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Baptist Denominations & Doctrines Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) represents a broad array of concerns of the membership of the Convention. Where the Convention has established formal policy or position on the subject, that response is provided.  However, there are many questions posed by the membership for which the Convention has no formal policy or position, and in those cases informal guidance is provided.  Informal guidance is not to be interpreted as formal Convention policy or position, but is offered in the form of general guidance or resources to enable the local congregation to develop their own policies and procedures.
Gender & Sexual Orientation: Does the NBC have a position on homosexual practices and the ordination of homosexual clergy?
The National Baptist Convention USA Inc. does not have an "official" position on any issues with regards to homosexuality. Historically, we as a Convention have not sought to endorse particular positions on behalf of local Baptist Churches. This is in keeping with the nature of a Baptist polity which does not permit us to make authoritative, pontifical, doctrinal statements or creeds on behalf of our constituency. We believe in the local freedom of each member of our Convention to decide for itself on such issues as homosexuality. However, if you were to take a poll of traditional, missionary Black Baptist Churches, it is very safe to say that you will find a majority of them: • Against homosexuality/lesbianism as a legitimate expression of God's will. • Against ordaining practicing homosexuals/lesbians for any type of ministry in the Body of Christ. • Against, but permits persons guilty of illicit acts of a heterosexual nature, for example, adultery and fornication, to continue in the practice of ministry in the Body of Christ (with the proper accountability measures, i.e., censure, repentance, counseling, etc. in place).
Gender & Sexual Orientation: Does the Convention have a policy on Same-Sex Marriage?
The National Baptist Convention, USA, Incorporated does not dictate to its constituent churches what position to take on issues because we believe in the autonomy of the local church. However, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. affirms that marriage is a sacred biblical covenant between a man and a woman. Taken from Position statement on Same Sex Marriage found at this link:
Baptist Doctrine: Which Church Covenant does the National Baptist Convention recommend?
The Convention doesn’t have any specific policy or information on the Church Covenant. However, we have this response from a member of the Board: “The National Baptist Convention USA Inc does not adopt church covenants. Then New Hampshire Covenant is the one most Baptist Churches use.” Many churches have taken the liberty of revising/updating the church covenant to add more contemporary language and references. The New Hiscox Guide for Baptist Churches (Goodwin) has a section on the Church covenant that you may find helpful. For information about how to secure a copy of this book: Here’s a good resource (with many more links) on Wikipedia that goes into detailed discussions of the origin of the church covenant and the different versions: You may also want to Google “New Hampshire Covenant” and/or search for information at the Southern Baptist Convention and the American Baptist Churches websites.
Baptist Denomination: What is the difference between a Missionary Baptist Church and a Baptist Church?
Most Baptist Churches are by nature Missionary Baptist Churches. This means that they believe in the mission work of the Church as it relates to spreading the Gospel both at home and abroad. However, there are some of the Baptist persuasion that are not "missionary," most notable among them is the Primitive Baptist Church. Historically and culturally speaking, the African American Baptist Church grew in response to the withdrawal of most white Baptist Churches (Southern Baptist Convention) from doing mission work on the continent of Africa following the Civil War. Hence, our churches were distinguished from theirs, not by terms such as "colored" or "African", as was the case with the Methodist Church, but were designated as "missionary."
Denomination: What makes a Baptist a Baptist? What makes the Black Baptists different from the Southern Baptists?
ANSWER PART 1: We are Baptist because: 1. We believe in total immersion in water based on personal confession of faith in Jesus Christ as the only source of salvation on the part of a believer. 2. We believe the most doctrinally correct church organizational, decision-making structure is one that is Congregationally-based. This means, ultimately, church decisions reside with the active membership on the basis of democratically voting procedures. The general example used to highlight this reality has to do with employing a pastor. Each local church interviews and makes an offer to a preacher to become its pastor. In many non-baptist denominations, i.e. Methodists, Episcopalians, Catholics, etc., a Bishop appoints pastors to churches. 3. We believe a Christian's conscience is ultimately accountable to Christ alone and therefore no decisions made by others can be forced upon him or her. For example, when it comes to tithing, a person cannot be denied membership in a Baptist church because he/she doesn't believe in tithing. 4. We believe in the separation between Church and State. This simply means that the our church will never be controlled and, or financed by city, state or federal government. 5. We believe that each Baptist church is structurally and doctrinally independent from other Baptist Churches. We are separate and unequal. No Baptist church can be told by another Baptist church what to believe, how to think, or how to organize itself. Each is autonomous. ANSWER PART 2: Black Baptists differ from Southern Baptists: Black Baptist differ from Southern Baptist most of all in our theological understanding of church/community relationship. We believe the church should promote justice and peacemaking legislation and policies that deal with the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, social, political and economic needs of not only individuals and families, but just as important, one's race. Since Blacks in America have always dealt with "racism" our understanding of the church's mission is deeply determined by our sociological status in America and the world at any given time.
Baptist Doctrines: Are there 18 or 24 Baptist Articles of Faith?
Here is a brief theological, historical and doctrinal explanation of why some sources cite 18 and others cite 24 Baptist Articles of Faith: Firstly, we recognize the 18 Articles of Faith as listed on the National Baptist Convention website (Although The Busy Pastor's Guide is sold by the Sunday School Publishing Board, this does not mean that the Convention subscribes to every point of view of every author). The National Baptist Convention's history is connected to the history of all Baptist Churches in America. To make a long story (or lesson) short, the development of our denomination ought to be looked at in relation to our response to slavery and both the Southern and Northern Baptist Conventions. The Baptist Church in America adopted two statements of Faith: The Philadelphia Confession of 1742; and the New Hampshire Declaration. The Philadelphia Confession was highly Calvinistic and contained 24 Articles. The New Hampshire Declaration was revised in 1853 combining some articles and adding articles viii and x. It is the "declaration" upon which the National Baptist Convention was organized, and contains 18 Articles.
Baptist Doctrines: By what means can a church excommunicate a member?
Technically, Baptists do not excommunicate. We do, however, have the right (or responsibility) to dismiss members. Baptist doctrine provides two ways of dismissal. First is by Letter. This is when a member transfers their membership and asks for a letter. The second is by "Expulsion" or "Exclusion." This may be done when any member refuses to adhere to the Bible, Baptist Doctrine or the Rules and Regulations of that particular Church. In all cases, the disciplinary prescription laid out in Matthew chapter 18 must be followed.
Baptist Ordinances: Can people who are not ordained ministers conduct the ordinance of baptism?
“Only Ordained Deacons or Licensed Ministers under the authority of an Ordained Pastor/Minister may conduct the ordinance of Baptism. "If the Ordained Pastor/Minister is present and leading the baptismal service (actually says the words), the physical immersion may be done by anyone. In fact, Jesus Himself, never baptized anyone. He let His disciples do it for Him."