26 Jun Baptists and Freedom
July 4th marks the birthday of our country and offers an opportunity to think about our freedoms. This nation has been blessed in so many ways, and Baptists have taken a leading role especially in the area of religious freedom.
Baptists have been champions of religious liberty from our beginnings as a denomination. Historically, we have been on the forefront as advocates for the separation of church and state.
In his classic work “Four Fragile Freedoms,” Walter Shurden put it this way: “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM is the historic Baptist affirmation of freedom OF religion, freedom FOR religion, and freedom FROM religion, insisting that Ceasar is not Christ and Christ is not Ceasar.”
One of the most significant presentations of this Baptist principle came during a sermon on May 16, 1920 from the east steps of the National Capitol Building. Dr. George Truett, pastor of FBC Dallas, said that Jesus’ word about rendering to Caesar what was Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s is one of “the most revolutionary and history making utterances that ever fell from those lips divine. That utterance, once for all, marked the divorcement of church and state.”
Baptists have had many disagreements (to put it mildly) through the years. But, it’s important to celebrate our heritage as it relates to freedom of religion. Freedom of religion is a founding principle of our nation. We should remember that faith must be free, it cannot be coerced.
On a related note, Baptists have affirmed the freedom of the local church. I’m grateful our church recognizes this through our mission endeavors, ministries, and selection of God-called men and women to be deacons and ministerial staff. Through our voluntary cooperation with associational, state, and national Baptist entities, we still maintain and practice local church autonomy.
One of the primary ways Baptist churches practice their freedom is by calling and ordaining their own ministers and staff. I’m very excited about our voting to ordain Vicki and Lauren to the gospel ministry! We’ll be scheduling the ordination service in the near future.
We’re in the middle of the summer and folks are taking advantage of the time for much needed breaks from their routines. For this reason we won’t be having Adult Bible Study/Prayer Meeting in July (I’ll begin a new study series next month!) We will gather for our monthly business meeting on the 19th. I’m also grateful to have Jason, Amanda, and Kris taking on some preaching assignments this month as well.
Let’s remember the work of the church continues in the summer months with our prayers, participation, and financial support–DC