From Pine View Farm

Baptistry 3

I was brought up in the Southern Baptist Church.

I am still very much a Baptist, though I happen to attend a Methodist church now.

Baptist beliefs are, I fear, much misunderstood, primarily due to the antics of those who call themselves “Baptists.” Heck, any group of nutcakes who wants to start up some kind of wierd little sect seems to want to call themselves “The So-and-So Baptist Church of the Such-and-Such.”

There are six basic tenets of being a Baptist. Four of them are pretty much standard Christian stuff: the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, and so on.

Two of them are unique:

  • Baptism of the Believer: One cannot be baptised unless he or she is able to profess faith. In other words, infant baptism is out (sorry, Methodists).
  • Priesthood of the Believer: Though this is fundamental to Protestantism, Baptists take if much farther than anyone else. In the Baptist persuasion, the believer is in charge; the congregation is next, and so on. (I’m a very strong proponent of “priesthood of the believer,” but that’s another story.)

Furthermore, Baptists do not believe in creeds. No true Baptist Church ever repeats a creed.

For, you see, if you are repeating a creed, you are repeating beliefs imposed on you by someone else, thereby violating the principal of “priesthood of the believer.”

The little Baptist Church that I was raised in is a member of the Accomack Baptist Association, which, in turn, is a member of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV), which, in turn, is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. (The land on which it stands was donated by one of my ancestors shortly after the unpleasantness of 1781.)

The missionary who founded the church (I believe his name was Elijah Lewis, but I am far from my sources), spent large amounts of time in jail for the crime of . . .

. . . being a Baptist.

A further fundamental principal of Baptists in America is separation of church and state. This dates back to Roger Williams’s founding of Rhode Island, which he founded because he was hounded out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony because of his religion.

Now, of course, the Southern Baptist Convention has fallen into the hands of the pharisees.

The little church in which I grew up has trouble finding pastors because it has (gasp!) women deacons (in the Baptist Church, the Board of Deacons is sort of like the Parish Council, the Board of Trustees, and the Administrative Council all rolled into one–they are the governing body of the church)

So, where am I headed with this?

To here. Give it a a read.

And think seriously about why the Founders decreed that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.



  1. Opie

    September 20, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    “Last year Bush dismissed the scientific theory of viability and used the religious assumption that life begins at conception…”

    Huh? Life beginning at conception is a religious assumption? That’s asinine. I don’t know diddly-squat about biology and I have more common sense then that.

    But as to the overall article, I don’t tend to listen much to people who tell me that as a Christian I should realize that the separation of church and state is a good thing for me. Too often, the same people use it as a fig-leaf excuse for limiting the free speech of religious people. America is becoming more pluralistic, and if we are to survive, we will need more religious freedom, not less.

  2. Timothy

    September 23, 2007 at 11:28 am

    The article you cited on the Puritans reminded me that the Pilgrims, our Puritan forefathers, adopted the Book of Leviticus as their legal code. Only, no one could bring themselves to enforce the many death penalties, so they reverted back to English Common Law.

    Your statement regarding the ease of starting a baptist church also harkens to the Puritans. The Puritans increasingly fractured into additional churches due to disagreement. Disagree? Start your own church! Priesthood of the believer.

    The Puritan fracturing resulted in the extinction of the Puritan faith as practiced at Plymouth, with the result that New England is now overrun with Universalist churches. Creeds aid in unity. Witness the Catholic and Orthodox churches — very creedal, very unified.

    God bless…

  3. Opie

    September 23, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Very interesting comment, Timothy, and I say that as one whose church also endorses a certain “priesthood of all believers,” albeit probably with some subtle differences than the Baptist view. Do you think the creedalism and unity explain the quiet shift we’ve seen lately of Evangelicals going Orthodox?