Dear brother and sister,
You may already know that my convictions are baptist. Baptist came from the English separatist, separatist came from the church of England. There are a few baptist distinctives, some other protestant denominations hold some of these distinctives but baptist hold them all.
- A baptist believes in authority of the Bible.
- A baptist believes that every local church is autonomous; no outside church body has authority over the local church.
- A baptist believes in the priesthood of the believer; no believer need go to a priest to confess and have their sins absolved.
- A baptist believes that the Lord gave two ordinances to the church: believers baptism and the Lord’s supper.
- A baptist believes in individual responsibility; each believer has soul competency because there is one Spirit.
- A baptist believes in separation of church and state; the state has no authority in matters of religion.
- A baptist believes that there are only two offices in the church: pastor (elder) and deacon (servant).
Each of these require some explaining in order to fully understand the meaning; however, it is the offices of the church that are on my mind this morning.
I graduated from nursing school on December 11, 1997. I was not a follower of Jesus Christ at that time. However, once I came to faith in Jesus Christ I began to look at nursing differently. Rather than a science, I began to see my role as a servant who uses science to care for the body. For some reason within Southern Baptist churches an idea developed that offices of pastor and deacon could only be held by men; however, this was not the case historically.
The first hospitals in the U.S.A were established by Baptist and staffed with male and female deacons to care for the sick. There is no doubt that the role of pastor is to be a man but the role of a deacon is for both males and females. I think it is time for a reformation in the way that the church understands the office of deacon. Deacons are not elders. I think that the understanding of what a deacon is and does in the minds of Southern Baptist merged with that of an elder.
Article 20 of the first Baptist confess of faith, written by Thomas Helwys in 1611 states:
That the Offices of every Church or congregation are either Elders who by their office do especially feed the flock concerning their souls, (Acts 20.28, 1 Peter 5.2, 3) or Deacons, men and women, who by their office relieve the necessities of the poor and impotent brethren concerning their bodies. (Acts 6.1-4)
In Christ alone,
The Nurse Theologian