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Painfully Relevant

Baxter has a word for Fundamentalists.


Hence it is that men do so magnify their own opinions, and are as censorious of any that differ from them in lesser things, as if it were all one to differ from them and from God. They expect that all should conform to their judgment, as if they were the rulers of the Church’s faith; and while we cry down papal infallibility, too many of us would be popes ourselves, and have all to stand to our determination, as if we were infallible. It is true, we have more modesty than expressly to say so; we pretend that it is only the evidence of truth, that appeareth in our reasons, that we expect men should yield to, and our zeal is for the truth and not for ourselves: but as that must needs be taken for truth which is ours, so our reasons must needs be taken for valid; and if they be but freely examined, and be found fallacious, as we are exceedingly backward to see it ourselves, because they are ours, so we are angry that it should be disclosed to others. We so espouse the cause of our errors, as if all that were spoken against them were spoken against our persons, and we were heinously injured to have our arguments thoroughly confuted, by which we injured the truth and the souls of men. The matter is come to this pass, through our pride, that if an error or fallacious argument do fall under the patronage of a reverend name, (which is nothing rare,) we must either allow it the victory, and give away the truth, or else become injurious to that name that doth patronize it; for though you meddle not with their persons, yet do they put themselves under all the strokes which you give their arguments; and feel them as sensibly as if you had spoken of themselves, because they think it will follow in the eyes of others, that weak arguing is a sign of a weak man. If, therefore, you consider it your duty to shame their errors and false reasonings, by discovering their nakedness, they take it as if you shamed their persons; and so their names must be a garrison or fortress to their mistakes, and their reverence must defend all their sayings from attack.

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9 Responses

  1. Only for the fundamentalists?

  2. Brother,

    I really would like to meet you some time, face to face. I can’t believe you are that sensitive! Of course, it is not relevant only to Fundamentalists. I am a Fundamentalist, though, and I think Whitefield’s conviction is good for me: “It is every minister’s duty to declare against the corruptions of that church to which they belong.” Whitefield certainly meant ‘church’ to be more than just one’s local church. Likely for him it meant the Established Church. Whatever, the point is clear.

  3. Sorry to sound over-sensitive. I probably should have posted a longer post, rather than the simple question.

    I raised the question because in the course of all this internet discussion some (not sure what label to use) are making censorious statements about fundamentalists and expecting them take the same position as themselves regarding separation. They come close to saying fundamentalists are not loving and that their conclusions are not exegetically driven. This may be true of some individuals who use the label fundamentalist, but it is not true of those most closely tied with the discussion.

    Do fundamentalists need to listen to Baxter’s words. Certainly. But in this painfully relevant context those who critique them also need Baxter’s words.

    Let me know next time you’re around Greenville, and I’d be happy to meet with you face to face. (I sat in two rows back during one of your Missions 2000 sessions, if that counts :o)

  4. Brian,

    I applied it to myself first. Thus “painfully.”

    I timed it for Phil Johnson’s new post on sharperiron.org. That’s probably obvious to anyone familiar with both sites.

    Let’s do lunch. You buy!

  5. I see; I haven’t been keeping up with the discussion there as much as with that over on Bails’ blog. (Though I’ve been catching the new stuff from Phil that they’ve been posting).

    Me buy!? I’m a poor seminary student ;o)

  6. Brian, just remember this about Bob, once a missionary, always a missionary!!!!

    Hi Bob!

    BTW, we aren’t infallible??? Wow! So that’s what the problem has been!

    Regards
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  7. How true! Both with others and with ourselves, we are prone to merge the ideas and the speaker, and once this happens, challenges to and sometimes even mere questions about the ideas are readily construed as attacks on the person. At that point, the result is often much more heat than light.

    Is the quotation from Baxter’s A Christian Directory ? If so, would you give a more precise reference? I recently acquired a copy of that work and would like to read more. Thanks.

  8. This quote came from Baxter’s “Reformed Pastor.”

  9. I cropped some of the last entries because I felt they were off the intended direction of this post.

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