Americans, for all of their illustrious past, have little sense of their history. The subject is often presented in a boring manner in the schools, and the students are ill-prepared for a subject that requires concentrated study and reflection. And because such is the case, the people are easily duped. Consider how one African American High School Student stood up to a misrepresentation that none of his fellow students caught. The lesson was on the Pilgrims, and the text and the teacher, apparently, declared that the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for their meal. While it is likely that they thanked them for their contributions to the thanksgiving feast, the student caught the fabrication (what was cover for what was being left out). He stood up and said: “I know that’s a lie! They gave thanks to the Lord!”
Right now the judicial system is promoting the biggest lie of all, along with the executive branch, and the legislative branch is going along with deception, that is, “the wall of separation between State and Church.” Using a quotation from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist Association, one having to do with keeping the government from interfering with religious freedom or threatening the church, the government is moving against religious liberty, driven, in part, part by the big corporations of America. The ACLU has been using threats of lawsuits to drive the church from the public arena, threatening local town councils and other governmental organizations with legal action, if they have a minister speak or pray at the opening of their sessions. Such actions are the forerunners of tyranny, a change in our whole society and government which will lead to the abyss of mass exterminations (cf. the Georgia Guidestones), and the end of civilization as we know it. Behind the scenes are the those who pull the puppet strings, and their aims are inimical even to the puppets, people, and even the string pullers themselves.
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 1892 that this is a Christian nation. All they meant by that statement is that the laws of this nation were founded upon Christian teachings and, more specifically, the Bible. It is from this milieu that religious liberty came. In fact, the first implementation of religious liberty in precept and practice in the New World occurred in the colony of Rhode Island, the work of Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke, both Baptists in their sentiments (and saying Williams was a Seeker will not dismiss the fact that he stated in his works that he still held to his Baptist views near the end of his life. What he sought was someone with the authority to baptize). In any case, they succeeded in establishing religious liberty in that colony, and the first synagogue in the New World was built in Rhode Island. It is still in use according to the last account I had of the matter.
God calls on His people to remember, and how will they do so without keeping records? Well, there are records, but who studies them. I began taking notes in church history, specifically with reference to the Baptists in 1963 and continued to do so for six years. That research helped to earn a Master’s in American Social and Intellectual History, and, if I had been able to return, it would have helped me to earn a Ph.D. from an Ivy League University, a Ph.D. in Black History, no less.
What is really crucial, however, is the fact that the theology and the experiences of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions exist to be mined for the very purpose of praying for and seeking after another Great Awakening, one that will reach every soul on earth in one generation and continue to do so for a 1000 generations and reach from one end of the starry heaven to the other, all to guarantee that there will be enough of the redeemed in heaven to meet the innumerable number called for in Rev.7:9. What we need now are some devoted Bible believers willing to pay the price and do the research that is basic to such a resurgence. Personal, national, and ecclesiastical history are all a part of the process. Are you willing to pay the price of such an effort as well as keeping up a worshipful service and evangelistic effort at the same time?
“We are suffering from the paralysis of analysis.” So declared a leading Southern Baptist pastor in 1963. What he meant was that our whole approach is based upon a present method of science which is analytical. However, analysis is not all there is to science or the scientific method. While writing a thesis for the Master of Arts in American Social and Intellectual History, I came to realize what that minister was saying. My thesis involved a two apparently contradictory ideas, namely, the hypothesis which was regarded as true and the null hypothesis which, in this case, was also true.
Fast forward to 2006. I encountered a science educator who was in charge of science education for a county school system and who was working on her Ph.D. in that field at the state university. I happened to say to her that there was a flaw in our present day scientific method. She looked at me as if I were someone who should not be saying such things (after all I was a dumb preacher and what do they do know besides faith?). I proceeded to inform the lady how I run into the problem in 1970-71, when I was writing my thesis. In all the years since, I have been writing and thinking about this issue.
Slowly I began to explore the possibilities. One of my professors at Liberty had demonstrated the fact there was a one shot case that followed the present methodology of science. Hypothesis, experiment, null hypothesis (proven false), and the conclusion that the hypothesis was true followed by a resulting practical action. Study Daniel chapter one, in the case of Daniel and the King’s food.
