Thursday, February 23, 2017

Three Lessons From The Life Of Andrew Fuller

In 1805 a minister of an independent church informed Fuller that a lady who had been excluded from his church forbad conduct intended to become a member of Fuller's church. She had been 'dishonest toward her creditors'. Fuller was thankful for the information. When she appeared in the group that was being questioned before baptism, the following conversation took place between Fuller and the lady in question: (F) 'Well, Margaret, you have lived in the world about forty years. How long do you think you have known Christ?' (M) 'A little more than a year.' (F) 'What, no longer?' (M) 'I think not.' (F) 'And you have never professed to know him before that time?' (M) 'Yes, and was a member of an independent church for several years.' (F) 'A member of a church and did not know Christ? How is that?' (M) 'I was brought up to be religious and deceived myself and others into professing to be so.' (F) 'And how came you to leave that church?' (M) 'I was cut off.' (F) 'What, because you were a Baptist?' (M) 'No, because of my bad conduct.' (F) 'Of what, then, had you been guilty?' (M) 'My heart was lifted up with vanity. I got in debt for clothes and other things and then prevaricated and did many things.' (F) 'And it was for these things they cut you off?' (M) 'Yes.' (F) 'And do you think they did right?' (M) 'Yes.' (F) 'And how came you to the knowledge of Christ at last?' (F) 'When I was cut off from the church, I sunk into the deepest despondency, I felt as an outcast from God and man, I wandered about speaking, as it were, to nobody and nobody speaking to me. My burden seemed heavier than l could bear. At that time a passage or two of Scripture came to my mind, and I was led to see that through the cross of Christ there was mercy for the chief of sinners. I wept much, and my sin was very bitter, but I saw there was no reason to despair. For the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin. It is from thence I date my conversion.' (F) 'And did the minister in the church of which you were a member know of all this?' (M) 'Yes.' (F) 'Why did you not go and confess it before them and be restored?' (M) 'Partly because I have removed my situation some miles from them, and partly because I felt in my conscience that I was a Baptist.'
Later, Fuller informed the independent minister of the entire matter, said that the church had done well in excluding her, and that the Lord had blessed it to her salvation.

Above is lifted from Tom Nettles’ The Baptists: Key People Involved In Forming A Baptist Identity – Volume One: Beginnings In Britain, pages 274-275 The account deals with an exchange between notable Baptist pastor Andrew Fuller and a woman who had been excommunicated from an independent congregation who was then converted to Christ and was being queried with others by Pastor Fuller as a candidate for believer baptism. There are some thoughts provoked by reading this account of one of the men involved in the instigation of the modern missions movement. I mention but three:
#1  The woman being questioned had formerly professed Christ and was excommunicated from the church where she was a member, but came to realize that she entertained a false hope. It is sad that so few Baptist preachers and congregations in our day recognize the existence of false hopes, though considerable attention was paid to the problem by the Savior and the apostles (Matthew 7.21-23; 1 Corinthians 5.1-4; 2 Peter 2.1; Jude 4). Methinks most congregations have far more with false hopes than they dare to admit.
#2  Andrew Fuller does a commendable job of querying the woman, something that is rarely done these days by pastors who are very quick to assume every baptismal candidate is truly converted and none’s claim is to be doubted. Of course, this is quite unlike godly shepherds of days gone by, of which Charles H. Spurgeon is a wonderful example of a very busy pastor who nevertheless interviewed every baptismal candidate. It is sad that the art of elicitation, so widely practiced by gospel ministers in the past, is for the most part lost by the gospel ministry these days. It is taught in no school that I am aware of. In days gone by only gospel ministers were skilled in the art of elicitation, whereas in our day so many professions are dependent upon skilled elicitation that they dare not attempt to function without it. Included are the professions of lawyers, physicians, dentists, chiropractors, consulting engineers, military debriefers/interrogators, and, law enforcement officers, to name but a few. Alas, pastors not so much anymore. A skilled elicitor recognizes that the person interviewed does not always know what he knows and sometimes does not know what he thinks he knows. Thus, almost every profession dealing with important information acknowledges the importance of a skilled interviewer seeking truth from a willing person. This is a skill every pastor ought to spend a lifetime developing.
#3  Notice the good exchange between the independent church pastor and Andrew Fuller referred to, suggesting two men in the ministry who were examples of pastoral ethics in a day when sheep stealing was less common than it is today. Several thoughts: First, a pastor is known to me to teach a course in pastoral ethics which gives no second thought to stealing sheep from other congregations while decrying the thefts from his flock, and at the same time his course syllabus suggests that he teaches everything about pastoral ethics except the ethics of stealing sheep. Next, the delightful memories of a good pastor friend now with the Lord who first taught me the evil of sheep stealing, which practice I have followed for almost four decades. Ah, the good memories of my friend Jim Johnston and his determination not to treat any gospel minister as an enemy. I miss him so. Nowadays such camaraderie among gospel ministers is rare, with so many in the ministry treating others in the ministry as competitors and threats, more resembling in practice the bunker mentality of evil paranoiac Richard Nixon than the gracious and godly Apostle Paul.

