Edgar Mullins was the fourth president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I recently finished his classic The Axioms of Religion: A New Interpretation of the Baptist Faith (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1908). His is a refreshingly simple exposition of Baptist Christianity. I’ll provide a sketch of Mullin’s position here, and note some of its implications and possible rebukes for modern Baptists in 2022 America.
Mullins begins by presenting four principles for the Kingdom of God as guardrails for a biblical polity. They are:
"Yes, the bride of Christ — the church — is seared, spotted, smudged and smeared. Yet even so. The gentle and humble can still be found. Like Pastor Vern. And like countless other pastors, missionaries, teachers and servants who spend hidden lives of no name or repute, toiling for God’s kingdom in The Middle of Nowhere, day in and day out." - C.Leaders
The Free Will Baptist literature explains their American heritage comes from two distinct movements in the early to mid-18th century which eventually coalesced into the modern-day National Association of Free Will Baptists in 1935. Here, we present some excerpts from their statement of faith:1
Chapter 3 – Divine Governance and Providence
- God exercises a providential care and superintendence over all His creatures,2 and governs the world in wisdom and mercy, according to the testimony of His Word.3
- God has endowed man with power of free choice, and governs him by moral laws and motives; and this power of free choice is the exact measure of man’s responsibility.4
- All events are present with God from everlasting to everlasting; but His knowledge of them does not in any sense cause them, nor does He decree all events which He knows will occur.5
Chapter 8 – The Gospel Call
The call of the Gospel is co-extensive with the atonement to all men,6 both by the word and strivings of the Spirit,7 so that salvation is rendered equally possible to all;8 and if any fail of eternal life, the fault is wholly his own.9
The True Confession (1596) was the work of an English-Separatist congregation of Baptists in exile in Amsterdam. This excerpt is from William L. Lumpkins, Baptist Confessions of Faith, revised ed. (Valley Forge, PA: Judson, 1969). The spelling was updated where necessary.
A TRUE CONFESSION OF THE FAITH, AND HUMBLE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE ALLEGIANCE, which we her Majesty’s Subjects, falsely called Brownists, do hold towards God, and yield to her Majesty and all other that are over us in the Lord. Set down in Articles or Positions, for the better and more easy understanding of those that shall read it. And published for the clearing of ourselves from those unchristian slanders of heresy, schism, pride, obstinate, disloyalty, sedition, etc. which by our adversaries are in all places given out against us.
That God is a Spirit, whose being is of himself, and giveth being, moving, and preservation to all other things being himself eternal, most holy, every way infinite, in greatness, wisdom, power, goodness, justice, truth, etc.
And that in this Godhead there be three distinct persons, co-eternal, co-equal, and co-essential, being every one of the one and same God, and therefore not divided but distinguished one from another by their several and peculiar properties: The Father of none, the Son begotten of the Father from everlasting, the holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son before all beginnings.