Tag Archives: Leroy Forlines

Phillip Jensen on Apologetics & Evangelism

by J. Matthew Pinson

Recently I listened to a podcast by Phillip Jensen, the evangelical Anglican pastor from Sydney, Australia. Despite the obvious doctrinal differences between Free Will Baptists and Reformed Anglicans, Jensen and the Matthias Media folks down in Sydney are interesting people to watch. They demonstrate what it means to have aggressive, growing, evangelistic churches in the highly urban, post-Christian setting of Sydney. Yet at the same time they show how to do this by relying on the sufficiency of Scripture and not giving in to gimmicks and depending on attractional, market-driven, or seeker-driven approaches to get churches to grow.

I want to commend to our readers a podcast Jensen did on “Apologetics and Evangelism” that my son Matthew and I listened to recently. It piqued my interest for two reasons: First, Jensen emphasizes the importance of apologetics for ministry to people in urban, secularized settings. Answering life’s inescapable questions—not trendiness and niche-marketing to “felt needs”—is so important in ministering the gospel to meet true needs of modern people.

Second, Jensen’s approach to apologetics and evangelism reminded me a lot of Leroy Forlines’s. For example, he says we don’t need to meet objections that people don’t have. In other words, many people’s objections to Christianity aren’t really rational in nature; so apologetics doesn’t need to be introduced in an evangelistic encounter unless it becomes necessary.

He also says, like Forlines, that churches need to be more zealous about evangelism. Jensen believes (rightly, I think) that our main problem in evangelical churches today is the lack of zeal for apologetics and evangelism, not the fact that we aren’t culturally relevant enough or don’t understand demographics and marketing well enough.

Jensen says,

“Evangelism is something that both Christians and non-Christians agree upon. That is, they don’t like it. The non-Christians don’t want to be evangelized, and we’re, very simply, terrified of doing it. . . . By nature, we never will evangelize (unless you have a very unusual personality). . . . We can talk about evangelism till the cows come home, but in half an hour of doing it, we’ll learn more than merely talking about it and reading yet another book on the subject.”

Also, like Forlines, Jensen believes that apologetics is more about answering life’s existential questions and showing people what their true spiritual needs are than providing logical proofs, “evidence that demands a verdict,” etc. Now, apologetics and evangelism are both what Jensen calls “rational” activities. They’re about reasoning with people. But we need to get away from the idea that we can somehow “prove” Christianity to be true beyond reasonable doubt, and so on.

At the same time, like Forlines, he believes that some presuppositionalists go too far in the direction of “fideism” (not relying enough on rationality in apologetics). So, in the vein of Forlines, and people as diverse as Edward Carnell, Ronald Nash, Francis Schaeffer, and Alvin Plantinga, Jensen leans toward presuppositionalism but acknowledges the importance what I call the “chastened” use of evidences (e.g., discussion about the reliability of the New Testament text) in apologetics.

We need to be more concerned these days about apologetics and evangelism than most evangelical churches are. I encourage the readers of this blog to listen to this podcast from Phillip Jensen and forward the link to as many pastors, youth and family pastors, and Christian leaders as you can.

 

Symposium Program Live Stream

by Theological Commission

The 20th annual Free Will Baptist Theological Symposium will be held next Monday and Tuesday on the campus of Welch College. Activities will take place in Memorial Auditorium.

Sessions will be Live-Streamed at our New Facebook Page. Click Here to Join the Live Streams 10/24/-10/25.  You can view on your mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.

 

 

Symposium Program Now Available

by Theological Commission

The 20th annual Free Will Baptist Theological Symposium will be held next Monday and Tuesday on the campus of Welch College. Activities will take place in Memorial Auditorium. Below is this year’s program. We hope to have you with us for this special event, considering the theological legacy of F. Leroy Forlines.

Monday Evening

6:00-6:10     Welcome and Prayer

6:10-7:05     Leroy Forlines, The Abrahamic Covenant

7:05-7:25     Break

7:25-8:20     Richard Clark, The Influence of Leroy on a non-Free Will Baptist

Tuesday Morning

9:00-9:05    Welcome and Prayer

9:05-9:55     Ramón Zúñiga Barrón, Leroy Forlines’s Influence among Mexican Bible Institutes:  Upholding and Spreading Free Will Baptist Doctrine

9:50-10:00    Break

10:00-10:45    Welch Chapel, Matthew Steven  Bracey & W. Jackson Watts, Celebrating the Legacy of F. Leroy Forlines                   

10:45-11:05    Break

11:05-12:00    Matthew McAffee, The Old Testament  Text and Canon 

Tuesday Afternoon

12:00-1:40    Lunch at Area Restaurants or Cumberland Cafeteria

1:40-2:35      Andrew Harrison, The Role of Doctrine  in the Church: Revisiting Forlines’s “A Plea  for Unabridged Christianity

2:35-3:30   Daniel Webster, Culture and the Arts: A   Conversation with Leroy Forlines and the Early Church Fathers                                 

3:30-6:30     Dinner at Area Restaurants or Cumberland Cafeteria

Tuesday Evening

6:30-7:25   Jeff Cockrell,  Israel’s Identity and Salvation in Romans: A Discussion of the Forlinesean Hermeneutic  

7:25-7:45     Break

7:45-8:40    Panel Discussion: The Legacy of F. Leroy    Forlines and the State of Free Will Baptist Theology                     

 

*We encourage all attendees to please sign in at the registration table, even if you only attend one session. Also, the digest of papers will be available for purchase.

