The History of Seattle First Baptist Church
Our Baptist Heritage
Rhode Island is the birth place of the group that has become what we today call American Baptists. The roles of Roger Williams and John Clarke in the formation of "Providence Plantation and the State of Rhode Island" were based on the theological/political assumption that all people had a right not only to political freedom but also to religious freedom. Colonial America did not affirm religious freedom, rather religious conformity. Rhode Island was the first state to declare its independence from Britain and the last of the thirteen original colonies to sign the Constitution. They would not sign until the Bill of Rights was in place. When we speak about Seattle First Baptist Church, an American Baptist Church, it is with this commitment to religious freedom.
A commitment to religious freedom assumes Soul Competency and Soul Freedom. Not only does one have the right to this freedom, one has the capability to handle this freedom. The most succinct statement of this religious freedom is: "An individual is responsible to God for one's eternal destiny." Faith cannot be coerced in any form by anyone. Our Baptist heritage points with great clarity--individual and corporate expressions of soul freedom are essential.
Since there is an absolute denial and refusal to accept any external authority or power over the life of the community of faith (the congregation), the internal authority and power has always been vested in Scripture. The classic statement is ". . . the New Testament is the all sufficient ground of our faith and practice and we need no other." This particular resolution came from the 1922 Convention of Churches as they struggled with Biblical Criticism. It was Biblical criticism versus Biblical inerrancy. Biblical Criticism becomes an issue of Soul Freedom/Competency. What does one believe about how Scripture came to be and when, where and why it came to be impacts how we interpret Scripture. There is a tension between the privilege of interpreting Scripture for ourselves and the responsibility to its authors about what they were trying to communicate. While the Biblical study and criticism can be done individually, it is most effective when done within the community of faith.
The issue of being a Welcoming and Affirming Congregation swirls around Seattle First Baptist Church because we have taken seriously how we order our life together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. To be Welcoming and Affirming says that we welcome and affirm into our fellowship and worship all persons of any race, regardless of their orientation.
We feel that our ministry is to the whole community and therefore we invite and affirm the whole community in the name of Jesus Christ.
We speak of our life together as a faith journey. We try to support each other in our journey.