Posts Tagged ‘Baptist Distinctives’

The Regulative Principle of Worship is a Biblical Doctrine

by Jeff Robinson

In my previous article, I argued that the regulative principle of worship is a Baptist doctrine. But any Baptist worth his or her salt will ask the more salient question: But is it a biblical doctrine?

I want to argue that it is in fact a biblical doctrine and give a brief biblical defense from 32,000 feet. As I sought to show last time, Baptist confessions have articulated it and numerous important figures who have roamed the landscape of the Baptist tradition held it in earnest.

Granted, there is not a single text that may be accessed which says, “You shall only use in gathered worship those elements taught by precept or example in Scripture.” But if you take the overall witness of Scripture as to how God expects to be worshiped, I believe a strong case may be made.




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The Regulative Principle – A Baptist Doctrine

by Jeff Robinson

God is being worshiped in new and inventive ways in Baptist churches these days. Years ago, one massive Baptist church installed a baptismal pool in the shape of a fire truck complete with red paint and lights, though it has since been removed. The baptistery was specifically designed for baptizing children who made a profession of faith. When a young one emerged from underwater during baptism, streamers and confetti streamed skyward from the small pool and the truck’s lights flashed with two-alarm luminosity. The pastor said this unsubtle device was installed to make baptism more palatable and “interesting” to children.

These days, it seems, many Baptist…




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We should know the doctrines of those of whom we oppose


3. If we wish to teach our distinctive views to others, it is neccessary to understand those whom we propose to reach. I remember a teacher of modern languages who would often elaborately explain some French or German or other idiom with which had no difficulty at all, and then pass over as not needing explanation many a phrase we could not understand. He knew the language he was teaching, but was not well acquainted with the language of his pupils.

If we would in any way teach effectively, we must know things look of the persons addressed; we must get their point of view. Now, Baptists are not, on the whole, so ignorant of denominational opinions of other Christians as they are of ours, because our circumstances have compelled us to give some attention to that matter. Yet we need a much better acquaintance with them if we would speak to any purpose in public or private. I respectfully urge upon all ministers and upon intelligent private members of both sexes that they shall study, by reading and personal inquiry, each of the leading religious bodies with they have to do, shall study them in three respects:

(a) Inquire what are the characteristic peculiarities of this body of Christians differencing them from others, and if possible at the fundamental opinions which account for these peculiarities.

(b) Consider in what respects they particularly deserve our admiration and, with the necessary changes, our imitation. Denomination emphasizes certain aspects of truth or departments of duty, and will in regard to these present a very instructive and inspiring model.

(c) Strive to ascertain how they regard tenets, practices, and spirit. What things in us they especially dislike, and with what they might easily feel sympathy.

Such inquiries will help us in several ways. They may restrain the tendency to react from what we regard as the errors of others into an opposite extreme, as Protestants have done with reference to some errors of Popery, and many Baptists with reference to prelatical or pastoral domination, to clerical support, etc. They may check the unconscious adoption or imitation of opinions, sentiments, or phrases which are inconsistent, or at least incongruous, in us.

We rejoice in that “progress of Baptist principles” among Paedobaptists which Dr. Curtis’s book so well describes, and perhaps fail to inquire whether there be not a counter-influence which deserves attention, and which may not be wholly beneficial. And then this study of other denominations will enable us better to adapt ourselves to those whom we would influence. When you address to Methodists an article suited to High Churchmen or vice versa, what in the world are you thinking about?

John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views

Many think it a badge of honor to be non-denominational


Three benefits ought to follow from thus teaching our youth:

Secondly, we may thus render them better Christians. I agree with an eminent Presbyterian minister who recently said “We make people better Christians by making them better Presbyterians, better Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians.” There are some very excellent people in our time who think it a merit to be entirely undenominational, and who proclaim that they “love one church as well as another.” But, where not deluded, such persons are few and quite exceptional; in general, the truest, most devoted, and most useful Christians are strong in their denominational convictions and attachments. I repeat, then, that by proper instruction in our distinctive views we shall really make our young people better Christians.

