As one whose own work with Roman Catholic apologists has benefited tremendously from Eric Svendsen’s, I eagerly looked forward to this book from the moment I heard of its inception. With a delightful wit, obvious reversals, and simple applications of logic all informed by extensive experience with Roman Catholic apologists, Svendsen demonstrates conclusively that the most popular and entrenched arguments of those apologists fail to meet their own criteria of truth and verifiability. Svendsen enables average Protestant laymen—especially those who have no formal apologetic or theological training—to understand the crucial issues clearly. Particularly helpful are the analyses of the flawed comparison of Roman ‘unity’ to Protestant ‘anarchy’ (Chapter 2), and the fallacious nature of the common ’25,000 denominations’ argument (Chapter 9).
“This book is a must-read for anyone wishing to have a solid foundation from which to engage in the double responsibility of casting down Roman Catholic imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God [note Tim’s allusion to the Antichrist, 2 Thes 2:4, which he here applies to Rome] and building a positive case for God’s ongoing work of reforming His Church in our day and beyond.
Tim Enloe, forward to E. Svendsen, Upon This Slippery Rock (Calvary Press 2002).
Most of the loudest, angriest individuals denouncing FVism are essentially Radical Baptists (including many who pretend to be Presbyterians) whose "Reformed" Faith is little more than an unbalanced attachment to TULIP (i.e., "unbalanced" as if that was the sum total of biblical teaching on salvation), some half-understood, Christologically-contextless slogans about monergism, and, really the most important thing, an absolutely fanatical obsession with demonizing "Romanism" and pretending to see a creeping slide toward it under every mode of thinking that requires them to do a little bit of hard thinking outside the restrictive boxes they learned in seminary.
This is a little something aimed at a certain sub-group of Semi-Augustinian Particular Baptists (sometimes erroneously called "Reformed Baptists"), who are this week complaining across several blogs about how others treat them when all they really want to do is constantly yell about how much more faithful to The Plain Meaning of Scripture they are than anyone else. Why do people have to persecute them so? Is it some kind of crime to so obviously love Truth and the Gospel more than the next guy? They really don't get where all this unreasonable opposition to their program is coming from, it seems.
Fortunately, not all Baptists are like these loud, charity-challenged war-mongers--indeed, most Baptists that I have known in real life (especially those closest to me, such as my mother and grandmother) have been fairly well-adjusted individuals who have shown far more Christlikeness than I could ever hope to have myself. Thankfully, amongst our Baptist brethren the real below-the-belt troublemakers are few and far between. But, because these self-willed few and inordinately proud members are so loud, I felt that this tale from the Synod of Arras in the year of the Lord's incarnation 1025 would be a nice counterpoint. It goes to show that sometimes the divisive and unstable people actually learn something and repent and help the unity and peace of the Body to be restored.
One word of clarification: obviously not every position attributed to these eleventh century malcontents is attributable to the aforementioned sub-group of Semi-Augustinian Particular Baptists, but there are enough similarities to make the account interesting nonetheless. Some of these folks today have serious (but quite unrecognized by them) historical roots in Medieval-era Marcionite, Manichaean, and Pelagian tendencies, so this makes their screechy perfectionistic ranting about everyone else's "compromises" more than a little bit "speck / log"-like.
In the following account, note especially the running themes of (1) denial of physical means of grace, (2) denial of authority outside of their own sect's understanding of Scripture, (3) a rigorist-perfectionism that results in tolerance only for people who think exactly like they do about a very narrow set of issues, (4) the radical dichotomizing of Scripture, and (5) the quite plainly works-righteousness mentality that excludes children from the sign and seal of baptism.