> Distinctives > Individual Soul Liberty
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“The right to private judgment is the crown jewel of humanity, and for
any person or institution to dare to come between the soul and God is blasphemous
impertinence and a defamation of the crown rights of the Son of God.”
~ George W. Truett
| Baptists have had a long-term
determination to adhere to the Biblical doctrine that they call "Individual
Church history verifies that
Christians have died for this principle. The teaching that individuals
are sovereign in matters of faith is one that Baptists will not compromise.
The individual soul is answerable
to Almighty God and to Him alone. This precludes giving up that independency
to a pope, a priest, a system, an organization, a convention, a fellowship,
an association, or any other human being. None of these are given
the authority to interpose anything whatsoever between the individual believer
and God concerning any matter of faith.
A person may then choose
to be a Baptist, a member of another Christian denomination or to choose
no religious belief system and neither the church, nor the government,
nor family or friends may either make the decision or compel the person
to choose otherwise. Furthermore, a person may change his/her mind
at any time.
This doctrine springs from
the many examples in church history where the independency of the believer
was stifled and sometimes even forbidden. Under the rule of Constantine,
Roman law demanded that all people in the Roman Empire become Christians.
The result of this law was forcing Christianity upon the masses by infant
baptism and a meaningless profession by adults. Accordingly, the
Dark Ages are a testimony to the absolute failure imposed on believers
when the "church" begins to dictate whatever "truth" it deems necessary
to force all members to conform. Not only is Roman Catholocism guilty
of this but so are many of the mainline Protestant denominations.
Furthermore, Baptists themselves
would do well to avoid the denial of this doctrine. Pastors who overlord
their flocks or churches that submit themselves to denominational control
will need to return again to the Scriptures concerning this vital historical
Bapist distinctive. To demand, whether directly or indirectly, that
believers submit to any kind of authoritarian rule is both unscriptural
and, in fact, questionable. This generation has seen its Jim Jones's
and David Karesh's. Whenever believers give up their individual soul
liberty in favor of following the demands of another person or affiliation,
they do indeed compromise this essential doctrine of the faith.
| "Now the
Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
~ 2 Corinthians 3:17
therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not
entangled again with the yoke of bondage." ~ Galations
looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being
not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed
in his deed." ~ James 1:25
|Slippage Questions: Individual
we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard,
lest at any time we should let them slip." ~ Hebrews 2:1
|Does the church you attend hold this Biblical
teaching to be true?
|Have you been told by any church officials
that only they can interpret the Bible and that you must depend on them
to understand it?
|Is there any indication in the church
you attend that either the pastor, governing board, denomination, etc.,
is trying to impress you to submit to their teachings instead of studying
the Bible yourself?
|If so, are you able to discern when they
have gone too far in demanding that you submit to them?
|Do you understand that God's Holy Spirit
is more than able to direct you as you read and study the Scriptures?
|If that is so, then wouldn't it be wiser
to become a student of the Bible instead of depending upon others who are
merely humans to determine your knowledge of God's Word (or lack of it)?
|Wouldn't it be better to let the Holy
Spirit convict you of sin than to let a preacher or denomination try to
convince you of what they think is sin?
|Does the church you attend have a longer
list of things you should not do than things you should do as a Christian?
|If so, doesn't that strike you as being