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Malcolm Yarnell: The Anabaptists and the Cross

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Malcolm Yarnell, Director of the Center for Theological Research at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently lectured at Southeastern Seminary as a part of the Page Lecture Series. In this lecture, he discusses what we can learn from the Anabaptists’ interpretation of the cross.

Watch the full talk above. Read a key excerpt below.


If Jesus is not your Lord, then Jesus is not your Savior.

On Anabaptist Evangelism

“The Great Commission is not merely about a temporary experience witnessed by water baptism. For the early Anabaptists, obedience to the Great Commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ begins in going, in making a disciple and in baptizing a new disciple.

“But obedience does not end there. Obedience to the Great Commission was never about bringing a proposed convert to say a few words, getting him or her to let them dip you in the water and then dropping them as you set your eyes on the next evangelistic target. Evangelism does not exist as a one-time event, but as an entirely devoted life.

“Obedience to the Great Commission must proceed from conversion to teaching converts to obey everything Christ has commanded. Great Commission evangelism is not an exercise in a form of gnosticism, merely knowing the truth. Nor is Great Commission evangelism an exercise in a form of docetism, merely appearing to follow Jesus. Great Commission evangelism, according to the 16th century Anabaptists, necessarily proceeds to teaching the convert to give their whole life to Jesus. If Jesus is not your Lord, then Jesus is not your Savior.

“And how are others to know the depth of his Lordship unless we teach them everything he commanded? The early Anabaptists understood that the work of Jesus Christ upon his cross and in his resurrection preceeds his command, the Great Commission. They also understood that the Great Commission leads Christians to take up their own small cross, in anticipation of participating in Christ’s resurrection.”

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