Beliefs

“That our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and that each church has liberty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer His laws. That Christian Baptism is the immersion in water into the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, of those who have professed repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ who „died for our sins according to the Scriptures; was buried, and rose again on the third day‟. That it is the duty of every disciple to bear personal witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to take part in the evangelisation of the world.”
 
 
It was felt that for the purpose of gaining a deeper sense of what the declaration of principle means that we should unpack some of the content. What follows is such an attempt and is taken from the Baptist Union’s website concerning “What makes Baptists”. It is important though for us to recognise that every Baptist church is independent and autonomous so beliefs may vary but the following are common Baptist beliefs:
 
 
The Lordship of Christ
We affirm that ‘Jesus is Lord’. He is Lord over our individual lives, the life of each church, and the life of the whole world.
 
 
The authority of the Bible
The Bible is described as the ‘Word of God’ – Baptists believe that its writers were inspired by God’s Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit through the Bible shows us God’s way for living. As such, it has authority to guide both what we believe and how we live our lives. Baptists seek to root their lives in the revelation of God’s truth.
 
 
Baptism for Believers
From the example of the New Testament, Baptists claim that baptism is only for those who believe and are able to declare that Jesus is Lord. As a symbol of Jesus’ claim on their lives, Baptists practice baptism by immersion, representing a desire to die to self and to live for Christ, whilst at the same time recognising that believers can have a saving faith without undergoing baptism by immersion.
 
 
A Believers Church
Baptists understand the church as a community of believers gathered by the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ for worship, witness and service. Central to Baptist worship is prayer and praise, listening to God’s Word in preaching and a gathering around the Lord’s Table. There is no set Baptist liturgy. Each local church and community is free to determine its own pattern of communal worship.
 
 
The priesthood of all believers
In the Baptist model of a believer’s church every member has a role to play and has a responsibility to use their God-given skills and talents for the good of the church and the community. These gifts include teaching, evangelism, social action, pastoral care, prayer, healing, taking part in worship, administration, hospitality (this list is by no means exhaustive).
 
 
Church members and church meetings
An illustration of the priesthood of all believers is the church meeting. This is the occasion when members come together to prayerfully consider God’s will for their life together. In Baptist churches the final authority rests not with the minister or deacons but with the members gathered together in church meetings to discern the mind of Christ. It is the church meeting which, for instance, appoints ministers, elders, deacons, and others who exercise various forms of leadership within their local congregation, agrees financial policy and determines mission strategy etc.
 
 
Interdependence
On the basis of the New Testament, Baptists believe that churches should not live in isolation from one another but rather be inter-dependent. Baptist churches have always come together in regional, national and international associations for support and fellowship.
 
 
Sharing the faith
Baptists believe that each Christian has a duty to share their faith with others.Along with this emphasis on evangelism Baptists recognise that mission includes social action and involves promoting justice, social welfare, healing, education and peace in the world.
 
 
Religious Freedom
Religious freedom for all has always been a keystone of Baptist understanding. Acceptance of differences of outlook and diversity of practice is encouraged within Baptist churches, as well as in our wider world.