Friday, May 22, 2009

Baptist Distinctive 2: Liberty of Conscience / Separation of Church and State part 2

I have a problem with going too long and so I separated this into two sections in an attempt to keep somebody reading at least. The first half of this post dealt with the explanation of the distinctive. This half will deal with how this distinctive works itself out and its strengths and weaknesses. I'm trying to be a bit shorter - no promises!


How this Distinctive works out practically


Historically, as I hope you saw in the last section, this distinctive has meant that Baptists have stood up not only for their own right to worship God as their conscience dictates, but also for the rights of others to practice their religion. This included not only other Christian denominations, but also, as we saw, Jews, Muslims, and American Indians. This does not mean that Baptists believe that these religions are equally valid or that they can lead to God. Any Baptist who held to the first distinctive (sole authority of Scripture) could hardly hold to that! What it does mean is that Baptists realize that one cannot be forced to become a Christian and that a forced conversion is a false one. The best way to evangelize others is to treat them as you would want to be treated and thus share the gospel with them verbally and nonverbally. It also recognizes the importance of genuine faith and the worthlessness of salvation by dead ritual, baptism, or by doing "Christian things". Salvation has to come by genuine faith, not coerced, not forced, not bribed.

Consistent Baptists should not only stand up for their own religious rights, but also for the religious rights of others. To be a consistent Baptist is to realize the reality of the fact that we live in a world of not only many religions but many different understandings of the Christian faith expressed in a multitude of denominations. Consistent Baptists should never try and force policies through that coerce others to worship God as they do. For me, for instance, I would not try and work towards any kind of official prayer time in public schools. Not only is this not an effective way of evangelizing, but it would result in blasphemous insincere prayer - worse than no prayer at all! We are not working towards a Christian State with any sort of special privileges for Christians or unfair treatment towards Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Methodists, or Mormons. We recognize that if people are to be converted, it will be by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in one's heart, not by the sword of man.

I want to quickly point out what this does not and never has meant. This distinctive has never meant that Christians cannot be involved in politics or run for office. Reread Thomas Helwys' quote if you need a refresher, but Baptists do not believe that we can do no good whatsoever in the political scene. We just recognize that one cannot use political coercion to spread the "gospel". It hasn't worked from the beginning of Christian political power in the 4th century. It won't work in the 21st century. Unfortunately, I think our overemphasis on politics often alienates people to the point that they will not listen to us. Remember, the problem isn't that people are proabortion, gay, or that they smoke marijuana. The problem is that they are lost and need the gospel. The gospel has a way of transforming people. Let's worry about their eternal destiny first not allow politics to destroy our chances to preach Christ. I see so often that the first barrier I have to cross with unsaved people is a political barrier. What's sadly ironic, is that it is too often built by those who call themselves Baptists.


Why this Distinctive is Good


1) This distinctive is pragmatic in a good way. It recognizes the boundaries of what one can do through government and that we will never all agree on the best way to worship God. Killing each other doesn't honor God and it only makes the problem worse, so freedom of religion is the best possible option in a pluralistic society. When Jesus comes back, he can outlaw all our bad theology!

2) This distinctive represents a good sort of Christian tolerance. Tolerance means something very different than it used to. Tolerance used to mean that you learned to live alongside those who disagreed with you. Tolerance could sit and listen to what another said without killing, torturing, or persecuting that person. Today tolerance means accepting that the beliefs of whoever you disagree with are equally valid. It means that you cannot tell someone that they are wrong. It means you cannot preach messages on right and wrong. It means you cannot say that someone's lifestyle is sinful. This distinctive represents the first kind of tolerance and I think this better represents the attitude of Jesus than the slaughter of Jews and Muslims during the Crusades, the Inquisition, or the religious wars following the Protestant Reformation.

3) This distinctive recognizes what has been proven throughout church history that when one mixes Christianity and Politics, Christianity becomes the whore. Over and over again, people have been manipulated through the use religion for political purposes. Power attracts some very shady characters. When we make it advantageous to be a Christian, we invite goats to infiltrate the church and contaminate her. If it is no better, politically and socially to be a Christian, you will have fewer fake believers.

4) This distinctive represents a practical outworking of the Golden Rule.