Andrew Fuller was a gracious and godly man who did not react to spiritual opposition by becoming a ministerial isolationist. Rather, he recognized that some men who differed with him were lost, while others who differed with him were ignorant, immature, or unspiritual. Through it all, the indwelling Spirit of God was more influential in determining Fuller’s outlook and disposition than those who from time to time mistreated or resisted him. What a wonderful example for me to follow.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Power Of The Pastor

     I am one of those guys who believes the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible, with no part of God’s Word (rightly understood) in any way conflicting with any other part of God’s Word. When something in the Bible shows my approach to serving as a spiritual leader is incompatible with the revealed truth, I have a holy obligation to alter my approach to leadership so that I might more fully conform to God’s revealed truth. To approach spiritual leadership otherwise is incompatible with spirituality and divergent from Christlikeness.
With this in mind you can imagine my frame of mind when I was discipling some of our men in the Church and arriving at Third John, the little letter of only fourteen verses written by the Apostle John to a Church member named Gaius, in which he seems to commend another Church member named Demetrius, while also offering severe inspired criticism of Diotrephes (thought by many credible commentators to be the Church’s pastor).
May I review a few thoughts off the top of my head that seem to run contrary to the ministerial philosophy of most of the independent Baptist leaders of the 20th century with whom I am familiar? First, the Apostle John writes to a Church member (how could Gaius be spiritual and not be a Church member?) about a problem that Church had with the congregation’s pastor. This is an act most IFBs would claim is beyond the pale as a violation of pastoral ethical standards. Second, the Apostle John criticizes the Church’s pastor for self-promotion and arrogance. How many pastors are guilty of the same approach in their ministries and cannot fathom any other approach to ministry? I know men who think pastors who are not ecclesiastical steamrollers are wimps. Third, this little epistle throws a monkey wrench into the notion that the pastor should be unassailable and beyond any legitimate challenge by godly members, which is, of course, supported by a right understanding of First Timothy 5.19-20. I remember once hearing a pastor claim, while I was attending Bible college, that Matthew 18.15ff was applicable only to Church members but not the pastor (effectively making the pastor a greater authority than the congregation he served). I am afraid it is a widely held practice.
My overall response to such an approach to ministry leadership is that such a philosophy is not Baptistic because such pastors exercise lordship over God’s heritage and deny Church members their soul liberty by seeking to restrict their God-given and Biblical freedom of conscience and action. I see it as no weakness or threat when a Church member seeks to hold me accountable for a perceived wrong and confronts me in private in a respectful and humble manner. Such seems entirely Biblical to me, and the pomposity and domineering spirit that I have observed so often by pastors seem to possibly be an effort to shore up feelings of inferiority or inadequacy. Such as is described in Third John 9-10 is not at all the way the Savior conducted His ministry according to Matthew 12.17-20.
Am I off base on this pastors? I ask pastors particularly because your perspective is different than that of a Church member. Feedback would be welcome.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Proper Use Of "Old Paths" and "Hyper-Calvinism"

