I believe in denominations. You actually believe in denominations too. You don’t? Then give me your $20 bill for my $1 bill. Not that kind of denomination? I believe that the word denomination is used the same way with money and with faith.
Both a $1 bill and a $100 bill are money. One is just more valuable than the other. In the same way, all believers are believers, whatever their denomination. They are all saved. Some denominations are more faithful and obedient to God’s Word than others. Some are $1 bills and others are $100 bills. And though it breaks God’s heart, there are many, many counterfeits.
Since the Word of God commands us to be faithful, we need to carefully examine the various denominations to be as faithful and obedient as possible. This is not about what is wrong with everybody else. This is why I am a Baptist.
The Baptist-Anabaptist goes back as far as New Testament/Church era written records. Many periods of Church History have witnessed the destruction of written records. A continuous, unbroken tradition is impossible. But Baptist beliefs are not a novelty.
Doctrinally, Baptists and Bible Churches have the same faith. The Bible Church movement began as a separation of practice when many Baptist Churches abandoned the historic Baptist Faith. To the grief of God’s Holy Spirit, many Bible Churches have now departed from that same faith. It is easy to point to Baptist and Bible Churches who no longer believe these distinctive Baptist doctrines.
Baptists believe in the Apostolic Confession of Faith. We believe in the absolute authority of Scripture. There are three levels of authority in every believer’s life. The inerrant Word of God, human laws, such as a stop sign, and some human laws with divine sanction, such as a pastor or a family.
Baptists believe in the priesthood of every believer. While someone who has walked by faith for years is a friend of God, the prayer of a small child has the same standing with God.
Baptists believe in justification by faith alone apart from works. Works are necessary to demonstrate that we are saved and we can examine the fruit of someone who claims salvation but shows no evidence of good works. Works are not part of justification, because all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. We are incapable of doing good works before we are justified.
All reformed Protestants believe these points. Baptists also believe in the autonomy of the local church. While there are often mission churches begun by other churches, eventually the new church must become self-sufficient.
The most import distinction, where the name Baptist comes from, is the nature of the Church. Catholic and Reformed Churches believe that the Church is grafted into Israel and at least for this present age, replaces Israel. Baptism replaces circumcision, Sunday replaces the Sabbath and communion replaces the temple sacrifices. Baptists believe that the Church is a New Covenant. Though we are grafted into God’s promises and God is working through the Church instead of Israel in this age, the Church in no way replaces Israel. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are symbolic only; they confer no grace in and of themselves. They are for believers only. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward act. Baptism is only for those who are old enough to understand what it is and are ready to join the Church.