Memoirs of an eccentric Baptist

I taught the “Baptist History and Theology” course in the last semester at the seminary, not quite sure why, guess I was the last teacher standing. As I pointed out to my students I was in some ways an eccentric choice as

  1. I have been a minister in three Baptist Unions/Conventions (Brazil, Peru, BUGB), so I am an odd mixture of all three, although I suspect that theologically and missiologically I veer more towards Latin America.
  2. I have never actually graduated from any Baptist institution. Although I did two years of studies at the Baptist seminary in Fortaleza, Brazil, my degree is actually from Redcliffe, my master’s from London School of Theology and my PhD from UWTSD (Wales). (Although I do have a certificate of a Baptist History and Principles from Bristol Baptist College stored away somewhere).

Probably no surprise that this ended up being a slightly idiosyncratic course- I basically described it as whatever I considered Baptistic thrown in organised around an unoriginal core of key principles, taken mainly from S. Holmes’ Baptist Theology. 

The main challenge of the course, as far as students were concerned, was to realise just how diverse Baptists are across the world. I pointed out that one should not confuse the narrower identity of a particular convention with Baptist identity. Controversially, this entails that while the local convention does not admit Pentecostal churches (in theory at least), it is possible to be both Pentecostal and Baptist.

For their assignments students were encouraged to write the history of their own local churches. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of research they engaged in, with many of them interviewing older church members and some even digging up old church minutes.