I have a complaint with those of my movement, having come to Christ in 1973 and baptized shortly after that in an independent fundamental Baptist Church of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International persuasion, while also interacting a bit with some GARBC fellows. My complaint is related to the ignorant use of terminology, tossing two terms around as if they were never used before and therefore had no already accepted meaning by those already familiar with the terms’ use. The terms to which I refer are two; “old paths” and “hyper-Calvinism.”
It is an undisputed reality that independent Baptist preachers are for the most part an ill-educated lot. This is born out by a cursory glance of most IFB men’s schooling as well as some habits that persist by so many IFB men, a sometimes appalling ignorance of history. This is sad because real history is, in my opinion, the Baptist’s best friend. Of course, my claim will be disputed, but it will be disputed mostly by men with little or no educational background and zero research to support their disputations. Those same men will also seek to discredit the benefits of education, claiming that education is a threat to spirituality. Granted, knowledge puffeth, but all things considered it is better to be better informed than to be ill-informed.
Consider, first, the term “old paths.” For how many decades have we been exposed to urgent cries that we go back to the “old paths,” with those “old paths” remaining undefined by those who urge our return, and my suspicions being that the “old paths” urged upon us are habits and practices that actually arose for the first time in the 20th century! Excuse me, brethren, but nothing that appeared on the horizon as a Baptist practice in the 20th century can in any wise be rightly labeled an “old path.” Not even practices that appeared for the first time in the 19th century are rightly understood to be “old paths.” The first time in history that I know of that the phrase “old paths” was used was in the title of a book written by the late 19th century Anglican J. C. Ryle! How, then, can a 20th century Baptist or a 21st century Baptist use the term “old paths” without paying some homage to the man who may have been the first to use the phrase at the title of a book, J. C. Ryle? And is it not interesting to note the Table of Contents in his book, with the chapter titles being
INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER I INSPIRATION
CHAPTER II OUR SOULS!
CHAPTER III FEW SAVED!
CHAPTER IV OUR HOPE!
CHAPTER V "ALIVE OR DEAD?"
CHAPTER VI OUR SINS!
CHAPTER VII FORGIVENESS.
CHAPTER VIII JUSTIFICATION.
CHAPTER IX THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
CHAPTER X THE HOLY GHOST.
CHAPTER XI HAVING THE SPIRIT.
CHAPTER XII CONVERSION.
CHAPTER XIII THE HEART.
CHAPTER XIV CHRIST’S INVITATION.
CHAPTER XV FAITH.
CHAPTER XVI REPENTANCE.
CHAPTER XVII CHRIST’S POWER TO SAVE.
CHAPTER XVIII ELECTION.
CHAPTER XIX PERSEVERANCE.
Several things related to Ryle’s use of the phrase “old paths” and his book on the subject are amusing to me: First, his concern for “old paths” relates to specific issues that are raised in the Bible, but which issues are never what is referred to by IFBs who use the same phrase. Second, the fellow who seems to be better grounded in his use of the phrase “old paths” is was an Anglican, while those who use the phrase “old paths” to refer to issues not pointedly raised in Scripture are members of my community of IFBs! Thirdly, the Anglican uses terms that many IFBs that I have run with for forty years either disapprove of outright or use only when they are forced to do so, such as repentance, election, and perseverance.
May I suggest that we who are IFBs stop this nonsense of using an already established term to refer to a new notion that arose in the late 19th or early 20th century? For goodness sake, use the term as it was originally used or coin your own word or phrase to express your concern for late developing practices falling into disuse after a century or so. The Christian faith will not be adversely affected by any late developing practice or habit falling into disuse. Bishop Ryle’s concerns expressed in his book “Old Paths” are far more legitimate concerns for us to focus our attention on.
Next, consider the phrase “hyper-Calvinism.” For years I read the Sword of the Lord when it was edited by John R. Rice before I came to understand that he edited (sometimes severely) the sermons he printed to excise very obvious comments that reflected the classic Calvinism of the men whose sermons he printed, men who were wonderfully used of God to bring many souls to Christ and to spur others to engage in Biblical evangelism. At the very same time, John R. Rice engaged in what is rightly described as a veritable war against hyper-Calvinism. He wrote against it whenever possible and decried it at every opportunity as stifling to evangelism. And rightly so. I know of no one who would defend hyper-Calvinism against the charge that it stifles evangelistic fervor besides those who themselves are hyper-Calvinists. That said, John R. Rice and many since his time have blatantly mislabeled hyper-Calvinism and intentionally or ignorantly misrepresented what is and what is not hyper-Calvinism.
Let me set the record straight about two things: First, contrary to John R. Rice’s portrayal of the issue in the Sword of the Lord (and subsequent editors) subscribing to the five points of Calvinism does not make one a hyper-Calvinist. C. H. Spurgeon embraced the five points of Calvinism described using the acronym T-U-L-I-P but was not himself a hyper-Calvinist. In fact, he waged war against hyper-Calvinism early in his ministry.[1]As well, there were approximately 1,300 Baptist congregations in England during his lifetime that also embraced the five points of Calvinism without being hyper-Calvinists. The differences that distinguish Calvinism from hyper-Calvinism are real and ought to be understood by those who are intellectually honest, but the ignorant assertion that anyone who embraces the five points of Calvinism is a hyper-Calvinist is factually wrong.
William Carey was not a hyper-Calvinist, yet he embraced the five points of Calvinism. Adoniram Judson was not a hyper-Calvinist, yet he embraced the five points of Calvinism. Isaac Backus was not a hyper-Calvinist, yet he embraced the five points of Calvinism. John Gano was not a hyper-Calvinist, yet he embraced the five points of Calvinism. Daniel and Abraham Marshall were not hyper-Calvinists, yet they embraced the five points of Calvinism. Hezekiah Smith was not a hyper-Calvinist, yet he embraced the five points of Calvinism. J. L. Dagg was not a hyper-Calvinist, yet he embraced the five points of Calvinism. B. H. Carroll was not a hyper-Calvinist, yet he embraced the five points of Calvinism. Finally, my good friend Kenneth Connolly and his father Peter Connolly were not hyper-Calvinists, yet they were very much five point Calvinists.
I am not either explaining or defending Calvinism. I merely seek to point out for the sake of intellectual honesty and to put the record straight that five-point Calvinism is not hyper-Calvinism and has never been understood to be so by those who are well-informed and honest. Call Calvinists whatever you want to call them if you must, but please display the integrity to stop calling any man a hyper-Calvinist who preaches the Gospel to one and all, who urges all who hear the Gospel to turn from their sins to trust Christ, and upon whom our modern legacy of the Christian faith as modern Baptists has come to us.


