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Richard Baxter And Conversion
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"...If you be not converted, you are not true Christians. You may have the name, but you have not the nature."
Richard Baxter, A Treatise of Conversion 1657.
Puritan religious experience was centered on conversion, the 'new birth' of the soul - the essence of Puritanism.
Tim Beougher forensically dissects Baxter's writings and life so that we see how he constructs a 'systematic theology of conversion'. How relevant this is becomes clear as Beougher investigates how Baxter speaks to us today about controversies on justification, church discipline and the sacraments.
Baxter was, arguably, the greatest of the Puritan pastors, over the period of his ministry in Kidderminster he had every person in his town to his house to enquire of their spiritual state. It was central to his care for his 'flock'.
In an era where authentic belonging is sought, but rarely found, Baxter can speak to us today just as effectively through this study by Tim Beougher.
Timothy K. Beougher is the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. He studied at KSU, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Prior to taking up his present position he was assistant professor of evangelism at the Wheaton College Graduate School and associate director of the Institute of Evangelism at the Billy Graham Center.
"We are indebted to Timothy Beougher for providing a rich historical and theological study of Christian conversion through the lens of the great 17th century Puritan pastor and theologian, Richard Baxter. Few in the history of the church cared so much, studied so much, and wrote so much about conversion as Baxter, and Beougher offers here both a well-documented and eminently readable account of Baxter's deep and nuanced thought. I highly recommend this book, both for the fascinating discussion of theological themes of central importance to the Puritans and to all thoughtful Christians, and for the profound richness to mind and soul that comes through considering afresh the nature and process of true Christian conversion."
Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
Richard Baxter believed that a faithful system of theology, when created by a skillful hand, would not add to the Scriptures, but merely draw out what is already there. Richard Baxter and Conversion reveals that Timothy Beougher is just such a skillful hand with respect to Baxter's writings. He has drawn out of this classic and controversial Puritan's writings the theological and practical strengths and weakness that are there, and in the process clarified the historic controversies that have surrounded this great Puritan pastor's doctrine of conversion.
Peter Lillback, President, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
"Timothy Beougher's study of Richard Baxter offers a fresh interpretation of a very important early 'evangelical.' Baxter's advocacy of 'mere Christianity' was important in the contentious milieu of seventeenth-century England, and as Beougher shows persuasively it remains important in the midst of our contemporary contentions as well."
Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana
"The publication of Beougher's important book confirms that Baxter was a fresh and independent thinker who wrestled first-hand with the scriptures. Baxter's theology was aimed at the strengthening of the church and the conversion of the lost, and his passion for truth reverberates throughout the work. We can be thankful for Beougher's wonderfully clear and perceptive analysis of Baxter's theology of conversion. Beougher dispels some misunderstandings of Baxter's theology, reminding us that the study of church history has immense practical benefits, for Baxter comments on many of the debates that we still face today. I commend this work enthusiastically."
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
"It is high time for this generation to know Richard Baxter -- the famed pastor of Kidderminster. Timothy Beougher has written a fine study of the great Puritan pastor. Baxter on Conversion is a fine work of Christian scholarship. Beougher simultaneously introduces Baxter to a new generation and sets the record straight concerning some of the controversies that marked Baxter's ministry and enduring reputation. The question of genuine conversion to Christ was a preoccupation of the Puritans -- and for good reason. Our own generation of Christians would do well to follow Baxter's example and think about the meaning of conversion and its true signs. Professor Beougher combines scholarship and evangelistic passion in this important book, setting the record straight and raising all the right questions. If we misunderstand conversion, we misunderstand the Gospel. We are in Professor Beougher's debt for this timely book."
R. Albert Mohler, President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
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