Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why Be Baptist?

Why be Baptist?

For that matter, why do denominations matter at all in a "post-denominational" world? People express a variety of concerns about denominations these days, and many are legitimate. But denominations still stand for something. There are critical differences between them. Denominational associations and conventions enable churches and individuals to accomplish things together that they would be unable to do as effectively by themselves.

But why be Baptist? Because we believe that being Baptist is the most faithful and effective way of carrying out the Gospel. We believe that being Baptist is most faithful to the Bible; being Baptist means following the Bible and not a creed formed by some council. Baptists believe in freedom that is God-given four "fragile freedoms," as Buddy Shurden calls them in The Baptist Identity: Bible freedom; soul freedom; church freedom; and religious freedom. And most important, Baptists put Jesus first, interpreting Scripture through Jesus' life and teachings.

On January 3, I began a series of videos, entitled Baptist Briefs, running Monday through Friday on the TBC Web site and blog. In these videos – which run about 2 minutes each – I try to tell the Baptist story, giving a little history, discussing Baptist principles, and telling a little about the people who have helped move that story along through the years.

Even a quick look at Baptist history through these videos tells you that we shouldn't take lightly the freedoms we enjoy in Baptist churches today. Over the past 400 years, many Baptists have risked prison, torture, and death to preserve Baptist principles . . . the right to worship without government interference . . . the right to interpret the Bible under the leadership of the Holy Spirit rather than the heavy hand of a priest or bishop . . . and the right to govern our own churches without the interference of a hierarchy.

It's time to take a stand, Baptists. Learn about your Baptist heritage . . . teach it in your churches . . . teach it to your children. Teach them why being Baptist is more than simply wearing a label . . . it's about the way we relate to God. Freely and responsibly . . . that's how God invites us, and that's how He expects us to live.

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