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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
When it comes to gospel preachers, Lemuel Haynes stands out in the African-American Christian tradition as a powerful gospel preacher in the 19th century. As the first black in America to serve as pastor of a white congregation, Haynes ministered to Rutland’s West Parish for thirty years starting in 1783.
He was the illegitimate child of a black African man and the daughter of a socially prominent white family in Hartford, Connecticut, the five-month-old baby Lemuel was abandoned by his parents and indentured to a white family (Deacon Rose’s family) in Massachusetts. He was adopted as a very young child by solid Calvinist Congregationalists in Massachusetts. He was schooled a bit and self-taught for the most part. He served in the Continental Army until he became quite ill in 1776.
He is said to have began to teach the Scriptures to his friends and family where they realized he had a gift of preaching the gospel. At the family home, Haynes benefited from the devout religious practice and instruction. One biographer described Haynes as “a determined, self-taught student who poured over Scripture until he could repeat from memory most of the texts dealing with the doctrines of grace….” Read More…
The masterful sermons of what American preacher profoundly influenced Patrick Henry to become a great orator and patriot? Second question, what American minister succeeded Jonathan Edwards as President of Princeton University? The answer to both questions is Samuel Davies. Well, Samuel Davies preached this classic message at Princeton College on New Year’s day (January 1, 1761) and died shortly there after, on February 4–at the age of 37! Thus in a way—he preached his own funeral sermon! Follow the text taken from Jeremiah 28:6 and may it be a wake up call for every sinner (and I am the chief of sinners) who reads or listens to it:
“Thus says the Lord—I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you are going to die!” Jeremiah 28:16 While we are entering upon the threshold of a new year, it may be proper for us to stand, and pause, and take a serious view of the occurrences thatmay happen to us this year—that we may be prepared to meet them. …There is More!
It’s a while now since we last saw Todd Bentley warn a bewildered chap that he was just about to leg drop him so that he could earn a “revival” in his church. Another time he supposedly gave another man a two minute head start before he broke his teeth and sternum. Bentley’s erratic behavorisms were outlandish but they drew crowds. People came to see and be subjected to mesmerising antics. No one seemed to question the biblical basis of his practices.
People actually will crown any one as king if he can create an illusion or pretend to conjure up one. A couple of years before Mr Bentley graced the Evangelical scene, there was a like minded charismatic man called Smith Wigglesworth. No, he didn’t knock people around with his coat like some famous televangelists do on television or huff and puff a glory cloud to make people drowsy “in the holy ghost”. Mr. Wigglesworth is said to have punched a man so hard during one of his “revivals” that the man died. He then went on and raised him back to life, or so the legend goes. Today we will look at the teachings of Mr. Smith Wigglesworth. So, to begin with – who was Wigglesworth? Was he orthodox or a heretic? I am glad you asked….
SMITH WIGGLESWORTH (1859-1947) was a famous Pentecostal evangelist and faith healer. Many books have been written about his unusual life. He was converted in a Methodist church, confirmed as an Anglican, and as a young man was associated with the Salvation Army and Plymouth Brethren. In 1907 he claimed that he was “baptised in the Holy Spirit” after hands were laid on him by Mary Boddy, who alleged to have had a Pentecostal experience only a month prior to that. Mrs. Boddy believed in the doctrine of healing in the atonement, but she spent the last sixteen years of her life as an invalid. Wigglesworth, too, believed that physical healing is guaranteed in the atonement of Christ. He taught against the use of all medicine. He believed that signs and wonders should always follow the preaching of the Gospel. He taught that a Christian can be justified and sanctified but still not have everything necessary from God. “People are never safe until they are baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Wigglesworth, “The Place of Power,” June 1916, reprinted in The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 151). He taught that handkerchiefs which are prayed over will bring life if carried in faith to the sick (The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 231).
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Constantine entered into the annals of Church History at a time when Christianity seemed to have undergone a bit of persecution. Well “a bit” may just be the understatement of the millennium. It has been calculated that between the first persecution under Nero in 64 to the Edict of Milan in 313, Christians experienced 129 years of persecution and 120 years of toleration and peace. The total number of Christians martyred in the early church is actually still unknown.
