Underneath the house the work looked good. — In Augusta we owned a little 1960s ranch house. Cute from the outside, but inside a load bearing wall was creating havoc on the wood floors. Between two pieces there was an ever increasing crack. In my dreams the crack would open up to pull us all into the abyss. So after the night terrors we paid a company to set piers to support the wall. When they were done everything looked great from the crawl space. Of course they could not fix the floors, so we invited in a floor company and they revealed the picture I took below. You can see the load bearing wall and that the new support was not lined up under the wall, nor did it run the length of the wall. From this new perspective, a good job became… a waste!
Baptist Basics. Our denomination does not dictate creeds to be followed, nor maintain any authority of tradition (at least not officially! 😉 ), and certainly ignores top down edicts. Most can not even name baptist denominational leaders. Instead we are guided solely by the scripture. The Bible informs and shapes our faith.
The great breadth of the scripture allows the Spirit to interrupt new layers of truth. The Spirit informs each generation and location with interpretations for their moment. This enables our church to be effective in our context and fulfill the mission to bring grace to the world around us.
But this width is also a danger. Interpretations can become our own (which tend to spiral into ourselves, rather than out to others). Ancient creeds and hierarchal orders, while strange to Baptists, can keep a church from spinning out of control.
But the key for a Baptist is not to add traditions or creed. Instead it is to remember the scripture is not our foundation. When the scripture’s piers are misplaced… it quickly opens to the abyss. The scripture must securely rest on the “stone the builders rejected” — on Jesus.
This is why Baptists confess that Jesus is key to understanding scripture*. The whole Bible should be read through prayer and submission to God. Yet every passage will be interpreted. And I am very fallible – so how do we test our interpretation? The revelation of Jesus, alive in us, becomes the test. If you read a passage, but can not fathom Jesus acting it out the same way… then it is time to go back to prayer and submission. Asking God to shape our understanding.
Only Jesus can bear the load of the church. Only Jesus can raise us to salvation. Only Jesus can carry redemption to the world.
- 1963 Baptist Faith and Message: “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ”.
Consider joining Chandler’s worship this Sunday at 10:30. We continue our conversation about Baptist Basics, this week on scripture. Join in-person with masks, or streaming live on Facebook and Youtube.