Challenges and Problems for those who hold to this Distinctive

1) The overemphasis on this distinctive could result in the attitude that politics doesn't matter and an apathy on the part of Christians towards our country. I think that this is part of what HAD been the case before the arrival of the Christian Right and the pendulum ended up swunging too far the other way. Christians must maintain a careful balance here. I do not think it is wrong for us to try and protect the rights of unborn babies. We shouldn't be trying to take away the rights of those we disagree with, but we can try and influence our world for good through politics. This is difficult and careful balance is essential.

2) Holding this distinctive makes it much more difficult to think through the issues as a Christian in political office. A Christian who is attempting to institute a theocracy has a clear and obvious goal. A Baptist in politics will have a lot more difficulty thinking through and implementing a philosophy of politics.

A Conclusion and a Question

Someone reading this has probably already figured out that I think many Baptists have become too political. Its not that I think we have become too involved as that I think we have become too much associated with the Republican party (or the Democratic party if you are a member of an African American Baptist church). It's not that I think you can't be a good Christian or a good Baptist and vote Republican. I voted for Republicans in the last election and probably will again in 2012 (although I really hope that certain unnamed candidates are not nominated...). Its that I think that Evangelical Christians are thought of more as a special interest wing of the Republican Party than they are seen as those who stand up for righteousness, justice, and peace. I think I see more republican influence in the church than I see Christian influence in the party. We need to remember that we are not a political entity, that lasting change will only be a result of the change brought on by the transformation of the gospel, and that (as I kept repeating to myself whenever I was getting upset during the last presidential election) "our salvation is not in politics".

I won't push my political beliefs on you. I'm more of a libertarian (though even probably doesn't quite represent my political beliefs accurately) than a Republican or Democrat, but that's not the point. The point is that we need to remember our priorities and our mission. The great commission says nothing about creating a Christian nation. I'm sick of Evangelical Christendom being seen as a political machine. Quit trying to create a Christian state. You'll never succeed and I'm scared of the results if you were somehow able to do it. Politics has a place, but its a bit lower on the totem pole than we've tended to put it.

Question: Are most baptists still baptists?

I know this is a controversial and very difficult topic. I would like to hear your feedback, just so long as you aren't trying to lop off my head....

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baptist Distinctive 2: Liberty of Conscience & Separation of Church and State (part 1/2)

In my last post I dealt with the Baptist distinctive having to do with Scripture, this post will deal with what was most commonly called the "Liberty of the Conscience" or "Individual Soul Liberty" and is more often today thought of as the "Separation of Church and State." I hope I don't say this before every distinctive, but this is one of the most important differences between Baptists and other denominations, especially when Baptists were first conceived.

Oddly, I think that this distinctive could be one of the most persuasive as to why one should be a Baptist or at least appreciate them historically, but it is also the distinctive from which those who call themselves Baptists (at least in the States) have departed the most. As probably most of you know by now, I graduated from Liberty University, the HQ of the Religious Right. The Religious Right and Liberty University make claim to be both Christian and political institutions and apparently see these ends as consistent and congruous. Oddly, many of the leaders were Baptists. I remember hearing Jerry Falwell talk about "taking back America" and the "Baptist" school he founded was to be his primary avenue towards that end. Roger Williams, one of the first Baptists in America, would have rolled over in his grave!

I will approach this distinctive in much the same way as the last one. I will explain the distinctive and its historical development, develop how this distinctive works out (or ought to work out) practically, and then put forth some positives and some challenges that are tied with this distinctive.

Explanation of the Distinctive
In my last post I commented how Baptists' comments in the early stages of the movement were very harsh towards those of other viewpoints, particularly those of Catholic and Anglican persuasions. One can hardly blame them! They were quite severely persecuted from the beginning for their differences. Obadiah Holmes was whipped for preaching, baptizing and administering communion outside the Church of England, John Bunyan was thrown in jail for preaching without a license, and John Smyth and Thomas Helwys were forced to flee to Holland because of their dissenting viewpoints. In the U.S., Roger Williams, a Baptist for a time, was forced out of Massachusetts and into Rhode Island largely because he protested against the mistreatment of the Native American people by the Puritans. When one is under threat of physical harm, imprisonment and being forced from your home, one tends to be rather unreceptive to the idea that those doing it are part of any "true church"! That they are portrayed as "antichrists" should hardly be surprising.

Baptists saw the wars over religion and the harsh persecution of Christians by other "Christians" and wondered, understandably, how this could be consistent with the message of the Bible and the model of the early New Testament church. Following are some early Baptists on the matter of religious freedom.

