Pastor’s Paragraph—June 28, 2018
In my sermon last Sunday, I referred to a book by Dr. Walter Shurden (one of my most influential seminary professors) which has become something of a classic in the area of Baptist thought and identity. The book is entitled the The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms. In this book, Dr. Shurden delineates and explains four basic principles (or freedoms) which help the reader understand what it means to be a Baptist.
These four principles/fragile freedoms (along with Dr. Shurden’s descriptive explanations) are as follows:
1. Bible Freedom
“…the historic Baptist affirmation that the Bible under the Lordship of Christ, must be central in the life of the individual and church and that Christians, with the best and most scholarly tools of inquiry, are both free and obligated to study and obey the scripture.”
2. Soul Freedom
“…the historic Baptist affirmation of the inalienable right and responsibility of every person to deal with God without the imposition of creed, the interference of clergy, or the intervention of civil government.”
3. Church Freedom
“…the historic Baptist affirmation that local churches are free, under the Lordship of Christ, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whom the perceive as gifted for ministry, male or female, and to participate in the larger Body of Christ, of whose unity and mission Baptists are proudly a part.”
4. Religious Freedom
“…the historic Baptist affirmation of freedom OF religion, freedom FOR religion, and freedom FROM religion, insisting that Caesar is not Christ and Christ is not Caesar.”
Last week, the sermon focused on Bible Freedom as we gave thanks for the Bible and explored how the Bible is the inspired written word (little “w”) which points us to the Ultimate Word (capital “W”) who is Christ, the WORD which became Flesh and dwelt among us.
This Sunday as we near the Fourth of July/Independence Day when we celebrate our freedoms as a nation, we will explore Religious Freedom which is one of the principles that we—as Baptist citizens in our country—hold dear.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday for Bible study and worship.