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Baptist Church

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Baptists are one of the largest categories of Christians in the United States, and represent a large segment of the population.[1] Since Baptists are hardly a monolithic group, it can be difficult to describe what constitutes "Baptist Faith".

That said, the Baptist Church in its simplest form consists of assemblies of Christians who believe in baptism by immersion for believers alone (i.e. those with sufficient mental capacity, not infants as in traditional Christianity).[2] This definition is often cited as the prerequisite belief of being Baptist. However, there are many other common factors that make up the typical Baptist Church. Some of these are often illustrated in the following acrostic:

Biblical Authority
Autonomy of the Local Church
Priesthood of the Believer
Two Ordinances
Individual Soul Liberty
Saved, Baptized Church Membership
Two Offices
Separation of Church and State[3]

While this list is in no way exhaustive of Baptistic Churches, most will adhere to a similar formula. One additional distinctive of Baptist Churches is their independent governance. Most are congregationally governed.[4] This distinguishes Baptist Churches from Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, and Episcopal forms of government which all have external components.[5] Since the churches are not formally governed by external bodies, but within the congregation. This is why there is such a great disparity of beliefs between different congregations of Baptists.

Notes

  1. http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/
  2. http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/denominations/baptists.htm
  3. Retrieved from the GARBC website at http://www.garbc.org/news/?page_id=32
  4. http://www.centerforbaptiststudies.org/pamphlets/style/congregationalism.htm
  5. http://mb-soft.com/believe/text/cgovern.htm