What is a Baptist?

There are many ways we could talk about being a Baptist. Walter Shurden’s “four fragile freedoms” is one way to explain what it means to be Baptist:

Bible Freedom: “BIBLE FREEDOM is the historic Baptist affirmation that the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, must be central in the life of the individual and church and that Christians, with the best and most scholarly tools of inquiry, are both free and obligated to study and obey the Scripture.” (Shurden, 9).

Soul Freedom:  “SOUL FREEDOM is the historic Baptist affirmation of the inalienable right and responsibility of every person to deal with God without the imposition of creed, the interference of clergy, or the intervention of civil government.” (Shurden, 23)

Church Freedom: “CHURCH FREEDOM is the historic Baptist affirmation that local churches are free, under the Lordship of Christ, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whom they perceive as gifted for ministry, male or female, and to participate in the larger Body of Christ, of whose unity and mission Baptists are proudly a part.” (Shurden, 33)

Religious Freedom: “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM is the historic Baptist affirmation of freedom OF religion, freedom FOR religion, and freedom FROM religion, insisting that Caesar is not Christ and Christ is not Caesar.” (Shurden, 45)

All quotes taken from Walter B. Shurden, The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms, Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2017.

[updated 3/8/2018]