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What Do Baptists Believe, Anyway?

Baptists are Christians. Christians have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives and savior from death in sin, “he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit” Titus 3:5. A Baptist Church is a denomination of the Christian faith. Christian denominations, according to Wikipedia are “an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine [teaching] within Christianity.”

Baptists believe that the Bible is without error; Jesus was born of a virgin, the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and God’s sovereinty. Don’t other Christians believe this, too? What makes a Baptist distinct from other denominations? I learned this simple acrostic when I was young which is extremely helpful in remembering what Baptists believe:

B – Bible, the only authority in all matters (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
A – Autonomy of each local church (Acts 13:1-3)
P – Priesthood of the believer (Romans 12:1-2)
T – Two ordinances of the local church: Baptism by immersion (Romans 6:1-7) and The Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 11:23-34)
I – Individual soul liberty (Acts 5:29)
S – Saved Church membership (Acts 2:47)
T – Two officers of the local church: the pastor (I Timothy 5:17) and the deacon (Acts 6:1-7)
S – Separation of church and state (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)

However, there are different types of Baptists such as Fundamentalist Baptists, Foot Washing Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Missionary Baptists, Southern Baptists, Independent Baptists, Freewill Baptists, and more. These are born out of the emphasis of specific Scripture or preferences of a particular style of worship. Yet, when one walks into any kind of Baptist church, he can rest assured that it is a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, and Gospel preaching body of Christ in order to be considered Baptist.

This does not mean that Baptists do not nor cannot fellowship with other Christian denominations. The divisions in Christian denominations are not because of Christ as Lord and Savior, but often because of differing interpretations of how to please God by well meaning believers. All believers have a responsibility to “equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).

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