There is so much diversity among Baptist churches that just the word “Baptist” can evoke an image quite contrary to what we believe and what we are like. If you were to drive through the South, you might be surprised to see two or three Baptist churches fairly close together, because they are different.
What is a Baptist?
There are a number of beliefs and practices that are common to all Baptists:
- Baptism – of believers only, and by the mode of immersion. Thus, infant baptism is not practiced.
- Congregational Government – each church is its own entity, independent of bishops, synods, presbyteries, etc. Though the local church is stressed, Baptists do often work in association with other Baptist churches. Members of Baptist churches have a voice in its affairs.
- Separation of Church and State - Baptists would be opposed to becoming a national church, as worshiping due to freedom of conscience played such a part in its early history.
What About Reformed?
There is so much that could be said about this term with reference to Baptists. Suffice it to say that a great number of the early Baptists of America had New England puritan roots and therefore was Calvinistic in its inception. Such was also the case in England. Those closest in belief to Baptists were the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians. The Congregationalists and the Baptists were so alike in their belief, that they used the Presbyterian confession of faith verbatim, except in the two areas of disagreement. These two areas were baptism and church government.
Subjects of Baptism Church Government
|Presbyterian||Believers & children||Presbytery|
|Congregational||Believers & children||Congregational|
The dates of their confessions were as follows:
|Presbyterian||Westminster Confession of Faith||1646|
|Baptist||Second London Baptist Confession||1689|
The Bible Baptist Church of Galway (originally known as the Second Baptist Church of Galway) was formed by those who came out of New England in 1789. Due to the Great Awakening, many of these Separate Baptists were previously members of Congregational churches.
Being in the Northeast, we have retained a “New England “decorum in our worship, but more importantly, being Reformed Baptist, we have kept the robust and life-giving doctrines of Calvinism.