During the rule of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (reigned 306–337), Christianity became a dominant religion of the Roman Empire.So what do we learn from the triumphs and errors of this eccentric Emperor? This is an excerpt from a Church History lecture (transcript here) by Pastor Michael Phillips…
Having consolidated his civil power, Constantine was quick to legalize Christianity and began endowing the church with many royal favors, only a few of which I can presently mention:
1.Sunday was declared the “Christian Sabbath”, as a result of which work was forbidden and church attendance encouraged.
2.Pagans were generally removed from their government posts and replaced with Christians.
3.Pastors were relieved of military obligation and given a tax-exempt status.
4.Pastors became the salaried employees of the state, paid by the taxes levied on Christian and Pagan alike.
5.Church buildings were erected, enlarged, and richly furnished throughout the Empire.
As might be expected, the Church was deeply grateful to the Emperor. Indeed, too grateful. For in accepting his favors, they were inadvertantly submitting to his sovereignty. After all, “whoever pays the piper calls the tune”. The evils produced by this illicit union cannot be exaggerrated, no matter how well-intentioned Constantine or the church leaders of the time may have been. The latter in particular acted with inexcusable stupidity and pride. The immediate effects were disastrous.
October is a month when we remember many events in Church history. Jim West has just reminded us to have a happy Tyndale Day and so be it! William Tyndale died in October…
We do not know who planned and financed the plot that ended his life (whether English or continental authorities), but we do know it was carried out by Henry Phillips, a man who had been accused of robbing his father and of gambling himself into poverty. Phillips became Tyndale’s guest at meals and soon was one of the few privileged to look at Tyndale’s books and papers.
In May 1535, Phillips lured Tyndale away from the safety of his quarters and into the arms of soldiers. Tyndale was immediately taken to the Castle of Vilvorde, the great state prison of the Low Countries, and accused of heresy.
Trials for heresy in the Netherlands were in the hands of special commissioners of the Holy Roman Empire. It took months for the law to take its course. During this time, Tyndale had many hours to reflect on his own teachings, such as this passage from one of his tracts:
“Let it not make thee despair, neither yet discourage thee, O reader, that it is forbidden thee in pain of life and goods, or that it is made breaking of the king’s peace, or treason unto his highness, to read the Word of thy soul’s health—for if God be on our side, what matter maketh it who be against us, be they bishops, cardinals, popes.” …Read More!
If you go back through the long history of the Church, you will find that it has often counted most, and has been most used by God, when there have been just a handful of people who were agreed in spirit and in doctrine. God took hold of them and used them and did mighty things through them. But when there was only one Church in the whole of western Europe, what did she lead to? The Dark Ages. …Read More!
So what really happened between Michael Servetus and Calvin?
In the year 1553 an event occurred which would forever blacken the reputation of Calvin in the eyes of an ungodly world. In that year a heretic named Michael Servetus entered Geneva after fleeing from France after being condemned for his heresy there and escaping from prison in Vienna. He was seen in the streets of Geneva and arrested on August 13. This trouble he had brought upon himself by his book which denied the existence of the Trinity as well as the practice of infant baptism. Though the former is clearly a more serious error than the latter, the latter position identified Servetus with the hated Anabaptists who had spread the revolutionary ideas of socialism and communism. Why Servetus came to Geneva is not clear though the Reformer Wolfgang Musculus wrote that he apparently thought that Geneva might be favorable to him since there was so much opposition to Calvin.
On August 21, the authorities in Geneva wrote to Vienna asking further information on Servetus. The authorities in Vienna immediately demanded his extradition to face charges there. At this the Genevan city council offered Servetus a choice: he could either be returned to Vienna or stay in Geneva and face the charges against him. Servetus, significantly, chose to remain in Geneva. Read More
Largely forgotten today, George Whitefield was probably the most famous religious figure of the eighteenth century. Newspapers called him the “marvel of the age.” He preached with clarity and with tenacity. When George Whitefield, a Calvinist studied the Bible…
“There he is at five in the morning . . . . on his knees with his English Bible, his Greek New Testament and Henry’s Commentary spread out before him. He reads a portion in the English, gains a fuller insight into it as he studies words and tenses in the Greek and then considers Matthew Henry’s explanation of it all. Finally, there comes the unique practice that he has developed: that of ‘praying over every line and word’ of both the English and the Greek till the passage, in its essential message, has veritably become part of his own soul.” ~Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield, I:82-83.
Are there still any preachers …Read More!
