What does it mean to be “baptist”? That’s a great question. Here’s our answer:
- It means being a Christian, not just being born into a Christian family or a citizen of an historically-Christian country. Baptists believe that each person must experience what Jesus called being “born again” by God the Holy Spirit inside of them (see the 3rd chapter of the Gospel of John). Baptists hold to the Bible’s teaching on “regenerate church membership”, meaning that local churches should only include people who have truly been born again by God the Holy Spirit.
- It means believing the same things Christians have believed since the days that Jesus lived on earth. In historical and theological terms, this is called believing “orthodox” Christian teaching. Along with Christians from Roman Catholic, Protestant & Eastern Orthodox backgrounds, Baptists believe in essential Christian doctrines such as God’s creation of all things out of nothing, the fall of humanity into sin, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, the tri-unity of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the realities of Heaven and Hell.
- It means being an heir of the Reformation in Western Christianity. Baptist Christians owe their existence to the recovery of essential Christian teachings that had been ignored throughout the Medieval Era in Western Civilization. Luther and Calvin and Zwingli and other Reformation Era Christians taught Baptists that true Christian salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the Glory of God alone. Baptist Churches can historically trace their origins to the reformation in England during the 17th and 18th Centuries.
- It means being Gospel-people. Baptists are considered “Evangelicals”, which means that we love the gospel so much we talk with others about the gospel. Evangelical Christians share commitments to what the Bible teaches on Jesus’ substitutionary atonement, justification by faith, the necessity of the Holy Spirit for salvation and Christian living, and the inspiration and authority of Scripture.
- It means being a participating member of a local baptist church. Baptist Christians unite together in local churches by covenant, meaning that after a new believer follows Jesus in the obedience of water baptism, we make promises to one another, and live together as local church communities on God’s mission.
- It means cooperating with others to do things that we cannot do alone. We cooperate with other Christians in Jesus’ Great Commission (see Matthew 28:18-20). This cooperation is informed by what we believe the Bible teaches us, and we summarize our understanding of all that in a written statement of faith, The Baptist Faith & Message. We also cooperate with non-Christians in many other good causes. Let’s talk.