Friday, July 14, 2006

A Baptist Church: Radically Different from 'Baptistic' Churches?

Currently on, published by The Center for Theological Research at Southwestern Seminary, one of the feature articles is entitled A Baptist Church: Radically different from Pedobaptist Churches, by J. L. M. Curry, D. D., written in 1889. The first paragraphs of this article read as follows…

No religious denomination has a moral right to a separate existence unless it differs essentially from others. Ecclesiastical differences ought always to spring from profound doctrinal differences. To divide Christians, except for reasons of gravest import, is criminal schism. Sects are justifiable only for matters of conscience growing out of clear scriptural precept or inevitable logical inference. Human speculation, tradition, authority of pope or council or synod or conference or legislature, is no proper basis for an organization of Christians. Nothing short of the truth of revelation, the authoritative force of God’s word, rising above mere prejudice or passion or caprice, can justify a distinct church organization.

While Baptists rejoice that there are so many points of agreement betwixt themselves and other evangelical Christians, and are prompt to acknowledge the works of faith and the labors of love of their brethren, yet they hold peculiar and differentiating principles, that are of vital importance and enter essentially into the idea of a church, its organism, membership, ordinances, and doctrines. These differences are radical, growing out of God’s revealed will; and the barriers of: separation are neither few nor trivial. To suppose that we are kept apart from beloved brethren solely by our views on baptism and the Lord’s Supper is a grievous misapprehension. Our differences, as we conceive, are broader and involve imperishable scriptural ideas and principles. The "wall of partition" is not built of water, much or little, of rites or robes or ceremonial. No sectarian bitterness or preference for isolation keeps us apart from those with whom we delight to co-operate in many spheres of Christian labor. The suggestion would not be uncharitable that sectarianism is responsible for diverse denominations which have a common origin, recognize one another’s ordinances, and hold to infant baptism, infant membership, and other common practices.

It would seem to me that this article, if I am understanding correctly, in light of recent discussions regarding relationships with other "GCCs" and denominations, says a little more than what is in the interest of the editors of Curry makes some good points for denominational separation of "Baptists" from "Pedobaptists." But, from what I read into what Curry is saying, there is absolutely no excuse for lack of complete ecclesiastical union with other "Baptist" and/or "baptistic" groups.

Are the good folks at comfortable with this conclusion, or am I not reading this correctly?


Paul said...

I seem to be reading it the same way you are. Interesting.

Donald said...

I read it the same way you do.