 

2016 Symposium Approaches

by Theological Commission

Welch College to Host 2016 Theological Symposium

 NASHVILLE, TN—The 2016 Theological Symposium will meet October 24-25 on the campus of Welch College in Nashville, Tennessee. The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, October 24, and will end around 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 25.

The symposium will be a time for presentation of papers and lively discussion of important theological issues. Papers will include an array of topics, though all will in some way relate to the broader symposium theme of the theological legacy of F. Leroy Forlines. Presenters will include pastors, professors, graduate students, and Free Will Baptist authors. On the heels of Randall House Academic’s release of a book honoring Forlines, the Commission hopes the impact of Forlines on multiple generations of Free Will Baptists, as well as a diverse arena of subjects, will be evident through the symposium.

Registration is free, but bound volumes of the papers will be available for purchase. For more information on the symposium, contact the Program Chair, Jackson Watts (fwbtheology@gmail.com).

The symposium is an annual event sponsored by the Commission for Theological Integrity of the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

Listening to Arminius–and Not Just His Opponents–on Justification

by J. Matthew Pinson

I often enjoy reading Reformation21, a blog of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. But I recently read a blog post by Mark Jones entitled “Arminian vs. Reformed on Justification” that diverged from the very careful analysis usually found on that Calvinist blog and in Mr. Jones’s other posts.

In an endorsement of my forthcoming book, Arminian and Baptist: Explorations in a Theological Tradition, Leroy Forlines says, “Our first obligation to those with whom we disagree is to find out what they are actually saying. If this happens, Arminianism will be given a new face in the theological world.” This is so true, and the place where there seems to be the most prognosticating about one’s theological opponents without actually taking their views seriously is in some Calvinist quarters.

Please understand that not all Calvinists are like this. Russell Moore and Timothy George, for example, have both endorsed my forthcoming book. However, the sorts of caricatures one sees in Mark Jones’s blog post are still all too common. Mr. Jones goes on and on about Arminius’s views on justification without actually quoting Arminius! He merely quotes what several Calvinists of Arminius’s day said about Arminius.

I have reprinted below some brief quotations from chapter one of Arminian and Baptist, entitled “Jacobus Arminius: Reformed and Always Reforming.” I hope the reader will see from reading these excerpts Arminius’s genuineness when he stated that he agreed with Calvin, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Belgic Confession of Faith on the doctrine of justification.

Arminius’s view of justification is summarized in his Public Disputations. There he said justification is that act by which one, “being placed before the throne of grace which is erected in Christ Jesus the Propitiation, is accounted and pronounced by God, the just and merciful Judge, righteous and worthy of the reward of righteousness, not in himself but in Christ, of grace, according to the Gospel, to the praise of the righteousness and grace of God, and to the salvation of the justified person himself” [1].

Justification for Arminius was forensic or imputative in nature. Arminius states: “In his obedience and righteousness, Christ is also the Material Cause of our justification, so far as God bestows Christ on us for righteousness, and imputes his righteousness and obedience to us” [2].

Arminius went as far as to say in his letter to Hippolytus à Collibus that God “reckons” Christ’s righteousness “to have been performed for us” [3].

In his Declaration of Sentiments, he averred: “I believe that sinners are accounted righteous solely by the obedience of Christ, and that the obedience and righteousness of Christ constitute the only meritorious cause through which God pardons the sins of believers and accounts them as righteous, as if they had perfectly fulfilled the law” [4].

Arminius states his full agreement with what Calvin said with regard to justification in his Institutes. Calvin wrote: “We are justified before God solely by the intercession of Christ’s righteousness. This is equivalent to saying that man is not righteous in himself but because the righteousness of Christ is communicated to him by imputation. . . . You see that our righteousness is not in us but in Christ, that we possess it only because we are partakers in Christ; indeed, with him we possess all its riches” (Institutes, 3.11.23).

Arminius’s statements regarding justification place him well within the mainstream, not only of the broad Reformed movement of his day, but also of post-Dort Calvinism on both sides of the English Channel.

_______________

[1] Arminius, Works, 2:256. Public Disputation 19, “On the Justification of Man before God.”

[2] Ibid., 2:406. Private Disputation 48, “On Justification.”

[3] Ibid., 2:702. “Letter to Hippolytus à Collibus.”

[4] Stephen Gunter, Arminius and His Declaration of Sentiments (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012), Kindle location 3433-3435; cf. Arminius, Works, 1:700.