Category: BF&M

Distinctive Baptist Beliefs:
Nine Marks that Separate Baptists from Presbyterians
Distinctive Baptist Belief #2—
The Age (or State) of Accountability

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Distinctive Baptist Beliefs:
Nine Marks that Separate Baptists from Presbyterians
Distinctive Baptist Belief #2—
The Age (or State) of Accountability



By Dr. Lemke, Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology, Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and Editor of the
Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


Introduction

All denominations that broadly share the Reformation heritage share more beliefs in common than beliefs that differ. This is true of Baptists, Arminians, and Presbyterians/the Reformed tradition – we agree on many more points than we disagree. Like most evangelicals, we largely share the same affirmation of orthodox Nicean Christianity, along with other key beliefs accented in the Reformation — Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, the sovereignty of God over all His creation, the security of the believer, the perfect omniscience and complete foreknowledge of God, and the imperative of the proclamation of the Gospel by the Church.

Despite these many points of agreement, it is the points of agreement on which theological discussions tend to focus. In an earlier post entitled “The Middle Way,” I asserted that we centrist Baptists are “the middle way” between Arminians, on the one hand, and Calvinists/Presbyterians, on the other. Since our book Whosoever Will was a critique of five-point Calvinism, I balanced that by listing twelve points of doctrinal disagreement between centrist Baptists and many Arminians. In this series, however, I would like to point out nine points of difference between centrist Baptist beliefs and the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition.

Given my involvement in the John 3:16 Conference and in writing Whosoever Will, some readers might expect me to begin listing the five points of Calvinist soteriology as the main points of difference between Baptists and Presbyterians. It is true that centrist Baptists such as me may disagree on several of these points with persons who imbibe in the Reformed tradition, but it would be inaccurate to say that the five points as popularized in the “TULIP” were the main points of difference between Reformed and Baptist theology, or that these beliefs are foreign to Baptist theology. In fact, the Particular Baptist tradition plays a long and deep role in Baptist theology, and many Calvinistic-leaning Baptists are in good standing with and hold high positions within the SBC.

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Distinctive Baptist Beliefs:
Nine Marks that Separate Baptists from Presbyterians
Distinctive Baptist Belief #1—
Soul Competency, the Priesthood of Believers, and Religious Liberty

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Distinctive Baptist Beliefs:
Nine Marks that Separate Baptists from Presbyterians
Distinctive Baptist Belief #1—
Soul Competency, the Priesthood of Believers, and Religious Liberty



By Dr. Lemke, Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology, Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and Editor of the
Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


Calvinists, Arminians, and Baptists Together for the Evangelical Gospel

All denominations that broadly share the Reformation heritage share more beliefs in common than beliefs that differ. This is true of Baptists, Arminians, and Presbyterians/the Reformed tradition – we agree on many more points than we disagree. Like most evangelicals, we share the same affirmation of orthodox Nicean Christianity, along with other key beliefs accented in the Reformation:

Sola Scriptura – Scripture is the ultimate plumb line for all Christian truth claims.

Soli Deo Gloria – God alone deserves glory.

Sola Gratia and Sola Fide – Salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

Solus Christus — Salvation is available only through Christ because of His substitutionary atonement for our sins.

The Sovereignty of God over All His Creation – This is our Father’s world.

The Security of the Believer – God secures the salvation of the believer (not affirmed by some Arminians).

The Perfect Omniscience and Complete Foreknowledge of God – God knows all things – past, present, and future.

The Imperative of the Proclamation of the Gospel by the Church – The Great Commission must be obeyed.

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Harmony…Unity…Fellowship in the SBC

A conversation I had the other night, a good and productive conversation, got me to thinking about something.  It got me to thinking about disagreements on doctrines in the Bible.  And, I just wanted to let all of you know that I believe that  it’s okay to disagree on minor issues; on the finer points of theology.  In fact, I’d bet you a Krispy Kreme doughnut that none of us, Baptists,  agree on every point of doctrine and theology, and that’s okay.  We don’t have to agree on every jot and tittle.  We can still love each other, and worship together, and fellowship with each other, and serve God together; even if we disagree on the minor, finer points of theology. 

