Mike Smith, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Murfreesboro, TN, argues strongly for a radical form of religious freedom. It's a form of religious freedom that is free of government support and willing to brave persecution and suffering. It is this radicalized freedom that he believes is the most important contribution of Baptists to modern Christianity. In his Ethics Daily post, Smith contrasts this historic position with some current views espoused by culturally connected Baptists crying for protection. That's not the Baptist way, he says, and it's not the way of Jesus.
Why don't we embrace this freedom? Why do we seek protection from a state that will always tie our hands? It is fear, Smith says. Pure and simple it's a matter of fear. And that is likely true. Back in the day, when Zwingli and Luther were reforming the church, the first Baptists -- Anabaptists we call them -- emerged. They liked what they heard about reform, but they wanted more. They wanted to go further. They wanted to break the ties that bind the church to the state. For Luther, Zwingli, Cramner, and the rest, that was going too far, and as a reading of the Martyr's Mirror demonstrates, many Anabaptists paid with their lives for deciding to reject the sword or being baptized upon confession of faith.
Yes, are we ready for radical religious freedom?