This is a copy of my Pastor's Page for our May Church Magazine
Why am I a Baptist Christian? Why not Methodist or Anglican or Pentecostal or New Church? Why not United Reform or Roman Catholic or Quaker or Lutheran?
Today, in the UK, denominational boundaries matter less than they once did, and I think that is a good thing. Many in our church do not come from a Baptist background, but have joined us because they (you) have felt a warmth of fellowship and calling from God to be here. That, too, is good. Yet it’s good to be reminded what standing under the Baptist banner stands for! So here, in no particular order, are some of the reasons why I am a Baptist Christian.
1. Baptist Christians believe in conversion. The biggest influence on my life has been my family. My parents were Baptist Christians and their parents before them. Yet that does not make me a Baptist Christian! We believe that all people need to make their own decision to follow (or not) Jesus Christ.
2. Baptist Christians believe in the baptism of believers. It is not, as some mistakenly say, adult baptism that we practise but the baptism of those who can decide for themselves to follow Jesus. We believe that the New Testament witnesses to the baptism of believers, ordinarily by immersion in water.
3. Baptist Christians believe in congregational government under the leadership of Christ. This means that authority does not come from minister, elders, deacons, church councils, synods, Pope or even the General Secretary of the Baptist Union! Rather, the Church Members’ meeting is the place in which we discern the mind of Christ.
4. Baptist Christians believe in church membership. Of course, all who come to Christ are part of the Church Universal, but becoming a member is about receiving the privilege and accepting the responsibility of being part of the body of Christ.
5. Baptist Christians believe in religious freedom. This is part and parcel of our Baptist heritage, ever since Thomas Helwys wrote a pamphlet and sent a copy of it to King James I, for which he was imprisoned in Newgate Gaol, wherein he died! We believe that all people should have the right to worship, whether as Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian, whilst holding to the need for conversion to Christ.
6. Baptist Christians believe in mission. Mission includes evangelism, but it is bigger than that. Mission is about offering the love of God to all by our words and our deeds.
These are some of the reasons why I am a Baptist Christian! Why do I keep putting those two words together? Well, you can be a Christian without being a Baptist, but you can’t really be a Baptist without being a Christian!
Why are you a Baptist Christian? Feel free to comment!