What is a Baptist?

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by mark, Apr 21, 2003.

  1. mark

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    Beginning the Sunday after next, the pastor has asked me to start a 3-5 minute talk about Baptist heritage, history and doctrine. This will go on every week then, so I thought the first week I would start out with there are xxxx number of Baptists in the US and xxxx number in the world ......... and the first thing Pastor asked me was "well, what are you defining as a Baptist?" Good question. Is a Baptist anyone who attends a church with Baptist in the name? Too easy. If we counted them up would the number be to high (because there are "Baptist Churches" who really aren't Baptist or too low because there are church who don't take the name Baptist but practice Baptist doctrines? so here is the question... WHAT DEFINES A BAPTIST?
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    A Baptist is one who adheres to the distinctives of the Baptist faith.

    Of course, this begs the question "what are the distinctives of the Baptist faith?" I have often seen the acrostic used on this board that goes thusly:

    B - Baptism by immersion or Believing membership
    A - Autonomy of the local church
    P - Priesthood of the believer
    T - Two ordinances (baptism / Lord's Supper)
    I - Individual soul liberty
    S - Separation of church and state
    T - Two officers, pastor and deacon

    Here, also, are a couple of threads that may help stimulate some ideas. They are both in the archives so you will need the passwords 2001 and 2002:

    http://www.baptistboard.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=57;t=000976 (2001)


    http://www.baptistboard.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=58;t=000938 (2002)

    I'd have trouble limiting this discussion to just a few minutes, Mark! Better you than me (for the congregation's sake)! [​IMG]
     
  3. Hardsheller

    Hardsheller
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    Mark,

    The way I believe I'd approach this is to start with what kind of Baptist I am.

    Obviously your pastor and your Church has some idea of what all that entails.

    Then I would present other Baptists and be very careful not to misrepresent their identity.

    Sometimes we Baptists just assume the worst about people who are unlike us.

    My uncle used to have a favorite saying that went something like this.

    "There's so much good in the worst of us
    And so much bad in the best of us
    That it hardly behooves any of us
    To complain about the rest of us."

    I think that applies to the majority of Baptists I have met.
     
  4. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    Mark... I agree with everything that has been said... I have a book before me that was given to me by my father called... Why I Am A Primitive Baptist.

    Not only am I a Baptist but I'm certain type of Baptist... That sets me apart from other Baptist... What type of Baptist are you and what sets you apart from other Baptists?

    Why do you go to the church you go to?... Why don't you go to a different church or one of a different denomination?... Why does the Baptist Church and its people and its doctrinal beliefs and practices set it apart from others that makes you want to worship with them?

    Are there family ties and is that the reason you joined?... Why are you where you are and what holds you there?... Is it history?... Is it the Bible?... Is it the mode of Baptism?... Is it the doctrine and practice?... Is it the people?... Is it in the blood?... Is it a feeling that you get in the house of God?... What compelled you there and what holds you there?

    No matter what answers you come up with this is for you and you alone... The same goes for the congregation you talk to as there are a myriad of reason why one is a Baptist same as there are a multitude of Baptist denominations that give each there identity!... Brother Glen [​IMG] & [​IMG] Sister Charlotte [​IMG]
     
  5. rsr

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    Mark, the Baptist History & Heritage Society has a series of pamphlets that touch upon most of Clint's points:

    BAPTIST HISTORY & HERITAGE
     
  6. mark

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    Great replies, ideas and links, I appreciate them.
     
  7. Speedpass

    Speedpass
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    In the language of algebra: Where there are x Baptists, there will be x+1 opinions on any given subjects.
     
  8. HankD

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    Hi Clint, Mark,

    And to prove Exxon's rule here are is the
    GARBC acrostic for the eight Baptist Distinctives.

    Biblical Authority Bible is final authority in matters of belief and practice
    Autonomy of the Local Church
    Priesthood of the Believer
    Two Ordinances
    Individual Soul Liberty
    Saved, Baptized Church Membership
    Two Offices
    Separation of Church and State

    Here is the URL which has a blurb which might be helpful.

    http://www.garbc.org/garbc_home/baptdist.shtml

    HankD
     
  9. rsr

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    Well, since you brought it up ... ;)

    Two ordinances? Although that is true among the vast majority of Baptists, it is not universal. The Primitive Baptists I know consider footwashing an ordinance, as do the Free Will Baptists.

    The Philadelphia Confession lists four ordinances: baptism, the Lord's Supper, laying on of hands and singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. (John Gill agreed with the last item.)

    Maybe we could say there are two universally acknowledged ordinances?
     
  10. KPBAP

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    I even have some question with "two officers- pastor and deacon" Are those distinctively and unique with Baptists alone??? I don't think an acronym sufficiently describes BAPTISTS.
    I tend to believe that being Baptist means being FREE. Free to interpret Scripture with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, free to worship, free access to the throne of God, free to be a Baptist without another Baptist telling you what your are to believe.
     
  11. HankD

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    Actually this concept is a Baptist Distinctive:

    Individual Soul Liberty
    Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the religious realm. No one should be forced to assent to any belief against his will. Baptists have always opposed religious persecution. However, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself. Romans 14:5, 12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 1:9

    Taken from the GARBC URL given previously.

