Fundamentalism was an interdenominal movement born in the late 19th century. It affirmed the doctrines of the innerrancy of the Bible, the virgin birth of Christ, the substitutionary death of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and the personal return of Christ, among other "fundamental" doctrines. They also held to a literal interpretation of the Bible, as opposed to liberal theologians, who interpreted Scripture as allegorical. We believe the Bible should be taken as literal where it is meant to be taken literally (e.g. Jonah and the Fish, Moses and the Red Sea) and that the BIble is clear when a pictures is being used (e.g. parables, parts of the book of Revelation or Daniel).
We are Fundamentalists because we believe what the Bible says. Although the word Fundamentalist has received negative connotations in recent years, a Fundamentalist of any religion is a strict adherent. Since the New Testament speaks of love for everyone, including enemies, First Baptist Church should not be thought of as dangerous or threatening, even if we say from our pulpit what the Bible says about sin.
First Baptist Church is an independent church because we are self-governing. We have no other church, synod, council, or organization that tells our church how it ought to be run.
We also are not a part of any conventions (Northern Baptist, Southern Baptist, etc.) or associations (GARBC, American, etc.).
We do, however, fellowship and cooperate with other churches of like faith and practice at our discretion.
The word "Baptists" is more of a label than a denomination. A Baptist is the label that someone who espouses certain beliefs can take for themselves. We feel that label is helpful because of the proliferation of other beliefs and teacfhings. Some of the basic beliefs that have long categorized Baptists are:
- A belief in the Bible as the only and final authority. There are no man-made doctrines that are in addition to or over the teaching of the Bible. We believe that the Bible is divinely inspired and perfectly preserved, and we use Scripture alone for all faith and practice.
- A belief in the fact that only persons who have been both regenerated (born again, saved) and immersed (baptized) should be members of the church. To be regenerated is to have God do the work of salvation and grace in your life after you made a believing confession to Him in faith. To be baptized means that a person has been immersed (not sprinkled or had water poured on them) after their confession of faith. This would exclude babies, as they are not able to believe for themselves. We also do not believe that baptism has any part in a person's salvation, but is both a picture and declaratio of saving faith that has already taken place. We welcome any persons to join our assembly who have been saved and immersed as members of First Baptist Church.
- A belief in the autonomy of the local church. Baptists see the "Church," not as an organization made up of all churches everywhere or even of Baptist churches. We see the "Church" as the local expression of Christ's body, and we believe that every church should be able to govern themselves. We reject the hierarchy of many churches and denominations, and focus on Christ alone as the Head of the church.
- A belief in the priesthood of the believer. In the Old Testament, a priest was a liason between God and man. We believe that in Christ every believer has access to God through Christ, so that there is no mortal man standing between us and God. Our pastor may be relied upon for wisdom, but is no way a "vicar" or representative of God, as other churches teach.
- A belief in individual soul liberty. We believe that every believer is responsible to God for themselves. Baptists have never believed that a person can or should be coerced into believing in God, but that does not mean we are not ardent in our desire to see people everywhere hear the Gospel and be saved. Some day we will all give an account for ourselves before God.
- A belief in only two ordinances: baptism and the Lord's Supper. We believe they are "ordinances," not "sacraments," as they are not a means of grace, but only something "ordained" by Christ for us to do. We believe that baptism and the Lord's Supper (Communion) picture the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and should be done regularly. Again, baptism should be done by immersion, and not other methods, and only after a person has been regenerated.
- A belief in seperation. The Bible calls Christians and churches to be set apart from the world, so we teach a life that holy and pleasing to God, as a way to honor Him. We also believe that the church should be separate from the state, so that neither should one church run the government, nor should the state tell churches what to do. This is not to say, like some Anabaptists, that Christians cannot or should not be involved in government, but that the role of government is to uphold righteousness, not coerce faith.
There are several other things that have historically characterized Baptists, but there is a wide range of Baptists. Some are more Arminian; some are more Calvinistic. Some are conservative, others more liberal. Since "Baptists" is not a denomination, it is unwise to take one Baptist church and say that they are all a certain way. The best way to find out what a church believes is to attend and hear the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. It is important, then, to search the Sciptures. See if what the pastor and preacher is saying lines up with the teaching of the BIble.
If you would like to know more about why we are called "Baptists," please contact us.
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