New book on Baptist theology examines beliefs, practices, identity

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 4/1/22)—A Peculiar Church: Practicing Baptist Theology” presents the manner in which Baptist theology emerged in the church historically and practically. It is divided into three parts:

  • the challenges and methodology associated with creating a Baptist theology;
  • worship and ordinances; and
  • other aspects of church life and ministry, such as baptism and funerals.

The book asserts that Baptist theology comes from the Baptist story, its people and the way they live out their faith. It offers a broad theological landscape of Baptist theology and guidance for the reader to discern her or his own place in the theological realm.

A pivotal point in the book’s “doing theology” is rooted in convictions, which the author describes as “centrally held statements out of which a theology emerges.” It details a way for Baptists to live out their faith, guided by their own convictions.

While an awareness of history is essential for one doing Baptist theology, so is an awareness of one’s situation in the present time. The book will offer a methodology for doing a theology that is true to Baptist history and identity and, at the same time, particular to each church and individual. It calls for a blending of historical awareness as well as a contextual awareness. This approach will not only consider the broader sense of what it means to be a Baptist as well as a Baptist church but offer more specific consideration of particular parts of Baptist life, including baptism and communion, music, ordination, infant dedication, funerals and weddings, preaching and prayer. This is not meant to be an imposition of the “correct” theology of being a Baptist, but rather an invitation to the reader to question and articulate and then consider his or her own theology of being Baptist.

The author, Jonathan Malone, Ph.D., D.Min., has been an American Baptist Churches USA pastor for more than 20 years. He is an instructor of Baptist Polity for the American Baptist denomination. He serves as president of the board of managers for the American Baptist Historical Society. His blog is “Theological Snob,” and his podcast is “Twelve Enough.”

 Founded in 1824, Judson Press a publishing ministry of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, produces Christ-centered spiritual and leadership resources for the transformation of individuals, congregations, and communities.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.