I am not Baptistic


My wife Linda and I spent several hours one day with the leader of a ministry that I thought our church should support. I knew our conversation had been somewhat tense at times, but I did not realize just how poorly the interview had gone until Linda and I could talk in the car. What a dance!” Linda said. “You two tiptoed all over the place trying not to offend each other.” What was wrong? As Linda and I rehashed the conversation, a term used by the ministry leader came to surface. Over and over again, he had described organizations and people as “Baptistic.”

A few months later our church received notice that a missionary we supported was changing mission agencies. The reason given was that he had changed his eschatology and was no longer in agreement with that agency. In my correspondence with the missionary, I challenged him concerning the new board he had joined. It was not Baptist! He wrote back that he considered himself a Biblicist. He accused me of not being loyal to the Bible! “Biblicist,” “Baptistic”…why do these terms, used in a manner that these sincere, intelligent men were using them, make me uncomfortable? Is there something missing in these terms, or have I merely isolated myself from those who use these terms and am therefore uncomfortable? Is it important that I consider myself a Baptist? Should we change the name of our church? Should we support individuals and agencies not willing to publicly identify with our name?

What is a name? A man once challenged me that we should change the name of our church to something less offensive. When I asked what name we should use, he made a suggestion. “Oh,” I said, “does that mean we are going to be charismatic?” So he suggested another name. “Then,” I said, “that means we will no longer require baptism for membership?” He suggested a third name. I replied, “That means baptism is required for salvation.” The point is: names have meaning. Names are important. Eleven times in Revelation 2 & 3 the word “name” is used. Jesus commended those who would not deny His name. Others were promised a new name. In the book of Acts we find the early Christian identified as those who followed “the way.” The Antiochian church members were first called by the name “Christian.” Throughout church history true Christians have often been named by their foes for their beliefs.

What does the word “Baptist” on our church sign convey? I believe there are many things we identify with in our use of this good name. To say we are Baptist is to identify ourselves with a body of doctrine: we do not sprinkle babies, nor do we baptize those who cannot give evidence of the new birth; those who will not walk obediently with the Lord cannot be members of our church. The name Baptist tells Christendom that we do not speak in tongues, that we believe the sign gifts have ceased. It says to the knowledgeable that we hold a finished, God-given Bible. The term “Baptist” refers to congregational authority and rule: we do not have a ruling board and we are not obligated to a synod or presbytery. It tells me that our church is independent of every other body. Loyalty is extended only to God’s Word and the local church. Soul liberty and, therefore, freedom to seek to know God for myself is a Baptist idea. If I see the name Baptist, I know the pulpit will be in the center of the platform. Most of the time, there will be instruments used with the congregational singing. Salvationwill be taught to be solely of grace. There will be two ordinances.

Another identification the name Baptist brings is heritage. Many have stood against much opposition to hand to me the faith I hold. I do not want to divorce myself from the good men who have lived and died for the convictions and freedoms I enjoy.

Another truth implied is separation. Baptists are separatists, not Protestants. Baptists are not protesting Rome. Separation cries into every part of our church and private life. Separation makes Baptists different from many other evangelical groups.

Now, there are negatives associated with the name Baptist. Baptists have a history of fighting.Baptist can elevate men into heroes.There are Baptists today who have created doctrines based upon tradition or in response to the disobedience of other believers. Jesus has harsh words for those who teach for doctrines the commandments of men, reject the commandment of God so that they may keep their tradition, and make the Word of God of none effect through tradition. I do not believe these negatives outweigh the positives. I reject the charge that my loyalty is to a name and not the Word of God. For reasons of pragmatism and prejudice, some believe the name Baptist is a liability.

I appreciate the difference the name gives our church. I accept my negative stigmas in trade for real distinctions. Though I respect and read many good brothers not claiming to be Baptist, I will remain a Baptist; therefore, our church will not support agencies or individuals not willing to share our name. I am not merely like Baptist; I am a Baptist.

– By Dan Leeds –
Taken from “Ministry Memos,” Summer 1997

One Response to I am not Baptistic

  1. larry martin says:

    Iam not Baptistic was sent to me and I have the same convictions on the subject as the author. I am a Baptist and I thank the Lord through the Holy Spirit for teaching me this Bible Truth.

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