A Response To Steve W. Lemke’s “What Is A Baptist?: Nine Marks That Separate Baptists From Presbyterians” -- By: R. L. Hatchett

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 05:2 (Fall 2008)
Article: A Response To Steve W. Lemke’s “What Is A Baptist?: Nine Marks That Separate Baptists From Presbyterians”
Author: R. L. Hatchett


A Response To Steve W. Lemke’s “What Is A Baptist?: Nine Marks That Separate Baptists From Presbyterians”

R. L. Hatchett

Houston Baptist University

I am grateful to Dr Lemke, panel members, and students for the good-spirited and useful exchange concerning Baptist identity. Special thanks go to my friend, Dr. Lemke, for the invitation to present my response. The following comments constitute the basic direction of my response at the conference with only one additional reflection upon a later exchange.

I am in substantial agreement with the concerns expressed by Dr. Lemke, who is concerned that some of our Calvinistic Baptist brothers and sisters may ignore or alter convictions so near to the heart of Baptist identity that they may cease to be Baptist or redefine Baptist. He articulates Baptist traits in an effort to mark Baptist boundaries and thus Baptist identity. He is concerned that today’s Calvinistic Baptists surrender or diminish crucial Baptist ideas, clustered around believer’s baptism and believer’s church, which early Calvinistic Baptists held with strong and costly conviction.

Numerous disclaimers are needed. 1) There are other threats to Baptist identity beyond Calvinistic Baptists who may surrender Baptist essentials. 2) Efforts to contrast Baptist ideas with Calvinistic ideas are inherently difficult given a shared and intertwined history.1 3) My own personal indebtedness to and appreciation for the reformed tradition is significant; my response does not address Calvinism in general. 4) And finally, there are minor concerns about the paper. My friend is less than careful with several expressions that needlessly distract from the core of his concerns. For example, the language of “original sin” seems to have considerable nuance and usage beyond strict Reformed theology; it need not be rejected. The language of “semipelagian” is unguarded and inconsistent with my understanding of Lemke’s theology at large. My endeavor, however, will focus on several more global responses.

General Observations

Two related observations will provide some hermeneutical or historical frame of reference. The first concerns the impoverishment and eclipse of theology in our denomination. And a second is about the difficulty in grasping the enduring identity of a movement, tradition, or denomination.

First, we begin with an illustration. A young person attends a Passion worship assembly and is challenged to link her worship with a fervent discipleship of the mind; upon

returning home she reads her first ...

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