Thomas Helwys:
...none should be punished with either death or bonds for transgressing against the spiritual ordinances of the New Testament and that such offenses should only be punished with the spiritual sword and with censures.

and later
If the kings people are obedient and true subjects, obeying all human laws made by the king. our lord the king can require none more. For men's religion is between God and themselves. The King will not answer for it. Neither may the king judge between God and man. Let them be heretics, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least manner.

Roger Williams states, rather sarcastically one imagines:
...the blood of so many hundred thousand souls of protestants and papists (Catholics), spilled in the wars of present and former ages, for their respective consciences, is not required not accepted by Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace (emphasis mine).

and later
I conclude ... that the Christian church does not persecute; no more than a lily scratches the thorns, or a lamb pursues and tears the wolves, or a turtle-dove hunts the hawks and eagles, or a chasts and a modest virgin fights and scratches like whores and harlots.

A bit later historically (1791), John Leland:
Every man must give an account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in a way that he can best reconcile to his conscience. If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment,, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise, let men be free....
...religion is a matter between God and individuals: the religious opinions of men are not the objects of civil government, or in any way under its control.

Finally, in a very important document from an American history standpoint, here is an excerpt from a letter written by the Danbury Baptist Association in 1801 to the recently elected Thomas Jefferson:

Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty - that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals - that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions....

From Jefferson's reply:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between a Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State....

Baptists believe that one cannot force someone to believe. Baptists argued that not only should differing varieties of Christians be free to practice their faith in the way dictated by their conscience, but also "Jews and Turks (meaning Muslims)". Roger Williams argued that the Native Americans too should have religious liberty. Although this may seem like a given for most Christians today, historically it was not so. The idea of separation of Church and State, now taken for granted in the U.S., is a Baptist idea. It is God's job, not the job of the government, to judge a man's soul.

Before I move on, I feel I must point out that this does not mean that one could not be an elected official and a Christian or a Baptist. Early Anglican opponents often accused Baptists of this but it was a false accusation. Nor did Baptists teach that one should not submit oneself to the secular authorities, quite the opposite, in fact. Thomas Helwys emphasizes both of these points in his "declaration of faith":
The Magistracy is a Holy ordinance of GOD, that every soul should be subject to it not for fear only, but for conscience sake... They are ministers of God to take vengeance on those who do evil, Romans 13. It is a fearful evil to speak evil of them.... We should pay tribute, custom and all other duties. We are to pray for them, for GOD would have them saved and come to a knowledge of his truth.

And therefore they may be members of the Church of CHRIST, retaining their Magistracy, for no Holy Ordinance of GOD debars them from being a member of CHRIST'S Church....

Yeah...
This is getting too long for one post. I am aware that I am far too longwinded. I will save the rest of this for another day. I have most of it written already, but will give you all a chance to read part 1 first. In the meantime, I would welcome your comments and your thoughts on the following.

-Before I give you my positives and negatives, I would love to hear yours. Is this a good distinctive? Why/Why not? What are some potential difficulties?

-How true do you think today's "Baptists" are to this historical distinctive?

Quotations taken from: Readings in Baptist History Joseph Early Jr (editor) Nashville, TN: B&H Press, 2008.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baptist Dinstinctives, Number One: Baptists and the Bible

The first question that should be asked when one talks about Baptists is, I would think, what is a Baptist? I asked "what makes being a Baptist different than being a Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, or Catholic?" of my 7-12 (which is way too big of a range, by the way!) and the following were all they could come up with: Baptists believe the Bible; Baptists believe in the gospel; Baptists baptize people; Baptists pray to Jesus; and Baptists believe in the trinity. Hmmm... even though these things are all true about Baptists, at least good Baptists, methinks they haven't been taught very well about what it means to be a baptist, even though they go to Prairie Baptist Fellowship. Somebody isn't doing their job maybe? Who would that be? Ah, yes. That would be me. At least they didn't say anything about steeples, poorly sung hymns, awkward pews, overweight blue haired ladies, fights over music, splits every five-ten years, or pastors with ties!

