The inner testimony of the spirit: locating the coherent center of E. Y. Mullins's theology: critics from disparate theological perspectives increasingly find the theology of E. Y. Mullins inadequate for contemporary Baptists.
Conservative Baptist scholars have argued that Mullins's emphasis on subjective Christian experience undermines the primacy and authority of the Bible and that his emphasis on human freedom compromises the older Southern Baptist Noun 1. Southern Baptist - a member of the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention - an association of Southern Baptists
Baptist - follower of Baptistic doctrines adherence to God's sovereign grace in salvation. (1) Criticism of Mullins also comes from more moderate Baptists concerned with the degree of individualism expressed in his theology. (2) "Communitarian com·mu·ni·tar·i·an
A member or supporter of a small cooperative or a collectivist community.
com·mu " Baptists, in particular, contend that Mullins's theology is less representative of a healthy Christian theology Noun 1. Christian theology - the teachings of Christian churches
free grace, grace of God, grace - (Christian theology) the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God; "God's grace is manifested in the salvation of sinners"; "there but for the grace of God go than of Enlightenment individualism. Mullins's modernist conception of the competent soul lacks awareness of "the sort of community and spiritual formation that are necessary to initiate and sustain converted souls in the Christian life." (3) These criticisms attempt to expose weaknesses, but a stronger objection, if true, raises considerable doubt about the continuing usefulness of Mullins's theology.
Baptists of his time and Baptists today have admired Mullins's ability to mediate between diverse theological views. (4) Indeed, he demonstrated a remarkable capacity to quell complex theological disputes by emphasizing the primacy of religious experience over the secondary activity of theological formulation. Some critics argue, however, that Mullins's mediatory strength belies the fact that his theology was ultimately incoherent. (5) According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. this view, what looks like mediation was actually vacillation between irreconcilable approaches. Mullins's tendency to employ emerging theological and philosophical perspectives for apologetic purposes conflicted at times with his more conservative Baptist theology. Mullins's defenders, however, argue that he chose only certain helpful aspects of more radical viewpoints, but that he did not incorporate the substance of these diverse views into the core of his theology. Russell Dilday stated that "Mullins 'redeemed' these emerging schools of thought for Baptists by sifting out the good and discarding the useless." (6) If it is true, however, that Mullins was carefully sifting through contemporary perspectives without discarding more orthodox Baptist convictions, we should be able to identify the sieve. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , we should be able to determine the central theological commitments that remained constant and enabled him occasionally to appropriate more peripheral ideas.
The contention here, therefore, is that a reexamination re·ex·am·ine also re-ex·am·ine
tr.v. re·ex·am·ined, re·ex·am·in·ing, re·ex·am·ines
1. To examine again or anew; review.
2. Law To question (a witness) again after cross-examination. of Mullins's thought is necessary to attempt to identify a logically coherent center. This reexamination should expose first why Mullins is often misunderstood regarding the way he used new theological, philosophical, and psychological perspectives. Next, we should attempt to find where Mullins might more clearly state what was central to his thought. We then may be able to make some judgment as to the continuing usefulness of Mullins's theology for Baptist theological reflection.
How Mullins Used Contemporary Views in His Theology
Mullins attempted to weave a number of contemporary philosophical and psychological perspectives together with his more traditional Baptist theological heritage. He built upon that heritage by combining elements from such diverse viewpoints as those of the philosophical personalism per·son·al·ism
1. The quality of being characterized by purely personal modes of expression or behavior; idiosyncrasy.
2. of Borden Bowne, the pragmatism and voluntarism voluntarism
Metaphysical or psychological system that assigns a more predominant role to the will (Latin, voluntas) than to the intellect. Christian philosophers who have been described as voluntarist include St. Augustine, John Duns Scotus, and Blaise Pascal. of William James Noun 1. William James - United States pragmatic philosopher and psychologist (1842-1910)
James , and the evidential apologetics Evidential apologetics or evidentialism (not to be confused with epistemological evidentialism) is an approach to Christian apologetics emphasizing the use of evidence to demonstrate that God probably exists. of L. F. Steams to support his primary theological emphasis on Christian experience. Early in his presidency at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary References
An attempt or tendency to explain a complex set of facts, entities, phenomena, or structures by another, simpler set: "For the last 400 years science has advanced by reductionism ... philosophy and science characteristic of his day. At the same time that Mullins addressed these global threats to religion and moral responsibility, he also dealt with the crisis among Baptists in the South over their historical identity. The Whitsitt Controversy, the immediate occasion for Mullins's ascendancy to the presidency of Southern Seminary, was the driving force behind his search for another way to state Baptist identity. (7) In a rather fortuitous way, the same collection of philosophical, psychological, and theological resources helped Mullins shift the location of Baptist identity from the practice of baptism by immersion to the belief in the competency of the soul in religion. Thus, Mullins's synthesis of traditional and contemporary insights enabled him to address diverse threats and controversies.
