Pastor’s Paragraph–August 1, 2018
This past Sunday, we completed a four part sermon series on the identity of Baptists. At Calvary, we often refer to ourselves as baptist Christians (little “b” and capital “C”). First and foremost, we always seek to be “Christian.” Our church (as noted in our mission statement) should always strive to be a “Christ – centered caring church family in the center of our community.” While recognizing, appreciating and often partnering with Christian churches from various denominations and faith traditions, our congregation identifies with historic Baptist principles.
To remind ourselves of what these cherished principles are, we referred in our recent sermon series to what Dr. Walter Shurden delineates as “Four Fragile Freedoms.” These “four freedoms” which characterize a true Baptist congregation are:
- Bible Freedom – “the historic Baptist affirmation that the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, must be central in the life of the individual and the church and that Christians (with the best and most scholarly tools of inquiry) are both free and obligated to study and obey the Scripture.” We also affirm that the “ultimate criterion” by which we should interpret the Bible is Jesus Christ.
- Soul Freedom – “the historic Baptist affirmation of the inalienable right and responsibility of every person to deal with God (directly) without the imposition of creed, the interference of clergy, or the intervention of civil government.” We often refer to this identifying Baptist principle as the “Priesthood of the Believer.”
- 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 they 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.” This identifying Baptist principle is known as “the autonomy of the local church.”
- Religious Freedom – “the historic Baptist affirmation of freedom OF religion, freedom FOR religion, and freedom FROM religion, insisting that Caesar (the government) is not Christ and Christ is not Caesar.” We know this identifying Baptist principle as “the separation of church and state.”
I would encourage you to read The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms written by Dr. Walter B. Shurden. It is one of the very best treatments of “Who Baptists Are?” You can also view all four sermons that I have preached in this series by going to our church web site and clicking on “sermon archive.”
Thank you, Calvary Baptist Church family, for being a true Baptist church in the best sense of the word. This Sunday I will begin a sermon series on “dealing with anxiety.” The series is based on Philippians 4: 4-7. The title of this Sunday’s message: “Remaining ‘C.A.L.M.’ in a Chaotic World.”
Looking forward to seeing you Sunday!