WHAT IS A BAPTIST?

What distinguishes a Baptist from other believers in Christ of different persuasions? Although we love true believers in Christ regardless of which church denomination or group they belong to, this church holds to the historic Baptist faith believing it to be the expression of faith closest to the New Testament pattern. There are certain distinctive beliefs that highlight that pattern. These distinctives are Baptist in the sense that virtually all Baptist hold to them or that Baptist tend to emphasize them more than non-Baptist Christians. For example, eternal security is a belief strongly held by most Baptists but is not listed here because historic Bible-believing Presbyterianism holds strongly to that doctrine. Below are ten distinctive Baptist beliefs. If one holds to all of these, the chances are he belongs to a Baptist church. He certainly would hold to Baptist doctrine.

  1. The supremacy of the New Testament for matters of faith and practice, especially for the pattern for the local church;
  1. The necessity of a regenerate church membership; only true believers (as opposed to unbelievers, infants, etc.) should actually be members of the church;
  1. The practice of believer’s baptism by immersion; only a true believer can be baptized;
  1. The priesthood of every believer, although held by all biblical non-Catholics, Baptist tend to apply this principle more thoroughly, for example, see # 5;
  1. The congregational form of government; the local church is the final authority with no hierarchical structure involving more that one congregation; within the local church true authority rests with the entire congregation;
  1. The existence of religious liberty before God resulting in a belief in separation of church and state and voluntary church participation;
  1. The priority of the Great Commission; missions and evangelism are the tasks of every individual believer;
  1. The dislike of formalism in worship; instead informality better imitates the New Testament pattern for the church;
  1. The rejection of sacramentalism; there are only two ordinances of the church (baptism and the Lord’s Supper); there are no sacraments of the church which actually convey grace to the participant;
  1. The need for disciplined Christian living; although other non-Baptist Christians agree with this point, Baptists have emphasized this to the point that they are well known for their rigid ethical demands and beliefs in separated Christian living.[1]

[1] Dr. Mike Stallard Church and Baptist Distinctives; Class notes pp. 78-79; 2008