumenical compromiser? Or having non Baptists e.g. Presbyterians and Methodists in your pulpit make you a compromiser? It is #Wylie who uses the word "uncompromising" and since #doctrinematters (one of #Wylies recently and frequently used hashtags) then to work with those who effectively deny your position is to make you a dread #Neo. (Again, keep going and circle back again)
If so, then steal a glance at yet another of #Wylie's recent tweets. This gets interesting, because he encourages us to study the names in photograph.
"Wow!" indeed, Mr #Wylie. What a lovely little ecumenical gathering we have here! Spot the ordained Presbyterian evangelist (Billy Sunday) and the Methodist evangelist! (Gypsy Smith). I would love to look at the others, but time isn't on my side, but the point is more than adequately proved. What a compromising church this proves itself to be. Imagine some horrid compromiser in #Wylie's circles inviting a Presbyterian to preach in their services? Or a Methodist?
Let me encourage #Wylie's constituents indeed study Baptist history. They will find it weaving in and out of the Protestant stuff, so that they can hardly tell the two apart. Even the famed Trail of Blood tells of how the Baptists at the time of the Reformation sought to help and co-operate with the Reformers. No isolationalist policy there. I assume that #Wylie's constituency, although ignorant of Baptist history, aren't stupid. Ignorance and stupidity are not necessarily linked. In my opinion, if #Wylie wants to maintain his own stated position of cussing Calvinists, castigating those who are not #KJVO or who repudiate his Dispensationalism as compromisers, then Baptist History isn't the place to be. Even his great hero, Frank J Norris (mentioned in the roll of honour above) sat happily at the feet of a PostMill, Calvinist and Protestant (BH Carroll took all three titles). I must wonder if #Wylie can point to one person in Baptist history who has taken his position? Can #Wylie assure anyone that even WE Penn wasn't a Calvinist, or worked (within the Baptist denomination) with them? Or that WE Penn was not a PostMill but a card carrying Dispensationalist? If the jury is out on this one, then WE Penn could be as big a compromiser as any of the rest of them, not withstanding #Wylie's observations. There are a lot of dotted lines in #Wylie's assessments that can be readily challenged. Even men of God on pedestals have feet of clay.
I readily acknowledged how helpful he has been to me in my opening paragraph. And if he can be so helpful to me as a cusséd Calvinistic, AMill, Presbyterian, then he can be helpful to you too. But only with caution. Amazingly at times, #Wylie would teach us that the Calvinist translators of the Geneva Bible were 'exceptional Christian leaders and scholars' and that BH Carroll was a Baptist giant and genius and that BHC's PostMill, Calvinist, Protestant commentaries were a goldmine. #Wylie wants you to find out these things for yourself. Remember, if your Baptist forefathers can be and do all these things, then so can you. If it was glorious for them, it will be equally glorious for you too.