Readers have not always understood that the way Mullins used many of his contemporary sources was highly selective and nuanced. This lack of understanding about Mullins's method is one reason why many have misinterpreted his theology and failed to look for the convictions that were more central to his thought. For example, Bernard Ramm Bernard L. Ramm (1916-1992) was born in Butte, Montana and was a Baptist theologian and apologist within the broad Evangelical tradition. He wrote prolifically on topics concerned with biblical hermeneutics, religion and science, Christology, and apologetics. observed that Mullins mistakenly appropriated a pragmatic view of truth: "Unfortunately E. Y. Mullins, when he wrote Freedom and Authority, was under the charm of pragmatism and pursued its faulty logic." (8) What Ramm and many interpreters failed to distinguish was that Mullins marshaled pragmatism and other modern views for apologetic or defensive purposes. He was most concerned to use pragmatism to dismantle certain atheistic a·the·is·tic also a·the·is·ti·cal
1. Relating to or characteristic of atheism or atheists.
2. Inclined to atheism.
a systems of philosophy and science that he believed threatened the Christian faith. Ultimately for Mullins, however, Christianity was based on divine revelation Noun 1. divine revelation - communication of knowledge to man by a divine or supernatural agency
making known, informing - a speech act that conveys information , not human methods of discovery: "Pragmatism will not satisfy those of us who believe we have a revelation from God. It everywhere assumes too generally that man can by searching find out God, that philosophy alone can save us." (9) So we must be careful not to confuse Mullins's use of certain philosophical perspectives to disarm threats as his incorporation of those perspectives into the core of his theology.
Other examples of this tendency to misread mis·read
tr.v. mis·read , mis·read·ing, mis·reads
1. To read inaccurately.
2. To misinterpret or misunderstand: misread our friendly concern as prying. Mullins are found in his references to the theology of Schleiermacher. At times Mullins cited Schleiermacher in ways that appeared very favorable. In his 1905 address to the newly formed Baptist World Congress in London, Mullins argued that Schleiermacher, more than anyone else, was responsible for contemporary reconstruction in theology: "As a preacher and as a theologian he [Schleiermacher] contended for the rights of the soul in its hunger for God against the barren rationalism rationalism [Lat.,=belonging to reason], in philosophy, a theory that holds that reason alone, unaided by experience, can arrive at basic truth regarding the world. which had usurped the place of faith. The adoption, thus, of a fact of consciousness as the focus of theological reconstruction, had implicit in Adj. 1. implicit in - in the nature of something though not readily apparent; "shortcomings inherent in our approach"; "an underlying meaning"
underlying, inherent it a new and far-reaching principle." (10) Based upon quotations like this coupled with Mullins's own strong emphasis on Christian experience, many of his readers have concluded that Schleiermacher was a primary influence on his theology. Even readers as theologically diverse as Glenn Hinson and Al Mohler agreed that Mullins was strongly influenced by Schleiermacher. (11)
A more careful reading of Mullins, like that of Russell Dilday, demonstrated that Mullins "drew from Schleiermacher those positive elements which he believed supported the faith, but he was not swept away by Schleiermacher and forcefully rejected his unbiblical universalism Universalism
Belief in the salvation of all souls. Arising as early as the time of Origen and at various points in Christian history, the concept became an organized movement in North America in the mid-18th century. and pantheistic pan·the·ism
1. A doctrine identifying the Deity with the universe and its phenomena.
2. Belief in and worship of all gods.
pan tendencies. Mullins was clear on the fact that the Bible, not experience, is the authority." (12) Yet, it is still not clear how he could positively invoke certain perspectives of Schleiermacher at one moment and readily reject other aspects that he found to be incompatible with his theology. To understand better how Mullins was capable of such theological flexibility, we must take a closer look at the roots of his theology of Christian experience.
The Roots of "Christian Experience": Calvin, Not Schleiermacher
What tended to be obscured in Mullins's strong emphasis on Christian experience was that the kind of experience that he was appealing to differed from what Schleiermacher invoked. The common link between the two theologies was that the experience occurred in the human consciousness, but the occasion and nature of such experience was completely different. For Schleiermacher, the "feeling of absolute dependence" was a general, innate, and a priori a priori
In epistemology, knowledge that is independent of all particular experiences, as opposed to a posteriori (or empirical) knowledge, which derives from experience. human awareness. For Mullins, Christian experience was an a posteriori [Latin, From the effect to the cause.]
