W. Austin Gardner
Here are somethings that are distinguishing characteristics of the people that call themselves Baptist
Bible is the only rule of faith and practice
Autonomy of the local church
Priesthood of the believer
Individual Soul Liberty
Saved, Baptized Church Membership
Separation of Church and State
The Bible is the only rule of faith and practice
We believe the Bible to be God’s inspired word and has all of His authority! II Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. I Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. II Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: II Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
The Bible is God’s Word with no mixture of error
God gave His Word, miraculously, through men to us and has protected it since He gave it
We reject tradition as an authority Mark 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
We reject any church or person as the authority on what the Word of God is saying
We do not accept the church fathers as the authority
We do not accept any other book from the book of Mormon to that of other authorities
We do not accept personal experience
We do not accept new revelation
The Bible is its own best interpreter.
As a church we get our authority and instruction from the New Testament
We do not go to the Old Testament to find laws or rules for the church
For example circumcision is in the Old Testament and not practiced by the church.
Baby baptism is not a substitute for Old Testament circumcision
The church is not found in the Old Testament
“I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that drives the plow to know more of the Scripture, than he does.” William Tyndale
Autonomy of the Local Church
The local church is a body of baptized believers that have organized and committed together to carry out their Biblical purpose. Here are some different definitions given.
The local church is a group of people who are united with Christ through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ and repentance of sins and who have been united with one another by Christ’s baptism of them into his body by the Holy Spirit. These individuals have then obeyed Christ in receiving the outward physical sign of the basis for the forgiveness of their sins (the death and resurrection of Jesus) and their baptism by the Spirit, namely water baptism by immersion. A local church is led by pastors, served by deacons, administers the ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) and is governed congregationally under the headship of Jesus Christ by His Word. Local churches should seek to exposit the Scriptures in preaching, exalt the Savior in worship, equip the saints in discipleship, and evangelize sinners as their mission.
A church of Christ is an assembly of baptized believers joined together in the doctrine and fellowship of the gospel.
The organization of disciples.
A church is a congregation of Christ's baptized disciples united in the belief of what he has said and covenanting to do what he has commanded.
The word church refers to a summons, called out assembly, a meeting
Autonomy is self rule or that each church governs itself, not outside governing agency
Each church practices its own church discipline Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. I Corinthians 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
Each church appoints its own leadership Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Each church commissions and sends out its own missionaries Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. Acts 14:26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. 27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
Each church regulates its own membership I Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. I Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. II Corinthians 2:5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. 6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
Different churches use different forms of church government
Episcopal like the Roman Catholic Church
Presbyterian where they practice elder rule
Each church determines
its own doctrinal position
Its own priorities, programs
Purchases and owns its own property