Professors discuss Baptist distinctives at ETS

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary faculty discussed papers on Baptist origins and the necessity for Baptists to teach their distinctive views during the 61st annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), Nov. 18-20. The meeting was held in New Orleans, a city rich in Baptist history and the birthplace of the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention.

President Paige Patterson and associate professor of historical theology Jason Lee represented Southwestern as members of the steering committee for the Baptist Studies group, whose theme this year was “Baptist Beginnings.” The group is only two years old, but Lee says they hope to have it as a permanent fixture at ETS.

“The Baptist Studies group at ETS will provide a forum for those interested in engaging the rich heritage of Baptists and for casting a vision for the future of Baptist life,” Lee said. “ETS provides a good environment for a cross-section of ideas within a society that it is committed to the truthfulness of the Scriptures and the need for proclaiming the gospel.”

Patterson’s paper, titled “Genetics versus Historiography: A Case for the Connection of Continental Anabaptism and Contemporary Baptists,” argues for a “theological and spiritual kinship” between Anabaptists and English and American Baptists.

Lee presented a paper on the early English Baptist John Smyth and his views on the spiritual life of the believer.

“The main thrust of my paper was to point out that Smyth, like other early Baptists, believed that the spiritual life of the believer is best lived in covenant relationship with other believers,” Lee said. “In other words, for Smyth and the early Baptists, the local church was an indispensable element of living the Christian life. The early Baptists pressed for purity in their beliefs and in their churches for the sake of their fellow believers.”

Additionally, Jason Duesing, assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern, presented a paper titled “The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views?” In it, he examines a sermon by John A. Broadus, the first president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Duesing agrees with Broadus on a four-fold duty for teaching Baptist views: It is a duty Baptists owe themselves, the church, the unbelieving world, and, ultimately, Christ.

Duesing’s paper states, “If Baptists believe that their views are not any more Baptist than they are biblical, Broadus contends that Baptists have a duty to teach their distinctive views.” Broadus held to four distinctive Baptist teachings: authority of the Bible alone; regenerate church membership; non-sacramental observance of only two ordinances, the Lord’s Supper and baptism; and autonomy of the local church.

More than 20 Southwestern faculty and students presented papers at the meeting, which carried the theme of “Personal & Social Ethics.” ETS was founded in 1949 and is committed to biblical inerrancy and inspiration. In addition to national and regional meetings each year, ETS publishes the quarterly Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS).

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