We live in the 21st Century and we have seen advances in so many things during our lifetime. Yet, we have seen battles arise over spiritual truths that many thought would never occur during our lifetime. Some professing Christians from evangelical churches have questioned the inerrancy of the Bible. Others have questioned a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis and have ascribed to theistic evolution1. Others have rejected the male only requirement of the pastoral office (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), and the requirement of men only being allowed to teach or exercise authority over men in the church (1 Tim. 2:11-15). Still others have become more involved with humanitarian efforts rather than Christ’s call to make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). Churches and Christian colleges have tossed out doctrinal precision and clarity in their statements of faith in the name of love and acceptance (not love for God I would argue).
Why are all these things and more occurring? Much of it is summed up in this – many professing Christians are more conformed to this world than conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). God’s Word says, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God”2 (Rom. 12:1–2). Many professing Christians and even evangelical churches are taking their lead from the world instead of God’s Word.
In the history of the church this is not a new phenomenon. There have always been occurrences of churches drifting toward worldliness and liberalism. In fact, Baptist churches came into existence as a reaction against such a drift. Baptist churches have been marked by spiritual convictions and characteristics known as “Baptist distinctives.” These area easily outlined in the acrostic BAPTISTS.
Autonomy of the local church
Priesthood of the believer
Two offices (pastor and deacon)
Individual soul liberty
Saved church membership
Two ordinances (baptism and communion)
Separation of church and state
All of these distinctives are biblically based and have caused Baptist churches who hold to them to stand apart from other denominations. Since Baptist churches have traditionally held to biblical authority, it stands to reason that these distinctives are biblically based. These biblical distinctives help to define how a Baptist church functions, biblically.
In the coming weeks I am going to dedicate each prayer letter to one of the Baptist distinctives. Each week I will outline a Baptist distinctive and give the biblical basis for it. I am a born again Christian through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe strongly that the Baptist distinctives are biblical. Therefore, I am a Baptist by conviction.
1The belief that God created everything but then allowed it to evolve over millions of years.
2Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, HCSB®, and Holman CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009).