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What Baptists Believe

Southern as applied to Baptists describes a religious denomination, not a geographical area. At first, Southern Baptists occupied the southern region of the United States; they now, there are Southern Baptists churches in all fifty states, Canada and nearly 200 countries.   Southern Baptists do mission work all over the world 7 days a week, which makes us a global people.  The SBC convention fully supports over 5300 international missionaries around the world.

Southern Baptists make up the largest non-Catholic denomination in America. There are over 41,000 churches and more than 15,000,000 members. Church members differ in cultural, economic and educational backgrounds. And they do not always agree on every biblical or doctrinal matter. Still, Southern Baptists hold in common certain beliefs that shape their identity.

Southern Baptist Doctrines

Where major doctrines are concerned, Southern Baptists share many of the great essentials of the Christian faith with other Christian bodies. However, some beliefs are especially important to them:

1. Southern Baptists believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  The Bible is the only perfect book that has been written and there is no error in God's Word.   For them it is authoritative, reliable and completely trustworthy.  It is the guide for faith and practice. In the Scriptures, God has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ and has declared His purpose for all creation.

2. Each person is able to come to God for himself or herself. There is no need for a third party to tell a person how to pray, how to interpret the Scriptures, or how to vote in church. All believers are ministers or servants of God. This is called the priesthood of believers.

3. Southern Baptists insist that for one to be baptized into a church's fellowship, he or she must claim Jesus as Savior and Lord of life. Thus, only Believers should be baptized. Baptists practice baptism by immersion. They hold that baptism is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It also symbolizes the fact that the new Believer has died to his/her old life and has been raised to live a new life with Christ.  Baptism does not save a person from the penalty of sin.

4. Southern Baptists believe in the right of each church to manage its affairs with no central authority except that of Christ Himself. Freedom does not rule out cooperation. The Southern Baptist Convention enables churches to pool and distribute their money for supporting ministries at home and around the world. This plan is called the Cooperative Program. Churches also support Southern Baptist causes through special offerings, designated gifts and other channels.

5. Southern Baptists affirm that God has assigned specific duties to the state and to the church. The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is the latest statement of faith adopted by the convention in Annual session in 2000 states: "Church should not be restricted or controlled by the government in any manner."  Baptists object to government interfering with the business of the church.

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