J. C. Ryle on Kanye West

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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
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To make a beginning in religious life is comparatively easy. Not a few mixed motives assist us. The love of novelty, the praise of well-meaning but imprudent professors, the secret self-satisfaction of feeling “how good I am,” the universal excitement attending a new position―all these things combine to aid the young beginner. Aided by them he begins to run the race that leads to heaven, lays aside many bad habits, takes up many good ones, has many comfortable frames and feelings, and gets on splendidly for a time. But when the newness of his position is past and gone, when the freshness of his feelings is rubbed off and lost, when the world and the devil begin to pull hard at him, when the weakness of his own heart begins to appear, then it is that he finds out the real difficulties of vital Christianity. Then it is that he discovers the deep wisdom of our Lord’s saying now before us. It is not beginning, but “continuing” a religious profession, that is the test of true grace.

We should remember these things in forming our estimate of other people’s religion. No doubt we ought to be thankful when we see any one ceasing to do evil and learning to do well. We must not “despise the day of small things.” (Zech. 4:10.) But we must not forget that to begin is one thing, and to go on is quite another. Patient continuance in well-doing is the only sure evidence of grace. Not he that runs fast and furiously at first, but he that keeps up his speed, is he that “runs so as to obtain.” By all means let us be hopeful when we see anything like conversion. But let us not make too sure that it is real conversion, until time has set its seal upon it. Time and wear test metals, and prove whether they are solid or plated. Time and wear, in like manner, are the surest tests of a man’s religion. Where there is spiritual life there will be continuance and steady perseverance. It is the man who goes on as well as begins, that is “the disciple indeed.”

―J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Vol. 2, pp. 74-75.

 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
Brilliant and well-said. I think that, as far as Puritan Board goes, this should end the matter entirely until some time has passed.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I hope he is well and truly saved, of course, but we've seen this movie before. I remember Bob Dylan's short flirtation with Christianity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and I remember Eric Clapton's even shorter flirtation in the late 1960s.

So, we'll see.

I will say, though, that Dylan's three albums of Christian-flavored songs are, for the most part, better than anything the CCM movement ever did.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Not wanting to get on the subject of Kanye, but in addition to Ryle, a word from Baxter for new and weak Christians, the first of twenty-seven from his Directory. See the whole first direction here. This whole section is good.

"Take heed, lest it be the novelty or reputation of truth and godliness, that takes with you, more than the solid evidence of their excellency and necessity: lest, when the novelty and reputation are gone, your religion wither and consume away."

Beware of the light reaching you before the heat does, because a true Christian cannot take the light without the refining fire.
 
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A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
I will just add that if Kayne is serious about his faith he needs to go underground, remain silent for a while, listen, and pray.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
I will just add that if Kayne is serious about his faith he needs to go underground, remain silent for a while, listen, and pray.

That pretty much sums up Baxter's directions for new believers. Be persuaded of the excellency of the faith, be taught by a faithful minister, be teachable, be charitable, be unopinionated, be holy, be watchful, and be quiet.
 
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A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Yeah, I read a lot too. I don’t envy his circumstances. Everything is under a microscope. But he needs a major reset.
That pretty much sums up Baxter's directions for new believers. Be persuaded of the excellency of the faith, be taught, be teachable, be charitable, be unopinionated, be holy, be watchful, and be quiet.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Yeah, I read a lot too. I don’t envy his circumstances. Everything is under a microscope. But he needs a major reset.

I remember my first few years as one who became concerned with having a real profession (whether it was real at the time, I swing back and forth in my opinion). Things that are so basic now like Calvinism caused such angst. I swung back regularly between Calvinism and Arminianism. At one point I veered away from justification by faith alone due to a website purporting that the early church taught no such thing, though I did come back. My influences were men of all different theological backgrounds, and my favorites tended to be Washer, Ravenhill, Conway, Dave Wilkerson, and a few others. Christianity was exciting, but oh the weight of all the difficulties that were on my mind! Finneyism of all things utterly crushed me for its absolute non-Gospel of salvation by perfect obedience. By God's grace I came into a Reformed Baptist church a year later after leaving my Pentecostal church and a generic brand Baptist church that didn't believe in membership. One year after beginning attendance and seeing the necessity of membership, I was made a member.

All that to say, at the beginning of a profession you are assaulted with so many things, all of them claiming truth, some of them having a real proportion of truth, other things not so much, all of them zealously presented to you. You start out so ignorant of real truth, ignorant of God in so many ways, and ignorant of the devil, and so you don't really know how to discern what is sound and what isn't. And being new, and seeing so much excellency in Christianity you feel like you're seeing for the first time, and you can't conceive you could possibly be ignorant or a neophyte. So you compound your own danger. A new Christian is the target demographic of sects, cults, heretics, and outspoken hot-heads.

