What Does it take to be a "Baptist"?

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Eladar, Sep 28, 2002.

  1. Eladar

    Eladar
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    I've come to the conclusion that the only thing it means to be a Baptist is that you are unwilling to believe "Baptist" actually means anything.

    Is there any sort of oversight committee that determines if a Church that claims to be "Baptist" is actually Baptist? (Whatever that means?)

    If I were to start my own Church and run it out of my house and call it "Baptist", would I then be recoginized as a "Baptist"? Even if I were the only person in my church, would I then be able to call myself a Baptist preacher, or pastor or whatever title?
     
  2. rsr

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    What's your point, other than to argue?

    If you've followed this board, as you obviously have, you know there are Baptist distinctives that we all believe in. That's what a Baptist is.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Pennsylvania Jim

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    Tuor has a good point. "Baptist" doesn't really narrow it down much. For example, my Baptist church would have much more in common with a conservative Presbyterian church (not that we're at all Presbyterian) that it would with churches following the beliefs of some here who are "Baptists". I guess that's just the way it is, but it does trouble me when we accept such a broad definition of "Baptist", and at the same time pretend that the term means something.
     
  4. Eladar

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    If you've followed this board, as you obviously have, you know there are Baptist distinctives that we all believe in.

    rsr,

    I would disagree that there are certain distinctives that 'all' Baptists believe in. They may believe in the same term, but what that term means is a horse of a different color.

    Case in point: Soul Competency

    Some would say that this would include determining how much of the Bible is God's word as opposed to the 'human lens'.

    Thank you Pennsylvania. I have found that most people with a conservative view of the Bible have more in common with other denomination's conservatives as opposed to the same denomination's 'moderates'.

    [ September 28, 2002, 11:32 PM: Message edited by: Tuor ]
     
  5. Bible-belted

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    The term "baptist" is neither consrvaitve nore liberal inherently.

    Baptist ecclesiology is not a liberal/conservative issue.

    Baptist belief abot baptism is nt a liberal/conservative issue.

    Baptist belief about competency of the soul is not a libveral/conservative issue.

    In fact the only distinctives that can be said to even be close to liberal/conservative issues are the Lordship of Christ and the authority of Scripture. But both liberals and conservatives calim to be under Christ's Lordship.

    Really I guess it comes down to authority of Scripture. Exceot that historically (meaning in the confessions) it has been called the authority of scripture, without qualifiers like inerrancy. (Though I think I recall the confessions making claims of inspiration that are inconsistent with liberal theology.. someone help me out here?).

    So whilw I agree that "baptist" means nothing in terms of defining one as a liberla or conservative, it still syas a great deal. It defines congregational polity, a stand on church/state issues, individual responsibility in faith... it syas a great deal indeed!
     
  6. Eladar

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    church/state issues, individual responsibility in faith

    So you are saying it has more to do with politics. (i.e. seperation of church and state as opposed to a state religion)

    When it comes down to individual responsibiblity, I think most protestants would agree with this 'distinctiveness'. We are all responsible to God. God is the one who is going to judge us.

    As to the polity thing...

    Would I be able to start my own "Baptist" church?

    [ September 28, 2002, 11:40 PM: Message edited by: Tuor ]
     
  7. Pennsylvania Jim

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    Latreia,

    I think that there may be more to your point about "authority of scripture" than meets the eye.

    Many of the other issues that are divisive here on the BB and in some churches are important in their own right, but much more so because at the heart of the issue you will find the issue of scriptural authority. Those who hold to scriptural authority in any meaningful sense will come to one conclusion, and those who don't will come to another.

    Those who don't will eventually find themselves outside even nominal Christianity but it may take another generation or two for that to work out.

    [ September 28, 2002, 11:40 PM: Message edited by: Pennsylvania Jim ]
     
  8. Mrs KJV

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    tuor,
    I'm a baptist ministers wife and let me tell you a true Baptist church would not accept your authority to practice if you did this. I know people who have did this. My husband's calling was reconzizeed by our local church when he was ordained to the ministry. They then gave us authority to go out and start another church. This new work started out as a mission till we got off our feet enough to be organized and made independent from our home church. The reason Baptist's don't recongize preachers starting churches without anothers approval is because these pastors haven't been aquately trained and are not recongized by that body by having a calling. I have experienced this directly. My husband's parents were baptized and aloud to be members of the church living together. It took a long time to get this straighten out because of the heresy's this guy was teaching. This is just one thing I have mentioned, there is more.He claimed to be a Baptist. He just tacked the name on. [​IMG] I'm getting tired I need to get to bed. Hopefully you can understand this. If you have questions I will gladly answer them. [​IMG]
     
  9. Eladar

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    But I thought that Baptists believe that God gives us the Holy Spirit. Training by man shouldn't be an issue. Getting man's approval shouldn't matter.

