1. TRUE. When we use the term, Baptist Distinctives, we are not referring to church traditions that are rooted in cultural norms or individual church preferences. Baptist Distinctives refers to the Biblical convictions of Baptists throughout church history that represent what the Bible teaches about the nature, organization, and function of local churches.
2. FALSE. Salvation by faith alone is a core Christian belief, not one held by Baptists alone. No Bible-believing Baptist holds to the view that only Baptists go to heaven. Baptists will be in heaven with many fine believers among whom we may disagree on matters of church polity.
3. TRUE. Because Baptists do not believe the Bible establishes a religious hierarchy or priesthood in New Testament church leadership, Baptist pastors have historically resisted vestments that might appear to create a distinctive class of believer. Born-again pastors and people are all believer priests.
4. TRUE. The pattern of believers being saved, baptized, and added to the church as outlined in Acts 2 represents our convictions. Affirming this connection between baptism and church membership makes sense because baptism is a local church ordinance, not a Body of Christ practice. When a believer becomes a church member in conjunction with being baptized, he or she is ready to begin discipleship and growth, a process that is to be centered in the local church. Believers who do not join a local church in which they can grow often struggle spiritually.
5. FALSE. We use the term, believer’s baptism, in reference to the faith of the one being baptized, not in reference to his or her parents. We become believers first and then are baptized as a testimony of our faith. Baptists don’t baptize infants because infants have not yet come to faith in Christ. (For more info, see #6.)
6. TRUE. No clear instruction or example exists in the Bible with regard to infant baptism. Attempts to find infants in the reference to the salvation of the Philippian jailer and his family (Acts 16) is without support; no specific reference indicates infants and a family (household) need not have infants to be designated as a family.
7. FALSE. Our Baptist belief about immersion (dipping), as opposed to sprinkling or pouring, is based solely on our conviction that it is the teaching of Scripture. The clear meaning of the Greek word for baptism, the best understanding of the New Testament descriptions of the practice of baptism, and the symbolism of our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, are compelling arguments for immersion.
8. TRUE. Christ instituted this ordinance for His followers (believers) so that they could remember His sacrifice at Calvary for them, and proclaim the His death until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians remind us that those participating in this ordinance are to examine themselves and make sure they are right with God and do not partake unworthily.
9. FALSE. To help protect our freedom and bear testimony to the Gospel, good Christian citizenship includes our participation in government.
10. TRUE. Baptists believe that the bread and juice distributed at the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper are merely symbols. When Jesus was holding the bread in that upper room and said, “This is My body” (Matthew 26:26), He used the word “is” to mean “represents.” We use the word “is” in a similar manner in our conversations today. The disciples knew He was speaking symbolically, and Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians give no indication that the literal or spiritual presence of Christ is in the distributed elements.
11. TRUE. The Bible does not teach that any saving value exists in observing the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. It is a memorial service for those who have already trusted in Christ as Savior (Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me…”) . It provides an opportunity for believers to express commitment, devotion, and appreciation for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
12. TRUE. We believe in a saved church membership. The Bible continually references those who make up the church as believers (Acts 2:43; 4:4, 32; 5:14; 9:42). The local church is not a gathering of religious people who have grown up in Baptist churches or appreciate Baptist principles, but of people who have been supernaturally changed by God through faith in Jesus Christ.
13. FALSE. While it is true that Baptists do not normally recite creeds in corporate worship, our reason for omitting creeds is not based upon religious liberty concerns, but upon our convictions regarding Biblical authority. Baptists would rather focus on the Scripture Itself than on writings about Scripture. The practice of reciting creeds in worship does have the danger of becoming religious ritual and meaningless repetition.
14. TRUE. In the early history of our nation Baptist preachers like Isaac Backus influenced the formation of the First Amendment, which affirms the separation of church and state in our U.S. Constitution.
15. TRUE. The Bible teaches that individual churches are autonomous or independent. Local congregations choose their own pastors, settle their own internal affairs, establish their own fiscal policy, and decide for themselves what individual missionaries they will support. No indication in the New Testament exists of any religious hierarchy overseeing the churches beyond the initial leadership of the apostles as individual churches were founded. The term bishop means pastor in the New Testament.
16. TRUE. The New Testament indicates cooperation and encouragement between local church congregations (Colossians 4:16; Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 19; 2 Corinthians 8, 9). Such cooperation was voluntary and did not contradict the principle of autonomy.
17. TRUE. As autonomous churches, Baptist congregations do not hold their property and buildings in trust for a larger denominational authority, but have ownership of property and buildings themselves.
18. FALSE. The word sometimes translated “bishop” in the New Testament is one of the Greek words for a local church pastor (other Greek words are “pastor” or shepherd, and “elder.”) There is no indication of a hierarchical leadership position outside a local church in the use of any of these terms. As autonomous local churches, individual congregations and their pastors make decisions according to God’s leading without any outside human control. (Compare #3)
19. TRUE. Baptists believe in Biblical authority. The ultimate authority for Christian living and the ministry of a local church resides not in a person or a group of people, but in God’s inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). Biblical Baptists affirm the centrality of the Scripture in their worship, educational ministries, leadership decisions, etc.
20. FALSE. Our convictions about religious liberty apply to everyone. We have complete confidence in the truth of Scripture and Its power to transform lives even in a religiously pluralistic culture.
21. FALSE. Because Baptist churches are autonomous, they do not transfer members from church to church. While they may accept letters of recommendation from other sister Baptist churches, each person is received into membership by profession of faith in Christ and by submission to Christ’s instruction about believer’s baptism if this step has not already been taken.
22. TRUE. Consistent with our convictions about church autonomy and church function, we believe that the work of missions is reproducing churches of like conviction around the world.
23. TRUE. The terms clergy and laity can create unnecessary distinction between pastors and people and may imply a spiritual superiority for pastors. Pastors have an important leadership position in local churches that should be respected and followed. However, pastors may not be godlier than the people they serve if the pastors are not growing spiritually themselves. Born-again pastors and people are all believer priests. (Compare with #3 above).
24. TRUE. See Philippians 1:1. While churches may establish other leadership positions as needed in their churches, pastors and deacons are the only Biblically defined offices of the church.
25. FALSE. Our roots do not go back to the Protestant Reformation. We did not protest the failures of the Catholic Church and separate from it. Churches that share our basic convictions existed from the earliest days of the church. During the Reformation the Anabaptists, our doctrinal forebearers, were often persecuted by Reformers and Catholics alike.