I am not a Protestant!

The Cross

Nothing is more annoying than when people claim that I as a Baptist am a Protestant. Nothing could be further from the truth. So today I just want to share with you some reasons showing why I as a Baptist am not a Protestant.

Protestants date from the sixteenth century. They  were once Roman Catholics and left the Roman Catholic faith to start denominations of their own. Baptists never left the Roman Catholic church as did Luther, Calvin and Zwingli. We never left because we were never in. They did not begin their existence at the time of the Reformation, but 1500 years prior to the Reformation.

At every age in church history there have been groups that have held to the same doctrines that Baptists hold today. These groups may or may not have been connected and they have been known by various names. There were the Montanists (150 A.D.), the Novatians (240 A.D.), Donatists (305 A.D.), Albigenses (1022 A.D.), Waldensians (1170 A.D.), and the name Anabaptists came into prominence just before the time of the Protestant Reformation. History immediately disproves the view that there was only one religious group — the Roman Catholic church -until the time of Luther. Anyone who claims this simply has not done their homework.

Look at this non-Baptist testimony on whether there was Baptists and if we are Protestant:

Cardinal Hosius (1504-1579) was a Roman Catholic prelate who had as his life work the investigation and suppression of non-Catholic groups. Cardinal Hosius was designated one of the three papal presidents of the famous Council of Trent by Pope Paul IV. Hosius carried on vigorously the work of the counter-reformation. If anyone in post-reformation times knew the doctrines and history of non-Catholic groups, it would have been Hosius. Cardinal Hosius says, “Were it not that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past 1,200 years, they would swarm in greater number than all the Reformers” (Letters Apud Opera, pp.112, 113).He clearly distinguishes them from the Reformers, and that he dates them 1,200 years before the Protestant Reformation.

1819 – Reformed historians A. Ypeij and J.J. Dermout state, “We have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists… were the original Waldenses, and who have long in history received the honour of that origin. On this account the Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the Apostles, and as a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrine of the Gospel through all ages” (Gescbiedenis der Netherlandsehe Hervomke Kerk, I, p. 148).

1896 – The Methodist scholar, John Clark Ridpath, wrote to W. A. Jarrell, “I should not readily admit that there was a Baptist church as far back as 100 AD, though without doubt there were Baptists then, as all Christians were then Baptists” (W. A. Jarrell, Baptist Church Perpetuity, p. 59).

1862 – The Baptist, C. H. Spurgeon, declares, “We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the Reformation; we were reformers before Luther or Calvin were born. We never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it: but we have an unbroken line up to the Apostles themselves” (CHS, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1861, p. 225).

On top of that, I am not a Protestant because my doctrine is not that of a Protestant!

  1. We believe that Christ and only Christ is the Head of the Church even as the Scripture says, “Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23). There is no man who has the oversight of Baptist churches. Baptists have no denomination in the sense of an organization that controls local congregations. Each local church is autonomous and accountable only to Christ, who is its Head. A Baptist church, while fellowshipping with congregations of like faith and practice, has no earthly headquarters. Its headquarters is in Heaven.
  2. We believe from their hearts in a free church in a free state. Christ plainly taught that the state and the church each had its own realm when he said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things which are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). Baptists are vigorously opposed to union of state and church and believe that a state controlled church is a wretched excuse for Christianity and a plain departure from Scripture. All of the Protestant Reformers fastened state churches upon their followers.
  3. We believe strongly in individual accountability to God because the Scriptures clearly teach that “every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). A priest cannot answer for you, a church cannot answer for you to God. God-parents cannot answer for you. No one is saved because of what his parents believe. No one is, saved because of his identification with any religion. He will account for himself to God. Protestants .generally do not hold this scriptural doctrine.
  4. We people furthermore have always held to believers’ baptism. None of the Protestant Reformers held this Bible teaching. In the Scriptures, faith and repentance always preceded baptism. On the day of Pentecost Peter plainly told the people, “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). This obviously means that there is no infant baptism since infants are incapable of repenting. No unbelievers are to be baptized. The Reformers followed Rome in their teaching on baptism. Baptists have held steadfastly to the doctrine of Christ and His Apostles on this point.
  5. We people furthermore have always held to believers’ baptism. None of the Protestant Reformers held this Bible teaching. In the Scriptures, faith and repentance always preceded baptism. On the day of Pentecost Peter plainly told the people, “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). This obviously means that there is no infant baptism since infants are incapable of repenting. No unbelievers are to be baptized. The Reformers followed Rome in their teaching on baptism. Baptists have held steadfastly to the doctrine of Christ and His Apostles on this point.
  6. We, on the basis of Scripture, have always held to a regenerate church membership; that is, a membership that is made up only of people who give a credible profession of faith in Christ. In the apostolic church, only those who became believers, those who received the Word of God and who had repented of their sins, were baptized and received as church members (Acts 2:41). There was no automatic or formalistic membership in apostolic churches nor in Baptist churches today.

