We believe that the historical teachings of Baptists are faithful to and consistent with New Testament principles and practice. However, the mere use of the term Baptist does not guarantee affirmation of these truths. While no New Testament believer called himself a "Baptist," it is clear that Baptist distinctives were commonly held and practiced. The Baptist distinctives may be summarized by use of a simple acrostic, as follows:
Biblical Authority The Bible is the only and sufficient authority for faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Autonomy of the Local Church Each local church is sovereign in and of itself and cannot be controlled by any board, hierarchal system, or another church (1 Tim. 3:15; Acts 15) and has the responsibility for electing its own officers (Acts 6:1-7), sending out missionaries (Acts 13:1-4; 14:26-27) and exercising final authority in disciplinary matters (Mt. 18:15-18; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 2 Thes. 3:14-15).
Priesthood of Believers Every regenerated ("born again") believer may pray without human intercessor directly to God through our High Priest Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 4:14-16; Rev. 1:5-6).
Two Ordinances: (1) Believer's Baptism. Baptism of a believer by immersion is a step of obedience and public testimony which identifies him with Christ's death, burial and resurrection (Acts 2:41-42; Rom. 6:3-4). (2) The Lord's Supper (or Communion) was instituted by the Lord as a memorial to his death. It is to be practiced by believers until his return (Mt. 26:26-30; Acts 2:41-43; 1 Cor. 11:25-26). These ordinances are not to be administered or partaken of apart from the local church.
Individual Soul Liberty Every man has the right to interpret the Scriptures, to hold, profess, and worship as he believes the Bible teaches (Jn. l6:12-13; 1 Jn. 2:27); that these things are not to be forced upon any man; and that all must give account to the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:10).
Saved Church Membership The membership of a New Testament local church is to consist of only those who have openly confessed Jesus Christ as Savior, demonstrated a willingness to obey the teachings of the Bible, and agree to the doctrine and standards of the local church (Acts 2:41,47).
Two Offices There are only two offices in the local church which are recognized and required by the Bible, Pastor (cf. Elder, Overseer; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1-6; Titus 1:6-9) and deacon (Acts. 6:2-7; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:7-13).
Separation of Church and State Every believer should respect, sustain, and pray for civil authority (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-6; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13-17) and should obey it so long as it does not cause violation to conscience or Scriptural convictions (Acts 5:29). There should be no organic union of church and state; but the state should protect, not dominate nor interfere with the affairs of the church (Mt. 22:21).
Eternal Security Every true believer has been saved and will continue to be saved because of the redeeming work of Christ, and will continue to have a persevering attachment to the Lord (John 10:27-30; Eph. 1:13; 4:30).
Separation of the Believer and Church from the world and from compromise with religious unbelief.
We believe that the doctrine of biblical separation is crucial in order to maintain the purity and testimony of each believer and local church. It is founded upon the very character of God whose holiness involves both majestic transcendence and moral purity (Isa. 6:1-5; 57:15; Ps. 99:1-3). It is continually affirmed by example throughout the Old and New Testaments. It is two-fold, "from" the world and "unto" the Lord. This truth applies to believers personally (Rom. 12:12; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:15-16) and to churches and religious institutions organizationally. This separation extends to both unbelievers—liberals, modernists, neo-orthodox, cultists, etc. (Mt. 7:15; Rom. 16:17; I2 Cor. 6:14,17; 1 Tim. 6:5; 2 Jn. 10-11)—and to Christians who walk disorderly (i.e. are doctrinally careless or who are content to walk with those who deny the faith (e.g. new-evangelicals, charismatics, etc.). See 2 Thes. 3:6,14; 1 Tim. 1:18-20).