And, thirdly, we thus prepare them to explain and advocate these views in conversation, a thing which is often called for, and when properly managed may be very useful.

John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views

Methods of teaching Baptist’s distinct views


1. One of the best means of teaching our distinctive views to others is the thorough instruction of our own people. Brethren of other persuasions need not be repelled or offended if they find us taking suitable occasion in pulpit discourses to teach our young members what Baptists believe, and why. If they perceive we are not striking at them through our members, but in simplicity and sincerity feeding our flock, they may even listen with interest. And then, if they choose to take these things to themselves of their own accord and on their own responsibility, why, all the better, of course. But our young members greatly need such instruction for their own sakes, and it is often grievously neglected.

On a recent occasion a cultivated young lady stated that she had never in her life heard a word from the pulpit as to the relation between baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and yet she was the daughter of a well-known Baptist minister, and her pastors had been men of marked ability and earnest Baptists. Do you think it a rare case? You can find such by thousands. And we ought to teach these things, in their measure, not only to our Young members, but at home to the youth of our families.

Suffer another fact for illustration: I once knew a lad of sixteen, well educated for his years, whose father was a zealous and quite influential Baptist layman and his pastor an able and eloquent minister. The boy had been baptized, and with great joy and trembling had sat by his father’s side and taken bread and Wine in remembrance of Jesus. Some weeks later a Methodist preacher came through the country, a rare thing in that neighborhood, and after preaching he very tenderly invited all Christians to come to the Table of the Lord. The boy wanted to and knew of no reason why he should not, but thought he would wait till his older brother and sisters went forward; and, as they did not, he inquired on the way home why it was, and on reaching home asked his father about it. The argument was made plain enough, but it was all new to him. Pastors, parents, and had never thought it necessary to explain that matter to anybody.

I mention these homely incidents with the hope of arousing such Baptists as my voice can reach to consider how it may in their homes and their churches. Nor should this instruction neglected in our Sunday schools. The current lesson system can of course, make no immediate provision for such instruction, but it leaves ample room for it by giving lessons that embrace controverted matters, and it calculates that every denomination its lesson-helps will explain these matters according to its vies

It is clear, then, that Sunday schools connected with Baptist churches ought to use Baptist helps for the study of the lessons. If some undenominational publications are so valuable for teachers as to be desired also, they ought to be used only in addition to those which explain according to Baptist beliefs. We do not withhold instruction in our Lord’s other teachings till the pupil has become a believer, and why should we withhold it as to commands regarding church membership and ordinances?

Three benefits ought to follow from thus teaching our youth:

First, it will restrain them from hereafter going to other nominations through ignorance. Some reasons for such change cannot be touched by instruction. But not a few take such step because they were never taught the scriptural grounds Baptist usage, and so they readily fall in with the plausible idea that “one church is good as another if the heart is right.” There can be no doubt that well-meaning persons have in this way been lost to us whom early instruction might have retained.

John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views

To teach our distinctive views is a duty we owe Christ


4. There is yet another reason, one full of solemn sweetness: To teach our distinctive views is not only a duty to ourselves to our fellow Christians, and to the unbelieving world, but it a duty we owe to Christ; it is a matter of simple loyalty to him.

Under the most solemn circumstances he uttered the express injunction. He met the eleven disciples by appointment on a mountain in Galilee; probably the more than five hundred whom Paul speaks were present also: “And Jesus came and sp unto them, saying, All authority is given unto me in heaven a in earth. Go ye, therefore, and disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

The things of which we have been speaking are not, we grant, the most important of religious truths and duties, but are a part of all the things which Jesus commanded; what shall hinder us, what could excuse us, from observing them ourselves and teaching them to others? The Roman soldier who had taken the sacramentum did not then go to picking and choosing among the orders of his general: shall the baptized believer pick and choose which commands of Christ he will obey and which neglect and which alter? And, observe, I did not quote it all:

Go, disciple, baptizing them, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Shall we neglect to teach as he required, and then claim the promise of his presence and help and blessing?

