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Missionary History

Since 1890, God has by his sovereign grace been gathering together believers in Jesus Christ at Catherine Lake Baptist Church (CLBC) for the purpose of regular Christian communion, discipleship, and the spread Christ’s Kingdom throughout the world.

Although we are not now affiliated with any denomination, we do not exist independent of God or others of like faith. Together with many other baptist believers throughout the world we hold simultaneously to the doctrines of grace (I.e. an Evangelical Calvinism), the five-solas of the Protestant reformation (Salvation by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone, according to the Bible alone, for the Glory to God alone)and practice baptism for believers alone (Baptism for believers alone). We are unified with what we believe to be biblically reformed Christianity.

CLBC is fruit of the mission/anti-missionary controversy of the 19th century. That is, many churches were planted as a result of the spiritual battle waged which I am about to describe, for which our church came into existence by the grace of God, and has been sustained. (I mention this especially because in our deed, it is stated that the land be always used for a missionary baptist church)

A missionary baptist church was established at the village of Catherine Lake in 1890, just decades after this movement (1832–1842), and the Civil War or War Between States (1861–65). The anti-missionary movement spread up to this time and remained in need of opposition through at least 1900, when B.H. Carroll gave his speech against the key leaders of this movement (John Taylor, Daniel Parker, and Alexander Campbell). John Taylor opposed mission societies and education. Daniel Parker wrote Views on Two Seeds which was essentially a perversion of Calvinism into Hypercalvinism resulting in the Primitive Baptist denomination. Alexander Campbell promoted Baptismal regeneration and faith as mental assent. He rejected mission societies, instruments in worship, written confessions, and the financial support of ministers. Campbell later resulted in the Disciples of Christ, also called the Christian Church.

The key proponent of missions against the antimissionary movement was a man by the name of B.H. Carroll. Carrol founded the Baptist General Convention of Texas and was a denominational leader. In 1900 at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Arkansas, he gave a speech at opposing all three of these antimission leaders. B.H. Carroll was a leading proponent in the pro- mission movement argued that churches who accepted their role as God’s instruments on earth would not ultimately fail in the Holy Spirit’s mission to bring about the conversion of the vast majority of humanity, at which time Christ would return to fully institute His kingdom on earth. Caroll’s theology may be described as Evangelical Calvinism like that of William Carey, John Ryle Jr., and Andrew Fuller; Postmillennialism; and thoroughly Baptist. Carroll stood against Roman Catholicism for its papal claim that usurped the Holy Spirit’s role as Christ’s representative; against Dispensational Premillennialism for their pessimism about the success of the Holy Spirit and the success of the churches; against the Restoration Movement (who go by the name of the Christian Church or the Disciples of Christ) for among other things, their reliance on human apprehension; against Modernism for the over-reliance of scientific method to the exclusion of Divine revelation and historical evidence.

Carroll essentially was retaining and arguing for missions along the lines of William Carey, Andrew Fuller, and John Ryland Jr. who began the Baptist Missionary Society in England sparking the Mission Movement. This is all to say that the pro-missionary stance was something begun among our heritage by solid Baptists and carried over and defended by the same pedigree on American soil. The obligation of the great commission for these men was to carry the gospel to foreign lands. Catherine Lake Baptist Church stands in the tradition of Baptists who were of the heritage of those like Carey, Fuller, Ryle, and Carroll, not to mention great Baptists like Asahel Nettleton and Isaac Backus.

Our Church is known by the name of “Catherine Lake Baptist Church” so in 2010 we dropped the name missionary, but we never dropped the fact that we are pro-missions and believe in taking the gospel to foreign lands. We also had a period of theological reform beginning around 1980 so as to understand the doctrines of grace. In my time we have endeavored since 2009 to affirm both a healthy calvinism and missionary obligation. This has been strengthened by our mission team as we have shared a belief of our forefathers who (unbeknownst to us) held that we have a responsibility to see the gospel go to the nations for the glory of the risen Christ; and that this mission will not ultimately fail because it is the Holy Spirit’s mission. May God grant that we the members of Catherine Lake Baptist Church be resolved to carry on the legacy and faith of these great Baptists that have gone before us and fought to see the gospel extend as far as the waters cover the sea so the Lamb of God receives all the reward for his sacrificial death on the Cross. Amen.

Believing that the best and most God-honoring way we can see our crises in America these days is under the light of the gospel with a bigger vision for the world. As William Carey said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God. Expect little from God, receive little.” So, expect great things from Him, and receive great things from Him. William Carey also said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God!”

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