A posteriori describes a method of reasoning from given, express observations or experiments to reach and formulate general principles from them. This is also called inductive reasoning. change in the consciousness of a particular person upon hearing and believing the gospel, the "consciousness as enlightened by regenerating grace and the indwelling indwelling /in·dwell·ing/ (in´dwel-ing) pertaining to a catheter or other tube left within an organ or body passage for drainage, to maintain patency, or for the administration of drugs or nutrients. Spirit." (13) Mullins did speak about the "natural" human consciousness, but he contended that such was aware only of its own moral futility and helplessness. There was no positive experience of God outside of Christian experience. "Schleiermacher did not give an adequate account of religion when he defined it as the feeling of absolute dependence. But he sounded therein a true note. The Christian redemption is in explicit terms redemption from a state of moral need and helplessness." (14) Thus, Mullins contended for a special, Spirit-induced experience that confirmed the message of scripture in the heart of the believer. That the indwelling Holy Spirit was the source of Christian experience demonstrated that Mullins's theology was rooted in a tradition older and more central to Baptist thought than Schleiermacher.
Students of Mullins have long noted his significant debt to Lewis French Stearns, Congregationalist con·gre·ga·tion·al·ism
1. A type of church government in which each local congregation is self-governing.
2. Congregationalism professor at Bangor Theological Seminary Bangor Theological Seminary is an ecumenical seminary, founded in 1814, in the Congregational tradition of the United Church of Christ. It is located in Bangor, Maine and Portland, Maine. It is the only accredited graduate school of religion in Northern New England. , for use of the "evidence" of Christian experience as an apology for Christianity. Stearns made it clear that the meaning of Christian experience, as he and subsequently Mullins employed the idea, had its roots in the thought of the Reformers, in general, and Calvin, in particular.
The evidence of Christian experience was thus being brought to the front. In accepting the situation and laying stress upon this central proof, evangelical theology was only returning to its own. The early and mediaeval me·di·ae·val
Variant of medieval.
same as medieval
Adj. 1. church made little, if any, apologetical use of the experimental evidence. But in the Protestant Reformation it took, and for more than a century continued to take the form of the testimonium Spiritus Spiritus (Latin for "breathing"), may refer to:
Although it is doubtful that Calvin had in mind the kind of evidential apologetics of Stearns and Mullins, he dearly believed that a person's faith in the scripture was the work of the Holy Spirit and not an act of pure reason: "But I reply: the testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men's hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit." (16) Throughout the Institutes, Calvin insisted that neither human reason nor ecclesiastical authority can be responsible ultimately for a Christian's faith in the truth of the Scripture. This conviction must come from God himself through the experience of the heart, rather than the head, as induced by the Spirit of God: "Accordingly, without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the Word can do nothing. From this it is clear that faith is much higher than human understanding. And it will not be enough for the mind to be illumined by the Spirit of God unless the heart is also strengthened and supported by his power." (17) So Calvin dearly argued that faith cannot be mere rational or volitional vo·li·tion
1. The act or an instance of making a conscious choice or decision.
2. A conscious choice or decision.
3. The power or faculty of choosing; the will. assent to propositional truth, but for faith to be real it must be experiential--a conviction of the heart. Only the Spirit of God can provide this heart awareness. When we turn to Mullins's own writings, we find precisely the same emphasis on the conviction of heart over head.
The Centrality of the Spirit in Mullins's Early Life and Thought
Mullins provided us with a glimpse of the core of his theological commitment through comments he made about his own conversion to the Christian faith. An intelligent child, reared in the home of a Baptist minister in post-Civil War Mississippi and Texas, Mullins failed to make a personal commitment to Christ at the early age often expected of a child in such circumstances. In fact, his father, Seth Mullins, apparently encouraged his son's intellectual pilgrimage and allowed him great freedom regarding the acceptance of the Christian faith as well as the Baptist tradition. (18) So Mullins waited until he was twenty-one before finally accepting the truth of the Christian faith. What is most relevant for our current examination of his theology is the fact that Mullins described his conversion as a spiritual experience rather than a thoughtful and rational assent to truth:
My awakening was spiritual and religious. But my act of surrender to Christ produced a new attitude toward my intellectual problems and difficulties. These were simply transcended in a new spiritual experience.... I was profoundly impressed with the fundamental truth that on their intellectual side the problems of religion are insoluble apart from a genuine religious interest.... One discovers that in the effort to intellectualize religion without a religious experience or interest the major premise is lacking. (19)
The spiritual nature of Mullins's theological outlook was evident at other times when he spoke of his own personal experience. In an address at the fiftieth anniversary of Crozer Seminary, he commented about a sermon he had heard almost thirty years earlier from Crozer president Henry G. Weston: "I [Mullins] told him [Weston] how the one greatest address in all my spiritual life which left the deepest impression upon me of any single address that I ever heard was the one that he gave in Baltimore at a conference." (20) The subject of Weston's address was "The Spirit and the Preacher." A review of the conference in The Baltimore Baptist stated that Weston's sermon had a powerful emotional and spiritual affect on the audience. In the sermon, Weston took aim at the weak pneumatology pneu·ma·tol·o·gy
1. The doctrine or study of spiritual beings and phenomena, especially the belief in spirits intervening between humans and God.
