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Fundamentalism, Legalism, and Grace

Both Marty Duren and Nathan Finn have been blogging about fundamentalism, legalism, and grace for the past couple of days. You can find Marty’s posts here and here, while Nathan’s are here and here.

Baptist Theology Online

One of the things we are trying to do at SBC Witness is promote a healthy understanding of Baptist identity. Southwestern Seminary's Center for Theological Inquiry has recently launched an exciting new website called Baptist Theology. Included on the site are numerous Baptist primary sources, online versions of past articles from the Southwestern Journal of Theology and several position papers (called "White Papers") that address current theological issues in the Southern Baptist Convention.

SBC President’s New Column

The new president of the SBC, Dr. Frank Page, just wrote the first column of a series of columns that he will write for BP News, focusing on "issues of cooperation within the SBC and ways in which God is at work in the denomination." In his first piece, Dr. Page briefly maps out the reasons why he thinks he was elected president and what beliefs he brings into the presidency. In an age of confusion and hidden agendas, we should be thankful that he is both clear and upfront about his views on many controversial issues.

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=23582

Also, the SBC gave him a page on their website. You can find it here:

http://www.sbc.net/PresidentsPage/FrankPage/default.asp

Faith of Our Father’s Pastor Spotlight: R. G. Lee, part 1

Part 1: Introduction and BiographyR. G. Lee

Many Southern Baptists (especially younger ones) seem to be ashamed of their roots and heritage. Sometimes they treat the SBC like the cousin you are afraid for your friends to meet. Southern Baptists are certainly not perfect, nor is our history. There is embarrassment and sin in our past. However, there are also faithfulness, evangelistic passion, cooperation, and triumphs in our past (and in our future by God's grace). There are also godly men, pastors and preachers, who have gone before us. These men are heroes who faithfully followed our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and led others to follow Him as well. Robert Greene Lee was one of those men that we are proud to follow. Not to sound cliche, but he is indeed a giant upon whose shoulders we stand as Southern Baptists. SBCWitness desires to honor those pastors who have gone before. In order to do that, we will spotlight each month a pastor who has died. We will highlight his ministry and the ways God used him. We do not intend to forget or be embarrassed of those men who led the way, so that we can minister today. One man whose footsteps we would like to follow in is R. G. Lee.

Robert Greene Lee was born in a log cabin to poor sharecroppers in South Carolina on November 11, 1886. Mam Lindy, Mrs. Lee's midwife, said at his birth, "Praise God! Glory be! The good Lord has done sent a preacher to this here house" (Lee, Payday Someday and Other Sermons, 5). Lee trusted Christ at the age of 12 in the First Baptist Church of Fort Mill, South Carolina. Lee was a hardworking, blue collar Southern Baptist. He worked on the Panama Canal at the age of 21. He delivered newspapers at 4 AM every morning walking his eight mile route in order to pay his way through Furman University. He said, "Thank God He gave me a body strong enough to stand it." He also pastored a little country church up in the Mountains in order to pay school bills. The church paid him 50$ a year for one sermon a month. When the topic of a raise came up, one of the longstanding deacons, spitting tobacco from his mouth, said, "We've been paying 50$ for a long time. And, we can't afford now to bite off more than we can chew, or swallow, or digest. And, as far as I'm concerned we're paying for as much as we're getting" (Lee, "What Have I Done," audio). Not only was he a hard worker, but he was also a brilliant student who graduated magnum cum laude. He earned a Ph.D. in international law at Chicago Law School in 1919 ( http://fundamentalbaptistlinks.com/EBOOKS/RGLee/l0.htm ). One of his most significant crossroads came when Dr. E. M. Poteat, the president of Furman University, who mentored Lee, asked him to chair the Latin department at Furman. Lee soon found out that the university would not allow him to pastor and teach at the same time. He resigned, and his wife Bula said, "That's good! God never meant for you to dig around Latin roots. He meant for you to be a preacher" (Lee, Payday, 5). Lee pastored churches in South Carolina (Edgefield, South Carolina, First Baptist Church, Chester, South Carolina, and Citadel Square Baptist Church, Charleston) Louisiana (FBC New Orleans, adding over 1,000 new members in his four years), and Tennessee (Bellevue Baptist Church, which grew to over 10,000 members in his 33 years). Lee was a prominent preacher, a masterful pastor, and a denominational leader. He served three terms as president of the SBC and four terms as president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Not only was he a gifted preacher, but he was a brilliant scholar. He turned down presidencies at Union University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (see more biographical information about Lee at http://www.siteone.com/religion/baptist/baptistpage/Portraits/lee.htm).

Southern Baptists should not forget the godly men who have gone before. Indeed, young pastors and seminary students should not fail to learn about these great men of yesterday. There is much to learn from Robert Greene Lee, though his life and ministry belongs to a former generation. Lee was a blue collar Southern Baptist through and through. He earned money for college working on the Panama Canal. He began his ministry delivering newspapers before sunrise, attending classes during the day, and preaching on the weekends. He was a man who stood strong against the moral evils of his day without compromise. He was a man who stood strong against the theological error of his day without compromise. While many in the SBC were just going along, Lee stood against rising liberalism by defending the complete truthfulness of the Bible. He said he believed it all. Someone asked him if he really believed a whale swallowed Jonah, and Lee responded, "The Bible tells us that God prepared a big fish to swallow his runaway preacher. I think if God can make a preacher he can make a fish big enough to swallow him. But let me tell you young people something if that fish had to hold down some of your liberlistic professors he wouldn't hold him down any three days" (Lee, "Christ, Above All," audio). He said he believed the Bible like Jesus believed it, never putting a question mark after God's Book. Lee never backed down from preaching hard topics. He was not willing to compromise the judgment of God, while in modern times so many feel-good preachers want to steer clear of it. His most famous sermon (arguably the most famous sermon of the 20th century) was "Payday Someday." In that sermon, which he preached over 1,200 times, he taught thousands that God's payday will come, whether tomorrow or twenty years from now. He pleaded with men to avoid that payday by trusting in Christ who took the sinner's payday!

What can Southern Baptists learn today from the ministry of R. G. Lee? We can learn hard work. We can learn to study hard. We can learn to stand with a firm backbone against the immorality of our day. We can learn to defend God's Book in every generation when question marks are put after it, because we learn from our heroes that the battle for the Bible is never over! We can learn to preach the hard things of the scriptures while passionately pleading with men to be reconciled to Christ. Indeed, that is how Lee is best remembered. Lee was a preacher. This is the first in a series of posts highlighting the ministry of R. G. Lee. In subsequent posts we will look at the preaching of Lee and its value for today. R. G. Lee once said, "I would not give up my preaching to be the president of the United States" (Lee, Payday, 9). In a day when the centrality of preaching is being compromised we have much to learn from a man so dedicated to this high calling. R. G. Lee was an orator, a poet, a language scholar, a pastor, an evangelist, a husband, and a father, but Southern Baptists will always know him as a preacher.