Why I am a Baptist

Dennis Ellingburg • September 7, 2019

I am a Baptist. I am a Baptist, and specifically a Southern Baptist, by conviction and not by tradition. This is a strange statement in a society that seems to be moving towards a rejection of convictional and creedal commitments and where individualism and a rejection of authority is glorified and praised.

I know that not everyone who reads this board will be a baptist, but as a pastor, I think it’s important that we think through why we believe what we believe. With that in mind, I want to state why I am a baptist.

I am a baptist and I hold to the early baptist confessionsthe Baptist Faith and Messageand the Abstract of Principles of 1859. I am a baptist by choice. So why am I a Southern Baptist? Well, there are a number of doctrines that are “Baptist” in nature that I find in scripture and that make baptists, well, baptist. In this blog I wanted to discuss what these distinctives were and why they are important.

  • The Lordship of Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:9) We must submit to Jesus as the Lord of all things if we are to be saved. This means more than just giving mental assent to Jesus as God, or even just recognizing that I am a sinner, it’s a surrendering to Christ as Lord and King.
  • The Sufficiency, Perspecuity (Simplicity) and Infallability/Inerrancy of Scripture.  (2Ti 3:15-17)  “The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter.” (1).
  • Salvation from sin and eternal death to forgiveness and eternal life only by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  (Romans 10:9-10,13)
  • Soul Competency (Romans 1:21) .  By this I mean that the individual alone must approach and relate to God directly without any human intermediaries.  It also means that men are wholly responsible to God for their rejection God.
  •  The priesthood of each believer and of all believers in Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-8)  This is a foundational view of the Reformation.  In fact, Martin Luther, arguing against the distinction made by the Catholic Church argued that all who belong to Christ through faith, baptism, and the Gospel shared in the priesthood of Jesus Christ and belonged “truly to the spiritual estate”: “For whoever comes out of the water of baptism can boast that he is already a consecrated priest, bishop, and pope, although of course it is not seemly that just anybody shall exercise such office.” All baptized believers are called to be priests, Luther said, but not all are called to be pastors. (2)
  • Believer’s baptism. (Acts 2:38-39) Baptism is for those who have been regenerated and have put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.  
  • The Ordinances (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper) as wonderfully symbolic but not essential for salvation. (1 Cor. 11:17-34)
  • Regenerate Church membership. (Acts 2:47)  A church is a fellowship of persons who have followed Jesus as Lord and voluntarily associate with one another under his lordship and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  • Religious freedom and the separation of church and state. (1 Pet. 2:13-17). I believe in religious freedom and the separation of church and state, not in the way it seems to be interpreted today, but in the fact that the state is not the arbiter of what is holy, or acceptable before God, but God and his law are over and above the state. This is an important biblical distinction. We owe God our ultimate allegiance and not the nation we belong to

These distinctives are what make me a Baptist. Within these distinctives there is room for disagreement over the extent of the atonement, God’s providence, predestination and foreknowledge, etc. All of these are covered by the priesthood of the believers. I believe in these distinctives and believe in the cooperation and ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Churches. This is why I am a baptist.

(1) 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, Online.
(2) The Priesthood of All Believers, Timothy George First Things website.

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