WHAT MAKES A BAPTIST?
There is no
one distinctive Baptist belief!
Although probably most people think of believers' baptism as the primary
Baptist distinctive, Baptists are not the only Christians to practice
believers' baptism. Nor are they the only Christians to believe in
congregational church government, the priesthood of all believers, or the
separation of church and state. It is the combination of these various
beliefs which make Baptists distinctive. Baptist distinctives may be
likened to a set of genes which, because of their particular arrangement,
produce a family likeness wherever they are found.
The Lordship of Christ
"Jesus is Lord" is the
distinctive confession of faith. As individuals and as churches, Baptists
seek to make Jesus Lord of every aspect of their lives.
The Authority of the Bible
Baptists believe that the Bible
shows us God's way for living. As radical believers, Baptists seek to root
their lives in the revelation of God's truth.
Baptism for Believers
On the basis of the
New Testament, Baptists claim that baptism is for believers only. Baptism
is only for those who are able to declare "Jesus is Lord." As a symbol of
Jesus' claim on their lives, Baptists practice baptism by 'immersion,' in
which candidates symbolize their desire to 'die to self' and to live for
A Believers' Church
Baptists understand the church as
a community of believers who gather together for worship, witness and
service. In a Baptist model of a believer's church every member has a role
to play, whether in teaching, faith-sharing, evangelism, social action,
pastoring, guiding, serving, prophetic insight, praying, healing,
administration or hospitality.
The Priesthood of all Believers
In a Baptist
church, an illustration of the priesthood of all believers is the church
meeting. This is the occasion when members come together to understand in
prayer God's will for their life together. In Baptist churches the final
authority rests not with the ministers or deacons but with the members
gathered together in church meetings.
Local churches will usually call a minister to serve among them. The
minister functions as a church member with special responsibilities in
caring for the members and leading in the church's mission. Their
authority is in the affirmation of the congregation acting under God's
guidance. They are almost invariably recognized by the wider family of
have always come together in regional, national and international
'associations' for support and fellowship. On the basis of the New
Testament, Baptist believe that churches should not live in isolation from
one another but rather be inter-dependent.
Sharing the Faith
that each Christian has a duty to share their faith with others. William
Carey was a Baptist who is known as the father of the modern missionary
movement. Along with this emphasis on evangelism, however, Baptists
recognize that mission includes social action and involves promoting
justice, social welfare, healing, education and peace in the world.
for all has always been a keystone of the Baptist way. Within Baptist
churches, tolerance for differences of outlook and diversity of practice
THESE PAGES HAVE BEEN REPRODUCED BY KIND PERMISSION
OF THE SCOTTISH BAPTIST UNION