August 2006

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

August, 2006

From the pastor

Dear friends, it has been about a year since we published our last newsletter.  We have been so busy with other projects that we have not found the time to send the newsletter out. We have been very blessed with new members over the last year. Since our last newsletter Donaldson has rejoiced to receive the following members: Brother Marcus Harvey, Brother Jeff Lindsey and Sister Barbara Spurgeon by letter.  We rejoiced to receive Brother Dillon Ledbetter, Sister Mandy Ledbetter, Sister Wynn Welch, Brother Donald Shaffer, Sister Angela Lindsey and Sister Barbara Harvey by Baptism.  We are very thankful for the Lord’s kindness in sending them our way and adding to His Church here.  

Since that time, we have been greatly saddened by the loss of our Brother and my good friend, Brother Justin Welch.  He is survived by his wife, Sister Belinda Welch and three daughters, all members of our church: Sister Whitney Welch, Sister Willow Welch and Sister Wynn Welch.  I Baptized Sister Wynn June 25th at her request because it was the closest Sunday to what would have been Brother Justin’s next birthday. Brother Justin surely made a great impression on his daughters’ faith.  We miss him greatly and ask you to keep his family in your prayers.  

What is happening AT HARMONY

We are currently working on our web page. If you have logged on to our site, you have probably noticed that the information there is out of date.  Brother Jeff Lindsey has the knowledge to set up a web page and is presently constructing a new site with our own domain name.  We are transferring the information from our old site onto the new one. We hope to retain the tab from the other server for those who have already found us.  Our new address will be  www.harmonypbchurch.org.  We are planning to offer much more on our new site which will include the books we have published, some live audio sermons, some writings published in our local newspaper as well as other items of interest. We also may include a list of the area meetings among our people. In the near future we plan to get another picture of our membership on the front steps of our church building as before. We want our new members to be on our page. All of this takes a lot of time and effort and we appreciate Brother Jeff for his labor of love.

Speaking of labor of love, Sister Angela Lindsey has taken over the C.D. Ministry. Sister Judy Newman did this for us for several years and we appreciate them both for their efforts. Our C.D. ministry is free and if you know of anyone who would benefit from our recorded messages of our Sunday Morning service please let her know. 

We have been meeting on Sunday nights now for several months and I have been very pleased with the good turnout we are experiencing. Presently, we are preaching a series of messages on “Extraordinary Women of the Bible”. I have dubbed our Sunday night congregation the “very elect”.  Though the congregation is somewhat smaller at night, there is a precious spirit manifested in our night services.

Book review

I am presently reading a book by I.K. Cross titled, “The Battle for Baptist History.”  This is a wonderful book tracing the Baptist faith all the way back to the apostles.  In one of my previous newsletters I made mention of our “Puritan forefathers” which I have realized was an erroneous conclusion that many have fallen into due to the writings of men who have misrepresented history.  This book traces the footsteps of the flock from the apostles, through the centuries as they opposed the church of Rome which came to be the Roman Catholic Church. These early Baptists re-baptized those who had been sprinkled and were thus dubbed by their enemies as “Anabaptists”.  They insisted upon a “believers baptism”.  In their articles of faith they opposed a state church and adhered to a congregation of believers.  For this they were cruelly and brutally tortured and put to death. These people who held the Baptist tenants of faith fled from their persecutors.  In this book the author quotes many, accurate historical sources. One said, “WE have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses, and have ling in the history of the church received the honor of that origin.  On this account the Baptists may be considered the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the Apostles; and as a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrines of the Gospel through all ages.” Apparently, much of the history of the true church has been lost because the persecutors of the Christian faith not only burned the people, but they also burned their writings and their confessions. It was the intent and malice of the enemy to change the truth into a lie and make history as they would have it. Yet, according to the promise of Jesus, the gates of hell have not prevailed against God’s church.  It would not be perpetrated by church history, but rather by a line of succession of faithful people, called out by God’s Holy Spirit, humbled and baptized into the local congregations.  Many of these small, obscure to the world, yet containing the lifeblood of the genuine faith of Christ. The author writes, “Under the severe persecutions Baptists suffered, the enemy sought not only to destroy the people, but also their writings as well. What a record we would have if those writing could have been preserved.” He further writes, “It is hoped that the reader will understand that Baptists, prior to the Reformation, were considered heretics by the state church of Rome, and their history was treated as such by them. While they have not enjoyed the protection of the state, nor of religious powers, but as a persecuted, yet peaceful, people, enough of their history remains as ample evidence that God has not allowed “the gates of hell” to prevail against those people He left here on earth to carry out His commission until He returns for them to give account of their stewardship.” The author cites a little book titled, The Trail of Blood, which “identifies the names by which Baptists have been called from the times of the apostles to the sixteenth century Reformation: They are all ‘nick-names’.  Names given to those people (Baptists) by their enemies. ‘Christians-that is the first: ‘The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch’(Acts 11:26). This occurred about A.D. 43. Either the pagans or Jews gave them that name in derision.  All the other names in that column were given in the same manner- Montanists, Novatianists, Donatists, Paulicians, Albigenses, Waldenses, etc, and Ana-Baptists.”  The most interesting thing that we need to know is that Baptists are not, nor have they ever been “protestants”.  The protestants came out of the Catholic Church to protest their doctrine and corruption within. But when they came out, the Baptists were already out there because they had never gone in among them. Thus, the Baptist ministers thought they now had some friends that would not persecute them and sought the friendship of men like Luther who was willing to give his life to reform the Catholic Church. But unknown to them, the protestants of the reformation turned against them because they continued to baptize.  The protestants were given much light from God and we admire their faithfulness, but they continued to sprinkle and they continued with the idea of a state church and when those people dubbed as Anabaptists continued to baptize those of their own who came to them they then treated the Baptists the way the Catholics treated them. Thus the poor Baptists were persecuted by both sects. They even brought their ideas over to America and persecuted Baptist ministers here. It was the Baptist ministers who had the most influence in that part of the constitution which separated the church and the state. The author quotes one “John T Christian as writing, “The influence of John Calvin had begun to be felt in English affairs…He was responsible ina large measure for the demon of hate and fierce hostility which the Baptists of England had to encounter.”  He quotes Froude, in his “History of England,” as saying Calvin advised that “Anabaptists and reactionists should be alike put to death.” Thus we see that the Reformers turned persecutor against the Anabaptists as had their Roman mother. He also write, “It is beyond doubt that they (the Baptists) were in Englans well ahead of the Roformation, and were infesting that land with their teachings. They were the people who laid the foundation for the Reformation, and those who followed after with Baptist teachings go back to the Waldenses and Albigenses for their origin. He also cites, “They (the Baptists) were already there and simply came out of hiding when the Reformation broke upon the scene.” He further states, “The Puritans defamed them : for Baptist sentiments were too liberal and free for those who sought a papal authority over conscience, and desired the sword of the higher powers to enforce their ‘holy discipline’ on an unconverted people.”  