2. The Christian doctrine of the Holy Ghost. in the Ritschlian liberalism of the time arguing for the necessity of a spiritual experience of Christ: "The so-called 'Christocentric' theology of the day preaches Christ after the flesh after the manner of man; in a gross or earthly manner.
See also: Flesh . This Christ could do all they say he does, if there never had been a resurrection or a day of Pentecost.... We must not stop with this popular theology. The Old Testament presents God for us, the Gospels present God with us, the Epistles EPISTLES, civil law. The name given to a species of rescript. Epistles were the answers given by the prince, when magistrates submitted to him a question of law. Vicle Rescripts. God in us. We must go the whole length. Christianity is not a way of living, but a life." (21) Certainly, we must be cautious about reading too much into Mullins's comment about Weston's sermon; but along with his comments about his spiritual conversion, we now have strong indications that the Holy Spirit held a more central place in Mullins's thought than is often recognized by readers of his theology.
Indeed, the same pneumatological pneu·ma·tol·o·gy
1. The doctrine or study of spiritual beings and phenomena, especially the belief in spirits intervening between humans and God.
2. The Christian doctrine of the Holy Ghost. focus was evident in Mullins's lecture notebooks, which reveal extensive research on the subject of the Holy Spirit during his early years at Southern Seminary. (22) This emphasis was also apparent in his comprehensive article on the Holy Spirit in The International Standard Bible Encylopaedia. (23) This article was the only one written by Mullins in this multi-volume work of which he served as an assistant editor to his friend and general editor, James Orr James Orr is the name of several notable people:
Biblical collection of religious teachings and ethical sayings attributed to Jesus, as reported in the Gospel of St. Matthew. The sermon was addressed to disciples and a large crowd of listeners to guide them in a life of discipline based on a new law of .... The kingdom now becomes the kingdom of the Spirit.... The gospel as history is now to become the gospel as experience. The Messiah as a fact is now to become the Messiah as a life through the Spirit's action." (24) This connection among the kingdom, the Spirit, and Christian experience was central to Mullins's theology, and this trilogy of theological elements helped explain how Mullins understood Baptist ecclesiology ec·cle·si·ol·o·gy
1. The branch of theology that is concerned with the nature, constitution, and functions of a church.
2. The study of ecclesiastical architecture and ornamentation. .
The Centrality of the Spirit in Mullins's Ecclesiology
Among the more striking elements in The Axioms This is a list of axioms as that term is understood in mathematics, by Wikipedia page. In epistemology, the word axiom is understood differently; see axiom and self-evidence. Individual axioms are almost always part of a larger axiomatic system. of Religion, Mullins's innovative treatment of Baptist ecclesiology, was his intentional avoidance of speaking about the church per se, preferring to speak more broadly of denominationalism de·nom·i·na·tion·al·ism
1. The tendency to separate into religious denominations.
2. Advocacy of separation into religious denominations.
3. Strict adherence to a denomination; sectarianism. and the kingdom of God. He based this reorientation Noun 1. reorientation - a fresh orientation; a changed set of attitudes and beliefs
orientation - an integrated set of attitudes and beliefs
2. reorientation - the act of changing the direction in which something is oriented upon his conviction of the reality of the universal or "spiritual" church. (25) The church in essence was a spiritual reality, because the kingdom of God is spiritual rather than physical. Admission to the kingdom was a thoroughly spiritual process conducted by the work of the Holy Spirit: "The immanent im·ma·nent
1. Existing or remaining within; inherent: believed in a God immanent in humans.
2. Restricted entirely to the mind; subjective. Spirit of God employs the word of truth as [an] instrument, and the soul, fully aroused in all its parts, is brought forth to new life," that is, the soul "is constituted spiritually a son of God, and translated into the ordered spiritual realm of God's kingdom." (26) Thus, central to Mullins's Baptist theology of the church was the immanent activity of the Holy Spirit within both the individual Christian and the congregation. He argued that although the kingdom of God and the church were not identical, the nature of the church was determined by the logically and chronologically prior kingdom of God. Since the kingdom itself was an organization created by the Spirit, so also was the church: "Now the individuals who thus respond to God by faith and who are regenerated by his grace are inevitably drawn together by spiritual affinity into fellowship with each other through Christ, the revealer of God the Father. And in this way the church arises." (27) Thus, Mullins insisted that the entrance of the individual into the kingdom also results in entrance into the church, and both movements are works of the Spirit of God.