William Tyndale had an unequaled mastery of English phrasing, rhythm and style as an individual translator. He dedicated his life in the service of bringing the Bible to the English-speaking people. Tyndale, the translator of our English Bible in 1524, was arrested by the Roman Catholic authorities and put in prison to await his martyrdom. He was incarcerated to an inhospitable dark and damp small 7 feet by 6 feet prison cell dug under and next to the river with no facilities and the interior without windows for 16 months which encompassed a full winter. While there he wrote the following letter to the Governor or a Noble man, the Marquis of Bergen :
“Wherefore I beg of your lordship, and that by the Lord Jesus, that if I am to remain here through the winter you will request the commissary to have the kindness to send me from the goods of mine which he has a warmer cap, for I suffer greatly from the cold in the head and am afflicted by a perpetual catarrh, which is much increased in this cell. A warmer coat also, for this which I have is very thin. A piece of cloth, too, to patch my leggings. My overcoat is worn out. My shirts are also worn out. He has a woolen shirt, if he will be good enough to send it. I have with him also leggings of thicker cloth to put on above. He also has warmer night caps. And I ask to be allowed to have a lamp in the evening. It is indeed a wearisome to sit alone in the dark. But most of all I beg and beseech your clemency to be with the commissary that he will kindly permit me to have the Hebrew Bible, Hebrew grammar, and Hebrew dictionary, that I may pass the time in that study. Read More
As the 2012 London Olympics are underway, there are a couple of Christian mission groups traversing the landscapes of the beautiful City of London preaching the gospel. I am greatly encouraged by their zeal and passion. I am also encouraged by the stories of those coming to embrace Jesus Christ from all walks of life. Looking at the history of Christianity, England was instrumental in being the first place through which the Reformation came to the English speaking world. Many lost their lives for believing in the Authority of Scripture over the authority of the Papacy.
Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer are some of the examples of Reformers in England. Hugh was a British clergyman, Bishop of Worcester, and Protestant martyr during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I of England. He was burnt at the stake as a “heretic” in Oxford (1555). Hugh’s memorable last words to his friend Nicholas as they were burnt were:
Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out. ~ Hugh Latimer
Times and seasons come and go. Olympics are here in London today but will be gone tomorrow. How I pray that God will indeed raise up a people with a zeal for the Authority of Scripture in our days too. For the time is soon coming and may probably be here now when men will not adhere to sound doctrine even in the church. A time is coming and is already here when holding Christian beliefs will be tantamount to being “intolerant” and “bigotted”. …Read More!
[Adapted from an article by Steven Lawson]: Other than Martin Luther, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Calvin, the most important early Reformer was Ulrich Zwingli. A first-generation Reformer, he is regarded as the founder of Swiss Protestantism. Furthermore, history remembers him as the first Reformed theologian. Though Calvin would later surpass Zwingli as a theologian, he would stand squarely on Zwingli’s broad shoulders.
Less than two months after Luther came into the world, Zwingli was born on January 1, 1484, in Wildhaus, a small village in the eastern part of modern-day Switzerland, forty miles from Zurich. His father, Ulrich Sr., had risen from peasant stock to become an upper-middle-class man of means, a successful farmer and shepherd, as well as the chief magistrate for the district. This prosperity allowed him to provide his son with an excellent education. He presided over a home where typical Swiss values were inculcated in young Ulrich: sturdy independence, strong patriotism, zeal for religion, and real interest in scholarship. …Read More!
The tension between two great evangelical ministers can never be profound yet graciously loving than the public and personal tensions between George Whitefield and John Wesley. On one front one would easily have had the impression that these two would never even share a drink at a communion table. The most surprising twist was that George Whitefield actually asked Mr Wesley to eulogize at his funeral. But did that bury the proverbial hatchet? Did Whitefield eventually roll over and accept defeat to Wesley? Far from it. Iain Murray in this article rightly summarises this unique conundrum:
The occasion and background of [Whitefield’s letter to Wesley] requires a few words of explanation. From the time of his conversion in 1735, Whitefield had been profoundly conscious of man’s entire depravity, his need of the new birth, and the fact that God can save and God alone. Describing an experience which occurred a few weeks after his conversion, he wrote: “About this time God was pleased to enlighten my soul, and bring me into the knowledge of His free grace . . .” Strengthened by his reading of the Scriptures, the Reformers and the Puritans, Whitefield gradually grasped the great related chain of truths revealed in the New Testament—the Father’s electing love, Christ’s substitutionary death on behalf of those whom the Father had given Him, and the Spirit’s infallible work in bringing to salvation those for whom it was appointed. These doctrines of “free grace” were the essential theology of his ministry from the very first and consequently the theology of the movement which began under his preaching in 1737. …There’s More!
