I am pleased for the clarification on the forum about the SBC, as well as the Welcome. Thanks! I included "soul liberty" as one of the Baptist distinctives in an earlier post. Does the biblical idea have limits? Is there a threshold which can be crossed where one is no longer legitimate to call himself Baptist, or even Christian? Can "soul liberty" be a ruse for heresy? Can one be a Baptist and deny the virgin birth? Can we be Baptist in spirit and demand another believe the premillenial theology, or an amillenial theology, to belong in our local church? Romans chapter 14 gives pretty wide latitude it seems for acceptance of one another, but are there not core beliefs that are required to be Christian, and then further, those beliefs that make us legitimate to be called "Baptist"? I think of the doctrine of the Trinity up front. I can think of 3 passages that seem to give guard rails to keep us in the road of biblical faith.
“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” (Pr 30:5-6 ESV)
I must ask myself often, what am I believing in faith and practice that is not stated in the word of God?
“When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”” (Joh 21:21-23 ESV)
When I study the Scripture, am I reading into what Jesus said, or am I reading exactly what is stated without adding my own feelings and ideas? This can be harder than it seems to put into practice. Many times I have needed to be challenged and rethink or give a 2nd or 3rd look and study of a passage.
“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” (1Co 4:6 ESV)
Just as in this context, aren't the vast number of church groups due to "going beyond what is written"? We can do it unconsciously, or by wishing to be a leader, or having a novel new theological concept. Now, it is obvious we are all individuals with differing backgrounds and interests which make it almost impossible to not have variations within the church, but has it not gotten totally mind-boggling the number of freaky groups? I sometimes call myself a "confessional Baptist" because I do try to read what Baptists through history have felt important enough to put down as a confession, and I also read what honored pillars of the faith among Baptists in history have taught. It may surprise many, the old Baptist scholar Dr. John Gill taught both a premillenial view as well as a postmillenial outlook. How is that for a mind bender, but when you read his theology, you can see his biblical reasoning, even though I do not adopt it. I hope we see challenges, expansion on the idea, whatever from others who value the Scriptures. I do not post this to debate but to read the responses.
May God's peace be upon you all...