28 June 2007

Deadblogging on Thursday Morning

No GUTS, no Glory
by Phil Johnson

Day three, session one

t's Thursday, and though we have greatly enjoyed every session of the conference, we are exhausted. Last night, after the evening session here at the Founder's Conference, we attended a service at Guts Church, a Tulsa-based phenomenon that is neither Emerging nor classically Seeker-Sensitive—but with all the worst characteristics of both styles. Our heads are still reeling from that, and perhaps one of us will blog about it later. But that, and other things, kept me up well past midnight for the third evening in a row.

So while the other guys and Timmy Brister have been liveblogging the conference, I'm deadblogging. I'm exhausted. Don't expect brilliance. But it's my turn to summarize the sessions today, and I am going to soldier on as bravely as possible.

We were two minutes late for the start of the morning session. We came in during the first stanza of "Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah." Two things I like best about the music this week: 1) We have sung great old hymns that are not hackneyed Baptist standards. 2) We sing all the verses, even for a couple of hymns with 12+ verses. Whoever chose the hymns did a superb job. Mostly classic hymns full of meaning, but also some select new songs equally full of meaning.

Our speaker this morning is Bill Ascol. He is, of course, Tom's brother, and he is pastor of Bethel Baptist Church here in Owasso (the host church for the conference). He is giving a biographical lecture about Isaac McCoy, Pioneer Baptist Preacher to the Indian Territories (later Oklahoma).

Isaac McCoy

(For further info, see: Isaac McCoy and the American Indians.)

Bill opened by reading from 2 Corinthians 11:26-29 and noted that Paul's testimony in that text could have been echoed by Isaac McCoy.

McCoy's grandfather was a Scottish orphan who came to Kentucky as a stowaway, settled in Pennsylvania. Somewhere along the line he became a believer, and a Baptist, and was listed as a charter member in the founding of a Baptist church. One of his sons, William, became a Baptist preacher.

One of William's sons was Isaac, the subject of our lecture. Isaac was born in 1784, in Uniontown, PA. Shortly afterward, the family moved back to Kentucky. Isaac was saved as an adolescent in the Great Revival in Kentucky at the start of the 1800s.

Isaac married Christina (Kitty) Polk, a relative of James K. Polk. Her parents were killed by Indians, but the effect of this was only to stir in her a desire to see Native Americans reached with the gospel.

Isaac McCoy as a young married man began to dream of becoming a missionary to the Native Americans. He and his wife settled on (what was then) the western frontier in Indiana. McCoy went through a process similar to apprenticeship or internship before becoming a fully ordained minister. He was given a limited commission as a missionary in the west and established a mission station.

His desire, of course, was to reach the Indian tribes in the west. His supporters gave little encouragement for that, but McCoy and his wife persevered, and pressed on despite tragedies, including the tragic death of his eldest daughter (at age 16) from typhoid fever—and the subsequent deaths of eleven of their fourteen children on the mission field. The tragedy of his first daughter's death, he said, taught him not to have undue anxiety over any earthly matter. He and his wife clung to Psalm 37:25-26: "I Have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed."

With little support from anyone, and cut off from good communications with the mission board, McCoy took the initiative of establishing a mission to teach and reach the native Americans.

(Bill Ascol quoted a disturbing quotation from a prominent politician of the era who stated that he did not regard Native Americans as a race as either salvageable or even worth saving. Then Bill quipped, "Native Americans know what can happen when you don't control immigration."

Bill also noted the gross and wicked hypocrisy of Baptists in that era who approved slavery but resisted the sending of missionaries to the tribal cultures.)

Gradually, however, McCoy persuaded the Mission board to support his work among the Indians—at first tentatively, but with increasing conviction.

Nevertheless, McCoy endured various trials, including the treachery of a dishonest co-worker (who lied to the mission board in order to usurp a teaching position); the lies of enemies who deliberately tried to stop his work; and similar kinds of underhanded opposition, personal griefs, and constant and repeated acts of mismanagement and irresponsibility at the hands of the Baptist mission board. He suffered serious injuries in a wagon accident and was partially disabled (walking with "a pronounced stoop" and limping from pain) for the rest of his life because of that experience.

At one point, while McCoy was away on business in the east, his daughter, on an errand with two Indian girls, was attacked by a couple of Potowattamie Indians. They choked and slashed her and she was nearly killed. (She never fully recovered.) McCoy briefly considered giving up his work but was moved to persevere.

McCoy was a thoroughgoing but evangelistic Calvinist. His church saw so many conversions that they planted two daughter churches.

His work eventually took him from Indiana, through Kansas, to Oklahoma, where in 1832 he founded the Indian Territories' first church ever—a Baptist church where Muskogee is today.

McCoy died in 1846 near Louisville.

McCoy's Legacy

His Example. He loved Jesus Christ more than he loved life itself. He's a perfect model of how we need to reach a hostile culture.

His tireless, almost uncomplaining zeal. In all his trials, his journal barely contains a complaint.

His Calvinism informed and inflamed his evangelistic zeal. He had the same passions that drove Carey and Judson and other pioneer missionaries.

He's a wonderful example of the founders of the SBC, sharing their spirit and convictions.