Ever wondered what the apostles or even the reformers would say if they attended a modern day church service? Okay, what if they strolled into a mega church movie sermon series or sat and watched christian television. Would they agree with our shenanigans (read eisegesis)? How about Zwingli, that feisty almost unsang hero of the reformation would he have a fit? I think [chuckling now] I know:
First you need to dispense with the notion that what you read into Scripture is what’s there. Such a view is quite pointless as I will clearly show. I know that you will insist that you have worked through Scripture and uncovered texts which support your point of view. And here we hit at the disease of the human heart …Read More!
Left with twenty four hours to recant his 95 theses, Martin Luther found himself looking to God as he stood at the precipice of one of the greatest revivals that the church has had in the last one thousand years. This was his prayer:
O God, Almighty God everlasting! how dreadful is the world! behold how its mouth opens to swallow me up, and how small is my faith in Thee! . . . Oh! the weakness of the flesh, and the power of Satan! If I am to depend upon any strength of this world – all is over . . . The knell is struck . . . Sentence is gone forth . . . O God! O God! O thou, my God! help me against the wisdom of this world. Do this, I beseech thee; thou shouldst do this . . . by thy own mighty power . . . The work is not mine, but Thine. I have no business here . . . I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world! Read More…
Charles Fox Parham (4 June 1873 – 29 January 1929) was an American preacher originally from a Methodist and the Wesleyan Holiness Movement back ground. Together with William J. Seymour, Parham was one of the two central figures in the development and early spread of Pentecostalism (which initially emphasized personal faith and proper living, along with a belief of the imminence of the return of the gifts of the Holy Spirit) in 1901 in Topeka, Kansas. Parham left the Methodist church in 1895 because he disagreed with its hierarchy. He also complained that Methodist preachers “were not left to preach by direct inspiration”. Rejecting denominations, he established his own itinerant evangelistic ministry, which preached the ideas of the holiness movement and was well received by the people of Kansas.
Charles Parham’s Theological roots
Pentecostalism grew out of the Holiness movement roots. John Wesley, the eighteenth century Anglican minister and founder of Methodism, is in many ways seen as “the spiritual and intellectual father of the modern holiness and Pentecostal movements” because of the doctrine of sinless perfectionism. Perfectionism (sanctification) was the second blessing or experience of the believer. This perfectionism would become something a believer must seek and strive for. Read More…
Further in our study of church history we shall look at Scotland. In 1561, Mary Queen of Scots arrived in Scotland from France, and immediately issued an order to celebrate Mass in her private chapel. On hearing that, Mary’s relatives and attendants threatened to return to France, rather than live in a land where Mass could not be said, John Knox stated “Would that they, together with the Mass, had taken goodnight of this realm forever.” He denounced the Mass from the pulpit, concluding his sermon with the words that “one Mass is more fearful to me, than if ten thousand armed enemies were landed in any part of the realm.”
Knox well understood that this would only be the first step in a counter-reformation, designed to overthrow the work which had been achieved so far. His words were reported to Mary, and he was summoned to appear before her in conference. Mary accused Knox, saying,
[Here is the conversation] Mary: “You have taught the people to receive another religion than that which their princes allow; but God commands subjects to obey their prince. Therefore you have taught the people to disobey both God and their prince.”
“Madam,” Knox calmly replied, “as right religion receive not its origin nor authority from princes but from the eternal God alone, so are not subjects bound to frame their religion according to the tastes of their princes, for oft it is that princes are the most ignorant of God’s true religion. . .”
“Well then,”, she said, “I clearly perceive that my subjects shall obey you, and not me; and shall do what they list and not what I command; and so must I be subject to them and not they to me.”
“God forbid,” answered Knox, “that ever I take upon me to command any to obey me or to set subjects at liberty to do whatever pleases them. . . My travail is that both princes and subjects may obey God. And think not, Madam, that wrong is done you when you are required to be subject unto God, for He it is who subjects peoples under princes, and causes obedience to be given unto them. . .”
“Yea,” replied the queen, “but ye are not the Kirk that I will nourish. I will defend the Kirk of Rome; for it is, I think, the true Kirk of God.”
“Your will, Madam, is no reason; neither doth it make that Roman harlot to be the true and immaculate spouse of Jesus Christ. . .”
