When the average person thinks about a baptist, they may think about a man who is well-dressed, slightly overweight, loves potlucks, and preaches hell and brimstone from the pulpit. No two things, for a baptist, go better together than some fried chicken and some fiery preachin’ (maybe even in that order). But there are baptists out there who are far from this stereotype. In fact, there are many things you, the reader, may not even know about baptists. Here are ten things you may have never heard:
1. Baptists are all over the place
You may not know this, but your doctor, your mechanic, your nanny, your accountant, or your attorney may be a baptist. Yes, baptists are normal people, with normal jobs. Some of these baptists are even really sharp. Some don’t even have a southern accent! From California to New York, baptists can be found almost anywhere in the United States.
2. There are Baptists Who Say They’re Not Baptists!
What makes a person “baptistic”? Assuming already the fundamentals of believing Scripture and loving the local church, baptists are baptists because they only baptize people upon a credible profession of faith. There are many churches who call themselves “non-denominational,” but most of those churches have a baptistic theology because they only baptize upon a credible profession of faith.
3. Baptists are Not the Product of a 16th Century Innovation
Some say baptists come from the Anabaptist movement during the time of the Reformation and after. However, the belief that a person shouldn’t be baptized until they have made a credible profession of faith stretches far back in history. Assuming the typical biblical arguments used by baptists (which I think are good ones), one could also look at the 4th century Christians. Constantine, according to Eusebius, refused his baptism until his death bed because he felt his sin prevented him from making a credible decision to be baptized. While this is not baptist theology we would recognize today, the principle of repentance preceding baptism is there.
4. Baptists Are Often Well Educated
“I am a Christian because if the Bible says it, I believe it! That settles it!”
Fundamentalism, following from the Enlightenment, has plagued baptist circles for centuries, discouraging intellectual discussions about divine truths. “Give me my Bible. That’s all I need!” has been the common, albeit often implicit, mantra for the American baptist. However, many school-trained (and non-school-trained) baptists were (or are) sharp-minded and articulate individuals who reasoned (or reason) precisely from the Scriptures and from what God has revealed in creation. A few of them would be Charles Spurgeon, A. W. Pink, B. H. Carroll, James Dolezal, James Renihan, and Samuel Waldron.
5. Baptists Can be “Reformed”
Yeah, sure, Presbyterians would say we’re not really Reformed. But, there are baptists who hold to a confession which closely mirrors the Westminster Confession of Faith. That is, the 2nd London Baptist Confession, 1689. Reformed baptists are strong Bible-believing Calvinists, who (among other things) have a love for the church and the ordinances instituted by Christ—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These baptists also have a Covenant Theology. This covenant theology is not to be confused with Progressive Covenantalism or New Covenant Theology or even Presbyterian Covenant Theology, but is distinct from all of those. For more on this, check out Pascal Denault’s Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology.