DISCLAIMER #1 – this is a prep-post for another post that i’ll make tomorrow. i figure no one will read this but writing this for me.
btw, these posts are going to include several disclaimers.
DISCLAIMER #2 – i am an excellent old-time baptist but not a very good modern baptist.
here’s what i mean.
when baptist thought was originally formed in the early 1600s it was center around 4 beliefs. these are:
- a theology of believer’s baptism – only those who are capable of believing in JESUS (age-wise) should be baptized.
- a theology of salvation through faith alone – we don’t earn forgiveness through our own actions or anything else (i.e. sacramentalism)
- scripture alone as the rule for faith and practice – pretty much self-explanatory
- the autonomy of the local church – each church has power over itself rather than a denominational body being in control
many early baptist churches added to these four core beliefs a belief in separation of church and state. while i definitely hold to this believe it wasn’t universal so i won’t claim it as distinctly baptist.
old time baptist were a ragtag group of people who agreed on those 4 beliefs and not much else. they were a combination of english separatist (presbyterians) and anabaptists (mennonites), two groups that had VERY different beliefs on how to live out CHRISTian faith. baptists have deep roots in the radical reformation with slight roots in the magisterial reformation. you probably don’t care about the distinct reformations within the protestant reformation so i will just share this saying to convey the point i want to make in saying that baptist have radical reformation roots. a church history professor taught me “in the reformation catholics hated protestants, and protestants hated catholics, BUT EVERYONE HATED THE RADICALS.” old-time baptists were the losers that got beat up on by everyone in power. we weren’t influential in the circles of power. the underdogs flocked to baptist churches. i like that kind of faith. i.e. i’m a good old-time baptist.
but i stink as a modern baptist. why? because over the past 50 years southern baptists have become powerful and influential within a large part of u.s. culture. we aren’t the underdogs anymore – even if we often claim to be. we have huge, gorgeous churches that the movers and shakers of society come to and pay homage to in order to get elected or move up in our society. we have lots of politics within our churches and denomination because we are more concerned with power than we are with the downcast of the land. we used to care desperately about society’s losers because WE WERE SOCIETY’S LOSERS. now with our respect, education, and influence we barely notice the downtrodden. i’m not a good modern baptist because this stuff kills me.
i can live with this.