Just as the term “Christian” is generic and is used by millions who either heed to its original definition, so is the term “Baptist”. As the name Christian was corrupted during the 1000 years of the Dark Ages, faithful believers from the early church remained uncorrupted and emerged during the Reformation and were called “Re-baptizers”. Hundreds of congregations throughout Europe were now free to preach and baptize openly. Catholic reformers Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Cranmer, and Knox were true Protestants who removed much of the power of the Sacraments in Catholicism toward justification by personal Faith. Many tenants of Catholicism have been retained by Protestants are rejected by Baptists.
Thus, there are two trails of Baptists; one as the Heretics (non-Catholic christians) persecuted by the Catholic Church and one as the Reformed Baptists. Both Baptist origins are somewhat merged today into the diversity that “Baptist Dimensions” reveal. It is interesting that some Baptist Groups are Ecumenical and are returning to a ‘oneness’ with Catholicism and Protestantism. While other Baptist churches remain as Non-Denominational, or as more commonly accepted, Independent. A note here to be repeated often is, Baptist churches may associate but Baptist Churches don’t ‘denominate’. The largest of all associations are the Southern Baptists which a composite of geograpical and ministry associations and ministries which are funded and controlled by local congregations. Each association convenes at least once a year. That is why they are called the Southern Baptist Convention, not Southern Baptist Denomination.
Each Baptist Church is Autonomous. Each congregation functions without control of a religious hierarchy. Thus, there is no control center dictating to a Baptist congregation as to its accountability in to faith and practice. Only Jesus Christ is the head of each Baptist church. He alone is the Lord and Judge of each congregation. Its officers and members are answerable to the one and another, functionally. All members are answerable to the society in which it exists, legally and morally. The Holy Bible is its guide for Faith and Practice. The Holy Spirit is Teacher and source of Spiritual dynamics for those who are the faithful.
Baptist churches function as Non-Denominational churches. They are not Liturgical or Catholic based. They do illustrate a wide
range of preferences, politically and doctrinally. Baptist churches are as the Seven Churches of Revelation 2 and 3 which vary in their practice, and faithfulness.Below is an outline of the range of their general groupings of Baptist churches in Faith and Practice. Click on the heading to take you the comprenensive page which is always being edited.
<–Ecumenical – Denominational – Associational – Independent –>
Open & Traditional Relationship – Male & Female Ordination
Male Only Ordination -> Traditional Marriage
To be continued . . .