Thursday, December 24, 2009

Baptimergence I: A Unique Tradition?

What do Baptimergents believe?

We will be looking at an “Identity” statement from a “baptistfamily of faith to discern what they think. Here’s the first paragraph.

“As a Baptist congregation, there are some things about our tradition that are unique. We observe the ritual of baptism for believers who publicly confess their willingness to follow Jesus. Our practice of baptism involves the total immersion of persons in water. We know that Baptism is symbol of one’s willingness to identify with Jesus and the mission of God’s kingdom, and respect that each tradition practices that ritual differently.”

Parse the wording carefully: Our tradition…We observe…Who publicly confess…Our practice…We know…One’s willingness…and respect that each tradition practices that ritual differently.

Where is authority? Apparently, we are the authority!

Our tradition is unique! Our practice…involves! We know that…! Each…practices…differently. In other words, we are one of many paths to…God’s Kingdom. We are just willing to identify with Jesus!

So say someone else is willing to commit to all the above except is willing to follow or identify with let’s say…Allah…or the Dali Lama…or the Mormon Prophets? Who are we then to say that their tradition is not unique? Remember, we should, “respect that each tradition practices that ritual differently.”

Ultimately the fable here is existential experience. What I know to be true, what I observe, confess, and practice is what matters. We know our symbols are meant “to identify with Jesus and the mission of God’s kingdom” but others may not understand our preoccupation with Jesus. As long as we keep this to ourselves and “respect that each tradition practices that ritual differently” then we are ok and they are ok.

This is exactly what happens when you drop “Sola Scriptura” or “Scriptures Alone” as your authority (2 Tim 3:15-17; 1:12-14; Col 1:4-6; I Cor 2:13). The historic Baptist confessions all start with Biblical authority. For Example, The London Baptist Confession of 1689 first sentence is, "The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation."

Ultimately, the Word of God as in “Thus says the LORD” for Baptimergents has been replaced with “Our tradition…We observe…Who publicly confess…Our practice…We know.” In otherwords...Man is the center of all truth?

2 comments:

  1. A link to the London Confession:

    http://www.vor.org/truth/1689/1689bc00.html

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  2. This really isn't much different from the way Baptist churches have operated for generations. The emphasis on local autonomy pretty much leaves congregations free to do their own thing. While we may often associate (Southern) Baptists with fundamentalism (i.e. biblical literalism), the radical individualist bent of their anabaptist roots is, historically and objectively speaking, on the far left of the theological spectrum.

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