(*Note: All of this is adapted from other writings, but it all is my personal belief)

A Christmas Message

Tomorrow, families will gather together to celebrate the Christmas holiday. It is a time to focus on family, on friends, and on others. It is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. It is generally a joyous occasion, and it is always a crazy time around my family. Christmas is always a very important time to my family, we play games (a lot), we eat (a lot), we laugh (a lot), and we compete a lot. It is a blast of a day, but we never forget why we are celebrating. We are celebrating for Life, for Joy, for Grace, and for Salvation. While we have our struggles, we know that we have a Hope that lasts through everything, because on that day 2000 years ago Salvation came into the world and hope was given to all. That is why we celebrate. So as you and your family celebrates Christmas tomorrow, remember to celebrate the reason for the season. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

A Tragedy for a Bus Ministry

All These Lives Changed

All These Lives Changed

Today, 11 days before Christmas, 18 families are mourning the loss of a child in Newtown, Ct. It was through no fault of their own. They did what they did everyday, wake up and go to their elementary school. But today will forever be different. Today instead of coming home, they entered eternity. A crazy,  horrible person walked into that school and opened fire. In the hours and days ahead we will learn much more as to the cause and as to the total impact, but as of now we know this: 18 children and at least 8 adults are now in eternity because of the actions of this one man. There are many that want to have a discussion about gun control and politicize this. And there will be a time for that discussion, but today is not that day. Today is the time to sit and pray for the families affected. Today is not a time for politics to interfere with this tragedy, it is a time to let God take lead.

I can’t help but think today about where the kids that died are. As a teenager I got involved in something my church did called the “Bus Ministry”. Through the years I saw the kids grow into some of the most amazing young people to walk the planet. These kids were not necessarily raised in the most stable homes (often the opposite). These kids were not the nicest (often the opposite), nor the best behaved (once again often the opposite). For many of these kids the only love they saw was on the bus route, and, while they might tear up the bus, every week they grew more and more in love with the workers. You could see them grow, and you could see God working in their lives. While the bus ministry is not the easiest ministry I, whole heartily, believe it is the most rewarding, because oftentimes, you are the only representation of God that they will ever see.

I don’t know how many of these kids were saved, I don’t know how many of these kids went to a church in the area. But a simple search of the internet didn’t show any local Baptist churches that had a bus ministry reaching into the area. I hope that there is one, but unfortunately I fear that some of the people that died today in this shooting didn’t open their eyes in Heaven. I hope I am wrong.

If there is any immediate lesson to learn from this tragedy, it is this: get involved and pray for the bus ministry. Reach out to the kids that don’t have parents that bring them to church and bring them yourself. Love them, teach them, reach them, and care for them. It doesn’t take a pastor to do this, it takes you. The bus ministry is not always the most building friendly ministry of the church, but it is a ministry worth having. You can make a difference. The question is will you?

A Moral (Case) Dilemma

As a number person, when I look at the stats on the Presidential Election, one month ago, the overriding sense is that we should have won. The numbers all point to it:

Exit Polls

On the issues that most people considered to be the top issues Governor Romney won. On the qualities of Leadership, Values, and Vision Governor Romney won. On the Economy, Governor Romney won. Unfortunately, Governor Romney lost. But why? Was it because he was too Conservative? Not Conservative enough or didn’t provide a clear alternative? No.

We sold people on the numbers. We sold people on the fact that unemployment was up, that a free market was the only way to turn around the economy. That PEOPLE make a better self decisions than government does. And that the President Obama did not have a successful vision for the future. But we still lost, why?!

The answer is in the one quality that Romney lost: Cares About People Like Me. See we won the numbers arguments, but we lost the moral argument. The President won this argument with one simple statement: Fair Share. His argument was that the rich needed to “pay their fair share”. And what person could really argue? Sure the top 1% pays 40% of the nations bills, and the top 5% pays 75% of the bills. But try being the one to tell the unemployed single mother who has a hard time paying their bills that the executive that made a record profit shouldn’t pay a little bit more. The problem is not the numbers, it is the argument.

The argument that we keep using is “With new leadership, that woman can get a job”. But that doesn’t help her now. What helps her now is the welfare state mentality that the President propagates  It is the idea that government has the resources to keep me going and to provide for my family right now. The idea that the most successful should “Pay their fair share”. Our argument is great long term but when a person doesn’t know whether they can make it a month, let alone long term, we lose. We need to stop spouting numbers and facts and start connecting with people. So what is the argument?

Our argument needs be one word: opportunity. The Republican free market approach provides an opportunity for every person, no matter the income or the zip code, to receive a solid education.  The opportunity to raise your family in a safe environment. The opportunity for every person in America, no matter immigration status, to experience the American Dream.

The moral case (or lack thereof) is what lost us this election, but it is what can win us the future.

