Christian Humanist Profiles 201: Baptists and the Christian Tradition

Baptists have an odd relationship with the Christian tradition. Some of their most distinctive beliefs and practices seem difficult to square with the views of other Christian communions past and present. Of course, for some Baptists, this isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. They’ll happily don the title of Nonconformist, declaring “No creed but Christ!” If you’re a Baptist who takes seriously Christ’s command that his disciples “be one”, that stance is a troubling one. But what if that’s not a stance Baptists have to take? In a new book, Baptists and the Christian Tradition, its authors argue that such a contrarian pose doesn’t do justice to the history of Baptist thought and practice. Early Baptists were keen to emphasize their confessional unity with other believers, and defended their distinctives as developments in harmony with that unity. In fact, these Baptist of the past were surprisingly “catholic” thinkers. In this episode of Christian Humanist Profiles, David Grubbs interviews Dr. Matthew Emerson, Professor of Religion and Dean of the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry at Oklahoma Baptist University and editor of Baptists and the Christian Tradition: Towards an Evangelical Baptist Catholicity (B&H Academic, 2020).

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