Recently, a younger pastor asked me to speak at a meeting on the topic, “Why I am a Baptist.” I must go on record to say that I am not only a Baptist; I am an independent, separated Baptist, and I am proud to be so.
I realize that there are some unsightly incidents in Baptist history. Some men and churches have not worn the distinct title of being “Baptist” in position and doctrine very well. Regardless of what others have done, and though some men are distancing themselves from this title and name, I am still very proud to call myself an independent Baptist. There are at least five reasons why I am very proud to be identified with this name.
1. I am proud to be called a Baptist because our doctrine is the doctrine found in the pages of the New Testament.
Truthfully, if a person only had a New Testament, and as a church, practiced what the New Testament taught, he would be identified as a Baptist church.
2. I am proud to be called a Baptist because of the heritage associated with this name.
We did not selecte our name; it was given to us by those who hated us. Yet, this name has been a label that true Baptists have worn with honor throughout the centuries.
3. I am proud to be a Baptist because of our doctrinal distinction.
There are certain New Testament doctrines that are found only in true Baptist churches. For instance, one Baptist distinctive that we believe is that the Bible is the sole authority for our faith and practice. While other churches may also claim this doctrine, every real Baptist church has this doctrine at the very core of its being. Another important Baptist distinctive is the autonomy of each church. We believe each church should be self-governing and is given the liberty to practice faith according to the dictates of the Bible and that church’s leaders.
4. I am proud to be a Baptist because this name means that we are not Protestants.
Baptist people are not Protestants because we were never part of the Catholic Church. We didn’t have to protest the Catholic Church or try to reform the Catholic Church because our churches were never part of it. There were Baptist churches in practice beginning with the church founded by Jesus and with charter members, His apostles.
5. I am proud to be called a Baptist because of the impact of our Baptist forefathers on this nation.
Our Baptist forefathers were influential in getting religious liberty incorporated into the Constitution. The First Amendment is really due to the influence of the Virginia Baptists on Thomas Jefferson. It was the Baptists in Rhode Island in 1600 that got a charter from the king of England to grant that colony full religious liberty. It was a Baptist by the name of Shubal Stearns that went to North Carolina and planted the Sandy Creek Baptist Church. From that church, Baptist churches were planted all across the southern states.
I have not fully developed these thoughts in this short article, but they state why I am a Baptist. For most of my life I have been associated with independent Baptists, and I am blessed because of it. I have no intention of changing my direction or distancing myself from the Baptist name!