Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers (believer's baptism, as opposed to infant baptism), and that it must be done by immersion (as opposed to affusion or sprinkling). Other tenets of Baptist churches include soul competency (liberty), salvation through faith alone, scripture alone as the rule of faith and practice, and the autonomy of the local congregation. Baptists recognize two ministerial offices, pastors and deacons. Baptist churches are widely considered to be Protestant churches, though some Baptists disavow this identity.
Diverse from their beginning, those identifying as Baptists today differ widely from one another in what they believe, how they worship, their attitudes toward other Christians, and their understanding of what is important in Christian discipleship.
Historians trace the earliest Baptist church back to 1609 in Amsterdam, with English Separatist John Smyth as its pastor. In accordance with his reading of the New Testament, he rejected baptism of infants and instituted baptism only of believing adults. Baptist practice spread to England, where the General Baptists considered Christ's atonement to extend to all people, while the Particular Baptists believed that it extended only to the elect. In 1638, Roger Williams established the first Baptist congregation in the North American colonies. In the mid-18th century, the First Great Awakening increased Baptist growth in both New England and the South. The Second Great Awakening in the South in the early 19th century increased church membership, as did the preachers' lessening of support for abolition and manumission of slavery, which had been part of the 18th-century teachings. Baptist missionaries have spread their church to every continent.
Free Will Baptist is a denomination of churches that share a common history, name, and an acceptance of the Arminian theology of free grace, free salvation, and free will. Free Will Baptists share similar soteriological views with General Baptists, Separate Baptists and some United Baptists. Evangelism and the self government of the local church are highly valued. The denomination remains relatively small-town demographically and is especially strong in the southern United States and midwest. The National Association of Free Will Baptists reports just over 250,000 members. The National Association's offices are located in the Nashville suburb of Antioch, Tennessee. The denomination operates a regionally accredited college, Free Will Baptist Bible College, in Nashville, North American and International Missions agencies, and a publish house, Randall House Publications. Smaller groups unaffiliated with the National Association are the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, the United American Free Will Baptists (African American), and well as several local associations in the South.
Free Will Baptist congregations believe the Bible is the very word of God and thus without error in all that it affirms. Free Will Baptist Doctrine holds to the traditional Arminian position, based on the belief in a General Atonement, that it is possible to commit apostasy, or willfully reject one's faith. Faith is the condition for salvation, hence Free Will Baptists hold to "conditional eternal security." An individual is "saved by faith and kept by faith." The concept is not of someone sinning occasionally and thus accidentally ending up "not saved," but instead of someone "repudiating" his or her faith in Christ. Free Will Baptists believe that an individual maintains his or her free will to follow Christ, but in the event a believer turns from faith in Christ, there is no remedy for this apostasy (based on an interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6). Thus "once saved always saved" is rejected by the denomination.
On Perseverance of the Saints from the official Treatise: "There are strong grounds to hope that the truly regenerate will persevere unto the end, and be saved, through the power of divine grace which is pledged for their support; but their future obedience and final salvation are neither determined nor certain, since through infirmity and manifold temptations they are in danger of falling; and they ought, therefore, to watch and pray lest they make shipwreck of their faith and be lost."
Free Will Baptists observe at least three ordinances: baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the Washing of the Saints' Feet, a rite occurring among some other evangelical groups but not practiced by the majority of Baptist denominations.
Free Will Baptist congregations hold differing views on eschatology, with some holding premillennial and others amillennial views. Churches advocate (voluntary) tithing, totally abstaining from alcoholic beverages, and not working on Sunday, the "Christian Sabbath."
Missionary Baptists are a group of Baptists that grew out of the missionary / anti-missionary controversy that divided Baptists in the United States in the early part of the 19th century, with Missionary Baptists following the pro-missions movement position. Those who opposed the innovations became known as anti-missions or Primitive Baptists Since arising in the 19th Century, the influence of Primitive Baptists waned as "Missionary Baptists became the mainstream".
The beliefs of Baptist churches are not totally consistent from one Baptist church to another. Baptists do not have a central governing authority, unlike most other denominations.
However, Baptists do hold some common beliefs among almost all Baptist churches. Baptists share so-called "orthodox" Christian beliefs with most other moderate or conservative Christian denominations. These would include beliefs about one God, the virgin birth, the sinless life, miracles, vicarious atoning death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Christ, the Trinity (the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, together with God the Father), the need for salvation (though the understanding of means for achieving it may differ at times), divine grace, the Church, the Kingdom of God, last things (Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge everyone in righteousness), evangelism and missions.
The National Missionary Baptist Convention of America is an African-American Baptist convention which combined the efforts of Missionary Baptist churches and organizations throughout the country with the goal of unity for capable and efficient ministry. The NMBCA also seeks to propagate Baptist beliefs, doctrines, practices and distinct moral principles. The convention consists of four boards (education, evangelical, home mission, foreign mission) and 10 auxiliaries (Ministers, Ministers' Wives & Widows, Brotherhood, Brotherhood II, Women's Missionary Union, Women's Missionary Union # 2, Junior Women, Ushers, and Nurses Corp). In addition the Convention has a Benevolence Board and Praise Team.
The Institutional Missionary Baptist Conference of America is a recent division of the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, which was formed on November 15, 1988. When the NMBCA was formed, Dr. S. M. Lockridge of San Diego, California was elected president of the Convention and served until his retirement in 1994. After his retirement a series of events and contested elections eventually brought about the formation of the Institutional Missionary Baptist Conference of America around 1999. Dr. H.J. Johnson, of Dallas, Texas, General Secretary of the Convention, ran for the presidency in 1995 and again in 1998. Following the second election defeat, Dr. Johnson and his supporters withdrew and organized the Institutional Missionary Baptist Conference.
Primitive Baptists, also known as Hard Shell Baptists or Anti-Mission Baptists, are conservative, Calvinist Baptists adhering to beliefs that formed out of the controversy among Baptists in the early 1800s over the appropriateness of mission boards, Bible tract societies, and temperance societies.
This controversy over whether churches or members should participate in mission boards, bible tract societies, and temperance societies led the Primitive Baptists to separate from other general Baptist groups that supported such organizations, and to make declarations of opposition to such organizations in articles like the Kehukee Association Declaration of 1827.
Primitive Baptist churches arose in the mountainous regions of the southeastern United States, where they are found in their greatest numbers.
Primitive Baptists hold Calvinist views and are characterized by "intense conservatism".
Since arising in the 19th Century, the influence of Primitive Baptists has waned as "Missionary Baptists became the mainstream"
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members. It is also the second largest Christian body in the United States, after the Catholic Church.
The general theological perspective of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention is represented in the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M). The BF&M was first drafted in 1925. It was revised significantly in 1963 and again in 2000, with the latter revision being the subject of much controversy. The BF&M is not considered to be a creed, such as the Nicene Creed. Members are not required to adhere to it. Churches belonging to the SBC are not required to use it as their statement of faith or doctrine, though many do in lieu of creating their own statement. Despite the fact that the BF&M is not a creed, faculty in SBC-owned seminaries and missionaries who apply to serve through the various SBC missionary agencies must affirm that their practices, doctrine, and preaching are consistent with the BF&M.
The Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) is the confession of faith of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). It summarizes key Southern Baptist thought in the areas of the Bible and its authority, the nature of God as expressed by the Trinity, the spiritual condition of man, God's plan of grace and salvation, the purpose of the local church, ordinances, evangelism, Christian education, interaction with society, religious liberty, and the family.