What makes Baptists distinct? We noted in part 1 that both faith and practice must come directly from Scripture, and in part 2 we saw Baptist dinstinctives regarding the church. Here we will see three specific practices that are unique to Baptists:
Priesthood of the Believer
I’ll never forget watching the confessional booth in St. Peter’s Basilica where men and women went to a priest to confess their sins. Yet, according to God’s Word, only the blood of Christ can forgive sin—not confession to a person or any amount of penance (1 Peter 1:18–19). Scripture tells us that, “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
God’s Word assures believers that we have direct access to God through our relationship with Christ (1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 4:14–16). Baptists believe and teach that the priesthood of the believer is the unspeakably precious privilege of every child of God.
Individual Soul Liberty
While other religions bring conversion by the sword, Baptists respect the conscience of others. Although we have been grossly persecuted through the centuries—by both Catholics and Protestants—we have never been the persecutors. We believe that each person must make a personal decision of repentance and faith in Christ (Romans 14:12).
Baptists believe that Christ’s ultimate sacrifice demands our complete consecration (2 Corinthians 6:14). Once again, this principle comes from the distinctive of submitting to the authority of Scripture in each area of life. We believe the Bible relates to every aspect of life—not just salvation. And we desire that our daily living would reflect the holiness of our great God (1 Peter 1:16).
In summary, this three-part post can be reorganized and summed up by the following acrostic:
Autonomy of the local church
Priesthood of the believer
Individual soul liberty
Separation of church and state
I’m thankful to be a Baptist, and I’m deeply indebted to the millions who have given their lives to preach the truth of Scripture in times when truth was repressed with intense persecution.
My life verse is Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” I’m grateful for the privilege to preach the Gospel of Christ and to teach others to build their lives on the inerrant foundation of God’s Word.