 Now, on the main things, we must agree.  On the main truths of the Bible, we must believe the same.  On those things that are clearly spelled out in the Bible, there must be conformity.  We must all surrender and yield our hearts and minds to the foundational truths of the Christian faith.  We must all believe the fundamentals of the faith.  Things like the virgin birth; the atoning death of Jesus; salvation by grace thru faith; the Trinity of God;  etc.  These are the things that would mean whether we’re even truly a Christian, or not.  If someone denied the foundational truths of Christianity, then I wouldn’t even consider them to be a true Believer.  But, those people that do hold to the main doctrines of the faith, I call my brother, or sister in Christ; even though they may not be Southern Baptist. 

And, as Baptists, we must agree to the doctrinal distinctives which we hold dear; that we believe the Bible clearly teaches; in order to really be considered a Baptist Church.  There are things that we must believe; doctrines that  make us a Baptist Church.  Theology that makes us a Baptist kind of Christian.   Things like Believers baptism by immersion; the Lord’s Supper being a symbolic act; once saved, always saved; congregational polity, or governance; etc.   If a Church can’t even agree to the BFM2K, is it really a Baptist Church?  Is it really a Church that holds to what we consider to be the clear teachings of the Bible?  that holds to the doctrines that would make us consider them a good, sound church?  I would contend that churches must…in the least…hold to the BFM2K, in order to considered a cooperatiing, Southern Baptist Church.

But, on many, many other things, we can disagree on them all day long; and still worship and serve God together.  My friends, there are many, many, finer points of doctrine that we can not see eye to eye on, and it’s okay.  We can just have fun trying to convince the other fella that we’re right!  Lol.  But, these minor things should not cause separation, nor should they cause us to divide.  They should not cause strife, nor should they be the source of contention.  On the finer points of the major doctrines, we should allow for freedom; even while not agreeing with the other person.  Amen?  Amen!

Do Baptisms Matter Anymore?

In our day and age of ecumenical awareness and knocking down the walls of denominations,  are baptisms important to people anymore?  to Churches?  With all of the people saying that they would accept any ole kind of baptism, whether it be sprinkling, pouring, or whatever, is it important about the kind of baptism you have?  With some people in Southern Baptist Churches saying that they would accept any baptism, as long as the person was saved, and the baptism was by immersion, is it important who does the baptizing?  I mean, if momma’s can baptise their children in the backyard mudhole after they lead little Johnny, or Susie, to the Lord; and it be acceptable to a SB Church; does that not scream some things loudly about that Churches view of baptism?  So, do baptisms matter anymore?  Are people even concerned with a doctrine and practice that seems to be a very important one as you’re reading the NT. 

I really believe that part of the problem today, which some people and some Churches have in some areas of ecclesiology, is that they have a John Wayne, rugged individualist, “I did it my way” mentality.  And, this mentality rubs off on their view about baptism, and really, about the Church in general. And, we see this in the thinking of people when they say things like, “I ‘m satisfied with my baptism, so I don’t want to get baptised by a Baptist Church. I want to join your Church without being baptised again.”  We see this kind of thinking when Pastors say things to the effect that it doesn’t matter if a new convert is baptised by an individual person in a hot tub, or if they’re baptised with the Churches presence and by the Churches blessing.  It doesn’t matter to them that the Church is not involved in the baptism.  Why? because it’s an individual thing, rather than a Church thing.  In their view, it is a personal thing that happens outside of the Church. 

You know, when you look in the Bible, baptism is a group thing; not a “lone Cowboy on the range, riding in the sunset as the coyotes howl” thing.  The Lord set up the Church to be a fellowship of Believers.  The Church is supposed to be where people are baptised, and taught the Word of God, and discipled, and encouraged.  The Church is supposed to always be a group of Believers, who are seeking the Lord together.  So, why would baptism not be a Church ordinance?  Why would baptism be something that an individual could just do…out there… somewhere….apart from the Body? Why would the Church today let Western philosophy turn baptism into an individuals own personal possession, rather than something that the Church does and participates in?  Could it be for convenients sake?  Could it be to get more members in their Church, because they know that some people will not join their Church if they have to have a proper baptism?  Could it a real reluctance to deal with controversy on the part of a Pastor?  Could it be ignorance of the Bible?  Could it be the desire to “fit in” with the greater, evangelical group out there?  To accepted by the “cool group?”  What do you think?