[1] See Iain H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching, (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Labor Unions

I admit that I have a predisposition against labor unions. Oh, I know there are many arguments for labor unions, and members of my family used to swear by Jimmy Hoffa and the good he did for truck drivers. Still, labor unions are historically associated with corruption of the worst kinds. CBS News once interviewed philosopher and dock worker Eric Hoffer about the book he wrote, The True Believer. When asked about his longshoreman union brothers’ habit of stealing booze from ship’s cargo during loading and unloading, he exploded and insisted that pilferage was their inherent right for doing such difficult and thankless work. Then there was the televised interview of the president of the National Education Association responding to a journalist’s question about balancing teachers’ best interests with students’ welfare with the words, “I will concern myself with the welfare of school children when school children start paying union dues.” I even remember reading that the United Auto Workers targeted Henry Ford and his Ford Motor Company when they were the highest paid factory workers in the world and after Ford had already instituted profit-sharing for all of his employees.
This anecdotal history can be counterbalanced with stories of evil capitalists taking advantage of poor ignorant workers, taking a page from Karl Marx by treating management versus labor union issues as class struggle dynamics. However, the economic reality is that a large business enterprise pulls together the efforts of some smaller operations, be they subcontractors or factory workers, to produce a product. Consider a car manufacturer that builds several styles of automobiles. Though the car company may design the automobiles in-house and fabricate the engines and bodies used in the cars they produce and sell, such things as windshields, bumpers, brake systems, tires, bumpers, and the wire harnesses that operate windshield wipers, turn signals, and head and tail lights are usually subcontracted by smaller suppliers.
In a major propaganda coup pulled off by the big labor unions the reality that labor unions are merely companies that subcontract man-hours to manufacturing concerns is concealed by politically charged rhetoric that insists the interplay between the big corporation and their weak and helpless workers is a class struggle. It is not a class struggle, but the efforts of a company that supplies human labor (they call themselves labor unions) to the car manufacturer along with the products supplied by the other subcontractors. There are only two differences that exist between a labor union and a bumper or windshield subcontractor. #1, a labor union is a company by another name that supplies man-hours to produce inventory to sell. #2, a labor union engages in an ongoing public relations campaign and lobbying effort to disguise the reality of their business enterprise so that it appears to be part of a larger “class struggle” between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
Disagree with my view of economics if you want, but the underlying problem that I have with labor unions is the same issue I have with slavery, serfdom, and other constructs that deny individuals freedom to choose how they will spend their time. I favor the free exchange of goods and services between willing participants and am opposed to the use of force to coerce the behavior of other people that results in them doing what they do not want to engage in doing freely. And I see the Savior supporting that approach to human responsibility in a parable He taught in Matthew 20.1-16 in which He described a householder who hired a laborer at the beginning of the day, another laborer near the middle of the day, and yet a third laborer near the end of the work day, paying each of them what they agreed to work for at the time they were hired.
However, at the end of the day when the three men were paid the one hired first, who had worked the longest, objected that the three were paid the same despite not working the same and they all murmured. Despite their objections, the householder denied that he had done wrong (Matthew 20.13) and pointed out that he paid each of them the amount they had agreed upon. Further, he asked them (Matthew 20.15), “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”
What is my takeaway from this parable? Several things: First, there is nothing wrong with capital and labor (the householder and the laborers) entering into a mutually agreed upon exchange of goods and services. Second, it is entirely appropriate for the mutually agreed upon exchange of goods and services to be different with each worker, and there is no requirement for some concept of “fairness,” whatever that is. That is, the requirement that the three be paid the same rate for their time spent working is an invention, a social construct, and not inherently required between capital and labor to be just and proper.
Labor unions employ well-documented illegitimate means to achieve their desired ends, from extortion and threats to denials of individual freedom of choice for the workers they represent. Additionally, labor unions have proven throughout the 20th century to be illegal enterprises used by organized crime. Argue on behalf of a labor union all you want, but deny what happens when anyone in any union chooses to break with the labor union and enter into his own negotiations with his employer for his pay and benefits. It is now illegal to do so in much of the United States. And even if it is not illegal to do so, it is still dangerous to do so. Labor unions do not take kindly to one of their members breaking ranks for any reason.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Targeting Of The American Culture

