Thursday, September 07, 2017

A Pair O' Baptist Distinctives (modified)

For various reasons this is harder to construct in an accurate sentence than you might expect:

I church I was once a member of had, at one time, a doctrinal statement that included an Articles of Faith Statement. In the section dedicated to "Baptist Distinctives" you would find, among others, these two:

E. Individual Soul Liberty

Baptist have always opposed religious coercion and state-controlled or imposed religions. Every individual should have liberty to choose what he believes. No one should be forced by a government, a church, or any other organization of men or individual man to ascribe to any belief against his will. However, this liberty does not free the believer from the commands and teachings of the Word of God, nor from accountability to God Himself.

(Romans 14:5, 12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 1:9)

H. Separation Of Church And State

God established both the church and civil government as institutions, and He gave each its distinct functional realm. The government’s basic purpose is to keep the civil peace at various levels, and to suppress and punish the wrongdoer. The churches’ purposes are to propagate the commands and teachings of Christ, to baptize those brought to faith, to cultivate, in believers, the observance of every command of Christ, and to enjoy His ever-abiding presence. Neither governments nor churches should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christians in a free society may properly influence government toward righteousness, which is not the same as a denomination or group of churches directly controlling or administering government.

(Matthew 22:15-22; Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 15:17-29; Romans 13:1-17)

This was (and still is) a conservative, southern Baptist church that affirms the inerrancy of scripture. Yet, contrary to the stereotype, we see here a strong affirmation of separation of church and state.

And this is not just an outlier. Yet somehow most unbelievers think all Baptists (especially below the Mason Dixon line) are Moral Majority type political activists. Of course even if they know they are wrong, many don't want to acknowledge they are wrong, because caricatures make easy targets.

However it is not sad or at all surprising when others create caricatures. It is sad (for me) when my Baptist brothers and sisters view separation of church and state as something bad. It's not, historically, what we've be about.

I know, I know, this is a soapbox issue for me.

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