Archive Monthly Archives: February 2012

No State Control of Religion: Government Should
Protect Religious Freedom and Not Enforce Religion

February 26, 2012

By Dan Nelson, Pastor,
First Baptist Church,
Camarillo, CA


Certain periods of history have involved difficult pressures on Baptists practicing their faith. Opponents have used government sanctions to control and regulate religion, creating tension-filled times. The Baptist movement became enemies of the state and targets of harassment in their quest to practice their faith.

I am careful to distinguish the proper wording for this tenet of Baptist practice. It has been a source of controversy by virtue of even the terminology used. To say “freedom of religion” is a positive statement. Freedom of religion has different interpretations by Christians and non-Christians.

The popular terminology of “separation of church and state” has suffered serious revision. Particularly, the non-churched think separation of church and state means to silence all Christian voices denying the ability to exercise first amendment rights. They fail to understand that “forbidding the establishment of religion “means the establishment of a certain Christian denomination as a state church in our country or region. This phrase is not a means of keeping religious influence out of government. The second part of the Second Amendment states, “nor prohibit the exercise thereof.” We are not to restrict the practice of religion to just only the right to assemble as a church.[1]

The medieval church sought the state as the enforcer of religion. With an understanding of the oppression Baptists experienced, our heartfelt desire is to never let this happen again. We do not believe government has the right to enforce what a church can or cannot do.[2]

The struggle even to exist as a church began early. It was the hyper-critical religious leaders who took Jesus by treachery and turned him over to the Romans for crucifixion (Matt. 20:19-20). Jesus had declared, “Give Caesar what is his and God what is God’s” (Matt. 22:21). Jesus set the example for His followers and paid taxes when He had Peter pull a coin from a fish’s mouth for He and Peter (Matt. 17:27).
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The Top Blog Posts of the Week

February 25, 2012

by the Contributing Editors of SBC Today

This is a list of recent blog posts which we found interesting.  That we found them interesting doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with or endorse the ideas presented in the posts, but that we found them to be intriguing and thought-provoking.  (They are listed in no particular order of interest). Please post your comments to discuss  any article that strikes your interest. If you have recent blog posts to nominate, please send the link to sbctoday@gmail.com.


About Theology

  • On the Doctrines and Practices of Baptists (1857),” by Peter Lumpkins, with evidence from a circular letter in the Campbell County Baptist Association in 1857 that denies at least one of the key components of Reformed soteriology, contrary to those who claim that the earliest Southern Baptists were universally Reformed and believed in particular redemption.
  • Regeneration = Conversion,” by Stephen Garrett in the Old Baptist blog, with a citation from the Hardshell Baptist Elisha Andrews in 1830 equating regeneration with conversion, contrary to the teaching of many neo-Calvinists.

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Why Your Faith Is Secure, Part 1:
Salvation is of God, Not of Us

February 24, 2012

by Steve Lemke, Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, McFarland Chair of Theology, and Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


From time to time, many Christians struggle with the issue of the assurance of their salvation.  Often these doubts arise out of a sense of unworthiness when the believer becomes aware of stubborn sins in their own lives that hinder their fellowship with God.  Some other denominations teach that even true believers can lose their salvation.  Does the Bible teach that once we are genuinely saved, that we are saved forever?  Or can we lose our salvation?

Southern Baptists have always believed in what is known variously as the security of the believer, the perseverance of the saints, or “once saved, always saved.”  Each of these three names brings out a different aspect of the doctrine.  Article V of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 words our Baptist belief in assurance of salvation in this way:

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

 

Why do Baptists believe in the security of the believer?  What biblical reasons do you have to feel a firm assurance in your salvation?  This is the first in a series of articles that will examine biblical reasons for affirming the doctrine of security of the believer.  The first argument I will make is that the Bible teaches we cannot lose our salvation because it is not ours to lose.
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