That entrance into the church was a work of the Spirit helps clarify a common misunderstanding of Mullins's thought. Often, interpreters point to Mullins as one who promoted the voluntary principle in religion. (28) He insisted, however, that such voluntarism is always secondary to God's work through the indwelling Spirit: "The voluntary principle enters essentially into the constitution of a church. But prior to human choice in the matter was the initiative of the Holy Spirit.... The indwelling Spirit began to organize the membership of Christ's body into his church." (29) The Holy Spirit, therefore, not mere humanity, will lay at the origin of the church. Critics who argue that Mullins's theology reflected a shift from a theocentric the·o·cen·tric
Centering on God as the prime concern: a theocentric cosmology. to an anthropocentric anthropocentric /an·thro·po·cen·tric/ (an?thro-po-sen´trik) with a human bias; considering humans the center of the universe.
1. theology (30) overlook these places where he insisted that God through his Holy Spirit was the sovereign origin of his church. This tendency to ignore Mullins's theocentric focus is also apparent as we examine his references to the work of the Spirit in his systematic theology See under Theology.
that branch of theology of which the aim is to reduce all revealed truth to a series of statements that together shall constitute an organized whole.
- E. G. Robinson (Johnson's Cyc.).
See also: Systematic Theology .
The Spirit as the Center of Mullins's Theology of Christian Experience
A review of Mullins's most extensive and careful work of systematic theology, The Christian Religion in Its Doctrinal Expression, exposes the measure to which he possessed a Spirit-centered view of Christianity. As he attempted to describe the relationship between religion and theology, he distinguished four "factors" that constitute the Christian religion and doctrines arising from it. These factors include Christ (the historical revelation of God), the Scriptures (the source of our knowledge of Christ), the Holy Spirit (the agent that enables faith in Christ through the Scriptures), and Christian experience (the subjective awareness created by the Holy Spirit as it enables faith in Christ through the Scriptures). (31) Understanding what Mullins was and was not doing here is essential. He was describing certain constitutive constitutive /con·sti·tu·tive/ (kon-stich´u-tiv) produced constantly or in fixed amounts, regardless of environmental conditions or demand. elements, but he was not setting up a "quadrilateral quadrilateral
having four sides. " of different sources. His description of sources was actually a multi-level description of a single source--Christ--as he revealed himself historically, textually, spiritually, and experientially. Of course, Mullins's strongest emphasis lay upon the experiential aspect, but one should be careful to understand that such experience was never conceived by him as giving information distinct from the biblical revelation of Christ. Rather, such experience was actually the Holy Spirit bringing the Scripture home to the believer who "continues the work of Christ." (32)
For this reason, Mullins, arguing in virtually the same way Calvin did in the Institutes, insisted that biblical authority was something confirmed by the Spirit, not by human intellect: "We are not bound to prove in a way which compels assent that the Bible is the supreme authority for Christian faith. Such proof would not produce faith at all. It could only produce intellectual assent. The Christian's acceptance of the Bible arises in another way. It comes to him in 'demonstration of the Spirit and power.'" (33) For Mullins, the unity of the historical (textual) and trans-historical (experiential) work of revelation by Christ through the Spirit form a unity without which Christianity would not exist. The earthly ministry of Christ was continued through his work as "spiritual creator" in the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, the witness of the Apostles, the ministry of Paul, and even the writing of the Gospels themselves. "In the life and words and deeds Words and Deeds is the eleventh episode of the third season of House and the fifty-seventh episode overall. This episode concludes the Michael Tritter story arc that began in the episode Fools for Love. of Jesus of Nazareth we have the historical elements of God's self-revelation. But to these must be added the super-historical work of Christ, who continued to act upon men through the Holy Spirit, after his ascension." (34) Based upon the foregoing general analysis of the continuing work of Christ, Mullins then turned to an analysis of Christ's work through the Spirit in the individual believer.
Individuals could hear and respond positively to the invitation to salvation in the gospel only when God initiated the process through the work of the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit inspired a consciousness of sin and a "yearning for higher things." The Spirit then empowered and enabled the movement to regeneration: "The creative action of the Holy Spirit in applying the gospel message is seen in the fact that the sinner sin·ner
1. One that sins or does wrong; a transgressor.
2. A scamp.
Noun 1. sinner - a person who sins (without repenting)
evildoer enters a new moral universe with new moral powers as he passes from the stage of conviction to that of regeneration." Subsequently, the assurance of God's personal forgiveness and adoption are produced as "the Holy Spirit imparts the filial filial /fil·i·al/ (fil´e-al)
1. of or pertaining to a son or daughter.
