What do Baptists believe?
Baptists hold to the fundamentals of the Christian faith as do all true Christian denominations. We believe in the inerrancy of Scripture; the virgin birth and deity of Christ; the Trinity; the substitutionary atonement of Christ, in other words, salvation by grace through faith and not by works or participation in any ceremonies; and the imminent, physical return of Christ.
Our Baptist distinctives are easily remembered in an acrostic.
Biblical accuracy and authority – The Bible is the verbally and plenarily inspired Word of God (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19-21). The Bible is without error. It is our final authority for all matters of faith (what we believe) and practice (what we do).
Autonomy of the local church – Autonomy means self-governing. Each local assembly governs itself without any outside authority over it, such as a presbytery, synod, council, prelate or convention (Matt 18:15-18; Acts 15). Christ is the Head of the Church (Col 1:18). It is scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other for the proclamation and advance of the faith.
Priesthood of the individual believer – Each believer can pray directly to God through Christ without any other human or saintly intervention (2 Tim 2:5; Heb 10:19-20; 1 Pet 2:5, 9; 1 John 1:9).
Two church ordinances – The Lord has committed two ordinances to the local church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Believers are to be baptized (Matt 28:19-20) and participate at the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:28) in obedience to Christ who instituted only these two church ordinances.
Christian baptism is by immersion (Acts 8:36-39) and is the public testimony of a believer to show his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Rom 6:1-11). It is also a sign of identification and fellowship with the visible body of Christ, the local church (Acts 2:41-42).
The Lord’s Supper is a memorial and proclamation of our Lord’s death until He comes. It should be always preceded by solemn self-examination (1 Cor 11:23-32). The bread and the cup are only symbolic of the flesh and blood of Christ.
Individual soul liberty – Every individual believer has the right to worship God in accord with his own understanding of Scripture and without coercion, as far as it does not infringe upon the God-given rights of others (John 16:13; Rom 14:4-5; 1 John 2:27).
Saved church membership – Church membership is available only to those who have demonstrated repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:41, 44, 47).
Two church offices – Scripture establishes only two offices, pastor and deacon, to serve the local church (Phil 1:2; 1 Tim 3; Titus 1).
Separation of church and state – Scriptures clearly teach that the State is to administer civil or secular government and the Church is to minister to man’s spiritual needs. The two are separate entities not to be intertwined, especially under the same head (Matt 22:21; Acts 4:19; 5:29; Rom 13; Titus 3:1).
Many other Christians believe in these same doctrines, but historically, believers, who have held to these same Bible principles, have been known as Baptists. We don’t believe that only Baptists or that all Baptists are saved. However, we do believe that the Word of God teaches these fundamental truths, and we strive to teach them and to live faithfully by them.