BFM2000: The Only Public Theology We Need

Today, American Christians are vigorously debating the best ways to live out their faith in a rapidly changing, often hostile context in which we often find our beliefs on the defensive. This is not at all new. Believers from the beginning of the Republic, and long before, have wrestled with stewardship of their citizenship (see Chute, Finn, and Haykin’s The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement and Kidd’s God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution).

It was our Baptist forefathers, after all, who dissented against the Anglican state Church of England. It was Baptist pastors such as Roger Williams who opposed the established state churches in the colonies. It was Baptist leaders like Isaac Backus and John Leland who worked with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to create the Bill of Rights and establish religious liberty in America’s fledgling democracy.

In the decade prior to the American Revolution, over 500 Baptist preachers were imprisoned for “disturbing the peace,” which is not the worst definition for gospel preaching. What the colonial authorities meant, of course, was they were preaching without a license or permit from the state. Thomas Jefferson is reported to have said that when he died, he would be content to have three things on his memorial: 1) his role in bringing religious liberty to Virginia; 2) his authorship of the Declaration of Independence; and 3) his founding of the University of Virginia.

Click Here to Read More (Originally Published at The Baptist Review)


Richard Land served as the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and currently serves as the Executive Editor of The Christian Post and president emeritus of Southern Evangelical Seminary. He was appointed to serve on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2001 and was subsequently reappointed to three additional terms of service through 2012. He holds a B.A. from Princeton University, a Th.M. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Oxford University.

Dan Darling is the director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a regular columnist for World and a contributor to USA Today. He is the author of several books, including The Characters of ChristmasThe Dignity Revolution, and A Way With Words. Daniel and his wife, Angela, have four children. You can follow him on Twitter and find his work on his website.