What is a Baptist?

So what is a Baptist anyway? Though not a complete list of everything which Baptists believe, the acrostic below should be helpful in outlining what a traditional Baptist believes. At Emmaus Road Baptist Church, we are an independent Baptist church. That means that we are not a part of any convention or mainline denominational church. That being said, we are probably not exactly like any other Baptist church which you may have visited. As independent, we are free to follow God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. To find out exactly how our church is different than others you may have visited, you will just have to stop by!

Biblical Authority In all matters of faith and practice. We believe the Bible is inspired and infallible and is the final authority. It is from God’s Word that we understand and teach the fundamental doctrines of our faith as well as pattern our church polity. (See 2 Timothy 3:16; John 17:17; Acts 17:11; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20–21.)

Autonomy or self governing power of the local church. We believe that every local church should be independent of a hierarchical framework or outside governmental structure. (See Colossians 1:18; Acts 13–14, 20:19–30; Ephesians 1:22–23.)

Priesthood of believers. God’s Word assures believers that we have direct access to God through our relationship with Christ. We believe and teach that the priesthood of the believer is the unspeakably precious privilege of every child of God. (See Hebrews 4:14–16; 1 Timothy 2:5–6; 1 Peter 2:5–10.)

Two offices within the church. Scripture only mentions two church offices—pastor (also referred to as elder or bishop) and deacon. These two offices are to be filled by godly men of integrity in each local church. (See Philippians 1:1; Acts 6:1–7; 1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:6–9; 1 Peter 5:1–4.)

Individual soul liberty.We believe that each person must make a personal decision of repentance and faith in Christ. (See Romans 10:9–17, 14:1–23.)

Separation of church and state.The state should have no power to intervene in the free expression of religious liberty. (See Matthew 22:21; Acts 5:29–31; Romans 13:1–4.)

Two ordinances—baptism and the Lord’s Table (also called communion). These ordinances have no part in salvation and only serve as pictures of what Christ did for us. (See Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; Acts 2:38–43, 8:36–38; Romans 6:1–6)

Separation and personal holiness. We believe that Christ’s ultimate sacrifice demands our complete consecration, and we desire that our daily living would reflect the holiness of our great God. (See 2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Peter 1:16.)

Source: Paul Chappell

And one more thing. Baptists believe in getting wet. The word “baptize” is the transliteration of a Greek word which means “to immerse.” Baptists believe the Bible teaches that new believers should be immersed completely in water as a testimony of their faith. This is a one time event which follows a personal decison to trust Christ as Savior. Baptists do not believe that any type of baptism conveys any grace to the participants. It is an act of obedience and identification whith Christ and nothing more.

About the Author
Ben Hamilton pastors Emmaus Road Baptist Church in the Bronx, New York. His passion is knowing God's will for his life, and sharing what he has learned with those whom he meets. He has lived in NYC since 2010. Ben is married to Andrea, and they have five children.

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