may not order their distinctives the same but all would include those below
as being those which are primary to their identity.
Use the B-A-P-T-I-S-T-S
acrostic to familiarize yourself with them.
the titles to study the expanded explanations for each distinctive
| The Bible is the final authority
in all matters of belief and practice because the Bible is inspired by
God and bears the absolute authority of God Himself. Whatever the Bible
affirms, Baptists accept as true. No human opinion or decree of any church
group can override the Bible. Even creeds and confessions of faith, which
attempt to articulate the theology of Scripture, do not carry Scripture's
| "For this
cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the
word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men,
but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also
in you that believe." ~ 1st Thessalonians 2:13
of the Local Church
| The local church is an independent
body accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church. All
human authority for governing the local church resides within the local
church itself. Thus the church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious
hierarchy outside the local church may dictate a church's beliefs or practices.
Autonomy does not mean isolation. A Baptist church may fellowship with
other churches around mutual interests and in an associational tie, but
a Baptist church cannot be a "member" of any other body.
| "And he
is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn
from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."
~ Colossians 1:18
of the Believers
| Every born-again believer
has direct access to the throne of God. Therefore, since every child
of God shares in the priesthood of the believers, all have the same right
as ordained ministers to communicate with God, interpret Scripture, and
minister in Christ's name. This is first and foremost a matter of
responsibility and servanthood, not privilege and license.
| "Ye also,
as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to
offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
~ 1 Peter 2:5
Ordinances of the Church
| We practice only believer's
baptism by immersion, which is the only acceptable mode for baptism because
it alone preserves the picture of saving truth. No other form pictures
the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:1-5). We believe
that the Lord's Supper is a symbolic ordinance, picturing Christ's body
broken for our sins and His blood shed for our redemption. It is not a
saving ordinance, but helps us remember His death, and inspires us while
looking forward to His coming. It is to be observed by regenerate, obedient
| "For I have
received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord
Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had
given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which
is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me."
~ 1 Corinthians 11:23-24
| Every individual Christian
has the liberty to believe, right or wrong, as his/her own conscience dictates.
While we seek to persuade men to choose the right, a person must not be
forced to into compliance, realizing that it is not always the larger group
who holds the truth when, in fact, our heritage as Baptists has demonstrated
the worth of every individual believer.
| "So then
every one of us shall give account of himself to God. ~ Romans 14:12
and Baptized Church Membership
| Local church membership is
restricted to individuals who give a believable testimony of personal faith
in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer's
baptism. When the members of a local church are believers, a oneness in
Christ exists, and the members can endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace.
| "Then they
that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were
added unto them about three thousand souls."..."Praising God, and having
favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such
as should be saved." ~ Acts 2:41&47
Offices of the Church
| The Bible mandates only two
offices in the church--pastor and deacon. The three terms--"pastor," "elder,"
and "bishop," or "overseer"--all refer to the same office. The two offices
of pastor and deacon exist within the local church, not as a hierarchy
outside or over the local church.
| "This is
a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good
work."..."For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase
to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in
Christ Jesus." ~ 1st Timothy 3:1-13
of Church and State
| God established both the
church and the civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere
of operation. The government's purposes are outlined in Romans 13:1-7 and
the church's purposes in Matthew 28:19 and 20. Neither should control the
other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christians in a
free society can properly influence government toward righteousness, which
is not the same as a denomination or group of churches controlling the
| "Let every
soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God:
the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth
the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive
to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works,
but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which
is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:"
~ Romans 13:1-3