Baptists and the Life of the Mind: Reflections on the Baptist Theme of Soul Competency

Citation: 
Hughes, Richard. "Baptists and the Life of the Mind: Reflections on the Baptist Theme of Soul Competency," The Southern Baptist Educator LXIII, no. 2 (First Quarter 1999): 3-7.
Abstract: 

Hughes suggests that the Baptist concept of "soul competency" provides Baptists with three powerful resources for sustaining the life of the mind in their institutions of higher education. First, soul competency demands a commitment to religious freedom. This freedom of religion sustains the life of the mind by encouraging freedom of thought. But Richard Hughes warns that it can simultaneously weaken the life of the mind if it is based on political and cultural presuppositions instead of theology. <p>Soul competency can also promote the life of the mind through the rich theological heritage that it has inspired. Because Baptists believe that any idea that makes a soul competent before God is valid, they have been able to incorporate the ideas of many Protestant traditions into their heritage. Soul competency encourages Baptists to raise questions and explore multiple ideas in their quest to God. <p>Finally, soul competency leads Baptist to regard the Bible as a book that cannot be mastered since it "points to an infinite God no human being can completely understand." The infinite nature of God as described through the Bible demands critical thinking and analysis of competing worldviews. In turn, critical thinking sustains the life of the mind. (LT)

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