Ready for Reformation?


Tom Nettles’ latest book is hot off the press from Broadman and Holman publishers. Ready for Reformation? Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches. You really should get a copy before finishing this blog. It ought to be required reading for the following Southern Baptists:

-Church leaders
-Associational Directors of Missions
-College Presidents
-College Professors
-Seminary Presidents
-Seminary Professors
-Seminary Administrators
-State convention Executive Directors
-Members of the Executive Committee
-Trustees of institutions and agencies
-Convention President

Beyond these, the book should also be read by every Southern Baptist church member who is committed to the inerrancy of Scripture. Dr. Nettles has identified issues that are tragically and harmfully being overlooked by many conservatives in the SBC today.

I will be commenting on this book, giving pertinent quotes over the next few days. It is a labor of love from the author. Not only are we challenged to think biblically and learn lessons from history, but in this book Dr. Nettles also reveals his own heart to us. With the kind of gentleness and precision that we have come to expect from him, Nettles argues pointedly for the need of ongoing reformation in the SBC. In essence he declares that inerrancy is not enough. Having reestablished the “formal principle” of reformation–that the Word of God written in our final authority–we must go on to reestablish the actual teachings of that final authority. In other words we must press forward with doctrinal reformation (the “material principle”).

“The [Protestant] Reformers knew that reformation–deeply theological, intensely personal, and pervasively institutional–was necessary. They also had confidence that they had devoted themselves to the right issues. They never exhibited confidence that they had completed all that needed to be done. They lived under the motivation of the truth that the reformed church must always be reforming–ecclesia reformata semper reformanda” (5).

Southern Baptists are in danger of allowing a triumphalistic spirit to blind us to the need of ongoing, further reformation. The historically informed biblical instruction in Nettles’ book can help rescue us from this danger. Get it quickly and read it carefully. Secure extra copies to give to people in the list above. Then pray that God will awaken many to see the desperate need of ongoing biblical reformation in the Southern Baptist Convention.

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11 Responses to “Ready for Reformation?”

  1. Dr. Ascol, you should change your settings to incorporate user verification into your comments (I’m sure you’ve seen the “stretched letters” on other blogs). That will avoid comment spam like above.

    Just go to your dashboard, Settings / Comments, and set “word verification” to “yes.” It’s a neat feature, and pretty new.

  2. Regarding this great book-
    I am working up a book review/author interview with Dr. Nettles for the Missouri Baptist Convention newspaper The Pathway. It will come out in 2 weeks, right about the time the book is released.

    I am working through the book slowly because it is “decieving”. On one hand, it is not very long in terms of number of pages. However, as is customary for Nettles the Baptist historian, every point he makes is buttressed with lengthy block quotations from Baptist ancestors. Often, these quotations are extremely profitable, but require slow reading because of incredible differences in writing style from that of our own. They are worth the trouble to digest, however, and Nettles does an excellent job of putting forth strong arguments and solid historical research.

    I will post my rough draft of the MBC review tomorrow (Sunday)over at, and would love to have some feedback before it hits the paper-press.
    I want to be a good steward with this review, so that many in our state will purchase the book.

    In closing, here is one gem from the book: “Perhaps less baptisms with greater pastoral and church discernment would be better than more baptisms under the same programmatic conditions that have governed the last fifty to seventy-five years.”

    Scott Lamb


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