- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: B&H Academic; Revised and Expanded ed. edition (June 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805418326
- ISBN-13: 978-0805418323
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #783,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Baptists and the Bible Paperback – June 1, 1999
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About the Author
Tom J. Nettles is professor of Historical Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky.
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This is a deep and for me a difficult read. It goes into a lot of Baptist history, but as stated the focus is on what individuals and groups believed about Scripture. It does show that there are variations on issues such as the predestination/free will debate, but that those on both sides have the common ground in the Scripture.
Bush and Nettles also point out that the questioning of Scripture is not historically Baptist but crept in from worldly philosophies. That brings the focus on the book: Is the default characteristic of the Baptist movement the soul liberty which allows variation on this and other issues among Baptists, or is it a foundation of the Bible being inerrant and the ultimate authority? When I took a class on Baptist distinctives at Bible college, both were listed, but the one on the Scripture being the only authority for the believer was the first and foundational one.
I echo the reviewers who believe every pastor should have this book. While I can argue that every believer should read the book, the unfortunate reality is that most believers would find this a little too boring and wouldn't finish it.
While examining other issues within the framework of Baptist theology, all issues of difference among Baptists devolve to the fundamental principles of whether the Bible addresses those issues directly or indirectly; and can we trust what it says. If it is truly the word of God and has been passed through history without error, as Baptists have historically believed, then all matters of life and practice must ultimately be ruled by the Biblical view.
Theirs is a powerful call back to the key, first issue - the first presuppositional commitment - Baptists and all true Christians must finally decide; that is, what and who their authority will be. This is also a glimpse into the seminal thought processes of Dr. Thomas J. Nettles as he, with others in the Southern Baptist and Reformed Baptist community, developed a strategy to return modern-day Southern Baptists to their historical theological roots in the doctrines of grace, or Calvinism. That strategy has been to pray, to open the Bible to many, to tell the truth about the historic faith regardless of personal cost, and to teach all who would listen, all who have ears to hear.
(That in itself is an incredible story of a significant level of success, from all outward appearances at least, in returning a denomination to doctrinal soundness. Though none would claim that it has been completely successful in returning the entirety of the denomination to doctrinal purity, the gradually growing return to the faith of their Baptist and Reformed fathers has been a fascinating display of the power of God in working through his people. Many - myself included - chose to leave the Southern Baptist Convention, convinced history has demonstrated clearly that denominations on a downgrade never recover; and yet there are signs that the Southern Baptist return to historic Christianity - historic Baptist beliefs - is taking place.)
Every Baptist should make this part of their library; every pastor should read this with understanding and decide which side they are on. Every church should use this book to check their own position and recall a cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation: 'Sola Scriptura' (Scripture alone).
If you don't understand why there are so many opinions and disagreements among Southern Baptists today then read this book and your eyes will be opened and your mind will be stretched as you follow the history of Baptists and their view of the Bible from the 1600's to the present day.