I perceive God as real, personal, just and loving. I accept God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and still find myself willing to accept the old paternal language even though I believe God embodies and transcends gender. I believe in One True Living God, who chooses to show Godself in three separate and distinct manifestations, listed in the second sentence of this paragraph.
My sudden religious expression comes about because of a sentence in a large circulation newspaper last week, which erred in an attempt to explain baptist Christians to Americans who may or may not have forgotten that baptist Christians are still around. The newspaper can be forgiven its slight error, which involved only leaving one letter off the end of a word itself used to describe a cardinal doctrine of baptists. The writer claimed, erroneously, that baptists believe in the “priesthood of the believer.”
This is only slightly lacking, but it is completely wrong. Baptist Christians do not posit the “priesthood of the believer.” To do so would be Kantian in theology, as if truth is only information filtered through each person’s own needs and intellectual abilities. Baptist Christians do not assign all priesthood to any one person apart from all others, or separate from the faith once delivered to the Ancestors.
Baptist Christians believe in the “priesthood of the believers.” One letter added to the end of this religious expression, mislabeled in the secular writ, in its meager presence transforms the body sacred from a cult to The Church, so it must be seen as important. The “priesthood of the believers” means it was acceptable for baptists to inspect their belief in 1925, again in 1963 and, if those two inspections were valid, it followed, it could not then be invalid for baptist Christians to reexamine their beliefs together, as a body, later, say, in 1979, or 1998 or 2000, or tomorrow. No, since baptist Christians hold tight to the “priesthood of the believers,” then any baptist group meeting at any time and in any place has (had, will have) every right to restate its historical beliefs, once again, together, each time, forever.
The key word here is “together.” A lone “priest” may be fine alone with only his own thoughts. A band of “priests” will need to find a direction to proceed, a pace to hold, a goal to finally reach. They will need to stay “together.”
Baptists who expounded the idea they might believe as they believed, individually, without regard to the Church, or their church, or their history, erred. No one group should have been made preeminent, or any other made to leave, or anyone made just to think they were not welcome to stay. The persons who agreed to make the air so toxic, the atmosphere so obnoxious some priests gathered as believers together would want to leave, neglected their own history.
No wonder the secular culture doesn’t get you any more, baptist friends. You lived so apart from yourself for so long no one remembers what you were then. How can they then get what you are now?