Baptists need to reaffirm their historical positions via the Bible and historical confessions.
We must affirm ecumenical dialogue: as Christ’s Kingdom isn’t contained in any denomination known.
Just as Christ’s Kingdom isn’t contained in any known denomination---Christ’s Kingdom isn’t contained in any belief system, whether orthodox or heterodox: but is found in orthopraxis. (James 1:27; Matthew 5:1-16).
We must affirm interfaith dialogue: as God can use even a non-believer for the glory of God’s/Christ’s Kingdom. (The Book Of Esther).
However, the full expressions of Christ’s Kingdom are: belief in Christ (John 1:12, 3:16, 3:36), faith/trust in Christ (Habbakkuk 2:5; Mark 11:22-24) and repentance (Matthew 3:8; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:1-5)---and these are the modes and means of conditional (individual) election over and against the Calvinist heresy of unconditional (individual) election.
Election, in it’s salvific mode is corporate: as God, in His sovereignty, chose Christ and His Church as the means of unconditional corporate election and communicating conditional individual election. (Psalm 89:3; Deuteronomy 7:1-11; 14:2).
Predestination should be understood as corporate, in nature, over and against the Calvinist heresy of predestined individuals.
God’s selection and division of believers and unbelievers should be understood as a future event over and against the Calvinist heresy of selection from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:31-46).
Salvation is by unmerited grace alone (Zechariah 12:10; John 1:17; Romans 5:17, 11:6) through faith alone (Acts 26:18; Romans 1:5, 1:16-17; II Corinthians 5:7), but faith without works is dead (Matthew 7:16-20; James 1:22-25, 2:14-26).
Works should be understood as fruits of the Spirit and not as a sacerdotal system created by humans.
Jesus’ atonement should be affirmed as being for all people, everywhere---for all times---in every time. (John 3:16; Colossians 1:19-23).
God, in His sovereignty, allows His grace to be resisted by those, whom are unwilling to believe---hence the existence of unbelievers.
Loss of salvation should be affirmed over and against the Calvinist heresy of once saved, always saved: as continual salvation is conditional upon continued faith. (Matthew 7:21-23; John 15:1-8; Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 6:1-8; Philippians 2:12).
God is the cause of our salvation, but He is not the cause of our sins and condemnation. (Thomas Helwys, A Short Declaration Of The Mystery Of Iniquity, pgs. xxiv and 38).
Christ is the progenitor of culture: Christ is the genesis/beginning of Christian culture.
Love, grace and mercy are the most effective means of communicating God’s Truth not condemnation, ridicule and judgmentalism.
The death penalty should be firmly opposed: as Christ paid the ultimate death penalty---upon the cross---for even the vilest of criminals and wickedest of sinners. (Luke 23:26-49).
God’s prevenient grace extends to all as all have fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23).
Justification, however, is contingent upon faith in Christ alone: as we are made righteous by Christ alone---not by submission to churches, church leaders, reductionist fundamentals, bible versions nor creeds. (Romans 3:21-31).
Christ then should be reaffirmed as the standard criterion of solid Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics: as the person, life and work of Jesus are the full revelation of God. (Baptist Faith And Message, 1963 -Article I; Matthew 28:18).
The Bible then should not be affirmed as the Word of God, but Jesus Himself is the True Word of God. (John 1:1).
The Bible should be affirmed as a faithful and accurate witness to Jesus, who is the True and Actual Word of God---so that as the Holy Spirit incarnates us, when Jesus’ Truth is made known through the kerygma (proclamation) of bible exposition or preaching---then and only then does the bible become the “word of God” for believers (meaning a reflective incarnation of God’s revealed Truth as found fully and totally in Christ and as illuminated by the Holy Spirit).
Just as God, in the Incarnation/Jesus, has two natures: human and divine---the bible then as an image and icon of God’s Incarnation, in Christ, should be viewed as a product of both humanity and the Divine/Deity.
The Bible despite having errors (mainly in unimportant things) in the copies of the manuscripts we have today---which has been made known throughout the bible’s history through the science of textual and biblical criticism---should still be affirmed as both divinely inspired and authoritative for the life of believers. (II Timothy 3:16).
No one theory of biblical inspiration should be held over the other, but should be left to the individual---using his or her liberty of conscience---he or she should be free to choose to believe in the literal word for word dictation, verbal plenary or dynamic/concept theories of inspiration.
No one method of biblical hermeneutics should be held over the other, but should be left to the individual---using her or his liberty of conscience---the individual should be free to choose however she or he sees fit to interpret the bible as illuminated by the Holy Spirit and enlightened by using Christ as the criterion of solid and sound exegesis.
