My favorite T-Shirt has a picture of Charles Spurgeon on the back with this quote:
I am never ashamed to avow my self a Calvinist; do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ.’
Somewhere along the way, it seems that Christ has ceased to be creed enough for us Baptists. It is sad that today, a claim to be neither Arminian or Calvinistic, but biblical, is seen as prideful rather than as an honest attempt to be faithful. I fear that J. C. Ryle may have been correct when he wrote,
I have long come to the conclusion that men may be more systematic in their statements than the Bible, and may be led into grave error by idolatrous veneration of a system.
Ryle, expounding on John 3:16, goes on to argue that the Bible is filled with many holy tensions that we must accept as consistent with the character and nature of a holy God rather than seek to explain them all away. God both loves the whole world and hates sin and sinners. The presence of Christ is good for the whole world and not just for the elect. The Bible affirms both God’s sovereign, divine election and man’s responsibility to repent and believe. If regeneration is seen to be the work of God in the life of an unbeliever, conversion is the work of the unbeliever in response to a holy God.
We have for too long hung our hats on theological systems that divide rather than unite. To a large degree, we will not be able to avoid the distinctions that exist within our theological traditions. Some people are more or less reformed than others. This is a fact of our Baptist heritage–and whether or not we like to admit it our history–with which we must wrestle and live.
Wherever we may fall along the theological spectrum, I beleive we would all do well in agreeing with Spurgeon. If a creed is agreed to be a statement which describes the beliefs of a religious community, then Christ is our creed. He is the full revelation of God to man. In him all the riches of glory dwell. In Christ, we discover who we are, who we need to be, and who we will become. He has given us our marching orders and our ethic. The Spirit of Christ is a Spirit of unity. Let us unite around Christ regardless of whatever else may seek to divide us.