Many Native American believers today are the direct fruits of his labors. McCoy's labors were a pivotal influence that kept White settlers from carrying out a program of systematic annihilation that might have wiped the Native American tribes from the face of the earth.

This was a fascinating lecture, introducing me to a figure from Baptist history I had previously known nothing about. It was another high point in a week that has been filled with great blessings, wonderful messages, terrific fellowship, and more information than I would normally be able to process in a month.

Phil's signature


FX Turk said...

The next time someone tells you that calvinists are not missionary, not evangelistic, point them at Isaac McCoy and his work for Christ with the Native American people.

We'll have to get Pastor Ascol's bibliography up here. Totally edifying and humbling.

DJP said...

Well done, Phil. Remarkable how you did so much, so well, so quickly. You're hired.

donsands said...

That was incredible to read. It's amazing how he could have gone through all that. This is grace in all it's glory.

Thanks for taking the time and the left over energy you had to post this.

Stefan Ewing said...


Just this past week or so, I've been trying to square the circle of God's outward call to all to repent and be saved, yet his effectual call only to the elect. Reading about historic evangelist commitment among Reformed Baptists (some RB's, though as Bill Ascol has pointed out, shamefully not all)—-motivated by love to ensure that not one of God's sheep is lost*—-has helped me immensely. The story of Isaac McCoy has been yet another small providential gift from God. Amen.

*With the corollary that since we don't know who God's sheep are, we are impelled to call out to all the world. I'm totally humbled by this, because I don't even know how to begin in this task.

Connie said...

Ah, gee Phil, couldn't we just keep the Guts "church" matter to ourselves (i.e. Tulsans)? As if Tulsa needs ANOTHER feather in it's cap for "weird" religion! Ha!

Of course, it's pretty difficult to hide/ignore a "church" sign right off the highway made of red 500 ft. high letters spelling out GUTS!!!

I'm guessing you Pyros didn't have to be concerned about being recognized there, huh?

FX Turk said...

Guts was an ... experience.

Mark B. Hanson said...

I suppose "GUTS check" is going to become the new TeamPyro catch phrase? Just don't do a graphic (please!)

Seriously, I read the stuff about Isaac McCoy with great interest. Here in my home town of Niles, Michigan we have a housing development called "Mission Hills" with Carey Mission Road and Isaac McCoy Drive as two of the streets. I knew who Carey was, but Isaac McCoy was a mystery.

FX Turk said...

We are actually considering co-opting the slogan "tougher than hell" from Pastor Scheer and his people, but we don't really want any legal problems.

My Daily Bread said...

I enjoyed the piece about Isaac McCoy. I have information coming about him in my on going book on "The Hardshell Baptist Cult" (www.baptistgadfly.blogspot.com). One of the founders of the Hardshell Baptist Church was Elder Wilson Thompson, who was asked by Elder McCoy to go on this "mission" with him. Thompson was at first disposed to go but later became a leading "anti mission" Baptist.

I think these two men clearly show how some Baptists, at the time period of these men, went one way and some went another, on the mission question.

I think Thompson resisted the Holy Spirit who was calling him to the same mission field with McCoy. I plan to write about this more in an upcoming chapter in the above mentioned book.

I enjoyed the writings here.

May the Lord bless you.

Stephen M. Garrett

TU123 said...

I wanted to google Guts church today. I found your blog. I know you barely mentioned it, but I skimmed your article. I shook my head when I saw you were attending a Baptist event. You see I was a Baptist for the first 21 years of my life. In fact I attended a large Baptist church in the Tulsa area. I rememher telling two different people that I would not try Guts Church because I was a Baptist and always would be. Almost like I was too good for it. Looking back in those 21 years I always thought something was missing from what I could and should be learning. But I could probably still tell you the lessions that were repeated over and over and over in my Baptist church. I endulged a guy I was dating to attend Guts Church once to try to prove to him that I wouldn't like it. I went in looking for things to be wrong but still trying to keep an open mind. After hearing his sermon and leaving I asked him if he had talked to anyone at the church about me or any of the things I was going through. He assured me he hadn't. So I decided to go back just to make sure it was't a fluke that I was able to get something out of his sermons. Pastor Bill said- I am teaching you these things but PLEASE study them for yourself. That stuck with me. I kept going back because the things he kept teaching about were helping me. For once I felt a difference in my walk with God. I joined the church about amonth later. I have studied these things for myself. I have discussed the topics and semons with my devout Southen Baptist parents. I told my mom that no matter what church my family had gone to I do not know of 1 that they agreed with 100% of everything. There is one thing that I am still studying- Baptisim of the Holy Spirit with evidence being speaking in tongues in prayer. But that is for me to study, not just listen to someone tell me that its true or false.

My point is that I'm so disappionted to see that you being from church are allowing posters to poke fun of Guts Church. I think that from my experience I have learned that unless you study it or try it out more than once you shouldn't have opinions on it. Or even judge it.

The posting comments say that you should keep a Christian Manner. I am honestly questioning how some of the "joking" comments are funny? I have a sence of humor but I don't find it funny when it's at someone else's or a church's expense.

Please be careful of things said and written. It could easily turn people away from your church and beliefs. I believe it should be every Christian's goal to Make it hard for people around them to go to Hell by enabling them to see Christ in their life.

May God bless you and provide many sucesses in your life.