Baptists And Religious Liberty

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate July 2001

download word file, 3 pages 0.0

Downloaded 18 times

Baptists of the seventeenth century confronted religious restriction from all sides, both from government and the church. No other group advocated complete soul liberty. Baptists called for religious freedom, not only for themselves, but for every religious group. Their basis for this was in the way they read the Bible. Like all people Baptists went to the Bible with lenses that refracted the truth of God to them in a certain way. Leon McBeth pointed out that seventeenth century Anglicans tended to read church-state issues in light of the Old Testament. Baptists went to the New Testament to persuade others of the separation of the civil and spiritual kingdoms. Advocating religious liberty never meant that Baptists denied proper authority to civil rulers. Baptists taught that every person should be subject to the governing authorities (Romans 13). Baptists saw two spheres in the Bible. Romans 13 was for the civil, but James 4:12 "There is one lawgiver and judge" that is, the Lordship of Christ, was for the church.

Baptists anchored their passion for religious liberty to the nature of God, and the nature of humanity. Religious freedom, said the early Baptists, is rooted in the nature of God. A Sovereign God who dared to create people as free beings is portrayed in the Bible as a liberating Deity. Throughout the Old Testament, God is set against persons and institutions that restricted the freedom of God's people. And the complete thrust of Jesus' ministry was to free people from all that would hold them back from obedience to God. God, not nations or courts or human law, is the ultimate source of liberty.

Baptists also based their call for religious liberty on the biblical view of persons. Created in the image of God, a human being is the...