THE HISTORIC PARSELLS CHURCH  345 Parsells Avenue  Rochester, NY 14609-5207 

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
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Our Beliefs

National Baptist Articles of Faith National Baptist Articles of Faith
THE HISTORIC PARSELLS CHURCH 345 Parsells Avenue Rochester, NY 14609-5207
The Historic Parsells Church  A Dynamic Christ Community

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
Statement of Faith Statement of Faith Baptist Distinctives Baptist Distinctives American Baptist Identity Statement American Baptist Identity Statement

Our Beliefs

National Baptist Articles of Faith National Baptist Articles of Faith