John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views

It is our duty to our churches to teach our distinct views

April 12, 2013 1 comment


1. It is a duty we owe to ourselves. We must teach these views in order to be consistent in holding them. Because of these we Stand apart from other Christians, in separate organizations, from Christians whom we warmly love and delight to work with. We have no right thus to stand apart unless the matters of difference have real importance; and if they are really important, we certainly ought to teach them.

We sometimes venture to say to our brethren of some other persuasions that if points of denominational difference evangelical Christians were so utterly trifling as they continually tell us, then they have no excuse for standing apart from each other, and no right to require us to stand apart from them unless we will abjure, or practically disregard, our distinctive views. But all this will apply to us likewise unless we regard the points of difference as having a substantial value and practical importance as a part of what Christ commanded, and in this case are a part of what he requires us to teach.

And this teaching is the only way of correcting excesses among ourselves. Do some of our Baptist brethren seem to you ultra in their denominationalism, violent, bitter? And do you expect correct such a tendency by going to the opposite extreme? You are so pained, shocked, disgusted at what you consider an unlovely treatment of controverted matters that you shrink from treating them at all. Well, the persons you have in view, if there be such persons, would defend and fortify themselves by pointing at you.

They would say, “I am complained of as extreme and bigoted Look at those people yonder, who scarcely ever make the slightest allusion to characteristic Baptist principles, who are weak kneed, afraid of offending the Paedobaptists, or dreadfully anxious to court their favor by smooth silence: do you want me be such a Baptist as that?” Thus one extreme fosters another.

The greatest complaint I have against what are called “sensational” preachers is not for the harm they directly do, but because they drive such a multitude of other preachers to the other extreme, make them so afraid of appearing sensational in their own eyes, or in those of some fastidious hearers, that they shrink from saying the bold and striking things they might say, at ought to say, and become commonplace and tame. And so it a great evil if a few ultraists in controversy drive many go men to avoid sensitively those controverted topics which we all under obligation to discuss. The only cure, my brethren, for denominational ultraism is a healthy denominationalism.

John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views

Churches ought to govern themselves

broadusIt may be well to state briefly what I understand to be the leading distinctive views of the Baptist churches. The fact that certain of these are more or less shared by others will be remarked upon afterward.

4. We hold that these societies called churches were design as shown in the New Testament, to be independent. They no right to control one another. Ample warrant there is for operation in benevolence and for consultations as to questions truth and duty, but without assuming to legislate or in any sense to rule one another. And they must be independent of what we call the State as to their organization, faith, worship, and discipline, while, of course, amenable to the State if they violate those moralities which are essential to public welfare; nor must they suffer themselves to be dependent on the State in the sense of receiving from it pecuniary support.

Now, I repeat that we do not consider these externals to be intrinsically so important as the spiritual, or even the ethical, elements of Christianity. But they are important, because they express the spiritual and react upon it healthily or hurtfully, and because the Author of Christianity, in person or through his inspired apostles, appointed and commanded them. And we think it a matter of great importance that they should be practiced in accordance with, and not contrary to, his appointment, that, in the language of his text, his disciples should observe and conserve (for the word includes both ideas) all things whatsoever he commanded them. We are glad that as to one or another of these distinctive views some of our fellow Christians of other persuasions agree with us more or less. We welcome all such concurrence, and it is not now necessary to inquire whether they hold those opinions with logical consistency. For ourselves, we do not claim to be fully acting upon these views, but we aim to do so, acknowl- edge ourselves blameworthy in so far as we fail; and we desire, notwithstanding our shortcoming in practice, to hold them up in due prominence before ourselves and others. I wish now, first, to present reasons why Baptists ought to teach their distinctive views, and then to remark upon means and methods of performing this duty.

John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views

There are two main ordinances to be observed in our churches

March 29, 2013 7 comments

broadusIt may be well to state briefly what I understand to be the leading distinctive views of the Baptist churches. The fact that certain of these are more or less shared by others will be remarked upon afterward.

