Happy Anniversary, Baptists! It’s our Quad-Centennial. Baptists are now 400 years old. This past week Baptists from around the world gathered in Amsterdam to recognize our founding as a distinct religious movement in 1609. With funds provided by a wealthy member named Thomas Helwys (1550-1616), pastor John Smyth (1554-1612) and other believers had traveled to the Netherlands to seek out spiritual counsel. Out of their discussions a statement of beliefs was formulated, and the small band participated in a Believer’s Baptism ceremony. They quickly moved back to England and established a Baptist church.
They declared four tenants: Priesthood of all Believers (also known as Soul Competency)—people are free to act and live according to their own conscience before God. Each believer has full access to God without any human mediator. Believer’s Baptism—opposing infant baptism, baptism is to follow a person’s confession of faith and sins. Church Autonomy—each congregation is to follow its own understanding of Scripture and God’s direction without coercion from other religious leaders or groups. Religious Liberty—the king should not direct the affairs of any religion, favor any particular religions, or tax people to support or punish any religious person or group. It is the right of every individual to worship God, or not, as his or her conscience allows.
The Midwest Regional Meeting of the New Baptist Covenant in Norman, Oklahoma, is our closest opportunity to participate in the 400th anniversary celebrations. Consider going over August 6 and/or 7 to join with the hundreds of other Baptists emphasizing all of the things Baptists can do best together. I have been serving on the Steering Committee for this event, and an amazing program is being offered. Former President Jimmy Carter will be speaking at the Friday afternoon session, August 7. The event is being held in the new Embassy Suites Convention Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Celebrate your faith. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.