• Service times

    Services times are:

    Saturday night 7:30 pm for our Chinese/English service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

    Sunday 10 am for our English language service (Senior Pastor Jeff Whittaker).

    Sunday 11:30 am for our Chinese (Mandarin) language service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

  • Contact details…

    Physical and postal address:
    4 Inverary Avenue,
    Epsom,
    Auckland 1023,
    NEW ZEALAND.

    Email:
    epsombaptist@gmail.com

    Telephone:
    (0064 9) 6306010

    Contacts:
    Rev. Jeff Whittaker
    Pastor Daniel Choi

  • Church Officers…

    Church Treasurer: Ann Guan

    Church Secretary: Margaret Whittaker

    Church Deacons: Anne Bartley, Ian de Stigter, Kristy Choi, Willa Hui, Donglan Zhang and Alfred Zhou.

For a well-functioning society…

The Baptist movement arose in Britain (with Continental influences) in the 1600s around a number of distinctive positions.  These early Baptists believed that true Christian behaviour should be established from biblical precedents and/or teaching rather than from church tradition. Within the church, they believed that people should be free to come to their own conclusions about debatable issues, establishing freedom of conscience. Further, they believed that people should be free to choose their religion without interference from the state. Some of these positions came to expression in the insistence of separation between church and state. It can be argued that the separation of church and state, a movement that can be traced back to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, helped facilitate the rise of the middle-class which has enabled democratic freedoms to flourish to the common good.

A reminder of the importance of separation between church and state.

In an interesting article in Time magazine – April 16, 2012 – Fareed Zakaria writes about the lack of freedom in a number of majority Muslim countries. Drawing on the research of Harvard economist Eric Chaney, Zakaria describes how lands conquered by the Arabs after the Prophet Mohammed’s death and which remained under Arab control through to the 12th century have developed less freedoms than other Muslim majority lands (e.g. Indonesia, Bangladesh), and even today remain economically stunted. The key in these freedom-challenged countries is the strong connection between political and religious leaders which has stifled new thinking. It seems that these lands could benefit from a separation between religious institutions and the organs of state power.

Ironically, I think that the USA, a land that sees itself as a beacon of freedom shining on these less-free lands, needs to relearn the importance of the separation between church and state. Although written into the American Constitution, this principle seems to be being discarded as political leaders cosy up to conservative evangelical churches seeking support for their agendas. Shame on us Baptists who have encouraged the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our role should be to critique the state’s use of power, rather than legitimating the state’s imperial ambitions.

Societies everywhere could benefit by a clear division between religion and politics. (Note that I’m not arguing for religious people not to be involved in politics. But, by its very nature and calling, political power is to be exercised for the common good of all irrespective of religion, race, sexual orientation, etc.) Baptists have here a distinctive that could truly benefit humanity. Are we prepared to assert once again, perhaps at personal cost, this founding Baptist principle?

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