Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Hobbs, Taz, and Chloe.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Being Baptist

Some people these days seem confused about what it is that makes a Baptist. Being Baptist is not a doctrine about God, or Jesus, or salvation, or the end times or so on. Baptist share those things with Christians from many denominations. Being Baptist is about church polity, or how a church is governed. It is also about how the church views it's place in the larger society. So, being Baptist is essentially about ecclesiology (the doctrine of the Church).

While, as I mentioned above, there are many things Baptists share with other orthodox Christian denominations, there are some things that distinguish Baptists from the others. For example, one key Baptist distinctive is that of a regenerate church membership. In other words, no one is accepted for membership into a Baptist church who does not have a credible testimony of being a Christian. Baptists believe only saved people are true and proper members of the local Church (and the church universal).

Tied closely with the first distinctive is the belief in believer's baptism by immersion. This tenet is so much of a Baptist distinctive that Baptists believe no one has been actually baptized who was not baptized by immersion after their profession of faith as a believer. Baptists do not believe any other form of baptism is truly a baptism.

Baptists believe that the Bible is their sole rule of faith and practice. That means that everything necessary for belief and life as a Christian can be found in the Bible. It also means that nothing can be put as binding on the Christian that cannot be plainly proven from scripture alone.

Baptists believe God set two offices over the Church to see to it's orderly function and to train other believers. These are the pastor (also called an elder or bishop) and the deacon.

Baptists hold that Jesus Christ left two ordinances to his Church as a testimony to the life of the gospel among them. These are baptism and the Lord's Supper. We call these "ordinances" because we do not believe they confer any grace by the performance of them.

Baptists believe that every believer is his or her own priest before God. We believe each person may define what is acceptable worship for themselves, so long as scripture is not violated in doing so. This is called "soul liberty."

Baptists believe that God gave us both the Church and Civil Government to rule over us, each in it's own sphere. Therefore, each functions best when it is not interfered with by the other. Therefore, the Church may advise and act as the conscience of the people to the Government, but it does not make laws (except as each believer is accorded his or her single vote as provided for by law). Conversely, the Government does not rule over the Church, whose sole Ruler is our Lord King and God, Jesus Christ. Baptists believe Christ rules over His Church.

There are other things Baptists believe but these cover some of the big things that separate us Baptists from our other Christian brothers and sisters.

I am a Baptist. Most of all I am a Baptist because when I read the pages of scripture, I see Baptist things happening in the churches of the Bible. The churches of the Bible look and sound like Baptist churches to me. So, to me, to be a Baptist is to be a Bible believer.

I must note in passing that it is possible to be Baptist and not be like other Baptists. There are Conservative Baptists and Liberal Baptists. Baptists fall all along the spectrum of belief and politics.

But for better or for worse, I am a Baptist. I apologize to no one for it. Because to me, being Baptist is simply being Biblical.

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