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The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctives


[1]

By

John A. Broadus

1. It is a duty we owe to ourselves. We must teach these views in order to be consistent in holding them. Because of these we stand apart from other Christians, in separate organizations - from Christians whom we warmly love and delight to work with. We have no right thus to stand apart unless the matters of difference have real importance; and if they are really important, we certainly ought to teach them. We sometimes venture to say to our brethren of some other persuasions that if points of denominational difference among evangelical Christians were so utterly trifling as they continually tell us, then they have no excuse for standing apart from each other, and no right to require us to stand apart from them unless we will abjure, or practically disregard, our distinctive views. . ..


2. To teach our distinctive views is a duty we owe to other fellow-Christians. Take the Roman Catholics. We are often told very earnestly that Baptists must make common cause with other Protestants against the aggressions of Romanism. It is urged, especially in some localities, that we ought to push all our denominational differences into the background and stand shoulder to shoulder against Popery. Very well; but all the time it seems to us that the best way to meet and withstand Romanism is to take Baptist ground; and if, in making common cause against it, we abandon or slight our Baptist principles, have a care lest we do harm in both directions. Besides, ours is the best position, we think, for winning Romanists to evangelical truth. Our brethren of the great Protestant persuasions are all holding some "developed" form of Christianity -- not so far developed as Popery, and some of them much less developed than others, but all having added something, in faith or government or ordinances, to the primitive simplicity. . . .


3. To teach our distinctive views is a duty we owe to the unbelieving world. We want unbelievers to accept Christianity; and it seems to us they are more likely to accept it when presented in its primitive simplicity, as the apostles themselves offered it to the men of their time. For meeting the assaults of infidels, we think our position is best. Those who insist that Christianity is unfriendly to scientific investigations almost always point to the Romanists; they could not with the least plausibility say this of Baptists. And when an honest and earnest-minded sceptic is asked to examine with us this which claim to be a revelation from God, we do not have to lay beside it another book as determining beforehand what we must find in the Bible. Confessions of faith we have, some older and some more recent, which we respect and find useful; but save through some exceptional and voluntary agreement we are not bound by them. We can say to the skeptical inquirer, "Come and bring all the really ascertained light that has been derived from studying the material world, the history of man, or the highest philosophy, and we will gladly use it in helping to interpret this which we believe to be God's word;" and we can change our views of its meaning if real light from any other sources requires us to do so. , , , Baptists are eminently conservative in their whole tone and spirit; and for a reason. Their recognition of the Scriptures alone as religious authority, and the stress they lay on exact conformity to the requirements of Scripture, foster an instinctive feeling that they must stand or fall with the real truth and the real authority of the Bible. The union of freedom and conservatism is something most healthy and hopeful.


4. There is yet another reason one full of solemn sweetness: To teach our distinctive views is not only a duty to ourselves, to our fellow-Christians, and to the unbelieving world, but it is a duty we owe to Christ; it is a matter of simple loyalty to him. Under the most solemn circumstances he uttered the express injunction. He met the eleven disciples by appointment on a mountain in Galilee; probably the more than five hundred of whom Paul speaks were present also: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, ‘All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.’"


[1] Excerpted from John A. Broadus, The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views (American Baptist Publication Society, 1880).

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