Pristine Grace

Baptists and Liberty of Conscience
by Bob Higby
Baptists and Liberty of Conscience

    Like all other Protestants, Baptists profess to be champions of liberty of conscience and the priesthood of all believers. In actual fact, these are not guiding principles of the movement to any significant degree. We must certainly recognize that the apostolic gospel is confessional and therefore must be expressed in definite propositions of truth. These gospel truths cannot be compromised; those who will not believe them cannot be regarded as Christ’s brethren. However, in Baptist tradition the entire confessional basis of a church is viewed as sacrosanct, not subject to correction. This confessional basis always hedges the timeless truths of God’s revelation with a myriad of propositions that have nothing to do with the gospel. The same is true of the traditions of all of Protestantism and, of course, Roman Catholicism. Massive confessions with hundreds of fine points stand century after century without a word of revision. This only evidences that churches holding to such confessions view them as unchangeable in the same practical sense as the scriptures. There is far more allowance for individual belief and conviction in the secular state than there is in churches organized after the Patristic model as perfected by Augustine!