Baptists and Other Christians in Australia: Missing in Action, Lost Opportunity or Mission Accomplished?


 by David Parker


 Paper presented at International Conference on Baptist Studies V


Australian Baptist Research Forum III

 Whitley College, Melbourne, Australia
15 - 18 July 2009

 (c) David Parker 2009



 I Introduction

II The Australian Story

III Cameos
United Evangelical Church
Churches of Christ

IV Formal relations with other churches
Interdenominational Christianity

V The Baptist Vision

VI Regeneration - The Integrating Factor

VII Biblical/Theological Basis

VIII A Distinctive Feature

IX Positive contribution

X Conclusion
Mixed Prospects
Vision for the Community



 To view whole paper (PDF), click here


Charles Stewart, Queensland's first Baptist minister, had a very enlightened approach to the important question of Baptist identity and relations with other churches. However, as a study of examples covering the establishment of later churches, denominational leaders and their policies indicate, his vision was not sustained. In fact, after nearly 200 years in Australia, the original inspiration seems to have faded and the observance of historic Baptist principles is piece-meal. Key elements seem to be dropped at will, suggesting that the distinctive features are not regarded as an integrated whole, even though this is what accounts for the emergence of Baptists at the beginning as the end product of the logical progression from the Reformers through the Puritans and the Separatists to our founding fathers.

Various themes have been used as the central foundational principle of Baptist witness but there is a strong biblical and theological case for salvation understood as regeneration (or the gathered church), which is more specific view than 'the gospel'; it also provides more content than biblical authority or Lordship of Christ on their own. While this is a theme that is well able to energise, motivate and direct the Baptist vision, it can also be related to the wider view of the kingdom of God, consideration of which can open the way for good relations with others (as Stewart showed) even in the absence of complete agreement with their tenets.

If Baptists can regain this perspective, it will stand them in good stead as they seem to engage in a vital mission to the world and make a valuable contribution to the Christian community at a critical time in history.

Back to Home Page