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Marquette Manor Baptist Church, as our name suggests, embraces those biblical teachings that have historically been identified with the name “Baptist.”
The Origin of the Name “Baptist”
The word Baptist originally arose to describe churches who include the practice of believer’s baptism by immersion among their doctrines (teachings). Baptists do not view baptism as something required in order to receive salvation, but as a step of obedience taken by someone who has already trusted Christ as their Savior (hence, believer’s baptism).
We view this practice as something an individual believer does in order to publically identify him- or herself with Christ. Churches came to be identified as “Baptist” as a way to distinguish them from other churches who practice infant baptism, who baptize in ways other than by immersion, or who believe in baptismal regeneration (i.e., seeing baptism as a necessary step in order to receive eternal life).
While the name “Baptist” highlights this one identifying practice, Baptists historically have been characterized by a number of other distinctives in addition to believer’s baptism. We have arrived at this set of beliefs through the careful study of the Bible, and so we would suggest that these teachings are more precisely called the Biblical distinctives of Baptists rather than just Baptist distinctives.
Many church groups other than Baptists may hold to some of these same beliefs, and you may even find churches that hold to all of them, yet have chosen not to identify themselves using the word “Baptist” in their name. Such groups are clearly “baptistic,” but for whatever reason have chosen not to be identified as such. At MMBC, we appreciate our rich heritage as a Baptist church, and we feel the name is helpful for people as they sort through the many churches that exist in our culture. It gives at least some indication of what we believe and where we stand.
We would also point out that there are some churches who still identify themselves as “Baptist” while no longer holding to the historic Baptist beliefs or, some cases, even the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith.
For those looking for a church home, we would suggest that, while our church’s name is certainly an indicator of who we are, it is wise to examine our doctrinal position and visit our services in order to more fully understand our beliefs about salvation and about life as a Christian.
The Common Baptist Distinctives
For many, the key identifying beliefs that are common among most Baptist churches have been arranged in a memorable way as an acrostic using the word BAPTISTS. What follows is a very brief description of these eight Baptist characteristics:
We believe the Bible is our sole and final authority in all matters of belief and practice because It is inspired by God and bears the absolute authority of God Himself. Whatever the Bible affirms, we accept as true. No human opinion, nor the decree of any church group, can override the Scripture. Even creeds and confessions of faith, which may earnestly attempt to articulate the theology of Bible, do not carry Scripture’s inherent authority.
2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20-21
Autonomy of Each Local Church
The Bible reveals that each local church is an independent body or assembly, accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the church. No religious hierarchy outside the local church should dictate that church’s beliefs or practices. All human authority for governing the local church resides within the local church itself. Thus the church is autonomous, or self-governing. Leaders should be chosen by the church members themselves, not assigned by a synod, denomination, or diocese. Yet, autonomy does not mean isolation. Baptist churches sometimes fellowship with other likeminded churches around mutual interests and in an associational tie, but Baptists will not join with any religious entity where decisions of doctrine and practice are made outside of the local church itself.
Colossians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 19, & 23; Matthew 18:15-17; Acts 6:2-3
Priesthood of All Believers
A “priest” is defined as “one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediator between humans and God.” Some religions and churches believe that people who are not part of the clergy are dependent on a human pastor or priest in order to fully receive God’s ministry in their lives. Yet the Bible teaches that, as New Testament believers, we are all “priests” in the sense that we may enter into God’s presence in prayer directly through our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. We can confess our sins to Him, pour out our burdens, receive forgiveness, and discern His will without the need for any human intermediary. As priests, we can study God’s Word, pray for others, and offer spiritual worship to God. We all have equal access to God—whether or not we have been ordained or appointed to a position of leadership among God’s people.
1 Peter 2:5-9; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; Revelation 5:9-10
By “ordinance” we mean a particular practice or observance that God has directed in the Bible to be a part of the ministry of each local church.
The New Testament gives two such ordinances: (1) baptism of believers by immersion in water, identifying the individual with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and (2) the Lord’s Supper, or communion, commemorating (remembering) His death for our sins. We do not believe that participation in these ordinances results in some special ministry of God’s grace, hence they are not referred to as sacraments.
Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 8:36-38; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Individual Soul Liberty
Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he is going to believe in the matters of spiritual and eternal things. No one should be forced to assent to any belief against his will. Baptists have always opposed compulsory religious observance and the persecution of people over matters of faith. However, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself. Thus, as God’s Word is preached in Baptist churches, the hearers are encouraged to respond in faith and in tangible steps of obedience. But at the same time, people are challenged to read and study the Scripture for themselves—then follow what God shows them in good conscience before Him.
Romans 14:5 & 10-12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 1:9
Saved, Baptized Church Membership
Local church membership is comprised of individuals who give a testimony of personal faith in Christ as their Savior, and who have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer’s baptism. When the members of a local church are genuine believers, a oneness in Christ exists, and the members can endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Acts 2:41-47; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17; Ephesians 4:3
The Bible refers of two specific leadership roles within a church: pastors and deacons. Although the Bible also refers to elders and bishops (or overseers), these terms are alternate ways of referring to the pastoral office. The two offices of pastor and deacon exist within the local church—they are not assumed by a hierarchy of leadership outside or over the local church. While church leaders (pastors and deacons) are personally accountable to God for their ministries, they are also responsible to the church’s membership. MMBC practices congregational church polity (government)—that is, key decisions are referred to the congregation for ratification, including the selection (or dismissal) of church officers. At the same time, pastors and deacons provide leadership and oversight in the functioning of the ministry.
1 Timothy 3:1-13; Acts 20:17 & 28; Philippians 1:1, 1 Peter 5:1-4
Separation of Church and State
God established both the church and civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. The government’s purposes are outlined in Romans 13:1-7, and the church’s purposes in Matthew 28:19-20. Neither should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christians in a free society may properly influence government toward righteousness, but this is not the same as a denomination or group of churches exerting control over or through the government.
Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 13:1-7; Matthew 22:21