Our Baptist Identity
Trinity Baptist Church is proud to affirm the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message and value the four fragile freedoms as defined by historian Walter Shurden. In this tradition, we approach our context of ministry with confidence that the Holy Spirit empowers each local church to further the Kingdom of God and share the Gospel of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
We believe in these four fragile freedoms…
Baptists believe that the Bible is the record of God’s revelation to all humankind. Each person is free to read and interpret the Bible under the lordship of Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The ultimate authority is Jesus, who is the very Word of God according to John 1:1-4. Baptists are not beholden to any creeds or mediators outside of scripture.
Baptists were named long ago because of the emphasis on “believer’s baptism”, which affirms that people may only come to Christ on their own volition, not by force or coercion. Historically, believer’s baptism is by immersion. Families and church may dedicate infants or toddlers unto the Lord as a promise to raise the child in the way of the Lord. Dedication is not to be confused with baptism or a decision of faith.
Each Baptist church is an autonomous Body of Believers with its own polity, rules for membership, and leadership. This comes from the congregational model of authority, in which the congregation (often guided by a church covenant or constitution)–not leadership, hierarchy, bishops or popes–determines the values, identity, mission, and ministry of the local church. Additionally, each church establishes the scope and nature of its partnerships in the local and global communities and is not beholden to any outside authority, including Baptist conventions, networks, or denominational bureaucracies. Churches may affirm both men and women to the offices of deacon or pastor.
Baptists believe that people have an inalienable right to the freedom of religion, freedom for religion, and freedom from religion. Since Baptists are neither a creedal people nor coercive in evangelism, there is a conviction that the state or government does not have the right to force religion on others. In fact, the earliest Baptists championed the separation of church and state in the American colonies and, later, the United States. In the words of Walter Shurden, Baptists affirm that “religious liberty is for all, not for a selected few nor even for an overwhelming majority.”
Source: Walter Shurden, The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms Macon (GA): Smyth & Helwys, 1993.