2. in genetics, of or pertaining to those generations following the initial (parental) generation. consciousness whereby we cry, 'Abba, Father'" For Mullins this initial experience of conversion was only the beginning of a lifelong relationship of experience with the Father in Christ through the Spirit, but it is the "germ" of all continuing experience with God. This experience or personal relation with God in conversion and throughout the Christian life served, therefore, as the preceding "groundwork" of any Christian doctrinal system. (35) It also served as the context for understanding what Mullins means by the "competency of the soul in religion."
In The Axioms of Religion, Mullins introduced his famous phrase as a new way to understand the importance of the Baptist tradition. Although the idea was more subdued sub·due
tr.v. sub·dued, sub·du·ing, sub·dues
1. To conquer and subjugate; vanquish. See Synonyms at defeat.
2. To quiet or bring under control by physical force or persuasion; make tractable.
3. in his later treatise on systematic theology, he still maintained that humans have a certain "capacity for God." Such capacity was a correlate of the imago imago /ima·go/ (i-ma´go) pl. ima´goes, ima´gines [L.]
1. the adult or definitive form of an insect.
2. a usually idealized, unconscious mental image of a key person in one's early life. dei, and it enabled God to "impart his own nature to man." (36) Nowhere did Mullins speak of the capacity or competency of humans for God or religion as something independent of God's initiative and God's work. He affirmed, rather, that there is a conscious "reciprocal action between God and man." (37) God did not work as an impersonal force to change a subconscious will, and this was why a Reformed or other ecclesiology promoting such an unconscious operation (i.e., those promoting infant baptism This article may contain original research or unverified claims.
Please help Wikipedia by adding references. See the for details.
This article has been tagged since March 2007. ) failed to comprehend the full biblical revelation. The reciprocal action between God and man did not violate the freedom of the will. Here we must understand, however, that Mullins specifically defined the freedom of the will as "self-determination," by which he meant that a person's choices were not coerced by external forces, nor were they merely indeterminate. "Freedom in man does not imply exemption from the operation of influences, motives, heredity heredity, transmission from generation to generation through the process of reproduction in plants and animals of factors which cause the offspring to resemble their parents. That like begets like has been a maxim since ancient times. , environment. It means rather that man is not under compulsion. His actions are in the last resort determined from within." (38) The important point for Mullins here was that sinners cannot, of their own will, change the inclination of their character. "He would not have made the choice if left to himself without the aid of God's grace." (39) However, Mullins also insisted that this choice was not a coerced choice, so grace was not irresistible. We cannot make the choice without the help of the Spirit, but the Spirit does not violate our moral nature by forcing the choice on us. "God's grace is not 'irresistible'.... Grace does not act as a physical force. It is a moral and spiritual and personal power." (40) Thus, Mullins's insistence on the personal and non-coercive nature of the work of God through the person of the Spirit showed how he established a Baptist alternative within a larger Reformed tradition.
This personal nature of Christian experience was where Mullins reached the pinnacle of his understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit as one of the three Persons of the divine Trinity. What was primary for Mullins was that the Christian has encountered the Person of God in his/her faith. Without this encounter, the Christian religion would never get off the ground. The direct relationship with God through the Spirit made all the difference: "Now a most clear and distinct element in our regenerate consciousness is the recognition of Another, of a Presence which is dealing personally with us. We become in the highest degree conscious of our own freedom through our interaction with the divine and spiritual Person we know in experience." Indeed, this most crucial element in Mullins's theology was also the key element in understanding the Christian faith as inspired by and directed to a triune divine Person. To say that Mullins was a Spirit-centered theologian was also to say that he was a Trinity-centered theologian: "Our knowledge of them [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit], however, is due to the fact that they are immanent objects of knowledge as well as transcendent. We know them as being within and without consciousness at the same time.... This blessing we obtained through the operation of the Holy Spirit within us. Thus we know God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." (41) Thus, because the Holy Spirit is present within us, which we know in our own inward Christian experience, we have confirmation of what we find in the Scripture--that the one God is only truly comprehended through the three-fold Persons and works of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Later in The Christian Religion, Mullins confirmed this contention when he devoted a whole chapter to a discussion of the Holy Spirit as the key to understanding the triune nature of God. (42)
The foregoing analysis reveals that underlying the variety of perspectives Mullins employed for apologetic purposes, he anchored his theology to a clear and coherent idea: the necessity for the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual for true faith in and personal knowledge of the God revealed historically in the Scripture. Based on this conclusion, we now can ask whether this central conviction has lasting significance for Baptist theology and identity. Nothing in this idea apparently is inherently contrary to a high view of biblical revelation and authority, and it appears to be quite compatible with a strong emphasis on divine sovereignty (sans irresistible grace Irresistible Grace (or efficacious grace) is a doctrine in Christian theology particularly associated with Calvinism which teaches that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (the elect) and, in God's timing, overcomes their ). Also, if we hear Mullins's repeated insistence that Christian community is a necessity created by the compelling action of the indwelling Spirit of God, then apparently Mullins's central conviction can accommodate a renewed emphasis on Christian community. Even Mullins's debt to Enlightenment epistemology epistemology (ĭpĭs'təmŏl`əjē) [Gr.,=knowledge or science], the branch of philosophy that is directed toward theories of the sources, nature, and limits of knowledge. Since the 17th cent. does not have to nullify nul·li·fy
