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“Blessed liberty”

The tradition of Baptist political theology is usually taken to originate with A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity (1612) by the English General Baptist Thomas Helwys (ca.1550–ca.1616). Along with John Smyth (ca.1570–1612), Helwys had established a congregation in the town of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, that was not part of the state church, namely, the Church of England. They refused to accept anyone into the membership of the church unless that person could give a credible testimony of saving faith. Their congregation was part of a number of churches, now known as Separatists, who were seeking to return to a...

A Christmas Poem

The Promised Messiah (Isaiah 9, 11) The prophets had foretold of it— The promised child to come, The mighty God from heaven’s heights, the Father’s only Son, The Prince of Peace and Counsellor, Who wields the Shepherd’s rod, The everlasting father King, Who bears the name of God. With wisdom great and shoulders strong, The government he’ll bear, The wicked he will strike and crush, But poor ones tend with care. He’ll judge not with the eyes of men, Nor turn a biased ear, But rule in godly righteousness, And drive out strife and fear. Then wolf shall lie with...

The Young Martyr of St. Lucy’s Day

Over 1700 years ago, intense persecution of believers was taking place in the Roman Empire under the rule of Emperor Diocletian. Churches were destroyed, Scripture burned, church leaders were arrested, and men, women, and children were executed or enslaved. It was a horrific time. Christians who refused to make sacrifices to the Roman gods were tortured and often burned alive. It was amidst this Great Persecution that a young Greek woman stood out like a light in a dark time. Lucia—whose name means “bringer of light”—was born in the year 283 A.D. to a rich family who lived in the...

“Let Your Hearts Revive”: How a Full-time Musician, Turned Full-time Mom, Is Composing for the Church

Interviewer’s note: I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the Toronto-based violist and composer Emily Hiemstra. While this interview features her newly released album Let Your Hearts Revive on the Psalms for congregational singing, this interview also aims to encourage other artists who are Christian to see their vocation as valuable in the eyes of the Lord, to see the Lord’s faithfulness in the difficult journey of being an artist, and to see the intentionality that comes from doing music as a Christian. What has your journey as a musician been like? I grew up doing lots of different activities,...

What Did Church Membership Classes Look Like in the First Century?

Churches generally offer membership classes or even classes for new believers. In most cases, these classes teach the basics of the faith or what someone should know before joining a church.  These kinds of classes are not new. Early Christians called such training catechesis. In the early years, Christians taught the basics of life and doctrine through catechetical instruction. This kind of training seems to have started very early in church history, even during the apostolic age. So it is worth asking the questions: what did the apostolic church teach new believers? What were the fundamentals of the faith? What...

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