Tom Nettles’ latest book is hot off the press from Broadman and Holman publishers. Ready for Reformation? Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches. You really should get a copy before finishing this blog. It ought to be required reading for the following Southern Baptists:
-Associational Directors of Missions
-State convention Executive Directors
-Members of the Executive Committee
-Trustees of institutions and agencies
Beyond these, the book should also be read by every Southern Baptist church member who is committed to the inerrancy of Scripture. Dr. Nettles has identified issues that are tragically and harmfully being overlooked by many conservatives in the SBC today.
I will be commenting on this book, giving pertinent quotes over the next few days. It is a labor of love from the author. Not only are we challenged to think biblically and learn lessons from history, but in this book Dr. Nettles also reveals his own heart to us. With the kind of gentleness and precision that we have come to expect from him, Nettles argues pointedly for the need of ongoing reformation in the SBC. In essence he declares that inerrancy is not enough. Having reestablished the “formal principle” of reformation–that the Word of God written in our final authority–we must go on to reestablish the actual teachings of that final authority. In other words we must press forward with doctrinal reformation (the “material principle”).
“The [Protestant] Reformers knew that reformation–deeply theological, intensely personal, and pervasively institutional–was necessary. They also had confidence that they had devoted themselves to the right issues. They never exhibited confidence that they had completed all that needed to be done. They lived under the motivation of the truth that the reformed church must always be reforming–ecclesia reformata semper reformanda” (5).
Southern Baptists are in danger of allowing a triumphalistic spirit to blind us to the need of ongoing, further reformation. The historically informed biblical instruction in Nettles’ book can help rescue us from this danger. Get it quickly and read it carefully. Secure extra copies to give to people in the list above. Then pray that God will awaken many to see the desperate need of ongoing biblical reformation in the Southern Baptist Convention.