The name of this site is taken from one of the great Southern Baptists of years gone by. Robert Boyte Crawford Howell. Howell lived from 1801 to 1868. He was elected as one of the Vice Presidents at the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention in Georgia in absentia. His influence in the state of Tennessee cannot be under-estimated. He fought several controversies including one against J.R. Graves. In this battle against Graves he used a paper titled The Baptist. Howell stands as a statesman and a gentleman who served Southern Baptist well including service as president for several years. In addition, one of my best friends wrote his dissertation on Howell. Howell is one of my favorite theologians including his famous book The Evils of Infant Baptism. Thus, the title of this site comes from a man who dedicated himself to the local church and served Baptists well.
The byline of this site is “desiring to know the whole truth: daring to make it known.” While some may take this statement to be a political statement due to the fact that certain bloggers seem to be experts at half truths directed to gain their own political agenda, the title is nothing of the sort. This line came from the byline of the newspaper called the Tennessee Baptist. This paper was edited by J.R. Graves, J.M. Pendleton and others. My admiration for this paper comes from the topics that they address. They dealt with theological issues and dealt with local church issues—exactly the topics that I plan to address on this site. My heart beats for the local church. My PhD is in Systematic Theology where I focused on Baptist Theology attempting to specialize in ecclesiology. I wrote my dissertation on J.M. Pendleton. A man I greatly admire. The man wrote over 700 articles, a dozen books, served as professor of theology at Union University, served as pastor for most of his life, and wrote one of the most successful church manuals ever. He typified the pastor/theologian and our convention could use many more men like him.
I understand that my association with Pendleton will lead many to label me a Landmarker or Landmarkist depending on where you studied. This accusation is not true although I am not offended by it. I do not agree with the basic tenet of Landmarkism. I have read the original sources and understand what Landmarkism means. At its most basic level it is the denial of Pedobaptist churches as Gospel churches and the denial of Pedobaptist ministers as Gospel ministers. I do not agree with this position. While I believe Baptist churches are the closest to the New Testament pattern, I place the ordinances “rightly administered” in the “well being” of the church and not the “being” of a church. Thus, I differ with Pendleton on this issue. Most do not know that Pendleton did acknowledge the universal church as I do. In fact, Pendleton’s writings were essential to making this change in the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message (long after Pendleton’s death). I also do not believe in a literal “trail of blood” that goes back to John the Baptist. I will elaborate on this later as I also do not believe that Baptist began with the English Separatists but for now, I must stay on topic.
What I do admire about Pendleton was his commitment to the local church, his love of the Gospel, and his ability to stand for what was right no matter the personal cost to him. I will be writing more about his stands in the future. For now, it is enough to say that this site contains my own personal views. I do not speak for anyone else. I am not a Landmarker, but I do admire their concern for the local church. I will be commenting on the local church and things that affect it. I do after all consider myself a third generation Southern Baptist preacher who happens to work at the world’s greatest seminary…teaching among other things ecclesiology.