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The Baptist "Creed"


Our Bicentennial Celebration was wonderful! I think we all were rather awed as Dr. James Dunn, Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs pointed out that our church--due to its influence on education, missions and theology--has been probably one of the 100 most influential churches in American history.

Dr. Dunn also highlighted one of the most important Baptist distinctives--soul freedom. Baptists have always emphasized that an individual’s most basic responsibility is to God. It is, therefore, a most serious event whenever any individual, government, or church seeks to prohibit someone from following the dictates of their own conscience. As Dunn said, if there is a Baptist creed it is: "Ain’t nobody but Jesus going to tell me what to believe."

Admittedly, there have been those who have wanted a more specific creed. Dunn closed his speech with these words:

...Browning Ware of Austin, Texas put it well.

When younger, I thought there was an answer to every problem. And for a time, I knew many of the answers.
I knew about parenting until I had children.
I knew about divorce until I got one.
I knew about suicide until three of my closest friends took their lives in the same year.
I knew about the death of a child until my child died.
I’m not as impressed with answers as once I was. Answers seem so pallid, sucked dry of blood and void of life.

Knowing answers seduces us into making pronouncements on homosexuality, AIDS, marriage problems, teen-age pregnancies, abortion, sex education or whatever is coming down the pike. But when we get shoved into our valley of the shadow, a pronouncement is the last thing we need.

A friend wrote recently, "I too, get Maalox moments from all who know." I’m discovering that wisdom and adversity replace cocksure ignorance with thoughtful uncertainty.

More important and satisfying than answers is the Answer. "Thou are with me"--that’s what we crave. There may or may not be answers, but the Eternal One would like very much to be our companion. Creed enough.

1996  C. David Hess



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