In the early eighties I had the privilege of serving on the staff of Dr. Gerald Fleming, now in Heaven, and the great Dayton Baptist Temple. Being one of the few ordained men it fell to me to baptize one Sunday while Dr. Fleming was out of town. Now Pastor Fleming was a tall and very slender man. I, on the other hand, was a little shorter and quite a bit more "husky." When the morning service ended we made our way up to the dressing room to prepare for the baptismal service.
The men who helped me get dressed insisted I wear the preacher's waders. I mentioned to them I was larger than the preacher but they assured me the waders would fit just fine. I put on the waders and made my way into the pool. We baptized several that morning. When finished I started up the stairs back into the dressing room. When I got to the last step I felt the waders give way and I heard a horrible ripping sound! When I removed them I noticed that the left leg had split from the waist down to the foot. I finished dressing, hung the waders up and left the church.
I forgot all about those waders until the next Sunday. The morning service ended and now it was time to baptize. I still had not remembered those ripped waders. As we sung a song the candidates entered the baptistry. As soon as the preacher entered the water I heard him gasp for air. Oh no! I remembered the waders as he felt the cold water run down his leg.
Now let me say, Bro Fleming was a good pastor and kind man. However, we had staff meeting on Monday mornings. Let me just say, I dreaded staff meeting and after a private session with the pastor I knew my memory was for ever improved! Thank the Lord for mercy and grace! Yes, this really happened to me in the ministry.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
We now come to the 5th century in our study of Baptist History. It is important to note that there were churches still holding to the Truth of God's Word and doctrine. The Novatians and Donatists had many churches thriving. Orchard in His book History of Baptists says
At the conclusion of this fourth century, the Novatiansists had three, if not four churches in Constantinople; they had also churches at Nice, Nicomedia, and Cotiveus, in Phrygia, all of them large and extensive bodies, besides which, there were very numerous in the Western empire. In the fourth Lateran council, canons were made to banish them as heretics, and these canons were supported by an edict in 413, issued by the emperors. The Novatianists and Donatists, two powerful and extensive bodies of dissidents in Italy and Africa, were consequently made to feel the weight of his influence. These combined modes of oppression led the faithful to abandon the cities, and seek retreats in the country, which they did, particularly in the valleys of Piedmont, the inhabitants of which began to be called Waldenses.
The Truth was still being preached and persecuted against, namely in the Dontatists and Novatianists, and now some called Waldensian churches.
Unfortunately, the 'state church' was becoming more powerful and more influential. The fifth century saw the rise of the papacy. "The word pope is derived from papa, meaning father, and was at first applied to the bishops of the large cities-the Metropolitan Bishops." (Hammett "History of Baptists" pg. 70)
It is at this point we first see the rise of the 'Dr. Big Shot.' The Big name pastors began to see the need to 'help out' and 'watch over' the pastors of small churches. They began to wield their heavy influence over them, and soon a power was designated to them. It was not long after (451 A.D.) that the first Pope was declared to be Leo I by the Council of Chalcedon. He was declared to be the successor of Peter, the Chief of Apostles, and the Vicar of Christ.
Today, the danger of 'Dr. Big Shot' still exists. Yes, there is still a pope in all his power and glory over the Catholic church, but this false teaching is still practiced today even amongst Independent Baptists. While I am not against a blessed by God, large church; and I praise the Lord for Biblically qualified pastors of large churches, there is never Biblical support for pastors of large churches residing over or lording over pastors of smaller churches. I am not against Bible preaching conferences, we must be weary of Dr. Big Shots teaching Pastor Peons 'how to do it right.' More harm than help is often associated with these meetings, as the flesh and lusts of the flesh are appealed to and often the weaknesses of Dr. Big Shots are learned and practiced more than the other way around. There is a reason why all the 'good ole boys' and all the 'baptist friends' share alot of the same immorality disguising and weak doctrine. I will go on.
The rise of the Dr. Big Shots not only applied to Pope, but 'church fathers. The fifth century saw men like Augustine rise up and begin teaching his heresy. Perhaps no other man is quoted amongst religious circles as Augustine of Hippo, who I agree should be called the Father of Corrupt Theology. He introduced post millennialism eschatology, universal church, that "Already the Kingdom in the form of the church is a reality. Now already Christ and the saints rule, for the Kingdom is ruled by Christ through the heads of the hierarchical Church. Resurrection is not taking place, for new life is taking place through the Gospel, now Satan is bound." He hated the Dontatist, believed all acts of the 'church' were right, that grace was channeled through the sacraments, and Mary was the Mother of God, first taught irresistible grace (beginning of Calvanism), laid a foundation for Purgatory, and the doctrine of 'original sin.' It is no surprise the Martin Luther and John Calvin used Augustinian teaching to 'prove' their beliefs.
The fifth century also saw asceticism (self denial and harming) first practiced, hermits introduced, and monks and monasteries first practiced. Mary Worship was accepted in a council at Ephesus.
Also, in 476 A.D. Rome fell which brought much doubt as to Augustinian teaching that the Kingdom of God was in place. It was the king of the Franks, Clovis, that promised God conversion if he won a crucial battle, that issued in the "Dark Ages." Upon his victory, he and his sister and 3,000 men were baptized and 'converted.' He saw to it that all people 'converted.' This Dr. Big Shot took the sword and 'preached' conversion. Thus further persecution upon the Novatians and Dontatists and now Waldenses.
There was however, a positive. Upon the fall of Rome, the Roman garrisons left England. Without this influence, England became an open mission field. A pure doctrine was preached and churches were started in England. Upon the invasion of the Saxons, many fled the country and left for Wales and Western Britain.
One man, Patrick was gloriously saved and went to Ireland as a missionary. Many were saved and baptized under his ministry. He later would be killed and the Catholics would try to 'adopt this hero of the faith;' but let it be clear-"Saint" Patrick was no Catholic Dr. Big Shot; rather, he was a humble missionary that saw many saved and baptized and the pure Truth continually taught. But in Europe, the sword and a false religion brought with it the Dark Ages!