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Malcolm Yarnell

The format of a dialogue with a leading (but departed to glory) Southern Baptist theologian is highly innovative. In this, Peter, you show yourself a creative thinker.

The substance of the dialogue shows, on the other hand, that you (and Mr. Dagg) are anything but original. Rather, you (and Mr. Dagg) are not creative whatsoever, but simply faithful to Scripture. Thank you for this biblical (i.e. Baptist) witness in a day when so many are too willing to ignore the teachings of Scripture in favor of a sentimental and spiritually-deficient "bridge-building" ecumenism that owes more to the traditions of fallen men than to the witness of Scripture.



I certainly share in Malcolm Yarnell's statement that you "show yourself a creative thinker."

I'm curious about this whole Universal, not Invisible, Church thing. If the Universal Church is visible as is the local church, and the Universal Church "is the whole company of those who are saved by Christ (p.100)," then I have a question for Mr. John L. Dagg.

Are departed saints (i.e. true believers) still considered part of the Universal Church, and if so, how does the Universal Church retain its quality of visibility? And a second related question needs to be asked: what exactly is this quality of visibility?

Scott S.


I find your new layout much easier to read.





I need to clarify something. I meant that your interview style is very creative. I've never seen it used anywhere else, so far. It seems like a real interview.

As for the blog template design, the current one is very easy to read. At least for me. The old one had fonts at too large of a size (even for me), but again, I'm on Linux, so everything will look different for me compared to others no matter what you do. So, I will just accept whatever you do and try to adjust.

For the interview question, to me, I don't see how one can distinguish between a Universal and an Invisible Church. The Universal Church cannot consist of false professors, but as far as the local church goes, looks can be deceiving, so therefore I refer to the concept of the "invisible" church of all who are truly regenerate in Christ (for me, this is all the elect throughout time).

As for visibility, would it be defined as the activity of holy living in a saint's life? So that the Universal Church consists of all believers having ever lived, and is visible in the sense that they all lived holy lives when they sojourned here on Earth? What classification do departed believers fall into? And if you are Calvinist, in what classification are the pre-incarnate elect (note: I am not saying that they exist prior to being born on Earth, only that God has preordained their existence and salvation).

I would be interested in Mr. John L. Dagg's position on it, and yours too. Thanks!


Very good material Pete.
Well argued,

peter lumpkins

Dr. Yarnell,

You are much too kind. Thank you.


Thanks. I think a key part in understanding Dagg's "Universal/Local, Visible Church is his insistance that all Christ's people are called to open discipleship. For him it was a Lordship issue and a moral one.

Also, the image I think is a direct "hit" on Roman Catholicism's Universal Visible *organized* Church. In addition, a visible church seemed to fit well public baptism by immersion of believer's only who gave a credible witness of Jesus Christ. Other things could be noted I'm quite sure.

As for your concern about departed saints being a part of the Universal Church yet not be "visible," I think is a great observation, though I haven't a clue how Dagg would respond. He may suggest that were we where the departed saints were, visibility would not be a problem any more than visibility of seeing Jesus. That is, just because we can't see them does not mean they do not possess the quality of visibility.

As for the other concerns, Byronaic, I will have to chew on them awhile. You surely possess some intriging questions...


Always, a pleasure to have you stop in. And I'm glad the new look is working. It's surely an easy design--just point and click :^)


Thanks brother. And, I am glad you guys solved our wine issue. Too bad you were not here las year when I posted on this issue. We had some lively discussion.

Grace to all. With that, I am...




Thanks! I am thankful that Mr. Dagg rejected the Roman Catholic theology you mentioned also. And I agree with you wholeheartedly about open discipleship. True Christians should not be "invisible" except perhaps to other believers, and only then in terms of physical distance and/or place in history. I also admit that the Scriptures focus on the local, visible church as far as I am aware.


I want to post one more thing concerning the alcohol issue. I have just been counseled tonight by a spiritual mentor on the subject, and he very soberly (no pun intended!) cautioned me to the potential dangers of that path. It seems to me that I have been overzealous on this issue. I am thinking that it probably would be better for my personal practice to be that of abstinence.

Blessings to all.


Byroniac: I couldn't be happier for your decision. May your voice continue to be one of solid reasoning and spirited debate. selahV


I was intrigued by Dagg's understanding of invisible vs Universal Church. I don't think I disagree with him there- to his great relief no doubt. But I really do not understand his stance on the minister/laity distinction. I think that this understanding has crippled the Church- local and universal- for many centuries and we should reaffirm our own baptist teaching of the priesthood of the believer. Christ is the head of the Church and all who seek authority over His Church to command and control others do so at their own great peril. He gives gifts to his people and all those who have such gifts should serve the body with them. But it is by His authority that anyone is baptized and it is by His authority that the Lord's Supper has any meaning beyond calorie count. All God's children can rest in His authority but none can wrest it from Him.

Joe Stewart

How about an interview with Spurgeon next?

Robin Foster


You have done an outstanding job with your interview. You are a man, not my equal, but my superior when it comes to creativity and theological insight.

God Bless

peter lumpkins


Spurgeon, hmm? Sounds like a great thought. I shall consider it!


I am humbled by your words.

Grace to you both, my brothers. With that, I am...




Greetings my brother. And thanks for stopping by. Actually, I missed your very good contribution and regret I did not post sooner.

You would be also pleased to know that Dagg would not disagree with your position when you state "Christ is the head of the Church and all who seek authority over His Church to command and control others do so at their own great peril." Dagg affirmed pastoral authority, but he noted:

"The ruling authority of a pastor is peculiar in its kind. Though bearing some analogy to that of a father in his family, or of a governor in civil society, it differes from these..the spiritual rulers under Christ have no coercive power over the persons or property of those under their authority...Another peculiarity of their rule is that they cannot govern at their own will...The only rule which they have a right to apply is that of God's Word; and the only obedience which they have a right to exact, is voluntary." (p.264).

I do not, Strider, know that differs from the first concern you express.

On the other hand, to place the ordinances into the hands of disciples at large, when the NT offers precisely an opposite pattern and, outside the cryptic phrase of the 1644 Confession about "disciples" being able to perform ordinances, Baptists historically have observed the ordinances within the confines of the Local Assembly. It seems both risky and wrong-headed to overturn such established orthopraxy, not to mention it seriously weakens a vibrant ecclesiology.

Grace, Strider. With that, I am...


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