The Bible should be taken seriously, but not to the extreme of bible literalism: as bible literalism leads to bibliolatry and hinders individual spiritual growth nor to the extreme of over-metaphorization: as over-metaphorization causes Christ’s message to get lost, in vague ambiguity.
The rule of thumb, however, should be to always interpret the bible, in Light of Christ.
True Christian theology should begin with the Cross as Martin Luther rightly stated.
The traditional Baptist principles of the “Priesthood of All Believers” and “Liberty” should be reaffirmed over and against the fundamentalists’ mindset of neo-Pharisaism, moral legalism, spiritual tyranny/clerical terror and ecclesiastical dominionist bondage. (Thomas Helwys, A Short Declaration Of The Mystery Of Iniquity, pgs. 15, 35-37, 42-43, 52-55, 59 and 74).
Abortion should be supported in a regulatory manner and should be a definite option for pregnant women, who either have labor complications that are turning fatal or some genetically transmitted disease or other fatal health issue. Putting love in action, abortion should be a viable choice for a rape victim, but allowing the rape victim’s fetus to live and offering up that infant for adoption should be stressed as a more loving action---as there are married couples, who cannot have children of their own and are more than willing to adopt and love any child. Any other reason other than the two aforementioned exceptions, Baptists should take a pro-life stance---with these options: the pregnant woman should keep the child or offer her or him up for adoption.
The Baptist church needs to reassert itself as a force of healing, in the world.
In becoming a more steady force of healing, in the world, Baptists need to restate a position of reconciliation. (Colossians 1:13-23; II Corinthians 5:18-21; Romans 5:10).
We, Baptists, should be building up rather than tearing down.
The primary focus of building up should be furthering the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:33).
We should proclaim to the world the remedy, in Christ, to the spiritual brokenness, mental anguish, hurt and suffering of the world---for God, in Christ suffers along with us.
Baptists should move beyond debate and toward a more open dialogue between other Christian denominations and non-Christians.
We should be willing to accept and admit to the fact that we are occasionally wrong and are in need of a change of opinion: as no one group has the corner market on the Truth.
In the homosexuality debate, individual Baptists---using the liberty of their consciences---should be free to take the position of Christ and the prophets on the sin of Sodom primarily being one of pride and breaking the laws of hospitality as affirmed by a large majority of bible scholars. (Ezekiel 16:48-58; Amos 4; Zephaniah 2:8-11; Matthew 10:11-15, 11:20-24; Luke 10:10-16).
Individual Baptists---using the liberty of their consciences---should be free to properly exegete the sexual nature of Sodom’s sin as being one of violent force and homosexual rape (yada-Strong’s # 3045---euphem.-sex/infer.-punishment) of two angels (Genesis 19:1) appearing in the form of two male strangers---over and against the fundamentalists’ eisegesis of Sodom’s sin being all forms of homosexuality including homosexual marriage. (Genesis 19:1-26; Judges 19:1-30; Jude 7).
Unnatural (heteros-Strong’s # 2087---different, other, another, strange i. e. one not of the same nature, form, class, kind, different.), in the comments about Sodom and Gomorrah in Jude 7, should be properly understood as referring to the flesh of and lust for the two (male) angels and not the flesh of and lust for humans: as all human flesh occurs in nature and is natural though the flesh of angels is unnatural/supernatural---and though lust of all kinds are natural human nature, all forms of lust are improper human behavior and damages our spiritual nature.
Individual Baptists and individual Baptist churches---using the liberty of their consciences---should be free to choose to support and accept homosexual marriage and the ordination of homosexuals or not: as the Greek word, arsenokoitai, generally translated in post-1946 English bibles as homosexual is a dis legomenon. Arsenokoitai only appears twice in the whole bible---by itself in I Corinthians 6:9 and combined with malakoi (soft) in I Timothy 1:10.
Given the fact that arsenokoitai is a dis legomenon---arsenokoitai is difficult to properly translate---being that other than the two points of reference in Paul’s letters, there are no other instances within the bible or in any contemporary literature of Paul’s time, which renders arsenokoitai’s precise meaning hard to ascertain.
