Introducing De Doctrina

From the Editors

The Free Will Baptist Commission for Theological Integrity has long published an academic journal, Integrity: A Journal of Christian Thought. The journal’s purpose has been to expose Free Will Baptists to important theological trends impacting the Christian world and to provide a Free Will Baptist perspective on theological and cultural issues. Over the last several years, commission members have regularly published more popular articles on theological issues in ministry and culture at fwbtheology.com. Some of these pieces have examined ministry trends or made arguments for Free Will Baptist distinctives. Still others have highlighted publications, past and present, by Free Will Baptist authors and sought to draw denominational attention to the works of others that might be beneficial or of interest to Free Will Baptist readers.

The Commission for Theological Integrity saw a need for something that struck a balance between these two existing publications. Integrity is usually published biennially. Blog posts on fwbtheology.com do not always afford appropriate space for extended theological discussion. In this middle space, De Doctrina was born. Aided by a generous grant from the Free Will Baptist Foundation, the Commission for Theological Integrity is proud to introduce a new print piece that will be published regularly.

The name of the new publication, De Doctrina, was chosen because of its long roots in Christian history and theology. This Latin phrase means simply “teaching” and came to capture the essence of the gospel message of the early Church and the content of theological instruction provided to those who were preparing for Christian baptism. Some will immediately recognize the intentional reference to St. Augustine’s work De doctrina Christiana (On Christian Doctrine), one of his most salient presentations on biblical exegesis and theological method. Others will hear resonances from more modern theologians like Louis Berkhof or Millard Erickson. Some of you might also recall J. D. O’Donnell’s book Free Will Baptist Doctrines. However, perhaps the ancient work that best captures the goal of this new publication is Basil the Great’s On Christian Doctrine and Practice.

Like Basil, the Commission for Theological Integrity recognizes that how we think about Christianity impacts how we live that Christianity out in life and community. Perhaps that is seen nowhere better than the community of the Church. Thus, volume I of De Doctrina, presents an essay by Commission member W. Jackson Watts entitled, “Church Membership: A Theological Issue?” In this inaugural essay, Watts captures the connection between deep theological reflection and practical Christian living. He argues that theology and ministry are entwined such that, “there is no non-theological ministry!”

Watts outlines the interplay between the doctrines of ecclesiology, soteriology, and eschatology as they relate to the practice of church membership. Far from a simple practical matter, church membership (and by default church discipline) paints a picture of spiritual truth that transcends “social, ethnic, cultural, and economic categories.” Watts quotes Picirilli in asserting that to be a Christian is both to believe the gospel and to live as a disciple. Church membership then, provides a perfect example of this connection between doctrine and praxis; “theological principles of membership provide foundations to anchor our membership practices.”

This month (July 2024), the first issue of De Doctrina will roll off the presses and be mailed directly to Free Will Baptist pastors across the denomination at no cost to them. Digital copies will also be available on fwbtheology.com. Look for yours soon!

 

3 Comments

    1. We have a mailing list of all of our churches and we intend to use that to send this out to all the pastors. If for some reason you don’t have yours once it is sent out, please notify us and we’ll see what we can do. Thanks!

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