Let’s Talk 2016…

Alright folks, I know that we just closed out the 2012 campaign, but it is time to stop moping and focus on the next election. So here are my opening thoughts on some of the potential candidates for the Republican nomination:

  • Jeb Bush- Jeb is the former Governor of the great state of Florida. One of his greatest strengths is also his greatest weakness. His last name. His donor list is huge and the Republican establishment loves him. He also focuses on the issues that matter, education and immigration. He is a charismatic, smart, bilingual person who genuinely loves and cares for the minority community. While I doubt he would match his brothers success among Hispanics at the polls, he will give us a much needed improvement in that area. His biggest weakness: his name, he is a Bush. While I think most Americans will have moved past Bush hatred by 2015/2016 it could hinder his campaign. Expect him to use just his first name in the campaign: “Jeb 2016″.
  • Marco Rubio- Rubio is a young charismatic, well spoken, Conservative, Floridian. He is most likely to be the preferred choice of the Tea Party. He will start with a HUGE groundswell of grassroots support, and he has already established himself as a television superstar. Fox News loves him, Iowa likes him, and he will definitely carry the ‘Santorum voters’. The biggest question is whether he can garner enough of the establishment vote to win the primary. He also hasn’t been really tested in a general election (2010 was an easy race for him), expect that to change in 2016. If he comes through that strong then he could be the man to beat in 2016.
  • Scott Walker- Walker is already a veteran of the brutality of the DNC/Unions. He faced them both and won in a VERY purple state. He remains a polarizing figure in politics but is considered a rock star among the GOP (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F7YIF7Z0No and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTL16-ziaWE&feature=related and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfjQZ0VEYxE&feature=related). He can and will raise as much as anyone else. He can draw both establishment and the Tea Party. The problem is, he does nothing to help with the GOP’s problem among minorities.
  • Chris Christie- Christie is a bulldog. He will be blunt and he will be brutal. His problems are 3 fold: 1) He is a moderate. The Tea Party respects him, but they won’t support him whatsoever. 2) Some Republicans won’t forget nor forgive his embrace of Obama 1 week before the election. 3) His weight. Not to be rude, but he doesn’t look the part, get on a treadmill man.
    With that being said, he is not a bad pick, but I just can’t see him winning the nomination.
  • Paul Ryan- Paul is a household name, he is a star among Conservatives, and he is a great fundraiser. I just don’t think he wants to be President after this past election cycle (I think he wants to be Speaker of the House). And I think that if Walker runs, Ryan will automatically not run out of respect for him.
  • Rand Paul- I respect Rand, I appreciate his support of Romney this past election cycle, but the fact is that I think he will have a hard time coming out of the shadow of his father. He will never be fully trusted by either the establishment or the Libertarian wing. He does have a few things going for him: He is young, smart, a Paul, and he is a national brand already.

There are going to be a lot of other potential candidates, the GOP bench is LONG, and we will discuss them at length in the weeks,  months, and years to come. It is going to be a lot of fun.

Giving Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving Day! And along with it comes great food, football, plans to shop, and a chance to sit back and remember just how truly blessed we are. This year, I truly have so much to be thankful. I have truly been blessed beyond belief. I have a wonderful family who loves and cares about me, I have amazing friends all across the country, I live in the best country in the world, and I have a Saviour who is so merciful to me. But I can’t help but ask, why do we only pause collectively once a year to be thankful for our lives? When you truly believe that your life is blessed then you can’t help but be thankful EVERY day. Is life easy?  No, it can be tough. To be honest, there are days where life simply sucks. Whether it is due to our health, our finances, or the loved ones around us, life tends to throw road blocks in our way. But never forget that our tough times are simply designed to bring us closer to our friends, family and Lord. So while this next year is sure to be tough, keep pushing and remember to pause and simply say “Thanks”.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”- 1 Thessalonians 5:18

What Comes Next?

The election is over; the wrong guy won, and now comes the fun part, deciding what to do next with your life. For some it is going to the Hill, or going to a state with elections next year, or going to a firm and making money. For me…it is none of those things. For me, it is going to where I need to be. I am going home. No I am not going back to Wisconsin (except for a few weeks in December for the Holiday’s). I am going home to Michigan.

You see, the major problems that America faces will never be fixed in the White House, they will never be fixed by the Court House, and they will never be fixed by anyone in the Capitol building. They need to be fixed inside the family house. Politics to me is a means to an end. I believed (and still do) that if we get the right person in the White House that the problems can be helped which is part of the reason I am so passionate about politics. The only way, however, that they can be fixed is through a supernatural, miraculous healing by God alone. All of my life I have tried to help people , in whatever way I can, come to God for that healing. That is my desire, that is my goal and that is my dream.

In the Book of Genesis, Jacob was running from his brother when he met God. After he woke up from the dream he set up a monument called ‘Bethel’, or ‘House of God’. Over and over again, Jacob and other Patriarchs of the Bible went back to their ‘Bethel’. There they hit a ‘reset’ button, and they left from there with a renewed passion and vision for God.
I too, have set up a ‘Bethel’, but mine is a place called ‘Grace’. It is at Grace that I am most strongly pushed for God and too God, it is at Grace that I feel at home, it is at Grace that I will be going in January. In the coming weeks and months I covet your prayers. College is not cheap, especially round 2, and it is not easy, so please pray for financial mercy and wisdom for me.

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