Obbie Tyler Todd is pastor of Third Baptist Church of Marion, Illinois and adjunct professor of theology and Luther Rice College & Seminary in Lithonia, Georgia.
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Quotes from Let Men Be Free
1. Baptists regularly argued that religious freedom wasn’t simply about civil liberty; it was essential to biblical Christianity. When Caesar kept his hand out of the church, the Lord’s hand remained upon it. (Pg. 25)
2. Therefore, by contending that only Jesus Christ had authority over his church, and not a civil magistrate, Baptists believed themselves to be reforming the Protestant church just as Luther and Calvin had reformed Roman Catholicism. (Pg. 27)
3. Among Baptists, John Leland was remarkably ahead of his time when he insisted, “Government should be so fixed, that Pagans, Turks, Jews and Christians, should be equally protected in their rights.” Leland was somewhat of a political realist. In his view, religious liberty was the best way to ensure that the gospel remained unhindered in every state and in other parts of the world. (Pg. 31)
4. By contributing to the War of Independence, Baptists had claimed their stake in the future of the American nation, believing they had earned a voice in the public forum and were now entitled to participate in the new religious marketplace. (Pg. 49)
5. Baptists may have been “the most consistent, the most numerous, and the most effective” dissenters in the fight for a separation of church and state, but the American Revolution reoriented the way that Americans viewed Baptists, and, in turn, the way Baptists viewed their nation. (Pg. 59)
6. In the Baptist mind, local church autonomy and religious liberty were both linked to the freedom of conscience. (Pg. 76)
7. Furman believed that Baptist education not only helped to advance the gospel; it safeguarded order and religious liberty in their newly constituted nation. (Pg. 100)
8. The United States was not founded as a Christian nation per se, but it was nonetheless a religiously motivated nation, most Baptists believed. (Pg. 171)
9. Indeed, most Baptists believed that Christianity was necessary to produce republican virtue and good governance. If the Christian ethic and worldview were removed from society, despotism would naturally follow and religious liberty would evaporate. (Pg. 178-179)
10. In some sense, with the passing of the founding fathers, Baptists believed that God had placed upon them a special responsibility to transfer the highest ideals of the nation to the next generation. As torch-bearers of religious liberty, Baptists, the people who had not been chosen to lead the nation in its earliest years, had been ordained to preserve it in the next season of its delicate existence. (Pg. 206)