     "America today is in the throws (sic) of the greatest and direst transformation in its history. We are becoming an ideological state, a country with an official state ideology enforced by the power of the state. In "hate crimes" we now have people serving jail sentences for political thoughts. And the Congress is now moving to expand that category ever further. Affirmative action is part of it. The terror against anyone who dissents from Political Correctness on campus is part of it. It’s exactly what we have seen happen in Russia, in Germany, in Italy, in China, and now it’s coming here."
     Ever wonder how political correctness and the unwillingness of American university students to embrace the notion of free speech came about? Ever wonder why so many of our young are turning their collective backs on the greatest country that has ever existed? Ever wonder how we came to be a culture of victims in which the atomizing of society into small protest groups clamoring for rights? Ever wonder why even conservative Christian groups self-describe as "progressive" and challenge their own rich heritage?
     This video will begin to explain what happened (and is happening), when it began to happen, and who made it happen:
 http://kitmantv.blogspot.com/2009/07/history-of-political-correctness.html 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Baptists Do Not Typically Care If Baptismal Candidates Are Truly Born Again

How long does the typical Baptist pastor wait after a sinner’s supposed conversion before the baptism takes place? Five minutes? Ten minutes? To what lengths will a Baptist Church go to make sure the person who is awaiting baptism has what seems to be a genuine, orthodox, Scriptural conversion testimony, one that doesn’t sound like a Mormon’s testimony, or a Church of Christ member’s testimony, or a Roman Catholic’s testimony?
Sadly, it has been Baptist practice for the last fifty or sixty years to get baptismal candidates into the tank as fast as possible. But what if the person you are trying to get into the tank isn’t converted? Do you not care whether the baptismal candidate is truly, or as nearly as you can tell, converted to Christ? And are you willing to put off the baptism for a couple of days to make sure, or as sure as you can be, that the hopeful convert is saved and is thereby qualified to be baptized?
Why is it that Baptist pastors, for all their professed concern about a regenerate membership, cannot see to it that their baptismal candidates have at least some comprehension of the born again experience? And I know that modern pastors complain that the press of ministry makes it impossible for them to deal with and verify the testimonies of baptismal candidates. But Charles H. Spurgeon dealt with each and every baptismal candidate in his huge congregation before immersing them. And that was in the days before automobiles, telephones, and all the other conveniences that enable a pastor to accomplish more by the use of labor-saving devices.
The fact of the matter is that for the most part pastors these days simply do not care about the spiritual welfare of those they are funneling toward their dip tank. They have set personal and Church goals for the numbers they want to baptize for the year, and anyone they can get into the tank (even if they get them into the tank repeatedly) is to be dipped.
Why else is it that pastors steadfastly refuse to consider asking the most basic questions of a baptismal candidate before immersing him?[1] How else can you explain a pastor’s unwillingness to be careful about his obedience to Christ’s clear intentions that only converted people be baptized? And how else can you explain a pastor’s callus attitude toward someone who, once he has been baptized, may very well be permanently inoculated against the Gospel for the rest of his life, either because he wrongly thinks he is a Christian when he is not or because he thinks Christianity based on his sad experiences is not real?



[1] A pastor friend responded to my expressions of concern about baptizing unconverted candidates by insisting he was always very careful. He assured me that he always asked candidates “Are you saved?” as if anyone in the baptistery would ever say “No” or would understand what such a question actually meant.