    Besides, what does one Baptist's recognition matter. My congregation wouldn't have anything to do with yours. My congregation's vote has to do with my congretation, not yours. I am not talking about setting up another "what ever recongnized denomination" within the Baptist Church. I am just talking about setting up a unique congregation and taking on the name Baptist.
     
  10. Bible-belted

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    Tuor,

    "So you are saying it has more to do with politics. (i.e. seperation of church and state as opposed to a state religion)"

    Not really. There is a theology behind tose things. But the theological issues do not lend themselves, IMO, to being defines in ternms of being theologically "liberal" or "conservative".

    "When it comes down to individual responsibiblity, I think most protestants would agree with this 'distinctiveness'. We are all responsible to God. God is the one who is going to judge us."

    That would be why these things are less and less being called "distinctives". They are no longer truly "distinctive" of baptists. There are a whole slew of denominations whose theology is bascially baptistic.

    More often, in the newer materials I read, they are called "baptist emphases", things tht baptists highlight.

    "Would I be able to start my own "Baptist" church?"

    Assuming your theology is basically baptist, sure. After all congregational autonomy is one of the biggies.

    Mind you baptists historically have affirmed an "associational principle" whereby we affirm the need to associate with other congregtations for edigfcation, mission, fellowship, etc. That's how you get the various conventions.

    If you started your church entioerely on your own, you would lack recognition, but that, for baptists, is irrelevant.
     
  11. Eladar

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    Latreia,

    Are you saying that there is no standard by which a Baptist can be judged? In other words, a Baptist is nothing more than someone who claims the title?
     
  12. Bible-belted

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    No, I haven't said that. I have said that there are things which define baptists, like polity and a certain theology of the church. You can't, for example, hold to an episcopal ecclesiology and be a baptist, or claim to be.

    But episcopal ecclesiology vs. congregational is not a liberal/conserative issue.

    I find lots of people want to define baptist along liberal/conservative lines, but the defining marks or emphases of baptists are not things that lend themselves all that well to being debated along those lines.

    As I said, the exceptions are autoirty of scriupture and lordship of Christ. But even thses don't lend themselves all that well to a liberal/conservative distinction. Lordship is claimed by both sides, as is authoirty. And autority historically has not been defined bya particular view of inspiration or inerrancy, though it might possibly be argued that it presupposes one.
     
  13. Eladar

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    You can't, for example, hold to an episcopal ecclesiology and be a baptist, or claim to be.

    Once again, the difference is political. How a church is run is political, not theological.

    As far as the Bible goes, the only thing of importance is theology. We are not going to be found righteous based on politics. It is based on our relationship with God. Politics are purely a fleshly matter, not spiritual.

    Let me clarify what I was trying to ask.

    Theologically speaking...Are you saying that there is no standard by which a Baptist can be judged? In other words, a Baptist is nothing more than someone who claims the title?
     
  14. Bible-belted

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    No, it isn't political. Congregational polity has a specific theology of the church that is incompatible with episoplaism. You simply misunderstand. It isn't a polity thing without theological foundation. Congregational polity holds that each assmebled chuch is itslef the Body of Christ, not just a part of the Body. That is why there are baptist churches, but no Baptist Church in the same sense as there is a Roman Catholic Church or a Presbyterian Church.

    Another example, and one that might be less confusing to you, is baptism. Baptists hold that baptism for believers, and is by immersion. Their theology of that ordiance usd to be unique. Now it is quite common. Baptists did not choose to be called Baptists. They were called that by others, though we have accepted the name.

    Anyeway, the issue of baptism is not realy a liberal/conservative thing. It is an exegetical thing, where conservatives can come to differing views.

    So again, the answer is yes there are theological issues that define a baptist, but not ones that are easliy labeld as conservative vs. liberal.
     
  15. Rev. G

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    Tuor:

    My friend, I'm afraid that this is a correct assertion in our day and age. The BB seems to be proof of that. Of course, you might also ask a similar question - "What is an Evangelical?" It would be much of the same. Or, "What is a Christian?" We have extended our boundaries too far. All that matters for many now is, "What Jesus means to ME." We live in a day of individualistic faith with an emphasis on personal autonomy. This is neither right, nor safe.

    Rev. G
     
  16. Ps104_33

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    B Biblical Authority
    A Autonomy of the Local Church
    P Priesthod of all Believers
    T Two Ordinances (baptism, communion)
    I Individual Soul Liberty
    S Saved, Baptized, Church membership
    T Two offices (Pastor, Deacon)
    S Separation of Church and State

    That just about sums it up in a nutshell. Of course there are alot of Churches that are "baptistic" in their beliefs without the name Baptist. Dont forget, the name was tagged on us by our opposition for not going along with infant baptism. (Ana-baptists)
     
  17. Eladar

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    Latreia,

    Congregational polity holds that each assmebled chuch is itslef the Body of Christ, not just a part of the Body.

