Why I am a Baptist
I am a Baptist because my forefathers, spiritually speaking, were branded with that name. Baptists were the first non-denominationalists because they would not join the new denomination called Catholicism. They has never been such a thing as an independent, Baptist denomination. Anyone who thinks there is has been trained improperly. Baptists stood for doctrinal and practical purity. Baptists are radically non-conformist. They cling to the Bible as their sole authority. I am a Baptist because I hold the same position as our Baptist forefathers. We call those Baptist distinctives.
The acrostic that many Baptists were taught but obviously some do not understand is as follows…
Autonomy of the local church
Priesthood of the believers
Individual soul liberty
Saved church membership
Separation of church and state
I had a friend who pastored a Bible church here in town for a several years. When I discussed with him the Baptists distinctives he said, “I believe all those things,”
Then I said, “You are a Baptist whether you know it or not.”
He looked at me and said with a smile on his face, “Well, you are a Christian whether you know it or not.”
My point is this if you believe in the fundamentals of the faith, if you are an independent and you don’t want to be attached to denominational ties, and if you believe in Baptist distinctives then you are by definition a fundamental Baptist. The question may be, “well, what if I don’t wear a tie?” “What if I use screens in my auditorium?” “What if I have different music than you?” “What if my services are different?” These have nothing to do with being an independent, fundamental Baptist. I know that there are some who would make issues but biblically and historically this is what an independent, fundamental Baptist is.
Now let me discuss two more issues.
Why I am a separatist
2 Corinthians 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,”
I am not only an independent, fundamental Baptist but I also believe in separation. There are those in the independent, fundamental Baptist circles who do not. That does not change who they are. That changes who they will fellowship with. As an independent Baptist I choose to separate from certain people, that makes me a separatist.
Here is who I separate from: I separate from those who do not believe the fundamentals of the faith.
I separate from those who are not doctrinally pure.
Romans 16:17, says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
If someone is doctrinally incorrect I separate from them. Those that deny the fundamentals of the faith I will not fellowship with because it is contrary to scripture.
I will separate from those who are not morally pure.
1 Corinthians 5:11, says, “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”
God tells us to separate from those who do not live morally pure.
I separate from those who do not practice holiness.
Ephesians 5:11-12, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”
Psalm 101:3, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.”
Someone may talk a good talk but if they are not walking a good walk I am not going to have fellowship with them. There are preachers that I have known in the past who claim to be doctrinally and morally pure but would tell off colored jokes or would participate in things that I felt was dishonoring to God. I would separate from them.
Recently, I had a conversation with a Christian brother from another independent Baptist church. He told me that our participation with him would be limited because he felt that our standards differed and that it would cause confusion for his people. I told him I understand completely. I wanted him to know that I loved him and would be his friend. I believe we need to separate from those who we in good conscience cannot endorse because the Bible teaches us to do so. I will not get upset with somebody else if they feel they cannot fellowship with me for some reason. That is why I am a separatist.
Why I am a conservative
Romans 12:2, “…be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
People often ask why I wear a suit and tie when I preach, why I don’t wear facial hair and why we use the music we use. The reason we do these things is because I am a conservative and Liberty Baptist Church is a conservative church.
I wear a suit and tie, in our culture, because I believe it still represents authority and dignity. The other day I was watching a interview between Sean Hannity, a conservative news commentator and a leading evangelical pastor. I thought it was interesting that Sean was wearing a suit and a tie while the evangelical pastor wore an open collared shirt and a casual sports coat. One represented FOX News and the other represented All Mighty God. It is my personal opinion that the one representing FOX News looked more authoritative.
Some people ask why I don’t wear facial hair. The answer is because I simply can’t grow a beard. When I was younger, I grew a mustache and a lady in our church was highly offended and said I looked like someone from the mafia. The primary reason I don’t wear facial hair is because I want to project stability and a conservative image.
I tell young pastors if you are going to wear a beard, then wear it and wear it from now on. If you are going to wear a goatee, then wear it from now on. The man of God should project stability. Changes in hair styles, changes in facial hair, I personally believe may project an image of instability. For that reason, for thirty-five years, I have kept my hair the same and I have not grown facial hair. I have had people come back to my church after twenty years and say, “Pastor, you haven’t changed a bit.” I know they are speaking about my preaching but they are also talking about the way I dress and they way I conduct myself. Our deportment is very important as spiritual leaders of the church.
I use conservative music because I believe it honors God. I personally can’t picture Jesus in a rock band with a steel guitar. We are to represent Christ on the platform. I am not one who grew up hating rock music. In fact, my flesh loves rock music. I grew up listening to it. I just believe in church we should promote music that stirs joy in the hearts of believers and at the same time reflects His holiness as we praise Him.
I am an independent, fundamental Baptist. I am a conservative and I separate from those who are doctrinally, morally, and practically impure. That does not mean I need to be mean, unkind, or caustic towards others. It is important that we know what we believe and that we graciously stand for what is right. Dr. Jerry Falwell used to say that, “We need to learn to disagree agreeably.” I agree.
One thing I am not is a fighting fundamentalist. I believe we are here to win people to Jesus Christ, not to fight other people who are trying to do the same thing. If you believe in the fundamentals of the faith and you are trusting Him for salvation, I’m for you. Go out and win someone to Jesus.