tr.v. nul·li·fied, nul·li·fy·ing, nul·li·fies
1. To make null; invalidate.
2. To counteract the force or effectiveness of. his emphasis on the necessity of the testimony of the Spirit. Although today we may need to show how all human "experience" is an embedded and complex mix of empirical, cultural, linguistic, and interpretive elements, this demonstration does not nullify the conviction that it is God who ultimately addresses a person in such experience. However, we still must ask whether the result of our study successfully exonerates Mullins from the accusation of incoherence incoherence Not understandable; disordered; without logical connection. See Schizophrenia. .
Undoubtedly, Mullins pushed the limits of coherence and credibility as he tried to take advantage of philosophies and psychologies that he hoped would disarm the reductionism reductionism(rē·dukˑ·sh·niˑ·z of his day, but the analysis here demonstrates that a venerable tradition underlies all that Mullins's tried to do in his theology. We may criticize him for trying to stretch this confessional tradition to perform apologetic tasks ill suited "Ill Suited" is the first episode of Kim Possible's fourth season, which premiered on Disney Channel on February 10, 2007. After misunderstanding a conversation between Kim Possible and Monique, Ron Stoppable fears that he isn't good enough to be her to it, but we must recognize that it is his conviction of the inner witness of the Spirit that made all the rest of Mullins's theology possible. Perhaps we should recognize also that without something like his central conviction, it is difficult to see how Baptists will avoid a stale and lifeless rationalism or an ecclesiastical authoritarianism that leaves little room for the kind of direct, personal, and life-giving relationship with God that is at the heart of the theology of E. Y. Mullins.
(1.) R. Albert Mohler, "Baptist Theology at the Crossroads: The Legacy of E. Y. Mullins," The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 3, no. 4 (Winter 1999): 11, 19; Thomas J. Nettles net·tle
1. Any of numerous plants of the genus Urtica, having toothed leaves, unisexual apetalous flowers, and stinging hairs that cause skin irritation on contact.
2. Any of various hairy, stinging, or prickly plants. , "E. Y. Mullins--Reluctant Evangelical," The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 3, no. 4 (Winter 1999): 36-37.
(2.) E. Glenn Hinson, "E. Y. Mullins as interpreter of the Baptist Tradition," Review and Expositor 96, no. 1 (Winter 1999): 118-19.
(3.) Curtis W. Freeman, "E. Y. Mullins and the Siren Songs of Modernity," Review and Expositor 96, no. 1 (Winter 1999): 34; I made a similar critique of Mullins's theology in an earlier work: William D. M. Carrell car·rel also car·rell
A partially partitioned nook in or near the stacks in a library, used for private study.
[Middle English carole, round dance ring, circle, stall for study , "Edgar Young Mullins and the Competency of the Soul in Religion" (Ph.D. diss diss
Variant of dis.
Slang, chiefly US to treat (a person) with contempt [from disrespect]
Verb 1. ., Baylor University Baylor University, mainly at Waco, Tex.; coeducational; chartered and opened 1845 by Baptists (see Baylor, Robert E. B.) at Independence, moved 1886 and absorbed Waco Univ. (chartered 1861). The library has a noted Robert Browning collection. , 1993), 143-69.
(4.) Russell Dilday, "Mullins the Theologian: Between the Extremes," Review & Expositor 96, no. 1 (Winter 1999): 75-86.
(5.) Russell D. Moore Dr. Russell D. Moore is Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and executive director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a young Earth creationist. and Gregory A. Thornbury, "The Mystery of Mullins in Contemporary Southern Baptist Historiography historiography
Writing of history, especially that based on the critical examination of sources and the synthesis of chosen particulars from those sources into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods. ," The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 3 (Winter 1999): 53.
