The Courage to be Baptist
Our full statement, ‘The Courage to be Baptist: A Statement on Baptist Ecclesiology and Human Sexuality’, is a call to Baptist churches to face our present disagreements over same-sex marriage by being faithful to a Baptist way of being church.
Baptists believe that each local church must discern Christ’s call for itself. Baptists also believe that local churches have a duty to associate together, and should support each other in this work of discerning Christ’s call. This involves listening to one another when we differ.
We argue that both these points are missional, rightly understood. Each local church is seeking to make Christ known in a particular context, and must discern what Christ is calling it to do in that context. At the same time, Christian unity is, according to our Lord Jesus, necessary for the world to believe (Jn. 17:23).
This Baptist way of being church allows us to maintain unity even when we disagree about certain issues. We believe this is a gift of God, allowing us to witness to our true unity in Christ even when we disagree about serious matters.
We believe (following our Declaration of Principle) that the way a church discerns Christ’s call is by meeting together to interpret Scripture. On certain subjects we do not yet all read Scripture in the same way, and so we do disagree.
One of the serious matters we currently disagree about is whether Christian marriage is always between a man and a woman, or whether a same-sex marriage might be authentically Christian. The authors of this statement disagree about this amongst themselves, whilst agreeing that our churches must take seriously their welcome of those who identify as LGBT+.
We believe, however, that our churches will do best by dealing with this disagreement the way we deal with others: refusing to let it divide us, but continuing to talk and pray and love.
We do not pretend this will be easy for anyone. We do believe God calls us, as Baptist Christians, to do this—and so we believe it is the best place we can possibly be.
We ask Baptist churches to have the courage to be Baptist.
The Revd Beth Allison-Glenny
The Revd Andy Goodliff
The Revd Dr Ruth Gouldbourne
The Revd Dr Steve Holmes
The Revd David Kerrigan
The Revd Glen Marshall
The Revd Dr Simon Woodman