Baptists Do Not Typically See Anyone Converted Anymore

Of course, I am generalizing, based upon my experiences as a Baptist preacher, and my experiences as a Baptist preacher convince me that it is most unusual for someone to be converted in a Baptist Church these days. Professions of faith seem to be a dime a dozen, but life-changing conversions of the type that reflected John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress are almost unheard of today.[1] I say this with regret, as one who is a Baptist by personal conviction. I am not alone in my conclusion since even the Southern Baptist Convention reports a decline.[2]
What does this have to do with a discussion of baptism? Baptist Churches most frequently baptize people they claim have been converted as a result of their evangelistic efforts. So, the people Baptist Churches baptize are people Baptists claim they have led to Christ in one way or another. However, when you keep in mind what Baptists do to get their conversions, what their converts typically believe, and how their converts are typically saved, you, too, would conclude that Baptists do not typically see anyone converted anymore. Even if you disagree with my conclusion, you cannot disagree with statistics produced by the Southern Baptist Convention showing a decline in baptisms.[3]
The angel Gabriel said,

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins,”

Matthew 1.21. The Lord Jesus Christ said,

“the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,”

in Luke 19.10. Typical Baptist converts these days have only the most superficial grasp of their sinfulness and are likely to have no real awareness of their lost condition. This is why Baptist evangelism over the last 100+ years always seems to have been in a rush, for fear that the sinner’s conviction will “wear off” before he is saved. It sadly looks so much like selling used cars or life insurance.
As well, it is extremely common for Baptist evangelism these days to urge sinners to “ask Jesus into your heart,” even though no such act is sanctioned anywhere in Scripture, and such instruction conveys a confusing picture of the “outside work” of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross. Justification by faith takes place based upon what Jesus Christ did for the sinner, not what Jesus Christ does to the sinner.[4] But asking Jesus Christ into your heart portrays a saving experience based upon an infusion of grace to make the sinner good enough to go to heaven, which perfectly portrays the confused Roman Catholic view of salvation.
It is also extremely common for Baptists these days to evangelize sinners without taking the necessary steps to persuade them to abandon their unscriptural notions about a false christ for the Savior as He is presented in God’s Word. Many today who are supposedly converted are exposed for false professors by a few properly phrased questions asked by an experienced Gospel minister to which their answers show that they have not placed saving faith in the Jesus of the Bible at all.[5] Rather, these poor misguided souls are trusting in the false christ of some cult, or a christ who is not a coequal member of the Triune Godhead, or a christ who has not risen from the dead in a glorified physical body. Such false christs do not save sinners. Only the Jesus Christ of the Bible saves sinners.
I could go on and on, but perhaps the best reason for concluding that Baptists do not typically see sinners converted anymore comes from talking to many members of Baptist Churches. When you hear someone make a comment that no one who believes in the Trinity would make or a comment that betrays a personal conviction that justification is by works and not by faith, then there is reason to be suspicious about the genuineness of that person’s Christianity. After all, Psalm 107.2 says,

“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.”

However, if the person either doesn’t say so or if what he says is utterly at odds with what a redeemed person is shown in God’s Word to understand to be true, then a discerning person reasonably becomes concerned. I do not subscribe to the notion that there are huge numbers of perpetually carnal Christians floating around out and about.[6] People are either lost or saved, with relatively few Christians behaving like lost people. My observations lead me to conclude that, for the most part, Baptists do not typically see many people converted anymore.


[1] Though conversion such as is portrayed in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is not the experience of everyone who comes to Christ, it is common enough that even Christians who held quite different views than did the Calvinist Bunyan made it the most popular book read for several centuries (second only to the Bible). See R. L. Hymers, Jr. and Christopher Cagan, Today’s Apostasy: How Decisionism Is Destroying Our Churches, (Oklahoma City, OK: Hearthstone Publishing, Ltd., Second Edition, 2001), pages 55-58.
[2] http://bpnews.net/44914/sbc-reports-more-churches-fewer-people
[3] http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/june/sbc-2011-statistical-realities--facts-are-our-friends-but.html
[4] Romans 5.1.
[5] Matthew 24.24; Mark 13.22.
[6] I am convinced the concept of perpetually carnal Christians is an invention of C. I. Scofield to explain the large numbers of clearly unsaved professing Christians resulting from Charles G. Finney’s new approach to evangelism. Prior to Finney neither Arminians or Calvinists believed those Christians who were long term examples of carnality were Christians at all.