(6.) Dilday, "Between the Extremes," 78.
(7.) I have argued previously that Mullins's concern to restate Baptist identity in terms of the competency of the soul in religion was a result of his desire to transcend the Whitsitt controversy. Carrell, "Competency of the Soul," 28-31.
(8.) Bernard Ramm, "Baptists and Sources of Authority," Foundations 1 (July 1958): 10.
(9.) E. Y. Mullins, "Pragmatism, Humanism and Personalism: The New Philosophic Movement," The Review and Expositor 5 (July 1908): 513.
(10.) E. Y. Mullins, "The Theological Trend," The Baptist Review and Expositor 2 (October 1905): 506-521; a notation in the article identifies the article as: "Address delivered by President Mullins at the Baptist World Congress July 14, 1905, at Exeter Hall Exeter Hall was a hall on the north side of The Strand, London, England. It was erected between 1829 and 1831 on the site of Exeter Exchange. The site was formerly part of Exeter House, the London residence of the Earls of Exeter (formerly Burghley House and Cecil House), almost , London, England."
(11.) James Leo Leo, in astronomy
Leo [Lat.,=the lion], northern constellation lying S of Ursa Major and on the ecliptic (apparent path of the sun through the heavens) between Cancer and Virgo; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Garrett, Jr., E. Glenn Hinson, and James E. Tu11, Are Southern Baptists "Evangelicals"? (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press Mercer University Press, established in 1979, is a publisher that is part of Mercer University. External link
(12.) Dilday, "Between the Extremes," 78.
(13.) Mullins, "Theological Trend," 507.
(14.) E. Y. Mullins, The Christian Religion In Its Doctrinal Expression (Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1917), 61.
(15.) Lewis French Stearns, The Evidence of Christian Experience: Being The Ely Lectures for 1890 (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Charles Scribner's Sons Charles Scribner's Sons is a publisher that was founded in 1846 at the Brick Church Chapel on New York's Park Row. The firm published Scribner's Magazine for many years. Scribner's is well known for publishing Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert A. , 1916), 29.
(16.) Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 20, The Library of Christian Classics, ed. John Ballie, John T. McNeill, and Henry R Van Dusen (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1919), 78-80.
(17.) Ibid., 580-81.
(18.) Edgar Young Mullins, "Why I Am A Baptist," Forum 75 (May 1926): 724.
(19.) Ibid., 725-26.
(20.) Edgar Young Mullins, "The Preacher's Vision and His Tasks," Bulletin of the Crozer Theological Seminary The Crozer Theological Seminary was a multi-denominational religious institution located near Chester, PA in Upland. The school, which occupied the former Crozer Hospital (now the Crozer-Chester Medical Center), mostly served as an American Baptist Church school, training 10 (July 1918): 63-64.
(21.) "Conference on the Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit," The Baltimore Baptist, 7 November 1889, 1.
(22.) Edgar Young Mullins, "Notes for Lectures on the Holy Spirit," vols. I & II, Notebooks, AMsS, 1903 (Archives, James Petigru Boyce James Petigru Boyce (1827–1888) was a Southern Baptist pastor, theologian, author, and seminary professor. Education and early life
Boyce was educated at Brown University under Francis Wayland, whose evangelical sermons contributed to Boyce’s conversion, and Memorial Library, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
“Louisville” redirects here. For other uses, see Louisville (disambiguation). ).
(23.) Edgar Young Mullins, "Holy Spirit," The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, 3 (Chicago: The Howard-Severance Co., 1915): 1406-17.
(24.) Ibid., 1414.
(25.) Edgar Young Mullins, "President Interviewed about the Spiritual Church," The Baptist Argus 22 (January 1903): 1.
(26.) E. Y. Mullins, The Axioms of Religion (Philadelphia: Judson Press, 1908), 33.
(27.) Ibid., 35.
(28.) Hinson, "Interpreter of the Baptist Tradition," 119; idem, Are Southern Baptists "Evangelicals"?, 137.
(29.) Ibid., 133.
(30.) Nettles, "Mullins," 36.
(31.) Mullins, Christian Religion, 4.
(33.) Ibid., 10.
(34.) Ibid., 45-47.
(35.) Ibid., 51-53.
(36.) Ibid., 54.
(37.) Ibid., 59.
(38.) Ibid., 62, 258.
(39.) Ibid., 344.
(41.) Ibid., 69-71.
(42.) Ibid., 203-13. The title of this chapter is "The Holy Spirit and the Trinity."
William Carrell is dean of the College of Christian Studies at the University of Mary The university is the largest degree granting institution in Bismarck. It also operates accelerated degree programs at satellite locations in North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, and Missouri. History
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Belton is located at (31.058904, -97. .