THE HISTORIC PARSELLS CHURCH  P. O. Box 10670  Rochester, NY 14610 

Baptist Distinctives

What Makes A Church “Baptist”? Believer’s Baptism The most obvious way Baptists differ from other Christian denominations is our view of baptism. From   the   very   beginning,   dating   back   to   the   early   seventeenth   century,   Baptists   have   maintained   that   only those   who   publicly   profess   their   faith   in   Jesus   Christ   as   Lord   and   Savior   should   be   baptized.   We   call   this “believer's   baptism.”   Since   it   signifies   faith   and   repentance,   the   ceremony   is   reserved   for   only   those   who   are old   enough   to   make   responsible   decisions.   And   we   baptize   by   immersion,   as   Jesus   was.   This   symbolizes Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. Authority of the Scriptures The   primary   concern   of   early   Baptists   was   to   be   faithful   and   obedient   to   Christ.   They   laid   a   rich   groundwork for   understanding   the   importance   of   the   Bible,   a   groundwork   upon   which   subsequent   generations   of   Baptists have   stood   firmly.   The   Old   Testament   and   the   New   Testament   show   the   coming   of   Jesus   as   Savior,   and   serve as our guide for Christian living. Priesthood of all believers Baptists   believe   that   the   gift   of   ministry   belongs   to   both   laity   and   clergy   alike.   This   is   called   the   “priesthood   of all   believers,”   which   suggests   that   every   Christian   is   called   to   love   and   serve   God,   and   to   exercise   his   or   her gifts   in   the   life   of   the   church.   While   there   is   a   distinction   in   role   and   function   between   laity   and   clergy   —   all members   of   the   church   are   ministers,   but   not   all   are   pastors   —   there   are   no   differences   or   degrees   among Christians. Two ordinances There   are   two   ordinances   of   the   church:   baptism   and   the   Lord’s   Supper   (also   called   Communion).   These   are practices ordered by Jesus. In   the   Gospel   of   Matthew,   Jesus   gives   the   Great   Commission,   saying,   “Therefore   go   and   make   disciples   of   all nations,   baptizing   them   in   the   name   of   the   Father   and   of   the   Son   and   of   the   Holy   Spirit”   (Matthew   28:19, NIV). And   we   are   to   commemorate   the   Lord’s   Supper,   as   the   apostle   Paul   outlines   in   1   Corinthians   11:23-26.   That was   the   last   meal   Jesus   had   with   his   disciples.   During   it,   Christ   declared   the   New   Covenant,   that   His   body   and blood   (symbolized   by   the   bread   and   the   cup)   would   become   a   sacrifice   for   our   wrongdoings,   so   that   through Christ we would be forgiven and gain eternal life. The   Communion   table   is   the   Lord’s,   not   ours.   Christ   is   the   host.   It   is   not   our   decision   who   will   or   will   not   be guests at the table. Communion is open to all believers present. Independence of the local church We   believe   in   the   autonomy   of   the   local   congregation.   Each   church   is   a   community   of   baptized   believers   in Christ.   Each   church   has   a   right   to   decide   its   own   business   and   ways   of   doing   things,   with   every   member having a share in planning its work. Because   Baptists   believe   that   Christ   himself   is   the   head   of   each   congregation,   we   insist   that   our   churches   be free   to   follow   the   leading   of   the   Holy   Spirit.   The   local   church   governs   its   own   affairs,   selects   its   own leadership,   and   chooses   its   own   mission   priorities.   This   notion   of   autonomy   leads   to   much   diversity   as   each church seeks the mind of Christ in matters of life and faith. Even   while   advocating   for   the   independence   of   the   local   church,   Baptists   encourage   individual   congregations to   work   in   cooperation   with   one   another.   Some   of   these   partnerships   have   been   formalized   through   local “associations”   and/or   “regions”   of   churches,   as   well   as   national   denominational   structures.   These   formal unions have allowed churches to work together in such areas as evangelism, missions, and education. Baptists   are   also   involved   in   the   movement   toward   cooperative   Christianity.   We   have   a   desire   to   work   with other   denominations   for   effective   witness   and   mission,   realizing   that   we   are   only   part   of   the   Good   Shepherd's flock.   Baptist   historian   Robert   T.   Handy   captures   our   ecumenical   nature:   “We   recognize   that   God   is   also   at work   among   others   who   seek   to   follow   the   way   of   Christ,   and   we   choose   in   freedom   to   love   them,   witness   to them, work with them, and learn from them.” Separation of Church and State Baptists   traditionally   have   stood   at   the   forefront   in   the   struggle   for   full   religious   liberty   and   separation   of church   and   state.   Religious   liberty   means   each   person   may   choose   and   practice   religion   freely   without physical,   economic,   or   political   influence   from   others.   Separation   of   church   and   state   means   neither   the church   nor   the   government   is   under   the   control   of   the   other;   their   functions   are   different   and   should   be administered separately. Commitment   to   these   tenets   finds   its   roots   in   the   early   seventeenth   century   when   a   small   group   of   English Baptists resisted legal restrictions imposed upon religious freedom by the king of England. The   first   Baptists   in   America,   led   by   Roger   Williams   and   later   by   John   Clarke,   made   freedom   of   religion   an essential   part   of   the   new   order   when   they   fled   England   and   established   the   Rhode   Island   colony.   In   1663, both   Williams   and   Clarke   secured   a   charter   for   their   new   colony   from   King   Charles   the   Second   of   England. This   charter,   in   the   words   of   historian   John   E.   Skoglund,   “stands   as   one   of   the   most   remarkable   documents ever granted… in regard to its provisions for civil and religious liberty.” The   quest   among   early   Baptists   to   secure   religious   freedom   underscores   what   Baptists   today   continue   to   see as   a   biblical   truth:   that   each   individual   is   solely   responsible   to   God,   not   to   the   state,   for   his   or   her   faith   and eternal   destiny.   We   call   this   “soul   liberty.”   For   Baptists,   soul   liberty   is   not   optional,   it   is   part   of   our   birthright. Baptists   are   not   Baptists   unless   they   are   free   to   think   for   themselves   and   interpret   Scripture   for   themselves, guided by the Holy Spirit. True believers only in the church Each   person   may   come   to   God   directly   through   Jesus   Christ.   And   each   person   has   the   right   to   worship   God   as led by the Holy Spirit. Baptists   believe   that   the   visible   churches   should   approximate   the   invisible   church   (the   whole   body   of believers)   by   maintaining   a   regenerate   membership.   This   means   members   are   those   who   have   made   a profession   of   faith   in   Jesus   Christ   as   Lord   and   Savior   (and   have   been   baptized).   The   declaration   of   faith   is what   a   person   does;   regeneration   is   what   God   does   (changing   or   transforming   the   person   once   he   or   she   has accepted Christ). Basic Baptist Beliefs (a summary) Believer’s baptism Authority of the Scriptures Priesthood of all believers Two Ordinances (Baptism & Lord's Supper) Independence of the local church Separation of church and state True believers only in the church