Well somebody is working on changing that. I'm teaching on Church History in Sunday School now and will emphasize what it means to be a Baptist and the how and why they developed historically. One might think that these highschoolers and junior highers wouldn't be interested in "Baptist distinctives". I certainly thought so. But oddly enough, I took a poll with 10 potential topics I could cover or emphasize related to church history and had them write, on a scale of 1-10, how interested they were in each topic. What was number 1? Baptist distinctives, with mostly 10s! I felt fairly sure that it would rank fairly low. Obviously I'm not as smart as I thought I was! Hopefully, by time I finish this class, they know what it means to be a baptist and how that is different from being a Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, or Methodist. I also hope they will be able to gain an appreciation for Baptists historically. If I find out, 30 years ago that some of them are thoughtful and godly Presbyterians I will rejoice and praise God. I care so much more about whether they love and serve God or not than if they are Baptists or not. But, as I told them, there are two things I hope they can understand from my teaching on the subject. 1) I want them to understand that the differences we as Baptists hold to are important, and 2) I want them to understand that they have many godly brothers and sisters who are not Baptists! So, with those same goals in mind, let me begin my postings on the so-called "Baptist distinctives".

There are many different lists of the Baptist distinctives and I could list them all for you and argue why some of them are and why some of them aren't really Baptist distinctives. But that sounds tiresome to me so I will skip that part. I will go with the list Mr. Banz provided a few years ago in the Baptist History class I took with him. They are, as he suggests, as follows:

The Peerless Authority of the Bible / The New Testament as the Basis of Ecclesiology

Liberty of Conscience & Separation of Church and State

Priesthood of the Believer

Regenerated Membership

Autonomy of the Local Congregation

Congregational Polity

Two Ordinances: Baptism and Communion

Faith as a Prerequisite of Baptism

Baptism by Immersion

Two Church Officers: Elder (or, sometimes, Pastor) and Deacon


My format in this series of posts will be to take one distinctive from this list at a time and 1) explain what it means and how it is distinctive, 2) explain how this distinctive works (or should) itself out in practice, 3) give some thoughts as to why this distinctive is good, and 4) give some thoughts as to potential problems, difficulties, challenges and dangers to the distinctive at hand. The first distinction on my (or, more accurately, Mr. Banz's list) is: "The Peerless Authority of the Bible / The New Testament as the Basis of Ecclesiology"... so here goes:


The Peerless Authority of the Bible / The New Testament as the Basis of Ecclesiology

Explanation of the Distinctive

When one of my kids said that believing the Bible was a distinctive of being a Baptist, he was not wrong, obviously, because Baptists don't believe the Bible, but because so do Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans etc.... Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, Jews, and even many liberals would say that they believe the Bible. The Baptist distinctive is not "belief in the Bible." The distinctive has more to do with the exclusive nature of the Bible in regard to Ecclesiastical authority. To understand what this means and why this was so important to the earliest Baptists, try and imagine yourself in England in the early stages of the 1600s. The Protestant Reformation has been raging for going on 100 years (October 31st 1517, if you begin with Luther and the 95 theses). England is Protestant, but the Church of England is the dominant church. One of the main themes, very close to the most important one, of the Reformation had been the idea of Sola Scriptura in contrast to the Roman Catholic practice and belief in the Church itself as the primary authority. When you, however, compare the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, you still see a lot of similarity. And who was the first "head of the Church of England"? The quite ungodly King Henry VIII. Even with continuing changes, reforms, and evolution within the Church of England, the ultimate authority still looks very much like it is the Church, not the Bible. The King is King James who insists upon the "divine right of kings." In combination with the renewed interest and emphasis upon the Bible brought on by the Protestant Reformation, the Bible has been translated into English (until 1611, the Geneva Bible, then the King James Version) and widely dispersed throughout the country. People read their bibles and one of the first issues they deal with (as did the Anabaptists before them) is that, in Scripture, only believers are baptized and that (seemingly) by immersion, not sprinkling.

What does one do when the church and the Bible (seemingly) disagree? For Baptists, the answer has always been to go with the Bible. But this is not the full extent of this distinctive. Here is an enlightening quote from one of the very first Baptist doctrinal statements by one of the most important "Baptist Fathers", Thomas Helwys' Declaration of Faith in 1611 [all spelling and punctuation siq except where noted]:

That the scriptures of the Old and New Testament are written for our instruction, 2 Timothy 3:16 and that we should search them for they testify of CHRIST, John 5:39. Therefore they are to be used with all reverence, as containing the Holy Word of GOD, which is our only direction in all things whatsoever (bold mine).


