I feel like the title of this blog post should be a hashtag: #Notallbaptists. I’m inspired to quickly jot down a blog post praising my brothers and sisters in the Lord who are Baptists AND who don’t reject traditional Trinitarian theology and doctrine of God. I say this because my last post was of a YouTube video I made in response to the Baptist Trinitarian controversy that seems to still be ongoing. And not long before that, I was discussing kerfuffles about Aquinas, often perpetrated by the same people. I suspect and pray that the perpetrators are outliers.
I want to write this in honour of the many Baptists I’ve been friends with over the years, mainly from high school onwards, people who love Jesus and their church, family, friends, and world, seeking to be loving persons committed to our Lord who want to see others find Him and His salvation. People committed to seeking God where he may be found, especially in Scripture. And, to my knowledge, nary a heretic in sight, from what I can recall.
Of course, this is going on in the ranks of Baptist seminary profs, so we need to look beyond the ordinary Baptist in the pew these particular Baptists in academia, whose fellowship I have enjoyed.
A close friend in PhD days always comes to mind in the midst of these kerfuffles. Here was a man committed to Reformational doctrine — sola scriptura, sola fide, you know, that sort of thing. And, being a Baptist, he wasn’t simply a credobaptist, but he could tell you why in terms of the history and structure and ecclesiology of Baptist churchmanship, looking beyond a few easy proof text verses deployed in online debates to what makes his view on Baptism actually … Baptist (unlike mine, being Anglican).
Anyway, this same guy arrived thinking to work on the Apostolic Fathers, eventually settled on Biblical Studies, but never turned his back on patristics. He loves Augustine. Went eagerly to a City of God reading group organised by Oliver O’Donovan. Said things like, “Augustine makes my heart sing.” Also, a big fan of St Thomas Aquinas. And he knew Latin, so he’d sit down with the Vulgate every once in a while.
Not your Twitter stereotype, is he? (Not on Twitter, either.) He now brings his grace and wisdom to a church in the Southern USA, and I hope great things continue to happen for him.
More recently, I’ve been building an army of friends, a network developing initially through the Davenant Institute and #WeirdAnglicanTwitter. Amongst this growing army of friends are two excellent Baptist scholars, fellow Canadians — Fellowship Baptists, in fact, as were some very close friends in high school. So that’s a comfort. Anyway, I’ll name names since they’re on Twitter and Doing Various Good Things, not just academically but for Christ and His Church (which is what Christian academics ought to be doing), and these men are Ian Clary and Wyatt Graham.
They have a podcast that you should listen to, called “Into Theology”. They are on the cusp of finishing off reading through St Augustine’s Confessions together. So right away — #Notallbaptists. Augustine FTW.
Ian teaches at Colorado Christian University. He’s done a bunch of research into Baptist history, which is great. I like to see Baptists being Baptists and Anglicans being Anglicans. But I also like us being brothers in Christ. So, another thing you’ll learn by spending time on his Twitter feed is the fact that he prays the daily office from the Book of Common Prayer, and sometimes he posts prayers from it on Twitter. Which is just great and warms my Anglican heart. Besides Baptist stuff and the BCP, you’ll see some Bavinck, some Aquinas, the new Coleridge statue, and various other things. As I say, #Notallbaptists.
Wyatt teaches at Heritage Seminary, Redeemer University, and Ryle Seminary. He’s the president of The Gospel Coalition Canada and the ON/QC chapter of the Evangelical Theological Society. He also uses St Gregory of Nyssa and St Athanasius to teach the Psalms. And he live-tweeted his way through St Bernard’s On Grace and Free Will. Like a lot of Reformed guys, tweets Bavinck — he’s reading James Jordan right now, too, though. As I say, #Notallbaptists.
A third member of my growing army of friends is Tim Jacobs, an Aquinas guy. But I’ll just pause here. You get the idea.
The second reason I’m writing this post is that I find these men encouraging because it felt like, for a while, the only evangelicals I know about who were into the Fathers and the medieval divines were fellow Anglicans, or American Methodists, except, like, DH Williams. And now I also know the work of Gavin Ortlund. This is great — if there is to be retrieval of the riches of ancient and medieval theology to benefit the whole church, it needs people working on it beyond the Anglicans, however great my predecessors’ achievements may be (consider the work of Henry Chadwick, Oliver O’Donovan, JND Kelly, Rowan Williams, Alistair Stewart, Tim Vivian, Christopher A Hall, and others if you’re interested in Anglicans and patristics).
So I’m thankful for the blessing these Baptist brothers are to me and to Christ’s church.