Our Beliefs

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The Historic Parsells Church P. O. Box 10670  Rochester, NY 14610

Baptist Distinctives

What Makes A Church “Baptist”? Believer’s Baptism The    most    obvious    way    Baptists    differ    from    other Christian denominations is our view of baptism. From   the   very   beginning,   dating   back   to   the   early seventeenth   century,   Baptists   have   maintained   that only   those   who   publicly   profess   their   faith   in   Jesus Christ   as   Lord   and   Savior   should   be   baptized.   We call   this   “believer's   baptism.”   Since   it   signifies   faith and   repentance,   the   ceremony   is   reserved   for   only those    who    are    old    enough    to    make    responsible decisions.   And   we   baptize   by   immersion,   as   Jesus was.    This    symbolizes    Christ's    death,    burial,    and resurrection. Authority of the Scriptures The   primary   concern   of   early   Baptists   was   to   be faithful    and    obedient    to    Christ.    They    laid    a    rich groundwork   for   understanding   the   importance   of   the Bible,     a     groundwork     upon     which     subsequent generations   of   Baptists   have   stood   firmly.   The   Old Testament   and   the   New   Testament   show   the   coming of    Jesus    as    Savior,    and    serve    as    our    guide    for Christian living. Priesthood of all believers Baptists   believe   that   the   gift   of   ministry   belongs   to both    laity    and    clergy    alike.    This    is    called    the “priesthood    of    all    believers,”    which    suggests    that every   Christian   is   called   to   love   and   serve   God,   and to   exercise   his   or   her   gifts   in   the   life   of   the   church. While    there    is    a    distinction    in    role    and    function between    laity    and    clergy    —    all    members    of    the church   are   ministers,   but   not   all   are   pastors   —   there are no differences or degrees among Christians. Two ordinances There   are   two   ordinances   of   the   church:   baptism and    the    Lord’s    Supper    (also    called    Communion). These are practices ordered by Jesus. In   the   Gospel   of   Matthew,   Jesus   gives   the   Great Commission,     saying,     “Therefore     go     and     make disciples   of   all   nations,   baptizing   them   in   the   name of   the   Father   and   of   the   Son   and   of   the   Holy   Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, NIV). And   we   are   to   commemorate   the   Lord’s   Supper,   as the   apostle   Paul   outlines   in   1   Corinthians   11:23-26. That   was   the   last   meal   Jesus   had   with   his   disciples. During   it,   Christ   declared   the   New   Covenant,   that His   body   and   blood   (symbolized   by   the   bread   and the     cup)     would     become     a     sacrifice     for     our wrongdoings,   so   that   through   Christ   we   would   be forgiven and gain eternal life. The   Communion   table   is   the   Lord’s,   not   ours.   Christ is   the   host.   It   is   not   our   decision   who   will   or   will   not be   guests   at   the   table.   Communion   is   open   to   all believers present. Independence of the local church We     believe     in     the     autonomy     of     the     local congregation.    Each    church    is    a    community    of baptized   believers   in   Christ.   Each   church   has   a   right to   decide   its   own   business   and   ways   of   doing   things, with   every   member   having   a   share   in   planning   its work. Because   Baptists   believe   that   Christ   himself   is   the head    of    each    congregation,    we    insist    that    our churches   be   free   to   follow   the   leading   of   the   Holy Spirit.    The    local    church    governs    its    own    affairs, selects    its    own    leadership,    and    chooses    its    own mission   priorities.   This   notion   of   autonomy   leads   to much   diversity   as   each   church   seeks   the   mind   of Christ in matters of life and faith. Even   while   advocating   for   the   independence   of   the local      church,      Baptists      encourage      individual congregations    to    work    in    cooperation    with    one another.    