Because the designation “Baptist” produces many differing and, often, contradictory meanings, it is important to lay out succinctly our understanding of doctrine in general and of the church in particular.
- We are in complete agreement with the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) in light of The Abstract of Principles.
- We believe in the sovereignty of God over all things, including personal salvation. Spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1), “no one seeks God” (Romans 3:11). Consequently, individual salvation is by the grace of God alone (Eph 2:8-9), whereby those of God’s choosing (John 6:37-40, 44; John 10:14-15; Acts 13:48; Acts 16:13-14; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13) repent of their sin and believe upon the sinless Son of God (John 1:12-13; 3:16-18; Acts 11:18; 2 Peter 3:9) who voluntarily satisfied the demands divine justice in their stead (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- We believe in an emphasis upon expository preaching. We usually preach through books of the Bible because Christians need to understand the unity of the Bible and the context of the passage being preached. The Word of God is our authority; consequently, it must be faithfully proclaimed (Nehemiah 8:8; Acts 20:27; Romans 10:17).
- We believe in the primacy of worship on the Lord’s Day. The worship service is not a time for entertainment or self-help; rather, the time should be devoted to the public worship of God through singing, praying, preaching, and observing the ordinances of the church (Acts 2:42; Colossians 3:16-17).
- We believe in the essential Baptist distinctive of a regenerate church membership. Seventeenth-century Baptists were persecuted because they required evidence of conversion for baptism and church membership. Our churches, though, have often been too hasty in receiving new members without a thorough enquiry into candidates’ understanding of salvation and their personal conversion. Consequently, many churches have a large percentage of members who rarely attend worship and many who never attend. We must do a better job teaching a biblical view of salvation and church membership (Revelation 21:27; Hebrews 10:24-25).
- We believe there needs to be a renewed emphasis upon the church as a community of believers. Churches are not merely organizations comprised of individuals who come and go as they find it convenient. Each local church is a body of believers who need each other for spiritual growth and who love enough to hold each other accountable for personal holiness. Therefore, we are concerned about the practice of many churches in establishing different types of worship services to attract different groups of people. Such a practice, though well intentioned, works to divide the local body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12).
- We believe in the responsibility of pastors for the spiritual welfare of the church’s members. The Scriptures hold pastors to a high standard because of the significance of their work. Church members, therefore, are commanded to follow the biblical teaching which their leaders set forth (Hebrews 13:17).
- We believe that the ultimate purpose of the church is to glorify God. Ultimately, the church does not exist to provide a place for people to have their relational needs met, a place for them to find comfort and peace, or a place for them to satisfy their spiritual longings. Though these considerations are important, they are not preeminent As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, the church both gathered and scattered is to glorify God (Ephesians 3:21).
For a more extended historical treatment concerning the Baptist pastorate, see Bill Moore’s article “A Mid-Nineteenth Century Baptist View of the Ministry” (Founders Journal, Winter 2001: 11-23). Pastor Moore examines how American Baptists of the 1800’s understood the gospel ministry as well as some implications of those understandings for the 21st century.
In addition, we strongly encourage all believers to go online to 9Marks for additional resource materials.