Well, baptism is supposed to be a testimony of the person’s conversion.  Baptism is supposed to declare a message, the Gospel, to the people watching it.  Baptism is supposed to be a symbollic picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord.  Baptism is a picture of the blood of Jesus washing away the guilt and punishment of our sins.  Baptism is supposed to be a way of formally accepting a new born baby in Christ into the Church.  So, why would people even think that it’s something that’s an indvidual thing?  Why would they even want baptism to be an individual ordinance, rather than a church ordinance? 

Folks, baptism is a time to celebrate the new birth.  Baptism is a time to rejoice in the salvation of a person.  Baptism is a very special thing, and it’s something that all the Church should have the privilege to participate in.  Baptism is a time for the entire Church to join with the baptismal candidate in this wonderful ordinance given to the Church by the Lord Jesus.  How much would be lost and missed if everyone was just out there baptising people in their own, private hot tub, or swimming pool, or local swimming hole in the creek?  I think a lot would be missed.  We would be missing much of what the Lord intended to do in the life of a Church, if the Church is not allowed to participate in the baptism of new converts.

So, who should get baptised?  Of course, those people who get saved by grace thru faith.  Acts 2:41. Acts 10:44-48. Acts 16:30-34.  How should they be baptised?  By immersion.  Matthew 3:13-17…Jesus came up straightway out of the water. The very word for “baptise” in the Greek means to dip under, to immerse.  So, if you want to do it right, the way the Bible clearly teaches, then it must be a dipping under; an immersion.  What should baptism be about?  It should be a declaration to the community that a person has been saved. It should be a testimony that the person has truly, sincerely put their faith in Jesus, and they’re willing to obey Him as their Lord.  Who should baptise?  The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Great Commission was given to the Church.  Matthew 18:20.  The beginning of the Church was standing before the Lord Jesus that day.  The Apostles were standing there, who were commissioned to preach the Gospel to the world, and baptise the new converts, and disciple them.  They were the men that God used to get the Church that the Lord Jesus founded going.  The Church should be the one who baptises new converts, so that they are involved with a Church family; to be nurtured in the faith; encouraged; taught; loved; affirmed; accepted; challenged; inspired; and given much needed guidance.  The Church is the one, who was given this task by the Lord Jesus, it’s Head. 

So, what a Church believes about salvation and baptism does matter.  Who is doing the baptising does matter.  It says a lot about a person’s beliefs.  I mean, if you get baptised in the Church of Christ, then you are identifying with their view of baptismal regeneration and works salvation.  If you get baptised by a Mormon Church, then you are saying that you agree with them about works salvation, denying the Trinity, denying the atoning death of the Lord Jesus.  If you get baptised by an Assembly of God Church, then you’re agreeing with them that salvation is not an eternal work of God; that it’s something that can be lost.  If you get baptised in the Methodist Church, sprinkled on top of the head, then you were not properly baptised by immersion.  And, these are not true baptisms.  Now, I’m not saying that these people aren’t saved.  They most certainly could be saved.  But, their baptism is not a valid, proper, true baptism.  They should be baptised for the right reasons, and in the right way. 

Now, please don’t come into the comment section calling me a Landmark Baptist.  lol.  I don’t believe that Baptist Churches are the only true Churches, or that we can trace our lineage back to Jesus, or that SB’s are the only ones who can baptise.  Puulease.  Listen, if Muddy Creek Community Church believes like we do about salvation and baptism, then we should accept their baptism as a true baptism.  If Possum Ridge Bible Church believes as we do about salvation and baptism, then I believe they have a true baptism.  So, please don’t come in here with all the Landmark comments.  I really don’t have the time, nor the energy to deal with that malarky.  But, I do believe that baptism is important.  And, it should be done right, and for the right reasons.  And, I most certainly believe that it should be a Church thing.

Baptists? Methodists? Presbyterians? Charismatics?

Something that I’ve been observing for quite some time now, and especially here lately, is that a lot of people, who belong to Baptist Churches, could join a Church of another denomination and couldn’t tell any difference.  I can’t tell you of the people that I have heard say things like…”Well, there’s not that much difference between us Baptists and the Methodists, right?”  Inside of me, I’m screaming, “Yes!  Yes!  How could you even begin to think that?”  I’ve heard people make the comment that there’s really not that much difference between us and the Assembly of God Church, or the Presbyterians.  And, in my sinking heart, I’m thinking, “What?  How could you be a member of a Baptist Church for so long of a time and not know that there’s a huge

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