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very good... loved the humour..

Malcolm Yarnell

The beauty of Baptist theology is our unremitting commitment to religious liberty for every person as a fundamental right.

For instance, as Thomas Helwys, first pastor of the first English Baptist Church told King James VI and I, in The Mistery of Iniquity,

"For we do freely profess that our lord the king has no more power over their consciences than over ours, and that is none at all. For our lord the king is but an earthly king, and he has no authority as a king but in earthly causes. And if the king’s people be obedient and true subjects, obeying all human laws made by the king, our lord the king can require no more. For men’s religion to God is between God and themselves. The king shall not answer for it. Neither may the king be judge between God and man. Let them be heretics, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure. This is made evident to our lord the king by the scriptures."

Or, again, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, says, in Article XVII,

"God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it."

This explains why we Baptists will fight against human innovations such as we see in the movements you have mentioned, Peter, and yet why we will simultaneously defend the right of others to hold such views. We will win people to biblical Christianity by our proclamation of God's Word alone.


Dr. Malcolm Yarnell,

A heartfelt 'Amen' to all you have said. I appreciate the balance, the grace and the truth. Others could learn from your example here.

In His Grace,


Professor Yarnell,

Thank you for the contribution.  As for me, I think at least part of the problem we're experiencing today as SBs, stems from those in our convention who attempt to employ the principle of religious freedom for every individual that you have reiterated so well, but in their employment of it, skew it to impoverish our own identity as Baptists.

I stand nose to nose to person, group or entity who attempts to deny any religious group their basic freedom to pursue religion according to their own conscience.  I think that principle flows in every Baptist's blood.  Yet, within the identity markers of a particular group itself, that same freedom, it seems to me, cannot survive. Or, that is to say, the applicability of that freedom principle cannot survive but must be significantly readjusted.  As the Freedom Principle plays out within the free community, freedom must neccssarily be limited in many ways.  There are definitive markers that must be embraced, else the group vanishes.  And, if markers must be embraced then some measure of freedom must be forfeited--albeit voluntarily forfeited but forfeited nonetheless.

It is at this juncture I see many attempting to apply the Freedom Principle in precisely the same manner within our Convention as they do in working with all evangelicals outside our Convention.  Dr. Land may be able to work very cozy with Roman Catholics in addressing the moral drift toward a culture of death.  On the other hand, it would be suicide to attempt a formal ecclesiological alliance with them.  And that goes for other evangelicals as well, it seems to me. 

In addition, the strength of Billy Graham's organization for half a century has been to circle the wagons around the preached Gospel, nothing else.  What a nightmare if he had attempted to plant Churches with such a strategy. 

For me, Charismatics, Enid's quasi-evangelicalism and others who attempt to cleanse Southern Baptists of her historic markers and make our Convention less defined and more vaguely 'mainstream evangelical'  harmfully confuse applying the Freedom Principle across denominational lines with applying the Freedom Principle within one's community of like Churches.  The former application works very well and lends itself to friendly but fixed markers, toward understanding, healthy relationships and, where possible, meaningful yet informal alliances.   

Applying the Freedom Principle in the same way within one's fellowship of Churches, however, inevitably leads to dissension and unfortunately, destruction of the community. According to Wade Burleson's  posts, simply being orthodox is plenty enough to ask. 

Here Wade affirms a statement of cooperation around which he believes all Southern Baptists can unite.  It includes Scripture authority, Christ's Person, substitutionary atonement, believer's baptism and judgment for unbelievers.    The way I read him, tis enough if we do that.  Here Wade picks up on Professor Nettles triad--orthodox, evangelical, separate and emphatically states "THAT to me is the best short definition of what it means to be a Baptist. I believe we should vigorously challenge anyone who tries to narrow the definition any further."

It is this vague evangelicalism, in my view, that is the greatest threat to Southern Baptists at this moment.

Grace always.  With that, I am...


markers we believe are not just Baptist per se, but Baptist because we hold them to be thoroughly Biblical.

The major dissenting groups today--Charismatic, Quasi-evangelical, Moderationists, Aggressive Calvinists--are relentless in their charges that 'traditional Baptists' are just that--Traditional.



Grow your hair out a bit and change your anctics and you could take the youtube guys job. --

Seriously, your thoughts again clear and the use of humor nails the point.



I think I can see the crux of my disagreement with the current SBC orthodoxy. I, for one, believe that some, and perhaps many, of our Baptist distinctives are not really all that Biblical. I believe that we as an organization have at times exceeded the dictates of Scripture to stress the permissive into the required, which necessarily then became a basis for fellowship.

My personal belief is that the modification or even outright loss of many of our contemporary Baptist distinctives should not require a loss of Baptist identity. Though the transformation involved is radical by contemporary standards, admittedly. And I say this as an ordained SBC minister, though I'm not currently in any ministry role, mainly for theological reasons.

If I understand correctly, the SBC itself has been through at least one radical transformation that I am aware of, which historically redefined its orthodoxy. That historic issue was of course the issue of slavery. I would hope that no one here would hold to the orthodoxy that brought the SBC into being. This being the case, why cannot Baptist distinctives change? More to the point, why cannot people have the right to fellowship as Baptist brethren, especially in regard to the shared desire to Scriptural fidelity?

