A forgotten, but surprisingly prescient, approach to questions regarding the necessity and future of Baptist denominational identity can be gleaned from the words of John A. Broadus (1827-1895) when he addressed the American Baptist Publication Society's 1881 meeting in Indianapolis.
Broadus, one of the founding professors and later president of the Southern Baptist Convention's first seminary, titled his sermon "The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views."
In the main portion of his sermon, Broadus listed four specific reasons why Baptists should teach their distinct views: 1. It is a duty we owe to ourselves. 2. It is a duty we owe to our fellow Christians. 3. It is a duty we owe to the unbelieving world. 4. It is a duty we owe to Christ.
Considering his first reason, "It is a duty we owe to ourselves," Broadus noted that Baptists, in adhering to their distinctives, "stand apart" from other Christians in "separate organizations." Thus, Baptists should ensure that the cause for separation has "real importance," that their differences with other Christians are of "substantial value and practical importance as a part of what Christ commanded."
Moreover, Broadus explained that teaching Baptist distinctives also serves as "the only way of correcting excesses among ourselves."
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Broadus' observations also apply to Anglicans.