    HankD
     
  12. tyndale1946

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    I agree can a baptist who is true to the baptist belief with his soul freedom and liberty just believe everything under the sun?... I don't think so!

    What set the baptist apart from say the Methodist... Lutherans... Presbyterians... Church Of Christ... Pentecostals... And The RCC among others. Is a baptist no matter whether he is a freewiller... a predestinarian... a calvinist... or any other name he may call himself... If he leaves the parameters of what a baptist is... Is he still a baptist?... Even though he has exercised his soul liberty?

    I say if he leaves the parameters of the doctrine... Say he pours instead of immerses has he not ceased to be a Baptist?... Even though he says there is a misinterpretation in scripture and I must pour. Must all the Baptist Distinctives be met to be called a Baptist or are the distinctives flexible?... Brother Glen [​IMG] & [​IMG] Sister Charlotte [​IMG]

    [ April 22, 2003, 02:47 PM: Message edited by: tyndale1946 ]
     
  13. HankD

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    No they do not have to be met and/but of course he can call himself a Baptist, that is the essence of Soul Liberty.

    But by the same token you are free to say he is not a Baptist according to your criteria of what constitutes a Baptist.

    HankD
     
  14. Squire Robertsson

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    Here are the Baptist Distinctives as laid out by the late Dr. Richard Weeks, Professor of Practical Theology, Maranatha Baptist Bible College and Graduate School, Watertown, Wisconson:

    Bible only rule of Faith and Practice
    Regenerate, Immersed Church Membership
    Autonomy and Independence of the Local Church
    Priesthood of the Believer
    Seperation of Church and State
    Immersion of Believers and Lord's Supper only two ordinances (n.b. I am quoting a Northern Regular Baptist)
    Separation Ethical and Ecclesiastical (sometimes written as "S" with a super- or sub-script 2)

    Hope this helps.
     
  15. rlvaughn

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    Mark, first I would like to address a few comments to the question, "What defines a Baptist?" The Baptist distinctives are very important, especially historically. The reason I say "historically" is because many groups have adapted and/or adopted these distinctives, and so to many they do not now appear to be "distinctive." I would say that in England and early America, one would find few that held many of these distinctives as did the Baptists, and none with that particular combination. These are intended to identify things that stood out about Baptists. We should not think, though, that these distinctives were held "in a vacuum." In common with the majority of Christendom, Baptists held what was considered orthodox principles, and what many might identify today as fundamentals - trinity, virgin birth, salvation by grace, etc. I say this because some believe what being a Baptist means is simply reducing to the lowest common denominator and finding what minimal things are held in common by ALL "Baptists." This is the approach found in The Baptist Identity, which I list below.
    Next, I would like to mention a few things that might be helpful in your talks on Baptist history and heritage. There are two books, somewhat antithetical, that address (or purport to) the idea of "what is a baptist?". Though I don't agree with either, and very little in one, I think they are important reading for perspective on the subject: </font>
    • More Than Just A Name: Preserving Our Baptist Identity [R. Stanton Norman; Broadman & Holman; Nashville, TN; 2001; pb, 198 pp.]</font>
    • The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms [Walter B. Shurden; Smyth & Helwys; Macon, GA; 1993; pb, 119 pp.]</font>
    A book I would recommend for your topic is: </font>
    • The Baptist Heritage [J. M. Holliday; Bogard Press; Texarkana, TX; 1974; pb, 120 pp.]</font>
    This is an unusual book with lots of "odd" and tidbit information that might be interesting to use in your case. One thing he discusses is the "connections" of Baptists to several early American political leaders [I am a little skeptical of the account of Washington's baptism, though it appears to be from a credible source].

    To keep the cost down, also check out internet resources, such as: </font>
     
  16. rsr

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    Here's an article by Fisher Humphres in The Baptist History and Heritage Journal that outlines the development of many of the distinctives. (Bro. Robert, it probably leans more toward Shurden's view than the other, but it seems to me to deal fairly with the questions.)

    BAPTISTS AND THEIR THEOLOGY

    Bro. Glen, while soteriology has been a source of division among Baptists, that hasn't been true universally. Baptist groups in both England and America have included predestinarians and free-willers, sometimes within the same congregations.
     
  17. mark

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    Thank you all, these are great resources. It really does make you think about what makes a Baptist ..Baptist. My pastor asked me what I would be if I wasn't a Baptist... and I replied "Unsaved". Not because one has to be a Baptist to be saved, but it was the Baptists who reached out to me and showed me the truth. Here in Iowa, we don't have a Baptist church on every corner, so as I have transfered from one community to another I have been SBC, GARBC, IBF and BGC. It grieves me that sometimes Baptists see the differences so clearly the brotherhood to dimmly. Thank you all. Mark
     
  18. bapterian

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    A Baptist is a Christian who believes that baptism comes only after a person makes a confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In other words, Believer's Baptism.
     
  19. rlvaughn

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    Hello, bapterian. Welcome to the Baptist Board! [​IMG]
     
  20. mark

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    bump
     

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