Note how the Bible is not merely "our guide in all things" but our only
guide. This is the foundational principle of the distinction. Tradition is not guide to church practice. We've always done it this way cannot be a guide. The Pope cannot be a guide to church practice. The Bible, and the Bible alone provides the authority for Faith and Practice for a Baptist.

How this Distinctive works out practically


This distinctive can be seen in Baptist churches not only by a very strong emphasis upon the Bible, but by the incessant need to justify all practice (as well as theology) from the Bible. Baptists look at the New Testament to answer how they should do church. Baptists are not only against Church practice and theology that is contradicted by Scripture, like Luther, but against anything not found in Scripture. The emphasis on the Bible prejudices them (somewhat oddly considering the fact that instructions concerning tongues and as well as the practice of speaking in tongues are found in the New Testament) against the sign gifts because this is supposedly a form of revelation and thus authoritative. This distinctive is foundational to many of the other distinctives , such as the "only 2 ordinances" one. Many Presbyterians teach that the preaching of the Word is a sacrament. Baptists do not find this belief taught and practiced in Scripture and thus it cannot be such.

This distinctive should result in a great deal of flexibility and fluidity in areas not addressed by Scripture. For instance, what songs and what music style do you sing? Baptists, if consistent, do not rely upon tradition as authoritative. A consistent Baptist will never appeal to anything, other than the Bible, as authoritative. Dr. Willsey once talked about a GARB conference of some kind he attended once which wanted (and I think did - if he reads this, which apparently he has done before *gulp*, he can affirm or correct me as need be) to define themselves doctrinally with the "Reformation Doctrine of Justification." This is NOT being a Baptist! A Baptist cannot prove something by saying "Baptists have always believed this," or by appealing to the Protestant Reformation! When they do, they cease to be consistent Baptists.

Theoretically then, Baptist should be fairly fluid in practice, since the New Testament does give us a good deal of flexibility in "how we do church", and fairly stable in theology, since the Bible doesn't really change and isn't added to. Of course we are all humans with our own presuppositions and preunderstandings and contexts and we make mistakes etc etc, so we, as good Baptists, should always be reexamining our views on what the Bible teaches. But unless our understanding of Scripture changes, generally, the theology of a consistent Baptist remains relatively stable.


Why this Distinctive is Good


There are a lot of good things about this distinctive. A few are:

1) Since Baptists appeal to God's Word as their authority, they should be less susceptible to leaders or teachers who lead them astray. A pastor is only considered authoritative as he is accurately teaching Scripture. This keeps the leadership of a/the church accountable to the people and the Bible.

2) As already hinted at, this should free us from the tyranny of tradition. This does not mean we can't have tradition or that tradition cannot be helpful, meaningful, or worshipful. But if a tradition, such as a steeple on top of a building, is no longer culturally relevant or communicative, Baptists should be able to abandon it without any real problems.

Now for many of you, this may seem quite the opposite from normal Baptist practice, but although you may argue with me, I do not believe that consistent Baptists are quite as enslaved to tradition as some think. Today, many Baptists (by theology) do not call or consider themselves Baptists either because they don't want to be associated with some Baptists or because they don't like what the term communicates - it doesn't communicate what they would want it to. This is quite consistent with being a Baptist! If nothing in Scripture calls you to label yourself a Baptist you are very free to adjust. This is, in my opinion, more indicative of being a "real Baptist" than those who cling to the name on the sign because its always been there.

3) This distinctive causes churches to focus upon and strongly emphasize the importance of EVERYONE reading the Bible for themselves. If the Bible is the authority and not the church or the pastor, everyone reads it (or should). This is why "Berean Baptist" is such a common name for a baptist church. They really tend to like that church....

4) This helps keep Baptists from "going liberal". This is not to say that Baptists don't or can't go liberal. They do and they can. But when a church begins to teach things Baptists see as contrary to the Bible, Baptists have tended historically to break off from said church. As you can probably see, this characteristic is both a blessing and a curse and will thus also be listed in the next section.

Challenges and Problems for those who hold to this Distinctive

Although I do like and hold, with some reservations which will be explained, to this distinctive, it does create some problems and challenges which a Baptist church or Baptist individual would do well to think carefully about. The below challenges do not indicate what I believe are necessary problems but typical problems for those who hold to this belief.

1) If the Bible is the only authority, how do we determine which or who's interpretation of the Bible is right? The Bible may be fairly clear on a lot, but there are a lot of less clear issues that produce a multitude of interpretations. We can't all interpret the Bible however we want to, can we?

