God Vs Religion – Baptists
According to Britannica.com, the definition of a Baptist is, A member of a group of Protestant Christians who share the basic beliefs of most Protestants, but insist that only believers should be baptized and that it should be done by immersion rather than by the sprinkling or pouring of water. (This view, however, is shared by others who are not Baptists.) Although Baptists do not constitute a single church or denominational structure, most adhere to a congregational form of church government. Some Baptists lay stress upon having no human founder, no human authority, and no human creed.
Just by reading their description, it clearly shows that Cyclopedia Britannica has some rather hostile criticism regarding their view on Baptists. The truth is there are several different denominations within the Baptist religion, and they are not Protestants, which are branches of churches that stemmed off of the Catholic church. With that said, here is a little bit of history about the Baptist church.
When And Who Founded The Church?
History of the Church: Most Christian religions stem off the Catholic church because that was the prominent religion, other than what the Apostles built in the early church. Baptists changed all that when they wanted to be independent from religion itself. If you were to trace history to the early church you would find that Baptists originated from the Apostle Paul as well as the other apostles who started preaching the Gospel as Jesus commanded, they were just referred to as the Church of Christ. This has nothing to do with John the Baptist, and everything to do with Jesus Himself who was, in fact, baptized by John the Baptist as He began His ministry. Jesus Himself, although He knew He is the Son of God, was a an ordinary man until He got baptized. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17.
According to BaptistHistory.org, there is a lot of controversy out there as to how the first Baptist church began and when, historians trace Baptists back to England around the early sixteenth century, when the Church of England had their own religion, which were Protestants of the Roman Catholic Church, and were expected to adhere to its teachings.
Multitudes of English Christians sensed that the Church of England had become corrupt and selfish, and largely left the simple message of the Bible that stated repentance came from Jesus Christ alone, and water baptism was by immersion, and only after a profession of faith. They demanded reform in the church, but many opposed, nicknaming them Baptists for their outlandish idea, the term stuck, hence calling themselves Baptists.
There were two major groups of Baptist, The first group were General Baptists, led by John Smyth, a minister of the Church of England who exiled to Amsterdam. General Baptists believed that Jesus died for all people, and whoever believed in Him would be saved. The General Baptists got their name because they believed in a general atonement, but also believed that it was possible for one to lose their salvation should they fall into sin. By 1607, John Smyth and another man named Thomas Helwys, fled to Amsterdam, with his group of followers.
By 1609, Smyth was convinced his church was not valid as most of the members only had infant baptism, and was formed on the basis of a “covenant,” rather than a confession of faith in Christ. Smyth led the church to a reform, a personal confession of faith in Christ alone, followed by believer’s baptism in which he poured water over his head. Since none of the members had been baptized as believers, Smyth had to make a new beginning, and began baptizing all their members. Then in 1611, Thomas Helwys led a portion of this church back to London, where they set up the first Baptist church on English soil. By 1650, there were at least forty-seven General Baptist churches in and around London.
And the second group were the Particular Baptists, led by John Calvin. Particular Baptists believed that Jesus died only for a specific group of people, the elect. Particular Baptists, called themselves the Independents, they separated from the Church of England, without a radical break within the state church, meaning the followed most of the rules, but wanted to be independent from them.
Henry Jacob, John Lathrop, and Henry Jessey, were the first three leaders of this small congregation in London, often called the “JLJ Church”. In 1616, they were questioned about their teachings as members were in constant debate over the meaning of baptism. In 1630, one member withdrew, in opposition to infant baptism. In 1633, a number of other members withdrew to form another congregation, being baptized themselves as believers. In 1638, several others withdrew from the JLJ church to join the 1633 group, old church records state clearly that in 1638 they received baptism as believers. Historians have concluded that the first Particular Baptist church started by 1638. And although their baptism was for believers only, it was administered by the sprinkling or pouring of water, and not by immersion.
By 1650, there were a number of Particular Baptist churches in and around London. In 1644, seven of them had drafted a confession of faith which showed some of their distinctive views. In addition to particular atonement, they taught believer’s baptism by immersion and insisted that a person who is once saved is always saved. However, they still only believed salvation was for the elect.
The Association, formed in 1650 is the oldest organization of Baptists, and became a vital part of the Baptist structure and is what is followed today. Since then there has been much reform within the Baptist Church itself, while there are still several groups associated with the Baptist church the basic doctrine would remain the same, the Bible is the Inspired Word of God, and the authority of the Church, Jesus is the Head of the Church, Salvation by grace through Jesus is the only way to salvation, and baptism is only after one is saved as a public profession of their faith.
Since not all Baptist churches are of the correct doctrine, and there are way too many to list. Both the General Baptists and Particular Baptists have errors in their doctrine, we must do our research to check and see if it lines up with what the Bible says.
What Does The Church Believe?
About The Bible: The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God, inerrant, complete and final revelation of God’s will to man, and the supreme standard to all faith and life.