“My conscience is not so,” said Mary.
“Conscience, Madam,” said Knox, “requires knowledge, and I fear that right knowledge, ye have none.” There’s More…
Excerpt from The Legacy of Charles Finney:
[Charles] Finney is particularly esteemed among the leaders of the Christian Right and the Christian Left, and his imprint can be seen in movements that appear to be diverse, but in reality are merely heirs to Finney’s legacy. From the Vineyard movement and the church growth movement to the political and social crusades, televangelism, and the Promise-Keepers movement, as a former Wheaton College president rather glowingly cheered, “Finney lives on!”
That is because Finney’s moralistic impulse envisioned a church that was in large measure an agency of personal and social reform rather than the institution in which the means of grace, Word and Sacrament, are made available to believers who then take the Gospel to the world…
To demonstrate the debt of modern evangelicalism to Finney, we must first notice his theological departures. From these departures, Finney became the father of the antecedents to some of today’s greatest challenges within the evangelical churches themselves; namely, the church growth movement, Pentecostalism and political revivalism.
Reacting against the pervasive Calvinism of the Great Awakening, the successors of that great movement of God’s Spirit turned from God to humans, from the preaching of objective content (namely, Christ and him crucified) to the emphasis on getting a person to “make a decision.”
Charles Finney (1792-1875) ministered in the wake of the “Second Awakening,” as it has been called. A Presbyterian lawyer, Finney one day experienced “a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost” which “like a wave of electricity going through and through me…seemed to come in waves of liquid love.” The next morning, he informed his first client of the day, “I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause and I cannot plead yours.” Refusing to attend Princeton Seminary (or any seminary, for that matter), Finney began conducting revivals in upstate New York. One of his most popular sermons was, “Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts.”… Read More
This week in church history we take a break and courageously read through a letter that was written by Huldrych Zwingli. I would like to believe this letter never got mailed to the intended recipient a mischievous character called Johannes Eck.
“Look out, you impudent chap, now you will experience an examination which can’t be borne by you, but only by a Hercules. You actually deserve it, that one would hurl against you everything that gives insult, derision, and offense… Is it not almost insane that you think so much of yourself, that you write against me to the Confederation in such a shameless, rude and disgusting manner?
Were you born to cause only confusion everywhere? You lacked the strength to act, after you exposed your stupidity in the presence of all, and you also still need to abandon your wickedness, so that the world has not only Eck’s foolishness, but also his meanness for a very long time as a deterring example before its eyes…
Everything manifests externally what it is internally; whether you look like a human or like an ape on the outside. You are indeed in action nothing other than a cow. You still need, as it appears to me, and everyone else, to be broken like a mule or a donkey. I could never find a man more miserable than you, even if I scanned the whole of Germany… Oh, There’s More
There is much talk these days about lost books of the Bible. From cults to the New Age, people make all sorts of claims about how the Bible is missing books, books that help justify what they hope to believe. Sometimes people claim that the Bible was edited to take out reincarnation, or the teaching of higher planes of existence, or different gods, or ancestor worship, or “at-one-ment” with nature.
The “lost books” were never lost. They were known by the Jews in Old Testament times and the Christians of the New Testament times and were never considered scripture. They weren’t lost nor were they removed. They were never in the Bible in the first place (see: Reasons why the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible).
The additional books were not included in the Bible for several reasons: Read More
This is a rare interview of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (20 December 1899 – 1 March 1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century.
For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London. Read More
I have always wanted to go through the Heidelberg Catechism from beginning to end. We once started as a family and it was great learning the precepts of Christian faith. So, here I am once again reminding myself from the first principles. To begin with what is a catechism? It is in short a summary or exposition of doctrine. Heidelberg catechism was composed in Heidelberg at the request of Elector Frederick III, who ruled the Palatinate, an influential German province, from 1559 to 1576. The Catechism is an introduction to the Christian worldview and the basic teachings of the Bible; it is divided into fifty-two sections, called “Lord’s Days,” which were designed to be taught on each of the 52 Sundays of the year. Elders and deacons were required to subscribe and adhere to it, and ministers were required to preach on a section of the Catechism each Sunday so as to increase the often poor theological knowledge of the church members. This catechism or exposition of doctrine follows the outline of the book of Romans and thus clearly explains the gospel by hitting on the main points of man’s sin, Christ’s redemption and man’s gratitude. Read more of this post