Pilgrim Pathways: Notes for a Diaspora People

Incarnational Discipleship

Honoring the Legacy of Obadiah Holmes

On 06 September 1651 , 359 years ago tomorrow, Obadiah Holmes, a Baptist layperson who’d been arrested for preaching without a license, was given 30 lashes with a bullwhip in public.  During the beating, Holmes was so enraptured with God’s love that he swore he was being “struck by roses.”  His witness not only helped undermine the theocratic laws of Massachussetts Bay Colony, it also led to the founding of First Baptist Church of Boston. Holmes’ witness also led to the conversion of Henry Dunster, first president of Harvard College, to Baptist views (which led to his forced resignation when he refused to have his infant son baptized).

Nonviolent witness to the truth of one’s convictions can lead to greater religious liberty for all, but it is shameful that today many Baptists are working to deny Muslims the religious liberty for which they once suffered and struggled.  (In Holmes’ day, Baptists argued for religious liberty even for “Turks” which was the common term for Muslims in that day.)

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September 5, 2010 - Posted by | Baptists, biographical entries, church history, religious liberty

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