From my experience which is not as in depth I have found that Protestants tend to say that church splits were wrong, well the ones that happened after the church they belonged to were wrong. Kind of like when driving everyone slower than you is a slow poke and those faster than you are reckless and should get off the road. Well this Baptist refuses to get off the road. I do not accept that Baptists have to be viewed the way Matt says they are in his post on history. He brought up “Baptist Distinctives” here are the ones I like as printed in Christian History. I LOVE all the people Matt listed as his heros and view myself as part of that stream. It would seem I am more willing to drink from his well than he is mine. In fact so much that I would not call Calvin “his” but he belongs to all of us! I also think that if these distinctive can be proven to not go back to certian periods in Church History then we have a problem or should at least admit that the Church has never been gasp “perfect”. That there are things to restore I feel no need to doubt. That the church is unbroken in history I also feel no need to doubt. Now I understand these will cause debate. I believe Jared has argued against all of them with me in some respect with acceptation to the Bible with a different focus and Preaching and evangelism. But I believe these distinctive have something to offer the catholic Church as a whole. If a majority of a tradition must follow it to be true are a majority of Presbyterians as good as PCA? And why would we not take a catholic view of the problems of Christ’s church? From that view we are hopelessly divided and we should close up the whole shop of Christianity. Leave the Baptists is enough? Which ever boat we chose to fish from we should be committed to the fleet and humbly admit those outside our tradition might understand something we don’t. Which is why I love to read from and as much as possible, have fellowship with many Christian traditions.
Five key convictions that have been essential to Baptists from their beginnings
The Supreme Authority of the Bible
The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience. We acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God and government of the Church which are common to human actions and societies and which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
Thomas Helwys (1611)
Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, given by Christ, to be dispersed only upon persons professing faith. The way and manner of dispensing this Ordinance the Scripture holds to be dipping or plunging the whole body under water. It is a sign as follows: first, the washing of the whole Soul in the blood of Christ; second, the interest that the Saints have in the death, burial and resurrection; third, a confirmation of our faith that as certainly as the body is buried under water and rises again, so certainly shall the bodies of the Saints be raised by the power
of Christ, in the day of resurrection, to reign with Christ.
The London Confession (1644)
Local Church Autonomy
Each particular church has a complete power and authority from Jesus Christ to administer all gospel ordinances, provided they have sufficient, duly qualified officers …to receive in and cast
out, and also to try and ordain their own officers, and to exercise every part of gospel discipline and church government, independent of any other church or assembly whatever. Several independent churches where Providence gives them a convenient situation, may and ought for their mutual strength, counsel, and other valuable advantages, by their voluntary and free consent, to enter into an agreement and confederation.
Benjamin Griffiths (1746)
Preaching and Evangelism
The work of the Christian ministry, it has been said, is to preach the gospel, or to hold up the free grace of God through Jesus Christ, as the only way of a sinner’s salvation. This is Doubtless true; and if this be not the leading theme of our ministrations, we had better be Anything than preachers. Woe unto us, if we preach not the gospel! It will not be denied that the apostles preached the gospel: yet they warned, admonished, and intreated sinners to repent and believe; to believe while they had the light; to labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life; to repent and be converted, that their sins
might be blotted out; to come to the marriage-supper, for that all things were ready: in fine, to be reconciled unto God.
Andrew Fuller (1785)
Separation of Church and State
As religion must always be a matter between God and individuals, no man can be made a
member of a truly religious society by force or without his own consent, neither can any corporation that is not a religious society have a just right to govern in religious affairs.
Isaac Backus (1781)