Schism is a scary, serious word. We often think of a schismatic as someone who has caused a split in a denomination over a hot topic issue or walked away from the church entirely, and these never include ourselves. But John Owen’s teaching on schism reminds us that schism can be much less dramatic than this and thus much easier to fall into without realizing it.Read More
Founded in 1652, the New Park Street Chapel had been around for over 200 years when they called 19-year-old Charles Spurgeon to be their pastor in 1854. Like many other churches, this historic Baptist church went through many ups and downs throughout its long history. Reflecting on those pastoral transitions, Spurgeon shares nine lessons for pastors and church leaders to consider as they prepare their churches for the next pastor.Read More
It was a clear and hot Sunday for October in Southwest Missouri. The doors of Stotts City Baptist Church opened to invite a breeze as the temperature climbed to 88 degrees outside. Inside, a fervor of God brought another kind of warmth that was unique to such a small outpost in God’s Kingdom. A young father had surrendered to a call to preach, and the church body rallied to recognize and endorse this divine appointment.Read More
Summer is here and the HistoricalTheology.org crew has book recommendations to add to your summer reading list. Here’s something for all the historians and theologians in your family!Read More
Before he was the pastor of the largest of church in London, president of the Pastors’ College, founder of an orphanage and dozens of other charitable institutions, and read by people from all over the world, C. H. Spurgeon pastored a small Baptist church in the village of Waterbeach, about five miles outside of Cambridge. At that time, few could have predicted what was to come. And yet, God used his faithful ministry to bring about a transformation to that village during his short time there.Read More
No one enjoys conducting or receiving church discipline. At best, it’s awkward, and if there is no repentance, it can be devastating for individuals and families. The difficulty of addressing these situations can cause believers to shy away from initiating discipline. Yet, this must not stop believers from properly addressing sin in the church. One way to take back your courage is to remember that discipline is not an unloving thing to do, but the most loving thing to do, both for those who have sinned, and those who have been affected by their sin. In fact, there is such a close connection between discipline and love that John Owen lists love as a main purpose of discipline in his Inquiry Concerning Evangelical Churches.Read More
Prior to his conversion, Martin Luther wrestled with the reality of sin in his life. Luther devoted himself to the Roman Catholic system of good works in order to appease his sinful conscience, but none of those works ever satisfied his guilty conscience. Only when he discovered Paul’s teaching of justification by faith, did he discover “the gate of heaven” and receive the grace of God that is found in Jesus Christ. He would devote the rest of his life to proclaiming this good news that justification is to be received by faith alone.
But Luther’s message was not limited simply to preaching about God’s free grace in Christ. Luther understood that before justification by faith made sense, one also had to embrace Scripture’s teaching regarding sin. While Luther experienced deep conviction of his own sin, he knew that not everyone shared his experience or sensitive conscience. Therefore, the acknowledgment of sin could not ultimately be rooted in subjective experience. Rather, like justification, our sinfulness also has to be received by faith based on God’s Word.Read More
Let Dietrich Bonhoeffer help you frame out a general way to pray daily. In the morning, prayers of praise. At noon, prayers for strength. In the evening, prayers for needs. You can do this individually, but also alongside others, whether family, colleagues, or friends. Either way, this three-fold approach to prayer can help you become a person who prays without ceasing.Read More
The value of the Kingdom of God is unparalleled in these two short parables of Jesus. Here are some brief illustrations and quotes that will help reinforce the priceless treasure Jesus offers you and me.Read More
One of the questions I always get asked about the Christian life is some variation of, “how do I know if I am growing in godliness?” Even if you are doing your best to pay attention to your spiritual growth, it can be difficult to measure because it is somewhat abstract. This is a common concern for all believers, both today and in centuries past. For Thomas Goodwin, it was so common that he decided to write a short case of conscience about it, titled “The Trial of a Christian Growth,” based on John 15:1-2.Read More
When we think of some of church history’s great preachers, we naturally think of them at the height of their ministries: preaching to thousands, organizing conferences, publishing books. But this is not where their ministries began. At one point in time, the greatest of men were unknown and inexperienced, and they had many things to learn before they became the preachers we know.
One such person was J. C. Ryle. As the Bishop of Liverpool, he would defend orthodoxy within the Church of England against modern theology, Anglo-Catholicism, and the growth of the Keswick Conference. But long before he ever became a bishop, his first ministry position came in 1841, the curacy in the district of Exbury within the parish of Fawley, “a dreary, desolate, solitary place.”Read More
This is the third installment of a five-part series called, "5 Great Sermons from Church History." See the first here and the second here. This is not meant to indicate that these are the greatest or the best sermons, or even the five most important in the history of the church. However, these sermons were selected based on historical significance, content, accessibility (both good translations and comprehensibility), and each as exemplary of the particular era in which it occurred.Read More
Though I shared in this mental concept of Calvin, one line from a biography changed it forever. T.H.L Parker said that Calvin’s numerous writings, counted among the most important in Christian history, were “not written in an ivory tower, but against the background of teething troubles.”Read More
For Zwingli, the Christian can have assurance that Jesus offers rest for weary souls because of “the clarity and certainty of the Word of God.” Without this sure foundation, the faithful are subject to a life of uncertainty and toil, constantly re-plowing the ground that God has already prepared in their own lives.Read More
Everyone knows that teenagers in highschool struggle with an intense desire to be part of the popular crowd. Yet, few realize that this doesn’t always end after graduation, it just looks different. As an introvert, I am always instinctively observing the people around me, and sometimes this can take a prideful turn. Have you ever been talking to someone at church and suddenly get a sneaking feeling of superiority as you realize you are the more impressive person in terms of style, speech, or interests? Do you notice when the cool people walk in on Sunday morning and try to get their attention?Read More
The sermon is over. The lights dim. As music begins to play, the pastor issues an invitation, “The tables are now open. No matter who you are or where you’ve come from, if you’ve responded to Jesus, then you can come. As the band plays our last song, feel free to make your way up to one of the tables. This is between you and Jesus.” Here in the 21st century, this has become a standard part of evangelical liturgy – an individualized view of the Lord’s Supper, with minimal accountability.
This practice can be traced back to a debate which began in the 17th century and reached a turning point in the 19th century.Read More
Baptist churches have always understood that though every local church is complete in itself, each church may pursue voluntary associations in order to promote their health and the work of the gospel. But with cooperation comes new challenges. How big can an association get? How broad or narrow should doctrinal standards be? How do you balance denominational influence with congregational authority?Read More
“And now that we have passed through the shadow-land of allegories, it is time to explore the great plains of mortal truths. Our faith has been strengthened, let our lives reveal its influence; our intellects have been enlightened, let them prescribe the right behavior. For they have sound sense who do this, if they direct their actions and understanding toward the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever.”Read More
Welcome to our newly redesigned HistoricalTheology.org! Since our launch in 2017, we’ve enjoyed sharing these riches from church history through our blog. Who knew that Puritan women could encourage us in our Bible reading? Or that early church sermons could be so edifying? Or that Charlemagne had something to teach us about grief? Or that Karl Barth loved kids’ music? Or that Charles Spurgeon could get so worked up about church membership?Read More
As we prepare our reading lists for 2019, let us take this opportunity to remind ourselves of perhaps the most significant book that Christians—all the way from the casual reader to the master’s level seminary student—have almost completely forgotten.Read More