    There is only one Body of Christ. According to the Bible, the Body of Christ is the elect. If Baptists believe that only their congregation represents the Body of Christ, then the road to salvation is truely narrow.

    Baptists hold that baptism for believers, and is by immersion.

    Really, I thought Soul Competency allowed for an individual understanding of baptism. In other words, a Baptist could believe in infant baptism and be well within his/her right as a Baptist.

    So again, the answer is yes there are theological issues that define a baptist

    Not if you believe in Soul Competency as defined by 'moderate' Baptists.
     
  18. Eladar

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    Rev G,

    We live in a day of individualistic faith with an emphasis on personal autonomy. This is neither right, nor safe.

    This may be true for Christianity in general, but this is not the way it has to be on the 'grass roots' level. The 'individual' thing is straight out of the handbook of the Great Deceiver.

    Ps104_33,

    B Biblical Authority- I believe if you ask Baptist to define this term, you will find a great many different interpretations.

    A Autonomy of the Local Church- I would agree that most every Baptist would agree with this. But this is more political than theological.

    P Priesthod of all Believers - Even Church of Christ believes this.

    T Two Ordinances (baptism, communion) - Nothing unique here, and I bet you there is a 'Baptist' out there some where who would disagree with you on this.

    I Individual Soul Liberty- Once again, try to get a conscensus definition. This is the one that makes all the others unenforceable.

    S Saved, Baptized, Church membership- I believe you will find dissention on this one too(See Soul Competency). If you are trying to say that you can't be saved outside of being baptized into your body of believers, then Baptists are heretics indeed. Even Catholics don't go that far.

    T Two offices (Pastor, Deacon) - What do you know, Baptists and Church of Christ have quite a few of these things in common.

    S Separation of Church and State- Purely political.
     
  19. Rev. G

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    Friend, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    As far as the acrostic:

    B Biblical Authority
    The posts on the Baptist Board have proven that there is no agreement here.

    A Autonomy of the Local Church
    How far does this autonomy actually stretch? This ignores the fact that the Body of Christ reaches beyond geographical boundaries. Also, this can be used along with the denial of Biblical Authority so that an "autonomous church" ordains women as elders, homosexuals as deacons, and the like (and yet still call themselves Baptist).

    P Priesthod of all Believers
    The "Priesthood of the Believers" is a Protestant doctrine (defined by Luther), not distinctly Baptist.

    T Two Ordinances (baptism, communion)
    This is also Protestant.

    I Individual Soul Liberty
    I agree that this is a uniquely "Baptist" doctrine, although you can't really find it (defined) until the advent of E. Y. Mullins (20th Century).

    S Saved, Baptized, Church membership
    Is this another way of saying a regenerate church membership? Baptists have historically been unique in this, but it has gone out the window with shallow evangelism and cheap grace. We really no longer hold to this (in reality).

    T Two offices (Pastor, Deacon)
    Yes, elders and deacons. But is this uniquely Baptist?

    S Separation of Church and State
    Yes, Baptists were the ones who got this one going.

    Nice acrostic, it really is, but it does not fit the "modern" mold. :(

    Rev. G
     
  20. Bible-belted

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    "There is only one Body of Christ. According to the Bible, the Body of Christ is the elect. If Baptists believe that only their congregation represents the Body of Christ, then the road to salvation is truely narrow."

    You misunderstand. It is not to say that specifically baptist congregations are the Body of Christ (though you will doubtless find some who tink that way), but simply to say that Baptist ecclesiology holds that the local congregation is in itself a whole body of which Christ is the head. Baptist theology (at least the classic stuff) holds that there is no "universal church" only local churches, each oe of which can legitimately claim to be the Body of Christ.

    Now you'll find a lot of people in baptist churches who disagree, but you;ll find those who agree, For example DocCas I vbeleive holds to ths view. It is, as I say, the "classic" baptist theological perspective on the issue. Whether it is right or wrong (which you seem to get into a bit) is another question.

    "Really, I thought Soul Competency allowed for an individual understanding of baptism. In other words, a Baptist could believe in infant baptism and be well within his/her right as a Baptist."

    No. This is why I mentioned that "baptist" is a name given to baptists by non-baptists. It was given to baptist because they did in fact believe in beliver's baptism by immersion. It is a name that others applied as descriptive of the actual beliefs.

    And soul competency is not a license to believe whatever you want. It is conditioned by (at least) the authority of Scripture and the Lordship of Christ.
     

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