Ministry by His Grace and for His Glory – Essays in Honor of Thomas J. Nettles. Edited by Thomas K. Ascol and Nathan A. Finn. Cape Coral: Founders Press, 2011. 348 pp. $29.95. Purchase at Founders.org.
Dr. Tom Nettles is one of those Baptist leaders that not everyone will have heard of, but, since the time of the “Conservative Resurgence” in the SBC, he has undoubtedly had an influence on anyone who holds to a Baptistic understanding of Christianity. His first work, co-authored with L. Russ Bush, was Baptists and the Bible. It was this resource that formed a foundation for the Conservative Resurgence. His second work, for which this current title is modeled, was By His Grace and for His Glory which detailed the Calvinistic roots of the Southern Baptist Convention. This title, Ministry By His Grace and for His Glory is a compilation of essays written to celebrate the ministry that the Lord has granted Dr. Tom Nettles.
Divided into three parts: Historical, Theological, and Practical, the contributors offer many and diverse essays addressing many of the subjects that Dr. Nettles has written and taught. The historical section looks at the history of howBaptist and the Bible came to be written and used as well as various men throughout history that have either defended historic Calvinism or attacked it. In these five chapters, the reader will be introduced to John Gill, Crawford H. Toy, 17th century English Baptists and the African-American Baptist perspective.
The second part looks at the the theological aspect of Tom’s career. Beginning this section, Dr. David S. Dockery looks at the authority of the Bible in the Baptist faith. Russell Moore writes of the need for the gospel to be proclaimed. From there, the final few chapters look at the various parts of the acrostic known as TULIP with a final chapter on justification.
The final part, and perhaps the most helpful for the pastor, is the practical. In this part, essays are written on preaching, evangelism, missions, catechizing, church membership, believers baptism, and more.
What the reader will find in this work is a compilation of essays that show the far ranging effects one man’s ministry has had on a denomination. Obviously, there are still “discussions” taking place within the SBC regarding the validity of biblical Calvinism, but, if these essays are any indication, the conversation is finally being held on solid terms and biblical evidences.
Easily the most controversial chapter of the book will be Roy A. Hargrave’s chapter on evangelism. You can learn much from a title and in this case, you know where Hargrave is coming from and where he is going. The title is “An Idol Called Evangelism — And it’s Remedy.” Suffice it to say, he will ruffle some feathers to the glory of God!
I appreciated the candor and the not so narrow selection of contributors for this work. Not everyone who contributed would agree fully with the Founders Organization on every point, though they all agree on the essentials of the Christian faith and that Tom Nettles has been used by God to bring about a revival within a denomination and a renewed love for historic doctrine and theology.
It is sad to say that very few outside the Southern Baptist Convention will read this work. I wish this were not the case, but I know it to be true. Having known Tom Nettles outside the classroom while on campus at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I was always impressed with his graciousness and meekness, his knowledge and wisdom on whatever he discussed, his love for God, and his knowledge of baseball history. To read these essays is to catch a glimpse of a man who has become one of those in that “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1). I recommend this resource to all Christians of every denomination. Soli Deo Gloria!