Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Articles of Faith

Like most churches, our local church has a doctrinal statement that includes articles of faith. In the section dedicated to "Baptist Distinctives" we 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)

I am a member of a conservative, southern Baptist church that affirms the inerrancy of scripture. Yet, contrary to the stereotype, we affirm, strongly, the separation of church and state.

And we are not alone. 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.

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