Baptist Distinctives: Autonomy & Priesthood

We are first and foremost Christians. We understand that heaven will be filled with many who did not hold to the name Baptist, yet they have trusted solely in Jesus Christ alone by faith. We do not limit our name to Christian for Christian does not describe all that we are, we are Baptist Christians. We believe the Baptist distinctives most closely align with the church as described in the New Testament:

  • B iblical authority
  • A utonomy of the local church
  • P riesthood of all believers
  • T wo ordinances (believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper)
  • I ndividual soul liberty
  • S eparation of Church and State
  • T wo offices of the church (pastor and deacon)
  • S aved church membership

Autonomy of the Local Church

  • each local church selects its pastoral leadership, determines its worship, decides financial matters and other church related decisions without outside control or supervision
  • recognizes no governmental control over faith and religious practice
  • rejects denominational control over local congregations

We may choose to voluntarily fellowship with colleges, mission boards, para-church organizations and even other local churches, but those entities do not nor cannot govern the direction of a local church. One phrase that may be helpful is that the New Testaments teaches: independence as well as interdependence. That is, local churches may come together to accomplish greater things together than what would be possible singularly (e.g. sending missionaries).

The Scriptural precedence for autonomy can be seen in:

  • the commendation/correction given to the seven churches in Asia Minor (Revelation 1-3)
  • the individual letters written to local churches as reflected in the New Testament (e.g. Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, etc)
  • church discipline is a local issue not a broader issue, but rather a specific situation from a specific local church

Priesthood of the Believer

With the life, death and resurrection of Jesus man no longer needed a priest to go to God (Matthew 27.51; Hebrews 10).  Since, we no longer need a priest, each Christian has direct access to God through Jesus (Hebrews 10). This concept is uniquely tied to the biblical truth that before God we are all equal in Christ:

Galatians 3:26-28  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Because of this truth you don’t hear us calling our pastors by the title of priest. Why? A priest connotes that we need an intercessor, which is not true, because of Christ.

One caution: there could be the tendency to confuse Priesthood of the Believer and Soul Liberty. There may be some similar ideas found within both, but to equate the two robs both of the full truth and thus meaning that is being emphasized with both.

One Response

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joel Mosier, Bethel Baptist PA. Bethel Baptist PA said: Baptist Distinctives: Autonomy & Priesthood: http://wp.me/ptFXw-Me […]

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