I am so thankful to be a Reformed Baptist. Of course, when I first heard of the name on a tape from the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church I pulled out of a small display at a Christian bookstore many years ago, I had to find a “handbook on denominations” to figure out what it meant. Our tribe is growing, but we have a lot of room for growth. But I am thankful to be a part of our small tribe.
Now I know many see us, to borrow Verduin’s phrase, as the stepchildren of the Reformers. Some refuse us even the term Reformed. Our retirement plans are not nearly as good as some others, that is for certain. Our conferences do not seem nearly as large and flashy either. But that is alright.
I am thankful to be a Reformed Baptist for many reasons. Today, being an elder in a Reformed Baptist church means I get to meet and minister with some of the best preachers and teachers I know, men like Jim Renihan, Richard Barcellos, and Sam Waldron. I have the honor, and the privilege, of ministering in sister churches all across the landscape, and our unity of spirit and faith is encouraging. But the main reason I am thankful to be a Reformed Baptist comes from the work to which the Lord has called me. Over the past nearly two decades now I have engaged in over sixty formal, moderated public debates with the leading apologists representing Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostalism, and of late, Islam. Those debates have forced me to engage objections to the Christian faith on every level, from biblical sufficiency to the Trinity to the cross to justification and everything in between. And that is why I am thankful to be a Reformed Baptist. Why? Because of the consistency of our faith. One’s apologetic can be no stronger than the consistency of the faith it defends. And when I call my opponents to consistency, I can do so with a clear mind and a clear conscience, because I know of no statement of the Christian faith more consistent, more thorough-going, than that we as Reformed Baptists profess. When I challenge Rome’s errors on the basis of her traditions, I know my faith consistently confesses sola scriptura and presents a meaningful doctrine of inspiration and perspicuity. When I challenge Mormonism’s false gods, I know my faith presents a thorough biblical Trinitarianism. When I meet the best Jehovah’s Witnesses have to offer in battle, I know I as a Reformed Baptist confess the truth about Jesus Christ, drawn from a consistent interpretation of God’s inspired Word. And when I combat the Islamic apologist who stands upon Surah 4:157 and its denial of the crucifixion of Christ, I can provide a consistent, biblical, and historically accurate, defense of the centrality of the cross of Christ. And when I stand before men like Bishop John Shelby Spong and engage his defense of homosexuality in the name of “Christianity,” I can boldly proclaim God’s truth, God’s law, God’s provision in Christ. And what truly makes me thankful is the fact that I do not have to shift my methodologies or beliefs to respond to each of these groups, or any others. I could not do so even if I wanted to (out of simple loyalty to the truth), but given the consistency of my Reformed Baptist faith, I do not need to anyway. And that is why I am thankful to be a Reformed Baptist.
So the next time you eye the big fancy church down the road on your way to your Reformed Baptist church, consider this: the value of the consistency of divine truth, the treasure of having a firm foundation upon which to live a God-honoring life, is truly priceless.James White Alpha and Omega Ministries