What is the Baptist Tradition?
Historically, Christians of the Baptist traditions began as "separatist" which our fellow Anglicans labeled us, during the late 1500's in England. Since that beginning, FREEDOM has been a key passion. Four "freedoms" have dominated:
- Bible Freedom: Christians are obligated to study and be free to use the best scholarly tools of inquiry. The Bible is central to individual and church life, but always under the authority of Jesus, the Christ of God. No institutional church authority can be allowed to obscure or limit this freedom.
- Soul Freedom: The right and responsibility of every individual to form a personal relationship with God, without the imposition of a creed (a human summary of absolute truths), dominance by clergy, or the intervention of civil government (to promote or to authorize).
- Church Freedom: Under the authority of Jesus, the Christ, local churches are free to determine their membership, ordain their leadership, determine the form of their ministry, and to associate with the larger Christian community.
- Religious Freedom: Christians are free OF religion, FOR religion, and free FROM religion. The state is not Christ and Christ is not the state. This protects the integrity of Christians to speak to public issues without trying to use the coercive powers of the state to advocate their positions. Religious freedom advocates that the best society is where persons of Faith and of no Faith are free to advocate and debate beliefs.