A Baptist Vision of Religious Liberty & Free and Faithful Politics: From his days as a pastor in the mid-1950s until his death in 2015, Dr. James M. Dunn was a tireless advocate and activist for soul freedom: the freedom, ability, and responsibility of each individual to respond to God for herself or himself. During his ministry in Texas and Washington, D.C., Dunn established himself as the public heir of E. Y. Mullins and those before him who insisted that an unfettered conscience and uncoerced faith—born out of a direct personal experience of God and without reliance on ecclesiastical leaders—represented the authentic Baptist tradition.
To countless Baptists, James Dunn was an instrumental influence. His wit, wisdom, and fight moved generations of Baptists to better live out our faith, value our freedom, and never take our shared heritage and liberty for granted. Aaron Weaver’s collection of the words and writings of James Dunn will help present and future generations of Baptists, as well as other people of faith, remember, learn from, and live out his vision of religious liberty and free and faithful politics.
James M. Dunn and Soul Freedom: A self-described “Texas-bred, Spirit-led, Bible-teaching, revival-preaching, recovering Southern Baptist,” James Milton Dunn, over the last fifty years, has been the most aggressive Baptist proponent for religious liberty in the United States. Soul freedom—voluntary uncoerced faith and an unfettered individual conscience before God—is the basis of his understanding of church-state separation and the historic Baptist basis of religious liberty.
Through his ministry as a pastor, ethicist, and activist, James Dunn developed a distinctly Baptist approach to politics, showing fellow Baptists how to apply their Christianity in the public square on social and church-state issues in a manner consistent with the historic Baptist commitment to freedom. This ethic of political engagement promoted by Dunn was motivated by a loving concern for others and a commitment to the common good.