Saturday, April 07, 2007

Blogswarm Promotes Support For Church-State Separation And Religious Liberty

I find it very informative that the adages about power corrupting are proved true over and over again through history. Contemporary baptists are one of the more recent examples. Demonstrating a deplorable ignorance of their own roots, many current baptist leaders, having gained access to the seats of power, now want to use that power to promote their spiritual values. Forgotten are leaders of previous generatons who fought and died for religious liberty. Here is a quick survey--

James Dunn, 1996
“Daunting is the challenge to conserve and defend the distinctive marking on the beast called Baptist that insists upon separation of church and state.”

Hobbs Lecture, Oklahoma Baptist University, 1980
“We're free. Please, please, don't ever let anyone take your Baptist freedoms away from you.”

George W. Truett, pastor FBC Dallas 1897-1944
“Never, anywhere, in any clime has a true Baptist been willing, for one minute, for the union of church and state.” May 16, 1920

John Leland Baptist Preacher Virginia 1754-1841
“If a man merits the confidence of his neighbors in Virginia—let him worship one God, twenty Gods, or no God—be he Jew, Turk, Pagan, or Infidel, he is eligible to any office in the State.”

“If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise let men be free.”

Thomas Jefferson used the phrase "Wall of Separation between church and state" in his letter to the Baptists of Danbury, CT in 1801. But the first record of the concept in the new world came from Baptist forefather, Roger Williams, who in 1631 advocated a “hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world.”

But the earliest baptist proponent of religious liberty was Thomas Helwys, credited with being one of the founders of the modern English baptist movement, who sent a treatise on religous liberty to King James I around 1612 with the following inscription.

"Hear, O King, and despise not the counsel of the poor, and let their complaints come before thee.
The king is a mortal man and not God: therefore he hath no power over the immortal souls of his subjects, to make laws and ordinances for them, and to set spiritual Lords over them.
If the king have authority to make spiritual laws and Lords, then he is an immortal God and not a mortal man.
O King, be not seduced by deceivers to sin against God Whom thou oughtest to obey, nor against thy poor subjects who ought and will obey thee in all things with body, life and goods, or else let their lives be taken from the earth.
God save the King.
Spittlefield, near London. Tho. Helwys

Shortly afterward, Helwys was imprisoned and probably died in prison.

Compare that with contemporary leaders like Jerry Falwell who, in 2003 said, "the hypothetical separation of church and state - the ominous phrase lifted from an obscure letter written by Thomas Jefferson that has been manipulated, exaggerated and embellished by those who wish to exterminate religious expression from the American public square.”

As long as I remain a Baptist, I will do what I can to call Baptists back to their roots.


Tauratinzwe said...

The name "Baptist" has been stolen by those who want to exploit a great denomination to gain earthly power. They have no understanding of or committment to the basic beliefs and practices of baptists. Of great significance is their insistance upon adherance to select propositional truths rather than a personal relationship and submission to a risen Lord, one of the earliest characteristics of baptists.

sepherim said...

Unfortunately baptists have never been known for knowing their own history. One sure clue to the hijacking of the name is the fact that the Baptist History and Heritage group refused to go along the the conservative take over.