This post was originally written on 10 June 2009, on the previous version of my blog
I was recently sent an article from the Associated Baptist Press (ABP, USA), entitled: “Baptists urged to consider risks of ‘majoritarian faith’”, by David Wilkinson. It is a news article about a recent lecture by Baptist historian Doug Weaver, speaking at the Baptist History and Heritage Society annual meeting.
His main point was that Baptists (and by inference, other Reformed Protestants) were shaped and formed as persecuted, minority groups. Now, they are majority, mainstream groups, and are in danger (I’d say they have already) lost their distinctiveness and compromised their values. In particular, he is concerned that Baptists have abandoned their belief in religious liberty (and in liberty in general).
While Baptists proudly point to religious liberty and church-state separation as their distinctive contributions to American history, Weaver said, contemporary Baptist heirs to that tradition may find it difficult to relate to their 17th-century forebears, who were part of a persecuted minority of dissenters to official state-supported denominations.
“We are used to being a part of the majority. We are the Bible Belt, maybe even the buckle of that belt. We are Baptists, the largest body of Protestants in the United States,” Weaver, a religion professor at Baylor University, said. “We have climbed the ladder of success numerically, socially and intellectually. We have an air of respectability. We are the majority; hear us roar.”
In contrast, he noted, it was the persecuted minority groups – the Anabaptists, Baptists and Quakers – that “pushed the Christian world in the 16th and 17th centuries to face the music and hear cries for complete religious liberty.”