Everything you wanted to know about Baptists but were afraid to ask

Slacktivist explains it all:
Q: You keep talking about this "soul liberty" as the essence of what it means to be a Baptist. But isn't the essence of the Baptist tradition, you know, baptism?

A: What sets Baptists apart is not that they are baptized -- all Christians practice baptism in one form or another. Nor is it the form of baptism (we prefer old-school, take-me-to-the-river-style immersion, but it's not an article of faith). The distinct thing is that Baptists choose baptism, and thus are only baptized when they're old enough to make that choice on their own. The significance of this is that it means that membership in the church is a matter of individual choice -- soul liberty again. This also has political significance as an expression of individual freedom and the separation of church and state. This political aspect was a rather big deal a few centuries back. The separation of church and state is the one and only contribution Baptists have made to Christian political thought -- but it's a pretty good contribution."


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