Some days, when reading about Biblical literalists, young-earthers, 1611 King James Version only people, as well as those who use the myriad man-made confessions as bludgeons against others, I thank God that my free will led me to become a Baptist.
Now, please note, my use of “free will” is limited in scope to which denomination I find myself at home at. Whatever other things I may be, Arminian isn’t among them. My belief is that we are chosen by God, or not, and that our faith is generated solely the result of God’s irresistable grace. In short, God is sovereign; we are but clay in His hands.
But here’s the thing: I may be surrounded by folks every Sunday who think that they have free will, and that this is what led them to Christ. What’s really important is not that they are wrong, and I am right — or vice versa. What’s important is that, however we got there, we share that faith in Jesus Christ.
It also helps that Baptists have laid out, in plain language, some of what sets us apart. Just a few key extracts from the 1963 Faith and Message
(4) That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.
(5) That they are statements of religious convictions, drawn from the Scriptures. and are not to be used to hamper freedom of thought or investigation in other realms of life.
Finally, but certainly not least, what Baptists have agreed to about the nature of Scripture:
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is the record of God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. It reveals the principles by which God judges us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and religious opinions should be tried. The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.
There are many ways one could write this non-creedal creed [humor] hey, Baptists don’t have creeds; we have things that we believe and adhere to…[/humor]. This way says it for me.
By the way, when you get many Baptists to talk about free will, and pursue it both Scripturally, and with logic, you may quickly find them agreeing with the plain text meaning of Romans 8:30:
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
| technorati tag | Baptists|