Who are the Baptists?

The Baptist movement began in the early seventeenth century in England as part of the Separatist and Congregationalist movements, with emphasis on the baptism of believers, religious liberty, and separation of church and state, as well as holding to beliefs from both Calvinistic and Arminian schools of thought. Some have traced the Baptist movement to that of the Anabaptists of Switzerland in the sixteenth century who rejected all baptisms not intelligently or consciously sought by the individual (such as infant baptism) and who were radically individualistic, but most Baptists claim no individual founder or previous sect of origin. It was brought to the American colonies in 1632 by Roger Williams, who founded the first American Baptist church in 1639, the second to be founded by Dr. John Clarke in 1641. Due to persecution, it did not grow quickly until after the American Revolution and the creation of the Bill of Rights, granting separation of church and state, to which many consider the Baptist movement contributed greatly. European Baptist churches started appearing in 1834, primarily due to the missionary activity of the Baptist Missionary Society founded in 1792 by William Carey. There is no one, official Baptist church. Although individualistic and autonomous in nature, Baptist churches are united through various fellowship counsels, associations, and conventions. One of the most popularly known Baptist organizations is the Southern Baptist Convention, comprising a minority segment of the Baptist population known to be highly fundamentalist.

The common beliefs of many U.S. Baptist churches comes from the "Baptist Faith and Message" which professes the following (adapted from SBCnet, The Baptist Faith and Message, at http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp):
  • The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man.
  • All Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.
  • There is one and only one living and true God.
  • The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.
  • God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
  • Jesus lead a sinless life, died a substitutionary death on the cross for the redemption of mankind, was resurrected with a glorified body, and ascended into heaven where he is exalted at the right hand of God as the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man.
  • The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ.
  • Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation.
  • In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race.
  • Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer.
  • In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.
  • There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
  • A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
  • Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.
  • The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance.
  • God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
  • All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ.

        Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:38-39)

American Baptist Association

"The American Baptist Association is a fellowship of Baptist churches who have elected to associate with each other for the furtherance of the cause of Christ on earth. Through their associated efforts these churchessend and support missionaries in many areas of the world. they publish a full curriculum to train their members in the fundamentals of the Christian faith as found in the Bible, especially the New Testament. These churches also help each other in their ministries to the poor and homeless people through children's homes and other projects. According to the 2001 American Baptist Association Year book these churches are located in the United States, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Fiji Islands, France, Germany, India, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Peru, Solomon Islands, Uganda, Vanuatu, Venezuela and Honduras."

Baptist Top 1000

"Web users can use Baptist Top 1000 to find the most popular Baptist sites on the web and Baptist webmasters can use Baptist Top 1000 to increase their traffic by tapping into the thousands of unique visitors to our site. Baptist Top 1000 was created in order help people find the Baptist web sites they are looking for, without having to waste a lot of time. Baptist Top 1000 exists to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ by bringing the world to Baptist websites and by bringing Baptist websites to the world."

Baptist Union of Great Britain

"Baptist churches are found in almost every country in the world. As part of the world-wide Christian church, Baptists form one of the largest families of faith, alongside other trinitarian Christian traditions such as Anglicans, Methodists, Reformed, etc. For Baptists the concept of a family is important. The church is not so much a particular place or building, but rather a family of believers, committed to Christ, to one another and to the service of God in the world. In this Baptist family everybody is equal, for everybody has a part to play in the service of God. There is no hierarchy of bishops or priests exercising authority over their members. Equality of status, however, does not mean that all have the same role. Each local Baptist church appoints its own leaders - or ministers - to have particular responsibility for preaching, teaching and pastoral care. Working alongside these ministers are also deacons, who together with the minister(s) form the leadership team of the local Baptist church. Baptists are grass-roots people, with a particular emphasis on the local church. These local churches are self-governing and self-supporting, ranging in size from twenty or so members to many hundreds. Although each Baptist church is an independent entity, Baptist nonetheless have always believed in associating with one another - and so the churches come together in regional, national and international spheres to promote and support the fellowship of Baptists everywhere."

Baptist World Alliance

"The purpose of the Baptist World Alliance is to empower and enable national Baptist leaders to effectively witness and minister in the name of Jesus Christ and to represent and support Baptists throughout the world in defense of human rights and religious freedom. The Baptist World Alliance is a fellowship of 211 Baptist unions and conventions comprising a membership of more than 47 million Baptized believers. This represents a community of approximately 110 million Baptist ministering in more than 200 countries. The BWA unites Baptist worldwide, leads in world evangelism, responds to people in need and defends human rights. Uniting Baptists Worldwide for Global Impact for Christ´┐Żin fellowship, evangelism, justice, and aid. The Baptist World Alliance, the official global fellowship of Baptists uniting 211 Baptist conventions/unions, was started in London, England, in 1905 at the first Baptist World Congress. For more than a hundred years, Baptist leaders had written of the need of an organization to bring Baptists, a highly autonomous people, together. Ninety five years later, the BWA still exists to provide fellowship, meet human need, lead in evangelism and work for justice. The Baptist World Alliance is best described as a fellowship of believers around the world. Because Baptists do not have one central authority they choose to work together in the BWA."

European Baptist Federation

"The European Baptist Federation is comprised of more than 800,000 Baptists in 51 Unions stretching from Portugal to the far reaches of Russia. Included in this family are Baptists in Eurasia and the Middle and Near East. A Baptist Church in Malta and a Baptist Church in Turkey have been granted Associate Memberships. EBF leaders work continuously to help strengthen the relationships in these countries where, as of now, no formal union exists. The European Baptist Federation also serves as the European representative for the Baptist World Alliance... EBF can be described as working to: create better understanding between the people and the churches of different countries through better knowledge and information about each other; promote reconciliation and peace on: the religious level - between the Christian churches and other religions; the political level - between churches and their states and governments; the inter-church level - between the diverse Baptist groups."

Southern Baptist Convention

"Since its organization in 1845 in Augusta, Georgia, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has grown to over 16 million members who worship in more than 42,000 churches in the United States. Southern Baptists sponsor about 5,000 home missionaries serving the United States, Canada, Guam and the Caribbean, as well as sponsoring more than 5,000 foreign missionaries in 153 nations of the world. The term "Southern Baptist Convention" refers to both the denomination and its annual meeting. Working through 1,200 local associations and 41 state conventions and fellowships, Southern Baptists share a common bond of basic Biblical beliefs and a commitment to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world. You become a Southern Baptist by uniting with a Southern Baptist church, one in friendly cooperation with the general Southern Baptist enterprise of reaching the world for Christ. Typically church membership is a matter of accepting Jesus as your Savior and Lord and experiencing believer's baptism by immersion."

        Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

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