Arsenokoitai, given the translational difficulties, has been inconsistently and variously translated as: with malakoi (soft ones) and by itself- sexual perverts (RSV-1971 and 1977); male prostitutes and homosexual offenders (NIV-1973); perverts (NIV-1978); male prostitutes and sodomites (NRSV-1989); homosexuals (RSV-1951); sodomites (RSV-1958); them that defile themselves with mankind/abusers of themselves with mankind (KJV-1611 and 1769); effeminate [malakoi] (KJV-1611 and 1769); sodomites (NKJV-1982); perverts (NEB-1961); homosexuals (NKJV-1979); male prostitutes and sodomites (RSV-1989); catamites and sodomites (English Jerusalem Bible-1968); weaklings and abusers of themselves with mankind (Tyndale’s New Testament-1534); behave like a homosexual (CEV-1995); them that do lechery with men (Wycliffe’s Bible-1382/1395); homosexual perversion (NEB-1961); masturbators (Martin Luther’s Bible-1545); knabenschander-child [boy] molesters or pederasts and weichlinge-weaklings or sissies (Martin Luther’s Bible-1545); molles-soft, tender, mild, effeminate, mellow, sensitive, impressionable, pleasant or weak ones and masculorom concubitores-male concubines or male sex slaves lying together or those who lie with child sex slaves (Latin Vulgate-405); wantons and bouggerers (Geneva Bible-1560); liars with mankind (Duai-Rheims-1609); those who make women of themselves and abuse themselves with men (Darby-1890); guilty of unnatural crime (Wesley’s New Testament-1938); sensual and given to unnatural vice (Goodspeed-1951); les effines-the effeminate and les infames-the infamous (Louis Segond-1910); los afeminados-the effeminate and los que se echan con varones-those who are cast with men (RVA-1909); effeminate and people with infamous habits (French Jerusalem Bible-1955); lecherous and sin of Sodom (Wycliffe Bible-1508); sissies and child molesters (German Jerusalem Bible-1968); lustknaben-play things or young prostitutes and knabenscahander (Revised Luther Bible-1984); self-indulgent and sodomites (New English Jerusalem Bible-1985); those who have soft or weak morals (New French Jerusalem Bible-1985); wollustlinge-weak ones and knabenschander (Elberfelder Bible-1985); boy prostitutes and practicing homosexuals (New American Catholic Bible-1987); sexual pervert (REB-1989); and various other translations.
It should also be noted that a good majority of bible scholars believe that arsenokoitai means either the male temple prostitutes, who served in pagan sexual idolatry rituals, male prostitution or child molestation. Scientific findings should also be taken seriously within the homosexuality debate.
A more contemporary and better rendering of arsenokoitai then would be: those who use, abuse and exploit sexuality.
When making a moral judgment and ethical decision, we should always look to the spirit of the law rather than the letter. (Romans 2:25-29).
Baptists should do more to dissuade divorce and the dissolution of marriage.
Divorce should be granted, however, only in the cases of abuse and sexual misconduct (which includes un-chastity, unfaithfulness, sexual abuse, spousal or domestic rape, adultery, etc. and using the spirit of the law, anything which prevents the constitution of a normal healthy marriage).
Although, remarriage, generally should not be granted---using the spirit of the law not the letter, remarriage should be a valid option only in extreme measures such as a child’s need for two parents as solid role models (especially, if that child’s parents divorced due to abuse---that child deserves a chance to have a stable household).
Sex and marriage should be held in the highest regard for all over and against the fundamentalists’ puritanical views: as God gave sex as a good gift for within the confines of marriage---so we should do more to educate youths about the goodness of sex (both physically/mentally and spiritually). Marriage should be redefined as primarily a commitment of faith, trust and codependence between two mutually consenting parties with sexual expression not being exclusively for procreation.
We should do more to help widows, single parents and divorcees, in the world.
We should, also, do more to help orphans and victims of abuse. (Mark 12:41-44; Lamentations 5:1-3; James 1:27).
Compassion and putting love in action should be undertaken more often. (Mark 8:1-3; Micah 7:19; Hebrews 5:2; Luke 10:25-37, 15; I Peter 3:8).
We should establish more social programs for the poor and needy. (Mark 14:7; Matthew 5:3, 11:5; Ecclesiastes 5:8; Ezekiel 18:10-13).
Education and education for the poor should be a priority in Baptist life.
We should do more to help the disabled, in the world.
We should do more to help the elderly as well.
Prison ministry should also be a priority. (Matthew 25:34-40).
No one view of Genesis should be held over the other, but the Baptist individual---using the liberty of their consciences---should be free to choose to believe in creation or reconcile the theory of evolution with the bible as long as God is properly understood to be the beginning of all things.
It should be understood that clearly science and the bible can be reconciled.
It should be taught that God gave us both the bible and science as tools for studying His creation.
The Bible deals with God’s creation from a spiritual/theological viewpoint, wheras science is a tool to study the physical after-effects of His creation.
The Bible’s main concern is helping believers build a relationship with God not scientific nor historical facts.
Archaeology should be affirmed as being theology’s friend.
The Bible should be affirmed as having theological clarity.
Another major use of the bible is to equip believers for good works. (II Timothy 3:16).
The Bible should not be used then as a tool to beat people over the head with.