Benji Ramsaur


Here is an interesting take on Baptist distinctives [1898]:

A brother writes to us, "The Methodist pastor at this place surprised our Baptist, Presbyterian and Episcopalian brethren at church to-day, when he told them what their churches believed. He attempted to show the difference between the doctrine of Arminius, of whom the Methodists are a branch, and the Calvinists, of whom the Baptists are a branch, as are also the Presbyterians and Episcopalians, Primitive Baptists and Catholics.

His statements were these:
(1) The Calvinists believe in Predestination.
(2)They believe in a limited atonement and not in a universal salvation: holding that none but the elect can be saved, as these are they for whom Christ died, and none other.
(3) They believe in an irresistible grace: that man is powerless to resist, there being no such thing as free moral agency.
(4) They believe that a man is first converted and then repents of his sins.

The brother sending this information desires us to state how much truth there is in them so far as they relate to the Baptists: and since the Methodist preacher went so far as to say that "we never preach these doctrines during revivals when we were trying to save souls, and that a great many join these Calvinistic churches because they like the members of a particular church and are not informed as to their doctrines," we deem it worth while to do so.
(1) The Baptists are rightly classified as Calvinists in contrast with Arminians. the Baptists are Bible Christians, whose theology is termed Calvinistic. There are many kinds of Baptists and more kinds of Calvinists. The average Baptists is a medium Calvinist, accepting his general point of view and many of the doctrines that he defined and defended, but refused to go to his extremes.
(2) Baptists believe that the atonement of Christ is sufficient for the whole world, but that it is efficacious only to those who believe. They believe that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." They also believe His words, "I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:15), and they say with Paul that Christ "loved the church and gave Himself for it" (Eph. 5:25). If this is limitation of the atonement make the most of it.
(3) The Baptists believe in free grace: the controversialists against them have demanded that they accept the term "irresistible grace," and they have accepted it acknowledging the sovereign power of God. They do also believe in man's free moral agency: but they do not pretend to explain all the mysteries of Divinity or Humanity and therefore do not claim to reconcile these positions.
(4) Baptists believe that all who are saved are saved by grace. It is incorrect to say that Baptists believe that one is first converted and then repents. Baptists hold that repentance is an effect of the Holy Spirit operating on a person in Regeneration. Conversion is the human side; Regeneration is the divine. The divine precedes the human. The Methodist brother uses the word Conversion as meaning Regeneration,--which is wrong.
Not knowing who are elected and who are not, believing that all who are elected will demonstrate it by faith and obedience in this life, the Baptist preach the Gospel to all, urging them to repent, believe and be baptized, promising them eternal life.

From: The Biblical Recorder
Date: January 26, 1898
Editor: J.W. Bailey
Agent and Correspondent: J.C. Caddell



P.S. Personally, I think the primary resources carry more weight than what modern Baptists or modern church historians say [whether they be Calvinist or NonCalvinist]



Thanks, Brother. I'll have to think more whether slavery constitutes a radical shift in orthodoxy. First, slavery is primarily an ethical question and secondly, virtually all branches of Christianity had to wrestle with issue. Hence, to consider slavery a 'Baptist distinctive' from which we rightly departed does not seem to fit.

Byron, you ask a very good question: "why cannot people have the right to fellowship as Baptist brethren, especially in regard to the shared desire to Scriptural fidelity?" Indeed this is precisely what those of us who are defending our Baptist heritage have in mind. We affirm whatever Scripture says, God says.

And, because we affirm Scripture teaches, at least from our perspective, Baptist distinctives, we defend Baptist distinctives not so much because they're Baptist but because they're Scripture.

On a thread at Wes Kenney's, Wade Burleson made these two statements in regard to arguing for Baptism being the individual responsibility of every disciple to perform on any person he (she?) leads to Christ:

‘According to Scripture it is a decision of the convert and the person who leads the convert to Christ.’

“…any Christian who has the privilege of leading a sinner to Christ carries the same Great Commission privilege of baptizing his convert….This is both the biblical and historic baptist position.”

Subsequently, Wade employed MT 28.19 as a proof text for his position. I asked a simple question: "Toward which part of either quote does our Lord refer in MT. 28.19?" I wait still for an answer. My point is, those of us who are arguing for Baptist heritage are being slighted as if we're more concerned with being Baptist than being Biblical. That is definitively not the case.

Grace, Byron. With that, I am...




Good to hear from you. I trust your Christmas weekend already beautiful.

I too share the same respect for the primary sources. I very much appreciate the quote though I'm not sure the purpose you wish to suggest.

With that, I am...



hey peter,

whenever we get steroids around here, we put preparation h on them. it really helps.

david :)



You said, "First, slavery is primarily an ethical question and secondly, virtually all branches of Christianity had to wrestle with issue. Hence, to consider slavery a 'Baptist distinctive' from which we rightly departed does not seem to fit."

That's a very good point, I must admit. But I read somewhere that a lot of the contention on this issue was theological in nature, based on differing scriptural interpretations. However, I suspect at least a good bit of it was financial and economic in nature. Our wallets and purses tend to be closer to our hearts than our Bibles at times, and I know I've certainly been guilty of that in my life. So slavery really may not be a good issue to use, I guess, because there are a lot of factors involved in that historic issue.

Thank you for introducing me to Emo Philips. And thanks to Malcolm Yarnell for his excellent post. And I'll have to give these matters some more thought.

Grace to all.

Malcolm Yarnell


I agree with your comments following mine, as you probably surmise. It will become more apparent in the near future as I finish up my interchange with David Rogers. Blessings on you, Peter, my Baptist brother.

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