Some    of    these    partnerships    have    been formalized     through     local     “associations”     and/or “regions”     of     churches,     as     well     as     national denominational    structures.    These    formal    unions have    allowed    churches    to    work    together    in    such areas as evangelism, missions, and education. Baptists   are   also   involved   in   the   movement   toward cooperative   Christianity.   We   have   a   desire   to   work with   other   denominations   for   effective   witness   and mission,   realizing   that   we   are   only   part   of   the   Good Shepherd's   flock.   Baptist   historian   Robert   T.   Handy captures   our   ecumenical   nature:   “We   recognize   that God   is   also   at   work   among   others   who   seek   to   follow the   way   of   Christ,   and   we   choose   in   freedom   to   love them,   witness   to   them,   work   with   them,   and   learn from them.” Separation of Church and State Baptists   traditionally   have   stood   at   the   forefront   in the   struggle   for   full   religious   liberty   and   separation of   church   and   state.   Religious   liberty   means   each person    may    choose    and    practice    religion    freely without    physical,    economic,    or    political    influence from   others.   Separation   of   church   and   state   means neither   the   church   nor   the   government   is   under   the control   of   the   other;   their   functions   are   different   and should be administered separately. Commitment   to   these   tenets   finds   its   roots   in   the early   seventeenth   century   when   a   small   group   of English   Baptists   resisted   legal   restrictions   imposed upon religious freedom by the king of England. The   first   Baptists   in   America,   led   by   Roger   Williams and   later   by   John   Clarke,   made   freedom   of   religion an   essential   part   of   the   new   order   when   they   fled England   and   established   the   Rhode   Island   colony.   In 1663,   both   Williams   and   Clarke   secured   a   charter   for their   new   colony   from   King   Charles   the   Second   of England.   This   charter,   in   the   words   of   historian   John E.   Skoglund,   “stands   as   one   of   the   most   remarkable documents   ever   granted…   in   regard   to   its   provisions for civil and religious liberty.” The   quest   among   early   Baptists   to   secure   religious freedom   underscores   what   Baptists   today   continue to   see   as   a   biblical   truth:   that   each   individual   is solely   responsible   to   God,   not   to   the   state,   for   his   or her    faith    and    eternal    destiny.    We    call    this    “soul liberty.”   For   Baptists,   soul   liberty   is   not   optional,   it   is part    of    our    birthright.    Baptists    are    not    Baptists unless   they   are   free   to   think   for   themselves   and interpret   Scripture   for   themselves,   guided   by   the Holy Spirit. True believers only in the church Each    person    may    come    to    God    directly    through Jesus    Christ.    And    each    person    has    the    right    to worship God as led by the Holy Spirit. Baptists    believe    that    the    visible    churches    should approximate   the   invisible   church   (the   whole   body   of believers)   by   maintaining   a   regenerate   membership. This   means   members   are   those   who   have   made   a profession   of   faith   in   Jesus   Christ   as   Lord   and   Savior (and   have   been   baptized).   The   declaration   of   faith   is what   a   person   does;   regeneration   is   what   God   does (changing   or   transforming   the   person   once   he   or   she has accepted Christ). Basic Baptist Beliefs (a summary) Believer’s baptism Authority of the Scriptures Priesthood of all believers Two Ordinances (Baptism & Lord's Supper) Independence of the local church Separation of church and state True believers only in the church

Our Beliefs