No one theory of the atonement should be held over the other, but individual Baptists---using the liberty of their consciences---should be free to choose any one theory other than the satisfaction or substitution theories or they should be free to choose all known theories of explaining the cross’s relevance---over and against the fundamentalists’ choice of just satisfaction or substitution theories.
No one view of miracles should be held over the other, but we---using the liberty of our consciences---should be free to choose a scientific/naturalist explanation or a theological/supernatural mystery explanation of miracles.
Truth then should not be defined as a fixed absolute with only one explanation, but as a fixed absolute that can be explained in several different ways: as God never changes, but human opinons and views of God are prone to change. (Example-Numbers 23:19 compared to Luke 19:10 and Mark 15:39).
Put another way: “Opinions may be mistaken; love never is.” (Harry Emerson Fosdick, Shall The Fundamentalists Win?, Paragraph 22 of the famous sermon).
Christianity should be viewed as an all-encompassing philosophy and a complete way of life---and not one religion among many.
No one view of Torah authorship should be held over the other, but we---using the liberty of our consciences---should be free to accept Mosaic authorship or the documentary hypothesis.
No one view of the authorship of the Gospels should be held over the other, but individual Baptists---using the liberty of their consciences---should be free to choose any explanation of the synoptic problem.
Baptist clergy should do more to inform laity about text critical issues.
We should reject the false notions of headship as though any one gender is any more superior than the other.
Mutual submission should be supported and condoned then. (Ephesians 5:21; Galatians 3:28).
Christ should be affirmed as being the head of all and all should be subject to Christ and Christ alone.
Baptist Churches should affirm female ministry as being biblical. (Joel 2:28-29; Luke 1:41-45; Luke 2:36-38; Acts 21:9; Romans 16:3, 7; Acts 18:2, 18, 26; I Corinthians 16:19; Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; II Kings 22:14; Nehemiah 6:14; Isaiah 8:3; I Corinthians 11:5-6, 14:31; Acts 1:12-14, 2:17-18).
We should reject the false notions of change or individuals having to conform to church laws, doctrines or rules.
Individual conscience is subject only to God and God alone: as individuals stand alone before God’s Judgment Seat and will only be held accountable of their beliefs and actions to God alone---not churches or governments.
Change of heart is self-evident through the fruits of the Spirit and not conforming to church laws, doctrines or rules. (Luke 4:43-45; Matthew 7:16-20).
We are to conform to the image of the Living Christ not churches nor bible versions. (Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 3:18).
The Church, also, has been predestined to be a type of incarnation of Christ.
When dealing with individuals in and of the world and church members, Baptists should display more of a degree of mercy. (Hosea 6:6, 10:12, 12:6; Micah 6:8, 7:18-20).
A more forgiving spirit should be pursued over and against the fundamentalists’ mindset of judgmentalism. (Mark 12:25; Luke 23:34; Matthew 7:12-15).
Baptists should take a more open view of the biblical canon: as God never promised us a canon of scripture, but a mediator and the Holy Spirit as our guide (paraclete). (I Timothy 2:5; John 16:7-15).
However, given the questionable nature of the Apocrypha, the Aprocrypha should be held with both scrutiny and as important to biblical studies---of course, using the traditional Baptist principle of liberty of conscience.
We should reassert a position of God’s/Christ’s holiness over all things including churches, errant bible versions and fallible clerical opinions. (Isaiah 40:25; Psalm 22:3, 33:1-22).
No other person or thing then should be viewed as being holy or righteous including the church, bible versions, etc. ( Romans 3:10; Mark 2:17).
The Church then should be viewed as a gathering of sinners being changed, transformed, continually made right and justified righteous by the Higher Righteousness of Christ---so that certain sinners or rumored sinners as long as they are not harming anyone (murderers, pedophiles, etc.) should not be fired or removed from church positions, when all have sinned. (Romans 3:21-31, 5:1-21; Matthew 7:1-5; John 8:7).
Baptists should reaffirm the historic Baptist position of democratic church polity over and against the fundamentalists’ mindset of clerical dictatorship, tyranny, bondage and domination.
It should be clearly taught that nothing can separate believers from the love of Christ---not even adultery, pre-marital sex nor homosexuality, etc. (Romans 8:31-39).
In conclusion, Baptists should entrench their positions using the bible, church history, historic Baptist positions, archaeology and scientific and scholarly findings---using the liberty of their consciences and the Holy Spirit as their only guide.
Ben Currin, on the occaision of Martin Luther Day,
October 31, 2007,
Unless I am convicted by the Holy Spirit
and my liberty of conscience is convinced by Scripture alone
Otherwise on these posits:
Here I stand, I can do no more.
Sola Christus, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Clementia et Sola Scriptura.
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