2) The emphasis on the Bible far too often, and I am guilty of this, leads to a underemphasis on the Holy Spirit. Nuff said.

3) The emphasis on the Bible as the only authority is a big reason why Baptist churches are so famous for splitting over minuscule disagreements. I can see this in the very foundations of Baptist theology as I read the earliest Baptists. They tended to characterize other Christians very harshly. Instead of recognizing the fact that there are other believers who understand some things in the Bible differently, they tend to accuse them of "not believing the Bible." This is good when churches have departed from the faith, but bad when they are genuine and faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

4) Baptists have tended, at least today and at least in my observation, to underemphasize the importance of the church as a community of faith and overemphasize the importance of the individual. The emphasis on everyone reading the Bible for him/herself can lead to each person being their own determiner of truth and practice. This works very well in America, by the way. Baptist preachers very rarely emphasize "obey your elders". Submission for the good of the community is sometimes more rare than it ought to be. Baptists in America can be accurately characterized, far too often unfortunately, by hyper-individualism.

Concluding Remarks

I could list many more positives and problems if I had the time, but this is already WAY WAY WAY WAY too long and I'm not sure anyone is still reading. If you are, please accept my sincere apologies. Once I get the blogging bug I tend to go overboard.

As ALWAYS, comments and discussions are not only welcomed, they are begged for. I see no point of blogging on these matters without interaction.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Return to the Blogosphere: Baptist Distinctives

If anyone missed me, they can stop their mourning. I'm back. My absence was mainly due to being overloaded with finals and that I had chosen a topic that required a good deal of work on my part and I never got around to it. I still hope to get around to the animal topic but I need to do some research on what goes on so I can have some sort of coherent application. Hopefully that will be possible this summer. No promises however. I do want to dialogue on this issue so anyone who has strong feelings on the issue with stuff for me to read should fire their ammo at me.

For my return to the Blogosphere, I want to choose a subject that used to make me roll my eyes in boredom and smirk in cynicism. I want to blog on Baptist Distinctives. When I was in college at Liberty University (which, though not officially baptist, is full of them), I refused to allow anyone to call me a baptist. I looked around me at the republican political machine that called itself a Christian University with a Baptist pastor as the head of this monster and I wanted nothing to do with it. I was "nondenominational" and certainly not a Baptist. It was not until a couple of years ago, in a Baptist History class at NBS, when I began to appreciate the Baptist heritage and begin to be comfortable claiming it as my own. Ironically, most of the problems I had with Liberty and the Baptists in the SBC and GARB were really deviations from what being a Baptist historically means. In effect, I was the Baptist and those who claimed it were pseudo-baptists.

I am still uncomfortable calling myself a Baptist but this discomfort is unrelated to what being a Baptist really means. In my exit interview with NBS I said that I thought we should drop the "Baptist" from the name. Why? Because a) Pseudobaptists everywhere have distorted the name and the name now gives a connotation that I feel does not represent what NBS really is, and b) there is nothing about being a Baptist that requires designating yourself as such. It's funny, I grew up in churches that were nondenominational and would never call themselves Baptist churches because they were independent churches, and proud of the fact. They were basically Baptist in theology and practice, just not in name. What's so funny about this? This is a very Baptist attitude! They refused to be called baptists, basically, because of their baptistic perspective on denominationalism.

In this next set of blog posts, I will examine what have come to be called the Baptist Distinctives. I like these dinstictives, but I do have problems with them as well. I will seek to explain each in turn, give the rationale for each distinctive, explain how this works out practically, and offer a critique of each to point out the problems and difficulties that each present. As always your feedback is appreciated.

I'm back baby....

About Me

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Tacoma, Washington, United States
"It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt." Fyodor Dostoevsky. I'm a Northwest Baptist Seminary graduate (MDiv) and current student (ThM). I plan on someday going to Africa and teach Bible and Theology at a Bible College or Seminary level. I hope to continue my studies and earn a PhD, either after I go to overseas for a few years or before. I'm a theological conservative, but I like to think outside of the box and challenge conventional thinking and consider myself a free thinker. I am currently serving in my fourth year as a Youth Pastor at Prairie Baptist Fellowship in Yelm Washington. My blogs will reflect my thoughts on both seminary and ministry life, though not (of course) exclusively. I enjoy literature and occasionally try my hand at writing stories and poems. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..." Paul

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