Baptist Beliefs and Practices
Baptists share a common faith with all Christians, yet there are some beliefs that set us apart from other denominations. In general, our beliefs can be characterized in one word: FREEDOM.
- We hold firmly to the idea that individuals have freedom of belief and a personal responsibility to understand the Bible and develop a relationship with Christ. No mediators or higher authorities determine an individual’s beliefs or relationship with God.
- We believe that each congregation should be free and autonomous, determining their own path and mission.
- We are committed to freedom of religion – each person should be free to choose which faith, if any, they wish to follow. We are strong supporters of the separation of church and state.
An Outline of Key Beliefs Held by Canadian Baptists in Western Canada:
Biblical authority – The Bible is the only reliable authority for revealing God to us. The Holy Spirit is the only interpreter. No human authority, creed, doctrinal statement or tradition can equal or replace the authority of the Bible.
Individual Liberty – Each person is responsible for their own relationship with God and spiritual journey. The Holy Spirit guides each individual’s inner conscience.
Church Membership – Membership in a church is for baptized believers. Members join through a conscious decision to associate formally with a particular congregation.
Priesthood of All Believers – Loved by God, and made in His image, each of us has the opportunity to meet directly and personally with God. As we are all equal before Him, we have the right and responsibility to participate in Christ’s body, the Church and to minister to each other as a ‘priesthood of all believers’. We have ordained ministers who perform those functions, such as marriages, that are reserved for licensed clergy by law or tradition.
Ordinances – We believe there are two ordinances, sometimes called sacraments: baptism and communion. Fulfilling these is an act of obedience but they are not a means to salvation.
- Baptism – We each come to faith in God through a free, personal decision; therefore, we practice the baptism of believers. For this reason, we do not practice infant baptism, reserving baptism for adults and young people mature enough to make a fully conscious and committed decision. Following Biblical example and modeling the life, death and resurrection of Christ, we baptize by full immersion.
- Communion – On a regular basis (weekly to monthly) we remember the saving death and resurrection of Jesus by participating in the sacrament of communion, sharing in Christ’s body and blood through bread and wine.
Congregational Autonomy – We follow a congregational form of government in which believers come together as a priesthood of believers under the Lordship of Christ, the authority of the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to determine God’s will for us. Committed to the autonomy of each church, we avoid the top-down hierarchy often associated with other denominations. Locally autonomous churches make their own decisions and determine God’s particular call to ministry, but participate in the larger body of Christ by associating with the denomination and its shared ministries and by entering into annual covenantal agreements with the denomination.
Two Offices – Based on the Biblical model, there are two offices in the church: pastor and deacon. Pastors are responsible primarily for teaching while deacons are responsible for ministries and service.
Separation of Church and State – Church and civil government have distinct, separate roles that should not infringe on each other. Where they have shared interests and values, they recognize and reinforce each other.
Ordination of Women – We have been ordaining women for leadership in church ministry since 1959.
Marriage – We affirm that the Biblical pattern of marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman.
Sexual Behaviour – Any sexual behaviour outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage is not affirmed biblically or historically.