Stuart Brogden has given us an excellent resource on what it means to be a Reformed Baptist in his book Captive to the Word of God: A Particular Baptist Perspective on Reformed and Covenant Theology.
This book has the perfect title. Though Baptists are not the only one’s who affirm Sola Scriptura, in my opinion, they are the most consistent in following out this principle when it comes to the liberty of conscience.
In fact, liberty of conscience is at the heart of what it means to be a Baptist. Liberty of conscience requires a separation between church and state, and this separation requires a distinct view of covenant theology. Historically, Baptists have rightly understood that the church, the Kingdom of God, and the covenant of grace consists of believers and believers alone. This understanding impacts their doctrine of the local church and its authority. That is, God has not subjected the government or the doctrine of the local church to any higher authority than the Word of God. These distinctives impact the membership and discipline of the local church. And, these distinctives, as Brogden explains, even impact the practice and worship of the local church.
Baptists do not simply have a few distinct and unrelated doctrinal beliefs that distinguish them from other denominational traditions, but rather their distinctives—that identity them as Baptists—are interconnected and flow from their belief in Sola Scriptura.
Brogden masterfully explains and builds a Scriptural case for these important distinctives. Along with several helpful appendixes, the book is divided into four sections: Section 1 explains what Baptists believe on the ordnances and the nature of the church. Section 2 explains what it means to be Reformed. Section 3 explains the distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology. Section 4 concludes with how these Baptist distinctives influence the everyday life of the local church.
Though Brogden covers a lot of ground, he remains thorough. This book is not an overview or an introductory work. Each section is well argued and defended. In this book you will find a formidable defense of credobaptism, Baptist Covenant Theology, liberty of conscience, the five solas, and the purpose and use of confessions. These could have easily been stand alone books, but having them grouped together makes for a valuable resource.
After reading this book, I have become more grounded in my own beliefs and more grateful for our Baptist heritage. As I say in my endorsement, “In my opinion, this helpful work needs to be required reading for all Baptist seminary students. In fact, everyone who wants to know what it means to be a Baptist should read this book. Since I love the historic Baptist faith, I love this book.”
You can order the book here.
11 thoughts on “Captive to the Word of God”
Many thanks for your kind words, my brother. Soli Deo Gloria!
I got a copy of this book on your recommendation. But I was disappointed to see that the author apparently holds to New Covenant Theology. Have I got that wrong? Or is that your view of theology also? I hadn't picked up on that as I have read your blog and books over the past few years.
No, I do not hold to New Covenant Theology. Nor do the other writers on this blog. I also suspect that you are misreading Stuart's position, but I will allow him to answer for himself.
By the way, it has long been the policy of the blog not to post anonymous comments, but I think you have asked a good question that Stuart may want to answer. However, no future anonymous comments will be published.
I should also point out that I have just begun reading the book myself, upon Jeff's recommendation. I'll try to get back to you with my own perspective when I read that portion of the book.
There are major tenets in NCT that I do agree with, but many NCT guys do not agree with my view of covenants. Hard-line 1689 guys do not agree with me on their confession. Both groups agree on soteriology and (mostly) the nature and structure of the local church. Every system of theology will have weak areas and strong areas. I try to avoid being strapped down to a system because of that. My main perspective of Scripture is the historical redemptive view. I read broadly and don't ignore books by people with whom I disagree on secondary issues.
“I read broadly and don't ignore books by people with whom I disagree on secondary issues.” I think that sums up my practice pretty nicely as well. In fact, I often learn the most from those with whom I disagree on secondary issues.
Ya know, Keith – if we only read stuff we agreed with we will stop growing and become smug. One of the best books to convince me of the doctrine of particular redemption was what some called the best defense of general atonement. We need to spur one another on to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.
My name is Hardy Smith, and I posted the first question above (Apr 15 at 5:42 PM). I didn't know the post would not give my name. Thanks so much for such good feedback. I have benefited greatly from your blog and book recommendations, especially “The Fatal Flaw” and “The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology.”
This most recent book, “Captive to the Word of God”, seems to be good in many ways, but I thought I detected some typical NCT tendencies. For instance, the author disagrees with Richard Barcellos in Appendix 4, p. 263ff, on the Law given in I Tim 1. Given Barcellos' previous stance regarding the Decalogue in his own book, this seemed to be a sign of NCT thinking. Also, on p. 279 the Law of Moses is contrasted with the Law of Christ. I realize these may be superficial and/or unimportant points.
My understanding of these nuances is certainly imperfect, and Mr. Brogden may indeed have a really good point in the Appendix article. I think other parts of the book seem to be excellent. But I was just responding to a cursory glance of the book. I may well have jumped the gun in identifying NCT views, so please take my comments with a grain of salt.
Keep up the good work!
Many thanks for buying my book, Hardy, and commenting. As I stated in the introduction, my goal in writing that book is to provoke people to think biblically and always pursue Christ. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To God alone be honor and glory and dominion, forever!
Well, we certainly appreciate such feedback here at the blog, brother. In fact, feel free to update your comments here after you've had more time to read the book, whatever conclusion you reach. Stuart said above that “There are major tenets in NCT that I do agree with, but many NCT guys do not agree with my view of covenants,” so you apparently did pick up on a few tendencies there, although it sounds like he is not in complete agreement with NCT. Thanks again for seeking clarification and for contributing your thoughts here.