Baptist churches have no central authority or leader. So “Baptist” is not so much a denomination as it is a description of what a church believes. In short, Baptists simply believe and preach the Bible above all human and church traditions. Although the name “Baptist” does not find its origin in the acrostic B-A-P-T-I-S-T, this acrostic has become a common way to communicate the things that make churches Baptist.
We believe that the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament are the only inspired Word of God. They are a final and complete revelation for this age and are a final authority for all matters of church doctrine, personal conduct, church business, and worship. (I Tim 3:15; 1 Tim 2:13)
Every church has the right to govern itself according to the Bible. The local church should be self-governing (Acts 13:1-4, Matt 18:15-17; Acts 15), self-supporting (Mal 3:10), and self-reproducing (Acts 13:1-3). The church should not be ruled by any government (John 18:36; Matt 22:21; Acts 5:29) or denominational body (Acts 14:23).
Local churches should remain separate from other churches, denominations, and associations that do not accept the gospel and the fundamentals of the faith (Gal 1:9). Local churches should withhold their fellowship from other nominally Christian churches that do not live in obedience to the Bible (2 Thes 3:14-15).
Under the New Testament no one needs a priest to approach God. Every born-again believer has direct access to the throne of God (Heb 4:16, 1 Tim 2:5). Since every child of God shares in the priesthood of the believers, all have the same right as ordained ministers to communicate with God, seek forgiveness, interpret Scripture, and minister in Christ’s name(1 Cor 2:10, 1 Peter 2:9, Heb 10:19). That means we all have a personal responsibility for our own relationship with God.
The Church has been given two ordinances by Christ to perform in this age, baptism and communion. These ordinances do not wash away sin, but are acts of obedience and remembrance (Acts 2:38; I Cor 11:25). Baptism should be performed by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit (Matt 28:19).
Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the religious realm. No one should be forced to assent to any belief against his will. Baptists have always opposed religious persecution. However, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself. In accordance with this freedom, each person will be judged individually by God for his works on this earth.
(Romans 14:5, 12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 1:9; Ezekiel 18)
Local church membership is for individuals who give a testimony of personal faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer’s baptism. Membership does not save a person, but it serves to let other believers know that you have committed yourself to serve God with this chruch. When the members of a local church are believers, a oneness in Christ exists, and the members can endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 12:12; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 4:3)
The Bible requires only two offices in the church–pastor and deacon. The three terms–”pastor,” “elder,” and “bishop” all refer to the same office. The two offices of pastor and deacon are for the leadership of each local church, not for a government outside or over the local church. (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Acts 20:17-38; Philippians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:1-2)