Many people claim a baptist faith. Yet few understand any concept of baptist theology. How do baptist stick out among religious denominations? How does this way of religion Claim to be the New testament faith? Baptist theologian Edgar Young Mullins set out to do this nearly a century ago in his monumental work "The axioms of religion". Mullins finds axioms which are consistent with the 5 solas of the reformation as well as the baptist faith. These help to develop a uniquely New Testament/Baptist worldview.
The theological axiom: The holy and loving God has a right to be sovereign.
The religious axiom: All souls have an equal right to direct access to God.
The ecclesiastical axiom: All believers have a right to equal privileges in the church.
The moral axiom: To be responsible, man must be free.
The religio-civic axiom: A free church in a free state.
The social axiom: Love your neighbor as yourself.
The theological axiom: The God of the Bible has a right to be Sovereign
doctrinal application: If God truly is all loving, holy, Righteous and perfect. Then he deserves more than temporal lordship of the universe. He deserves our hearts and souls as well.
Secular philosophy starts off with God as impersonal. He is not the God of the Bible. It is a concept and not a creater. This diminishes God and leaves a void of unanswered questions. leaving issues open like the problem of evil.
Understanding the nature and character of God eliminates a lot of liberal and cultic conceptions of God in Christ.
1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Exodus 15:2The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.
psalm 9:7But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.
8And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
9The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
10And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
1O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.
2For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.
The religious axiom: All men have an equal right to access God
God is far above man. And yet He creates us all in His image.
This starts us off with a universal great Commission. Which baptist are known for. However this also destroys the idea of sacramentalism where an organized religion determins who will and will not be saved. This is also an extension of sola scriptura
john4:21Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
The true God desires a relationship with all peoples everywhere.
Acts 10:28And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
34Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
If God has this level of respect for humanity and does not predjudice one group over another. Then How should we dignify others?
Ecclesiastical axiom: All believers have a right to equal priveledges within the church
autonomy of the local congregation, church democracy. Now some have argued that this should validate women as pastors and homosexuality. But if a church is autonomous it can have standards. Also there is nothing unbiblical with relegating offices according to gifting. A pastor has to have a fatherly role, which is not the gifiting of a sister in christ. That being said a chruch democracy can weed out these issues of conviction. If the congregation is in opposition to scripture so be it, but it is no longer a New Testament Church.
Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
18Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
19Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
20For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
God's authority is in the congregation "where two or three are gathered". If the local.
acts 6:3Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Here we see that a church has autonomy if it congregates.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT)
23and having appointed to them by vote elders in every assembly, having prayed with fastings, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
1 Corinthians 14:32And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
33For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
We also see that the church elects it's leadership showing that united, a church has authority over it's leader's which eliminates the top down structure. Even the gift of prophesy is subject to congregational authority.
The moral axiom:To be responsible the soul must be free
Religion must accept the free will of the individual. This strikes against the doctrine of the state church. One example is the process of infant baptism. Believer's baptism respects the will of the individual christian. We have to come to christ willingly and not out of compulsion.
matt 3:8Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
9And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Acts 2:40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Revelation 22:17And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
The religio-civic axiom:A free church in a free state
This is truly a forgotten doctrine it was the Baptist minister Harold leland who used his political capital to convince rival james madison to included this doctrine in the Bill of rights.
mark 9:38And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
39But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
40For he that is not against us is on our part.
romans 13:2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
The social axiom:Love your neighbor as yourself
This fits into the baptist emphasis on personaly evangelism and soul winning.
Philosophically speaking many mainline protestant churches as well as catholics put an emphasis on charity and social causes. Baptists historically have put greater emphasis upon personal evangelism/soul winning. The reason is because society needs the power of the Holy Spirit alongside regeneration more than it needs material goods.
Mark 1:16Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
17And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
Romas 8:18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
It was this formula that gave power to the Southern Baptist Convention which became the largest protestant denomination in the world and rivaled the assemblies of God as the most evangelistic.
Looking back on it I have three thoughts.
A. In terms of criticism. The Only issue at hand is every thing in this formula is biblical, only it is missing one axiom. And that it is the issue of separation.
By which we find church disiplne clearly taught in the scripture
matthew 18:14Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Also, we see that the congregation is to be separate and pure from from unbelief.
2Corinthians 6:14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
I believe this was a problem which made the Southern baptist Convention polluted with liberalism, even though they recovered as a result of their independence.
B. Nottice How these axioms are in a liberating and positive format. God's people are to be empowered and not enslaved. In most of the protestant denominations we see a mimicry of the catholic model in the sense of a top down government. God's people function best as free people. because jesus is the truth and the truth will set you free!
Romans 8:15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
C. Finally it is sad and downright pathetic that baptist today are not only ignorant of these principles. Yet in fact, our pastors are resorting not to the New Testament church but to mainline protestant ecclesiology. the same churches that have lost the power of the gospel in their church life. We are truly levening the lump.
But liberalism commonly leaves libertarianism in favor of top down government and tyranny. If baptist forget their old landmark, that might still be calling themselves baptist But they will never be calling themselves in honesty the New Testament Church.