Blessed is a new professor whom God brings under a sound, healthy, faithful ministry. Blessed is that new convert if he has the sense to be humble and teachable.
 
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Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
a word from Baxter for new and weak Christians, the first of twenty-seven from his Directory.
That pretty much sums up Baxter's directions for new believers.
Be aware Jake that Baxter is doctrinally unsound in a number of areas. The Puritan scholar, Dr Jim Renihan, did a lecture a few years ago and argued that Baxter was very unsound on justification. The Reformed Baptist Theological Review 2, no. 1 (2005): 110-134

"Baxter’s writings are a strange theological mix. He was one of a few Puritans whose doctrines of God’s decrees, atonement, and justification were anything but Reformed. Though he generally structured his theology along Reformed lines of thought, he frequently leaned towards Arminian thinking. He developed his own notion of universal redemption, which offended Calvinists, but retained a form of personal election, which offended Arminians. He rejected reprobation. He was greatly influenced by the Amyraldians and incorporated much of their thinking, including hypothetical universalism, which teaches that Christ hypothetically died for all men, but His death only has real benefit to those who believe. For Baxter, Christ’s death was more of a legal satisfaction of the law than a personal substitutionary death on behalf of elect sinners.

"Baxter’s approach to justification has been called neonomianism (that is, “new law”); he said that God has made a new law offering forgiveness to repentant breakers of the old law. Faith and repentance—the new laws that must be obeyed—become the believer’s personal, saving righteousness that is sustained by preserving grace. Baxter’s soteriology, then, is Amyraldian with the addition of Arminian “new law” teaching. Happily, these erroneous doctrines do not surface much in Baxter’s devotional writings, which are geared mainly to encourage one’s sanctification rather than to teach theology."
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Be aware Jake that Baxter is doctrinally unsound in a number of areas. The Puritan scholar, Dr Jim Renihan, did a lecture a few years ago and argued that Baxter was very unsound on justification. The Reformed Baptist Theological Review 2, no. 1 (2005): 110-134

"Baxter’s writings are a strange theological mix. He was one of a few Puritans whose doctrines of God’s decrees, atonement, and justification were anything but Reformed. Though he generally structured his theology along Reformed lines of thought, he frequently leaned towards Arminian thinking. He developed his own notion of universal redemption, which offended Calvinists, but retained a form of personal election, which offended Arminians. He rejected reprobation. He was greatly influenced by the Amyraldians and incorporated much of their thinking, including hypothetical universalism, which teaches that Christ hypothetically died for all men, but His death only has real benefit to those who believe. For Baxter, Christ’s death was more of a legal satisfaction of the law than a personal substitutionary death on behalf of elect sinners.

"Baxter’s approach to justification has been called neonomianism (that is, “new law”); he said that God has made a new law offering forgiveness to repentant breakers of the old law. Faith and repentance—the new laws that must be obeyed—become the believer’s personal, saving righteousness that is sustained by preserving grace. Baxter’s soteriology, then, is Amyraldian with the addition of Arminian “new law” teaching. Happily, these erroneous doctrines do not surface much in Baxter’s devotional writings, which are geared mainly to encourage one’s sanctification rather than to teach theology."

Indeed Baxter needs to be taken with caution. It'd be good for such of his theological works to disappear, though in his practical works he has no equal, in my limited experience. As said in the intro to the Christian Directory, Baxter writes as though he had seen the third heaven and as though he held the keys to the abyss. Nearly four centuries later there seems to have been no end to the benefit the church has received from Baxter in these works, and many godly pastors and servants have commended him highly. For myself in the way Baxter speaks about knowing God he stirs up a holy jealousy, and I think many others would testify to the same experience.

Archibald Alexander's account of his death shows the man trusted to none of his works, but only to Christ. Baxter had also recanted his dangerous view on the nature of faith, as follows (taken from this post):

"[Baxter] by his other dangerous notions concerning justification, corrupted the fountain and endangered the faith of many; yet after all came to be of another mind, and had the humility to tell the world so much. "I formerly believed, saith he, the formal nature of faith to lie in consent, but now I recant it: I believe it lies in trust; and this makes the right to lie in the object; for it is -- I depend on Christ as the matter or merit of my pardon, my life, my crown, and my glory." Answers by the twelve Brethren to the Commission's Queries, p.66. Witius, Conciliatory, or Irenical Animadversions on the Controversies Agitated in Britain, p.252 ."

Interestingly, I found that Baxter's views on justification came from a desire to refute antinomianism. The recantation above is found in a polemic against another whom some consider to be an antinomian, Tobias Crisp. Baxter seems to have discarded his last peppercorn.
 
