Soul competency is a Christian theological perspective on the accountability of each person before God. According to the view, one's family relationships, church membership, or ecclesiastical or religious authorities cannot affect salvation of one's soul from damnation. Instead, each person is responsible to God for one's own personal faith in Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection.
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The basic concept of individual soul liberty, is that in matters of religion, each person has the liberty to choose what conscience or soul dictates is right and is responsible to no one but God for the decision that is made.
A person may then choose to be a Baptist, a member of another Christian denomination, an adherent to another world religion, or to choose no religious belief system, and the church, the government, family and friends may not make the decision or compel the person to choose otherwise. In addition, a person may change one's mind over time.
perfect freedom in religious concerns; or, as he so well designated it, "SOUL LIBERTY". No man of his age had so clear conceptions of the rights of conscience as the founder of Rhode Island, and no one had ever carried them so honestly to their legitimate conclusions. I go further: no one has yet been able either to take from or add to the principles of religious liberty which he so simply and powerfully set forth. They stand as imperishable monuments to his fame, like the obelisks of Luxor, on which the chiseling of every figure is now just as sharply defined as when, three thousand years since, they were left by the hand of their designer.
- Francis Wayland, Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches (New York: Sheldon, 1857), 135.
- "Southern Baptist Convention > Basic Beliefs". www.sbc.net. Retrieved 2017-12-07.