About Jesus: We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is fully God and yet fully Man, and that no one comes to the Father but by Him. We believe that His death was a vicarious atonement for sin that is sufficient for all people. We believe that Jesus literally rose again from the realm of the dead and that He has ascended to the right hand of the Father. We believe that He intercedes for believers. We believe that He is the source of life of the New Creation, and that it is the Father’s plan to “unite all things in Him.”
About Salvation: We believe that salvation is by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all who call upon Him as Lord. We believe that His death was an atonement for sin. We believe that His death turned away the wrath of God. We believe that Jesus’ resurrection began the New Creation. We believe that a person regenerated by the Holy Spirit is saved for eternity.
About The Trinity: One God, who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, manifesting Himself in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; one in nature, attributes, power, and glory.
About Heaven & Hell: The bodily resurrection of all the dead, the saved receive a life of eternal glory and bliss in heaven with God; the unsaved a life of torment in eternal damnation.
About Baptism: Believer’s baptism is an ordinance performed after a person professes Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and is symbolic of the cleansing or remission of their sins. In the Baptist denomination, baptism plays no role in salvation; it is rather an outward expression of the inward change that has already taken place. Baptists emphasize baptism by full immersion, which follows the method used by John the Baptist.
What Does The Church Believe?
General Baptists – Believe that God created man in His own image to bring Him honor through obedience, and that when man disobeyed, he became a fallen and sinful creature, unable to save himself. Infants are in the covenant of God’s grace at birth, but all persons become accountable to God when they reach a state of moral responsibility (come to the knowledge that they do sin).
Salvation (regeneration, sanctification, justification and redemption) has been provided for all mankind through the redemptive work (life, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession) of Jesus Christ, and that this Salvation can be received only through repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who abide in Christ have the full assurance of salvation. However, the Christian retains his freedom of choice; therefore, it is possible for him to turn away from God and be finally lost.
Christians should live faithfully by serving in and through the local church, praying diligently, witnessing earnestly, practicing tolerance, showing loving kindness, giving as God prospers and conducting themselves in such a way as to bring glory to God.
What Does The Bible Say About This?
While there is a lot of truth here, our salvation cannot be taken away, once saved, always saved. Unless the person never truly repented, meaning turned away from trusting in their own righteousness to save them and turned to Jesus Christ for their salvation they will not lost their salvation should they fall into a life of sin. Yes, we prosper when we are faithful to God, and everything we do ought to be done to bring glory to God, whether that be in a local church or an online church. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” – Hebrews 10:10-12,23-24.
What Does The Church Believe?
Particular Baptists – Calvinists – Calvinists follow The Five Points of Calvinism, known by the acronym TULIP.
Total Depravity (Total Inability) – As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected; all humanity is dead in trespasses and sins. Man is unable to save himself
Unconditional Election – Because man is dead in sin, he is unable to initiate a response to God; therefore, in eternity past God elected certain people to salvation. Election and predestination are unconditional; they are not based on man’s response because man is unable to respond, nor does he want to.
Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption) – Because God determined that certain ones should be saved as a result of God’s unconditional election, He determined that Christ should die for the elect alone. All whom God has elected and for whom Christ died will be saved
Irresistible Grace – Those whom God elected He draws to Himself through irresistible grace. God makes man willing to come to Him. When God calls, man responds. Christ, himself, teaches that all whom God has elected will come to a knowledge of him. Men come to Christ in salvation when the Father calls them, and the very Spirit of God leads God’s beloved to repentance.
Perseverance of the Saints – A doctrine which states that the saints (those whom God has saved) will remain in God’s hand until they are glorified and brought to abide with him in heaven.
What Does The Bible Say About This
While there are some truths here, there are also great errors. First of all, of course, there is an elect who gets saved. The Bible never says that God picks those who are to be saved, if that were the case then Jesus died in vain because the Bible clearly says Jesus died for all, not just a few. However, while He did die for all, He does only save the elect. To know who the elect are, we have to understand what that word means.
Elect; 1. To designate, choose or select as an object of mercy or favor. 2. Chosen or designated by God to salvation; predestined to glory as the end, and to sanctification as the means.
So, they believe that God chooses or designates specific people to be saved. And this is where they get this whole the idea that God chooses specifically who gets saved and who does not. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” – Romans 8:28-30.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28. Yes, God has a purpose for each and every one of us, and He calls us accordingly. Yes, there are some people here that God uses for evil, to judge His people. There is something we all have and that is freewill, that means we have a choice in what we believe. Does He know who will get saved? Of course, but that does not mean He does not give all who actually believe in Him that opportunity. He gave Satan the opportunity to be saved, but he refused. “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:” – Romans 9:21-22.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” – Romans 8:29. This means that from birth we are born with the knowledge of God, that we might come to the knowledge of His Son. However, because we have freewill that changes, and sadly the majority fall away from Him before they even have a chance to know who He is. It is all about choice, and how we choose to deal with life. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” – Romans 1:20-21,26-28.
“Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” – Romans 8:30.
Resources: BaptistHistory.com, SaintAnquintas.com, Reformed.org