A Progressive Theo-Political Blog Bringing You The Best and Worst of Baptist Life.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Saving Soul Freedom w/ James Dunn

This is the fourth post in our newly launched Recovering E.Y. Mullins and Saving Soul Freedom Summer Project. See here, here, and here. Our inspiration for this Project is none other than Bill Underwood, President of Mercer University and New Baptist Covenant organizer, and his Baptist Summit speech given in January, 2006.

Without further ado, I give you James Dunn in his own words excerpted from Charles W. Deweese's Defining Baptist Convictions: Guidelines for the Twenty-First Century.
Soul freedom is the fire that burns in the innards of every true Baptist. From Thomas Helwys' insistence that "the king is not the Lord of the conscience" to this day, the identifying mark of the breed called Baptist is that dogged determination to be free.

No proof text is needed, because the passion for freedom is rooted in the person and nature of God in whose image all humankind is created. Before any constitution, any social contract, even before the biblical revelation lies the way in which we were all made - responsible to God and free to respond (and take the consequences).

If that is the biblical and theological principles driving religious liberty, then the ethical, moral, and social implications of that transforming idea demand that same freedom for every other human being. If we do love our neighbors as ourselves, if we do unto others as we want them to do to us, if indeed, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, we want religious liberty for everyone.

Anyone's religious libety denied is everyone's religious liberty endangered. Firmly rooted in biblical belief and the ethical demands coming directly from those convictions, Baptists have stood for separation of church and state since we were first labeled "Baptist."

The same King James whose name is in the front of your Bible is the one who ordered the death of Thomas Helwys, the first Baptist pastor in England. Helwys' crime was simple: the king was not his spiritual master. Government, however good, could not be God.

One does not go to the Bible for instruction as if it were a political science textbook. Yet, the Bible speaks to the relation of religion to political life. Baptists who slight the distinctive of church-state separation deny their birthright.

Some today cannot see that clear biblical teachings inform one's estimate of humankind, sin, righteousness, and redemption. Biblical doctrine fuels and empowers believers to seek spiritual libeation for all. The Bible has shaped our best insights and noblest traditions as "people of the Book." The universal freedom of religious conscience is taught in the Bible.

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Blogger barely a prof said...

keep up the good work young (but big) Weave. James Dunn has been one of my heroes ever since I "go-phered" sub sandwiches for the Texas CLC in downtown Dallas back in the seminary day when, with care, a good theological education could still be had at SWBTS in Ft. Worth.

7:43 PM


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