I continually find God’s providence amazing. As I was reading this book I happened to pick up a collection of Spurgeon’s The Sword and the Trowel and by chance turned to a page on which the title of an article written was A History of The Baptists. The article was a review on a book by one Dr. Cramp on the subject of Baptist History, the review being written by Spurgeon himself.  The most interesting thing about it was the fact that Mr. Cross had just made reference to this very book in his own.  In his review of the book that Mr. Cross refers too, Spurgeon writes this about our Baptist forefathers during the time of the reformation: “Baptists were always equally prepared for conflict and for persecution.  At the rise of the Reformation they openly declared themselves, coming out of their obscure positions, where they had long worshipped their Master in quiet, seclusion.  They were prepared to enlist themselves under the banners of the Reformers. They looked upon the defiant daring men of God whom no ecclesiastical tyranny could tame, no Papal fulminations could awe, no threatenings could silence, as their brothers-bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh. It is much to be regretted that they should have been so bitterly disappointed. The Reformers were not as yet sufficiently wide in their sympathies, nor sufficiently clear in their Protestantism, to extend the right hand of friendship, and loving communion to the despised Baptists. As now, so the, Baptists were a go-a-head race, always prepared to travel beyond others. They were persecuted, destroyed, forsaken, had their possessions confiscated, and were reduced to the lowest depths of poverty.  In spite of the Reformers who were bemisted by Popery, they maintained that the church of Christ should be kept as pure as possible; that there must be no indiscriminate mixing of wheat an tares, as though both were so much akin that there was no difference between them; that believers only were the proper subjects of baptism; that Scripture and Scripture alone was the sole arbiter in all theological disputes; and that civil magistrates and earthly potentates had no control over God’s free gift to man-conscience. We, as Baptists of the present day, have precisely the same principles to defend…” Thus, we see his position, even in the middle of the 1800’s was as ours: Baptists are not protestants nor have they ever been. They were never in the Catholic Church.

May God forgive me for this error, especially in claiming the people who persecuted our beloved brethren to be our forefathers in the faith. I leave my confession before the feet of the One who makes no mistakes and I ask for forgiveness from my brethren that I may have offended or led astray. This is the weighty duty of ministers which I hold in the highest regard and that is to tell the truth for God’s sake and when I make a mistake readily admit it. Other than this one mistake, I do not believe I have ever made any others in the course of my whole ministry.  If you believe that you are gullible!  I do believe there were some godly people among them but the perpetuity of the Church is not found in the reformation or the reformers.    

REMBER IN PRAYER

Brother Carl Osterloh, one of our oldest members, has been very weak and unable to come to church.  

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