WHY ARE WE AN INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCH?
Independent Baptist Churches began within the General Baptist Church denomination in the late 19th and 20th century.
This was a result of many Baptist Union Churches at the time moving away from Biblical inerrancy, preaching the Word of God and conservative beliefs toward modern philosophical and humanistic views.
Because of these things, many local Baptist Churches withdrew from the denominational affiliation and took on the “Independent” label. This came from a desire to be true to the Lord and His word and avoid the infiltration of world into the church. In other words, it came from a desire to stay true to God and the Bible.
From these days, the Baptist Union in general has continued to compromise with the world and reject the Word of God. The situation has become so progressed in Australia, that one can expect to find all manner of heresies and corruptions if they step into a modern Baptist Church today. They have not only rejected the Bible and the gospel in many cases but have also adopted charismatic, liberal, humanistic and other teachings which ought not to be taught in the church.
Independent Baptist Churches will often adopt the name “Fundamentalist” as well, which also says that we hold to the fundamentals of the Bible such as the creation of the world in six days, the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, His bodily resurrection and His literal return to the earth before a literal 1000-year reign as well as other basic elements which have been taught in the Word of God and accepted by Jesus Himself and His apostles.
Independent Baptist Churches as also commonly “KJV ONLY” because we have seen a move away in modern Bible versions from the 95% of manuscripts available to us (commonly called the ‘Majority text’ or the ‘Received text’) to the ‘critical text’ based upon a much smaller group of manuscripts which we believe are corrupt, have been hidden in dubious circumstances and do not agree with each other. The King James Bible also represents the culmination of the work of godly and amazingly gifted men whose sole desire was to have the English people possess a trustworthy translation of God’s Word. Many gave their lives for their efforts. The same cannot be said to be true today, with many translations having translators who do not even believe.
While the name “Independent Baptist” may have only originated in the late 19th century, many groups throughout history maintained Baptist principles and were therefore “Baptist” in practice. Some of these groups in history which held genuine Baptist tradition include Messalians, Montanists, Novationists, Donatists, Paulicians, Waldenses, Albigenses, Lyonists, Arnoldites, Mennonites and Anabaptists.
In the seventeenth century, the name “Baptist” finally emerged. This was not necessarily as a decision of any one person but because it was mainly used as a derogatory name (commencing with the name Anabaptist) by those antagonistic toward this group of Bible believers. This was because they could not accept the infant Baptism performed by most churches of that day as it was not found anywhere in the Bible. They therefore re-baptised converts which offended other denominations. The name ‘re-baptisers’ stuck as the name as it was the most prominent feature of difference.
True Independent Baptists believe in separation from the world and any church not associated with the God’s Word or correct doctrine. Ephesians 5:11 says “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them”
Independent Baptists interpret Scripture literally, based on the historical-grammatical context. If the literal interpretation “makes good sense,” then that is the understanding they take from Scripture. We do not seek to ‘allegorise’ scripture as many modern churches do, which leads to all types of error and confusion and is left up to the interpreter to choose whatever meaning they feel is right for them.
Independent Baptist Churches are generally conservative in their dress, sing traditional hymns and reject the use of rock and modern music in their church services. They meet on Sundays and believe in two offices in the church: pastors and deacons. They also only have two ordinances given by the Lord: baptism and the lord’s supper (Communion). Many of the traditions and customs found in churches have only been added at much later dates and cannot be found in the Bible at all. In fact many of them flatly contradict the Lord’s clear teachings and distract from the message of the gospel.
Independent Baptist Churches believe the following “Independent Baptist Distinctives”:
1. The Bible is the Final Authority in all Matters of Faith and Practice.
This means that Independent Baptist churches do not look to personalities such as early church fathers, creeds, confessions, or church councils to determine their doctrinal positions. They articulate their doctrine only from the Scripture and operate their churches according to what is presented in Scripture and not based on tradition or denominational preference. 2Ti 3:16 says “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”
2. The Church is made up only of Saved, Baptized Believers.
This means that membership in the local church requires first putting personal trust in Jesus, which produces regeneration, and baptism by immersion. Independent Baptist churches reject infant baptism and sprinkling as these are contrary to what is taught in the Bible. Baptism is only appropriate after someone comes to faith in Jesus. Acts 2:41-42 says “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
3. Separation of Church and State.
“Independent” is part of their name for a reason. Independent Baptist churches believe that no one has authority over the church, except Jesus Christ. Independent Baptist churches do not believe that government should be mixed within the church or the other way around. Baptists throughout the ages have mostly been persecuted for their faith in the Bible because certain denominations throughout history have sought alliances with governments and kings and have as a result caused immense suffering and persecution toward believers. For this reason, Independent Baptist churches also believe strongly in freedom of religion and speech.
4. The Priesthood of Believers
Independent Baptist churches believe that each believer has the ability to interact with God on his or her own. No one is required to use a priest, as in the Old Testament, to connect with God. You will not find priests in Independent Baptist churches, only pastors whose job it is to help encourage peoples’ relationship with the Lord. Every believer can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence. As Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
5. The Autonomy of the Local Church.
This doctrine supports the idea that the local church of baptized believers is the highest authority on earth. The local church is not subject to civil authorities or denominational conventions. Each local church is self-governing. They do not have Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, Synods, conventions or any other superstructure which governs what the local church practices. Independent Baptists follow the church government model of congregationalism. Congregationalism rejects using boards and associations for governing the affairs of the church. This model is based on the belief that all believers are priests and capable of making decisions that will direct the local church.