3. We hold that the officers, government, and ceremonies of a Christian society, or church, ought to be such, and such only, as the New Testament directs. As to ceremonies, it enjoins the very minimum of ceremony; for there are but two, and both are very simple in nature and in meaning. We insist that baptism ought to be simply what Christ practiced and commanded. We care nothing for the mode of baptism, the manner of baptizing, if only there is a real baptism according to the plain indications of Scripture.

As to the significance of the ceremony, we understand it to involve three things: The element employed represents purification; the action performed represents burial and resurrection, picturing the burial and resurrection of Christ, and symbolizing the believer’s death to sin through faith in Christ and his resurrection to walk in newness of life; and performing the ceremony in the name of the Lord Jesus, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, makes it like an oath of allegiance, a vow of devotion, to Jesus Christ, to the Triune God. The early Roman Christians had a good word for this idea if Only the word could have remained unchanged in use: they called it a sacramentum, a military oath. As the Roman soldier in his oath bound himself to obey his general absolutely, so in baptism we solemnly vow devotion and obedience. But, alas! the word “sacrament,” like many another word in Christian history has come to be employed in senses quite foreign to its original use.

As to the second Christian ceremony, we hold that not the bread, but the cup also should be given, urging, as all Protestants do, and Baptists are Protestants in one sense, though in another sense distinct from Protestants, that our Lord commanded us to do both, and no one has a right to modify commands. And the significance of the bread and wine is understood by us to be, not transubstantiation, nor consubstantiation, nor real presence in any sense, nor even according to Calvinian view that a special spiritual blessing is by divine pointment attached to the believing reception of these element but simply according to the Zwinglian view that these are mementoes, remembrancers of Christ, and that, taking them in remembrances of him, we may hope to have the natural effects such remembrance blessed to our spiritual good. As to the order of the two ceremonies, we believe the New Testament to indicate that the second should be observed by those who have previously observed the first and are walking orderly. This is in itself not a distinctive view of the Baptists for they share it with almost the entire Christian world in ages. The combination of this general Christian opinion, the New Testament requires baptism to precede the Lord’s Supper, with our Baptist opinion as to what constitutes baptism leads to a practical restriction which many regard as the marked of all our distinctive views; while for us it is only incidental, though logically inevitable, result of that principle which we share with nearly all of those from whom it ceremonially separates us.

John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views

Note: As a Reformed Baptist I do not hold to the Zwingli view of the Lord’s Supper. I do not believe it to be merely symbolic. I believe that Christ is present in the Lord’s Supper, as did Calvin, in his deity. For Christ stated that where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst.

Infants are not to be church members just because their parents are

March 22, 2013 2 comments

broadusIt may be well to state briefly what I understand to be the leading distinctive views of the Baptist churches. The fact that certain of these are more or less shared by others will be remarked upon afterward.

2. We hold that a Christian Church ought to consist of only persons making a credible profession of conversion, of faith in Christ. These may include children, even comparatively ye children, for God be thanked that these do often give credible evidence of faith in Christ! But in the very nature of the case they cannot include infants.

The notion that infants may be church members because their parents are seems to us utterly alien to the genius of Christianity not only unsupported by the New Testament, but in conflict with its essential principles; and we are not surprised to observe that our Christian brethren among whom that theory obtains are unable to carry it out consistently; unable to decide in what sense the so-called “children of the church” are really members of the church and subject to its discipline.

The other notion, that infants may be church members because so-called “sponsors” make professions and promises for them, seems to us a mere legal fiction, devised to give some basis for a practice which rose on quite other grounds. Maintaining that none should be received as church members unless they give credible evidence of conversion, we also hold in theory that none should be retained in membership who do not lead a godly life; that if a man fails to show his faith by works, he should cease to make profession of faith. Some of our own people appear at times to forget that strict church discipline is a necessary part of the Baptist view as to church membership.

John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views