On Discerning Aright Our Baptist Roots

Just read Tim Enloe’s entry On Being Amazed at Secularist Intolerance at his blog Societas Christiana. There is much that is good in Tim’s critique of contemporary Baptist thinking, but he seems to give the impression that Baptist thought per se is primarily beholden to the Enlightenment and its emphases on “(1) individual autonomy in matters of “value” (including religion and morals) and (2) the neutral Public Square.” But the truth is that the same matrix that shaped the 17th century Presbyterians whom Enloe undoubtedly loves—and we too honour—shaped the founders of our Baptist witness, men like John Bunyan, Abraham Cheare, William Kiffin, and Hercules Collins. That witness persisted into the early nineteenth century largely unchanged. It was under the impress of revivalism, Jacksonian democracy, the romanticism of the Victorian era, and the acid-rain of liberalism, that Baptist values began to shift in the directions indicated by Enloe. But, it is important to remember, these things were not this way in the beginning. And our battle-cry must ever be, Ad fontes.