Friday, June 12, 2009

What It Means To Be Baptist

My new Facebook friend, David Harmon-Vaught, recently posted this article on Facebook:
Give me those old-time Baptists
By Joe Phelps • Special to The Courier-Journal • June 10, 2009

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Minister and gadfly Will Campbell, speaking at a Baptist college chapel, asked "How many of you are old-time Baptists?" Hands went up across the chapel. "How many would serve on a jury?" Again, hands went up. "How many would fight in a war if asked?" Hands quickly rose. "How many believe in capital punishment?" Same result.
Campbell then observed, "Old-time Baptists, those from the 16th and 17th centuries, wouldn't do any of those things." He paused. "Students, you're not old-time Baptists, you're 1950's Baptists."
Baptists come in all flavors and sizes. With the Southern Baptist Convention's annual gathering taking place in Louisville later this month, and with a recent SBC vice-president saying in an interview that he prays for the death of President Obama, it is timely to recite the old adage, "No Baptist speaks for another." I don't speak for them, and they surely don't speak for me.
Sometimes it's hard to be a Baptist, or at least to admit it in good company. Our caricatures aren't pretty.
But this year is the 400th anniversary of the birth of the Baptist movement within the Christian faith, which seems a fitting time to reflect on "old-time Baptists" and to celebrate the contribution of Baptists to the global religious landscape; namely, our advocacy for uncoerced faith grounded in the right of conscience and the inevitability of dissent from either the government or any religious hierarchy.
Like many of our American freedoms, religious liberty seems an obvious, even innocuous right to us today. But Baptists were born in a day when freedom to declare one's belief or disbelief was prohibited by the laws of the land. Baptists refused to yield to the assumption that faith could be co-opted and exploited by the state. Faith, or no faith, was too sacred to be simply a precondition of citizenship.
You may have been taught that the Puritans came to the New World for religious liberty. In fact, early settlers came for their religious liberty from England, but not necessarily for others. State sanctioned religion was still in vogue, just Puritan state-sanctioned religion.

Read More: Here.

See also:
Why I Am a Baptist
By Professor Walter Rauschenbusch

Baptists emphasize the primacy of personal Christian experience
Baptists practice democracy in our organized church lift
Baptists insist that a Christ-like lift, not ritual, characterizes true worship and pure religion
Baptists tolerate no creed the Bible alone is sufficient authority/or our faith and practice


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