ABOUT US : What We Believe : American Baptists Believe...

The 1.5-million members and 5,800 congregations of American Baptist Churches USA share a common tradition begun in the early 17th century. That tradition has emphasized the Lordship and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, believersí baptism, the competency of all believers to be in direct relationship with God and to interpret Scripture, the importance of the local church, the assurance of freedom in worship and opinion, and the need to be Christís witnesses within society. Click the text in the box "American Baptists Believe..." to jump ahead at any time.

1. American Baptists believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. American Baptists celebrate the fact that belief in Jesus Christ assures salvation and eternal fellowship with a loving God. The events of the first Easter week are the cornerstones of our faith: the death of Christ, in which He took upon Himself the sin of the world, and the Resurrection, which gave proof of His triumph over sin and death.

2. The Bible is the divinely inspired word of God. Holy Scripture always has been, for American Baptists, the authoritative and trustworthy guide for knowing and serving the God who is revealed as Creator, Savior and Advocate. As a written text inspired by communion with the Holy Spirit, it serves as the final written authority for living a life in the Christian faith.

3. The Believersí Baptism signifies a new life in Christ. Baptism, an act of full immersion following Christís example, is undertaken by those spiritually mature enough to understand its profound, symbolic significance: resurrection to new life in Christ. Baptism is Godís gift to the Church to allow the faithful a means of expressing their faith and gratitude for Godís redemptive work. This voluntary act of faith is a visible witness to other believers and a symbol of being "in Christ."

4. We remember Jesus' love for us with the Lord's Supper. Through the Lordís Supper, or Holy Communion, the bread and cup that symbolize Christ's broken body and shed blood recall Godís great love for usójust as they did for the disciples on the eve of Christís crucifixion. And so we say, "This we do in remembrance of You." Any who believe that Christ Jesus is their Lord and Savior are welcome to share in this sacred act.

5. Believers are one in Christ Jesus, with each church being autonomous.
For American Baptists the local church is the fundamental unit of mission in denominational life. Baptist roots date back four centuries to a people seeking the opportunity to worship God as individual members of freely organized and freely functioning local churches. Baptists always have maintained the need for autonomous congregations, responsible for articulating their own doctrine, style of worship and mission.

6. Everyone is a member of the priesthood of believers.
American Baptists believe that the committed individual Christian can and should approach God directly, and that individual gifts of ministry should be shared. Each believer is a part of the "priesthood" and God is equally accessible to all. American Baptists hold that all who truly seek God are called to develop in that relationship. We have rejected creeds or other statements that might compromise each believerís obligation to privately interpret Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and within the community of faith.

7. We take seriously the call to evangelism and missionary work. American Baptist worldwide mission work is a response to Christís call to ďmake disciples of all nations.Ē Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we work together in mutual submission, humility, love, and giving that the gospel might be preached and lived in all the world. The efforts of our missionaries in partnership with others, ministries of evangelism, healing, education and development have made Christís love known in the U.S. and around the world. Through the cross of Christ we embrace the world as neighbor.

8. We support religious freedom and respect the expressions of faith of others. As a people whose forbears came together in response to intolerance, American Baptists have cherished freedom and pursued it for millions around the world. Manifestations of that ideal include supporting the separation of church and state, advocating for people everywhere to be guaranteed the right to worship free from discrimination, and lifting up respectful dialog as a healthy means to understanding.

9. ABC-USA celebrates the diversity witnessed within its membership. American Baptist Churches USA today is the most racially inclusive Protestant body. Represented in our churches are equally diverse worship styles, cultural mores and approaches to Scriptural interpretation. The resulting challenges and opportunities have made us stronger ó through fellowship, respect, mutual support and dialog, all based on a belief that unity in Christ involves growth and understanding.

10. American Baptists are called to be Christís witnesses for justice and wholeness within a broken society. American Baptists are led by the Gospel mandates to promote holistic change and equal rights to all within society, as witnessed by their advocacy of freed African Americans following the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, women in church and societal leadership, ecological responsibility, and many other issues. American Baptists affirm the need to follow Christís example by being actively involved in our changing society.

American Baptists heed the biblical call to renewal and the need for a vital
witness in a new millennium. Informed by their history and tradition, motivated by contemporary needs and challenges, and strengthened by Godís leading and the example and sacrifice of their Savior, American Baptists seek to bring a transforming witness to an uncharted future.

(Adapted from the ABC-USA brochure, "10 Facts You Should Know About American Baptists")


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