As I worked my way through the process, I came to the realization that the Bible presented another method also, one that was also synthetical, that is, a method able to consider two apparently contradictory but true realities at the same time and how that brings one into a more accurate perception of what is taking place in life. I would use a number of terms to describe the method that developed from my struggles with the issues involved. One is scriptural or biblical, since that is the source from which began to lay hold of the problem. Second, This involves the intellectual aspect, that is, the use of the mind to formulate ideas that reflect situations as they truly exist. Third, there is the hypothetical reflection, the interpretation which needs to be examined. Next, we have the experimental, the testing of the ideas, and this involves the synthetical, the apparently contradictory ideas. Basically, we are dealing with something that fits this digital age in which we live. This leads, in turn, to the asymmetrical nature of ideas, and the practical application of it where and when appropriate. More could be said, but for now we will wait on reflections of those who might be attracted to method of science which is much more appropriate for dealing with the problems that we face in a world that is changing at a speed beyond any thing experienced previously.
“Who knows what new light is getting ready to break forth from God’s word?” That remarkable question by the Rev. John Robinson, the pastor of the Pilgrims, reminds us that there are depths to Scripture which we have yet to plumb. I can remember when I was working on the problem of how Sandy Creek Baptists could have “Eldresses”, that I begin to become aware of the fact that in our study of the issues of biblical interpretation we lacked a method that was truly synthetical, that is one that could take in a two-sided truth, one that could enable students to be able to give full faith and credit to the profound two-sidedness of Holy Writ.
In any case, there were texts in the Old and New Testament which actually presented men and women as equals, and the difficulties have to do with how we handle negative comments one way or the other. For example, the comment in I Cors. 14 concerning women not being permitted to speak is in the context of a man speaking in tongues without an interpreter, and the same language is used. Obviously, this does suggest that the negative precept has a limited application. Even more suggestive is the fact that “Eldresses” is used a number of time in I Tim. 5, and if the man is an elder then it should follow that the women are eldresses.
I once argued with a fellow who was very committed to the idea that women were not permitted to have any leadership role in the church or, practically, any where else except the home. I said, “If I can provide you with an example of a woman being named in a leadership role in the Bible, what will you do?” He responded, “I will eat my words.” Then I showed him Micah 6:4, “I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” He had to admit that the text did present a woman in a leadership role, but he would not eat his words. I guess the serving was not savory enough.
I use the case concerning women not to cause controversy, but to awaken interest in how the Bible has a depth that our present methods of study and understanding cannot plumb. Due to our lack of adequate intellectual methodology, we are subject to theological manipulation. An excellent illustration of such efforts can be found in church history. Prior to the Reformation, the Waldensians charged Rome with being the Antichrist. After all, they were acting like such, persecuting and putting to death those who did not submit to Rome’s rule. The Protestants took the same approach, and then an Archbishop wrote a work on the issue, focusing on the idea that one person would be the Antichrist. Today, we have many who look for a person who is the Antichrist, while institutions manifest the spirit of that nature.
It was during the first year of seminary (1972) that I stumbled across a book by Dr. John Eusden, his translation of William Ames’ The Marrow of Divinity, the first textbook in theology used at Harvard University in the 1600s. I had been wrestling with that truth for over a decade, a doctrine set forth in the Bible, a teaching blinding in its brightness. Dr. Eusden stated in his Introduction: “Predestination is an invitation to begin one’s spiritual pilgrimage,….” In short, I read it as: Predestination is an invitation to salvation or even more concisely, Predestination is invitation. I went looking for examples of it and the doctrines of grace being used in this manner. Our Lord set forth the truths many places in the Bible. Specifically, He made such use of these teachings in Mt.15:21-28 in an evangelistic manner. There in a present method of therapy, the therapeutic paradox (or reverse psychology as it is popularly known), He engaged a woman of Canaan in such a way that it led to His identifying her faith as “great,” a term that He applied also to a Roman Centurion. And, it must be added, one that He never applied to His disciples. Is it any wonder that this doctrine lies at the heart of the Reformation, the First Great Awakening, the launching of the Great Century of Missions, and the Second Great Awakening. Surely, this truth is coming back, and we will experience the Third Great Awakening, the one that reaches the whole earth and every soul on it in one generation and continue for a thousand generations, reaching unimaginable numbers of planets to which mankind will spread in the next 20,000-900,000 years, depending on how one measures a generation. This is not written with the finality of a know-it-all, but with the hope and the faith that there are passages in the word of God which are deeper than hitherto suspected, so deep, in fact, that the greatest minds have never plumbed their depths.