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Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
Indeed Baxter needs to be taken with caution. It'd be good for such of his theological works to disappear, though in his practical works he has no equal, in my limited experience.

Isn't that the same argument people use for reading Doug Wilson?
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Isn't that the same argument people use for reading Doug Wilson?

My own assessment is that Baxter had discarded his last peppercorn, shown by the quote above. Though if I'm going to write off Baxter as an unconverted hypocrite, then I feel obliged to do it to so many other servants whom God has eminently used, like A.W. Tozer. I still remember listening to him on election, and he said plainly that he believes that it's likely God's election is based on what he knew ahead of time people would do. In the strictest sense, truly anti-Gospel. I might also say to any Arminian, rightly so, that their views taken to their logical extension are a false Gospel. As Spurgeon says, "Calvinism is the Gospel," anything else is a perversion. We all at some point, if we have a spirit of charity, are going to accept some as true brothers who are nevertheless off on some of these fundamentals which in their logical outworking would have disastrous consequences.

Was Baxter a godly man, acted upon by the grace of God, in some places in an extraordinary fashion although seriously deficient in other areas? I don't think it can be called into question. I hope that his erroneous theological works will disappear, though I'm also very careful never to deny the work of the Spirit where it may have really have taken place, thus with someone like Baxter I do not take an all-or-nothing view.

Also, people don't always take their theology to its true logical extent. Arminians are a case in point. Charles Simeon was satisfied that such was not the case with John Wesley. I seriously doubt it was the case with A.W. Tozer. The last word on Richard Baxter's life seems to be that in the quote given, and in the account of his death given by Archibald Alexander, Christ was his exclusive confidence for eternal life. In some cases, men simply live better than their professed theology. I think some credit ought to be given for that, because no Calvinist ever lives up to his.

I think it'd be better to say, that even with the help of the Westminster/LBC, or the Canons of Dort, and with all our Calvinism, shame on us that we don't see heaven and hell even half as well as Baxter.
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Be aware Jake that Baxter is doctrinally unsound in a number of areas. The Puritan scholar, Dr Jim Renihan, did a lecture a few years ago and argued that Baxter was very unsound on justification. The Reformed Baptist Theological Review 2, no. 1 (2005): 110-134
A lot of Reformed guys use his directory as a sound guide on many topics. His book the Reformed Pastor is excellent. I do believe he eventually abandoned his neonomism in the end. I believe it was Owen who comments on that. But I am only relying upon my memory from past readings. So I should maybe question the abandoning neonomism. I will try to find the quote.

Off to Sabbath Service.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
A lot of Reformed guys use his directory as a sound guide on many topics. His book the Reformed Pastor is excellent. I do believe he eventually abandoned his neonomism in the end. I believe it was Owen who comments on that. But I am only relying upon my memory from past readings. So I should maybe question the abandoning neonomism. I will try to find the quote.

Off to Sabbath Service.


"[Baxter] by his other dangerous notions concerning justification, corrupted the fountain and endangered the faith of many; yet after all came to be of another mind, and had the humility to tell the world so much. "I formerly believed, saith he, the formal nature of faith to lie in consent, but now I recant it: I believe it lies in trust; and this makes the right to lie in the object; for it is -- I depend on Christ as the matter or merit of my pardon, my life, my crown, and my glory." Answers by the twelve Brethren to the Commission's Queries, p.66. Witius, Conciliatory, or Irenical Animadversions on the Controversies Agitated in Britain, p.252 ."
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Interestingly, I found that Baxter's views on justification came from a desire to refute antinomianism.
I understand that was the case.
A lot of Reformed guys use his directory as a sound guide on many topics. His book the Reformed Pastor is excellent.
I am sure that is true. Remember: to play around with the doctrine of justification is not a minor issue. I am sure the discerning can use Baxter with profit providing the weaker brother (the less discerning) are not misled by this.

As a matter of interest, Martyn Lloyd-Jones found Baxter very helpful in diagnosing people suffering from mental health problems.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
I understand that was the case.

I am sure that is true. Remember: to play around with the doctrine of justification is not a minor issue. I am sure the discerning can use Baxter with profit providing the weaker brother (the less discerning) are not misled by this.

As a matter of interest, Martyn Lloyd-Jones found Baxter very helpful in diagnosing people suffering from mental health problems.

Absolutely on justification. Let us not give way even a moment as Paul in Galatians!

Baxter's sermon on melancholy and excessive sorrow is one of my very favorites. Anything I've read by him on the subject of depression has been wonderfully helpful. See here.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
As informative as the discussion on Baxter himself has been, it’s been a bit of a departure from the OP which deals with best counsel for a new convert. Better, I think, to get back to that topic if anyone has more to add, as I think Baxter has been thoroughly covered (or start a new thread).
 
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