Ask Your Preacher
Any advice on dating a Baptist preacher? He’s a widower, and I’m a divorcee.
Though all things are possible through Christ, someone who has dedicated their life to a religious denomination that follows tradition over truth would have a difficult road to conversion, and it is well worth talking about the differences upfront. We recommend you read our post, “Baptist Bewilderment”, and have a discussion with him about the various Baptist teachings that don’t match Scripture before you press forward with your relationship. You never know; maybe, just maybe, he has never considered these problems before. With an honest heart, anyone can come to Christ.
My family and I go to a small Baptist church. One deacon didn't like the preacher even though the congregation loved him. The deacon didn't like the way the preacher walked back and forth across the pulpit, and the preacher was too emotional when he gave testimony. Our preacher resigned, and we lost over half the congregation because of it. My two kids and one other are the only children there now. My husband won't go back because he thinks it is corrupt now. I asked him if we can go visit other churches, and he said, “Why? If one is corrupt, they all are.” How can I convince him they are not all corrupt? I want to keep my family in church. I don't know what to do. My kids are getting where they don't want to go on Wednesday night now because they are the only kids there.
Grasping At Straws
Dear Grasping At Straws,
There are congregations all around the country that aren't corrupted by denominationalism, personal opinions, or traditions. Our recommendation is that you show our article "Down With Denominationalism" to your husband and read it together. There are so many problems with modern religion, and it all comes down to opinions being placed above Scripture. When we leave the Bible pattern, all sorts of chaos and trouble ensues (2 Tim 1:13). The church is supposed to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), but most churches have become places for petty arguments or the latest worship fad.
We know of congregations all over that reject this philosophy and really do put the Bible first. It may be hard for your husband to believe because he has seen so much of the opposite, but it is true. Just because there are lots of bad mechanics doesn't mean that you stop driving a car – just because there are lots of bad churches doesn't mean we can give up on the Lord. Comb through past articles on our site, and you'll see that we do our very best to always give book, chapter, and verse for what we do. Our congregation isn't alone, and if you want, we can help you find one near you that has the same attitude. Feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any further questions or if we can help you locate a church.
Is the Baptist religion one that goes by the Bible?
Looking For The Truth
Dear Looking For The Truth,
We will admit that Baptist churches are much more Bible-centered than most of the denominational world, but just because they say that they do exactly what the Bible says doesn’t make it true. Many of the things that the Baptist church believes are right, but there are some glaring practices that simply ignore Scripture. Remember, if you avoid or ignore verses, that is just as bad as adding to the Bible (Rev 22:18-19). We have to take every Bible teaching, no matter how unpopular, and accept it in order to truly call ourselves a “Bible-only” congregation. So let’s take a look at a couple of areas that this Baptist church is ignoring obvious Bible text.
- Baptism is necessary for salvation. This is one of the clearest teachings in the New Testament. Peter literally wrote, “Baptism saves you” in 1 Pet. 3:21. Mark 16:16 teaches that when you believe and are baptized, you are saved. There is not a single example of someone becoming a christian without baptism. If a church is teaching that baptism is only symbolic… it is ignoring the text. In fact, the Baptist church’s manual specifically says, “Baptism was the door into the church; now it is different” (Standard Manual for Baptist Churches pg. 22). Feel free to read our article “Baptism” for further Scriptures on this topic.
- The Bible openly teaches that you can lose your salvation. Gal 5:4 says that people can be “severed from Christ” and “fall away from grace”. 1 Tim 4:1 also warns that people will fall away and follow false teachings. Heb 3:12 also mentions falling away because of an unbelieving heart. The clearest verse on this topic is Heb 6:4-6 because it talks about someone who was “enlightened” and had “tasted the heavenly gift” and yet were “crucifying Christ again”. Once again, these are simple verses with clear and direct implications. Most Baptist churches teach that you cannot be lost.
- The Lord’s Supper. The Baptist church only takes the Lord’s Supper every once and a while. Where is the Bible authority and support for that? Where in the Bible does it show christians taking communion every four months, two weeks, yearly, etc.? Acts 20:7 mentions christians taking the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. Once again, this is a plain teaching with a simple consequence. If we want to be like the first-century christians… we take communion every first day of the week.
This is hardly an exhaustive answer to everything that the Baptist church does, but it should be enough to give you an idea that there are some clear verses that are being avoided. God tells us to test all teaching against the Scripture (1 Jn 4:1). No congregation advertises that they are ignoring parts of the Bible, but many churches do exactly that.
(This is a follow-up to the post “Without Creedence”)
Your answer to the difference between creeds and publications that preachers write didn't fully explain a difference between the two. Can you please show me where different denominations hold their "creed" books to the same standard as the Bible? I have had many discussions with various Lutherans and Baptists alike, and none of them view their supplements to the same degree of Bible authority. They all view them as teaching tools to supplement the Word. Many preachers claim that their writings should be heard because they are "based" on the Word of God. Many religious groups with creed books would claim the same. I believe the difference between a creed book and the publications church of Christ preachers write is that we believe that one follows the Bible, and the others don't. Our friends outside the church make the same claim. Anytime we hold our opinions and explanations to demand the same level of attention as plain Scripture, we have written creeds by your definition. Maybe we should simply point people to Scripture and quit offering our opinions.
Dear Tracking Tracts,
If a preacher takes something he writes and gives it equal weight to the Bible, then he is sinning, but we’ve never personally experienced someone using a tract or commentary that way. Your statement that “many preachers claim…” is arbitrary, and we can’t speak to personal experiences and subjective viewpoints. In fact, the discussions you have had with various Lutherans and Baptists are also subjective because most Baptists and Lutherans don’t know what their own creed books even say. The key is to read the books for yourself and ask what the leaders of these churches say about their creeds. The Lutheran church uses four creeds: The Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Augsburg Confessional. They teach that these creeds are authoritative guides for their worship and beliefs – they aren’t commentaries; they are distinct belief systems that don’t require Bible authority to back them. As we said, read them yourselves.
The Baptists are even more blatant about the value they place upon their creeds. The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches says that baptism used to be a necessary part of salvation, but now things are different (Standard Manual for Baptist Churches pg. 22). That type of a statement clearly places their manual as a religious authority above the Bible!
Not all people who are part of a religious group understand why they do what they do and where their beliefs come from, but that doesn’t make the creed any less of a guide for their respective denominations. These creeds add to God’s Word, and that is definitely wrong (Rev 22:18-19, 1 Cor 4:6).
I love church, and I love being part of God’s family, but I really dislike being a certain type of christian. I don't understand why there are so many different beliefs for one religion (like Catholic, Methodist, and so on); is it possible to just be a christian and not any thing specific? Is there a special church that's just christian?
No Party Affiliation
Dear No Party Affiliation,
All we should ever be is just christians… you are absolutely right for being frustrated. The denominational world is confusing… exactly the opposite of God’s church (1 Cor 14:33). The term ‘denomination’ comes from the idea that a church believes that it is a subgroup of a larger religious body. Lutherans worship and teach differently than Episcopalians, Catholics, Presbyterians, etc., but they all believe themselves to be christians – this is wrong. Jesus said that there is only one path to heaven (Matt 7:14). Denominationalism teaches that how you act and worship are matters of opinion, but Jesus said that how you act and worship are matters of truth (Jhn 4:24). The only way to avoid denominationalism is to find a congregation that simply teaches what the Bible says – no creeds, no opinions, no personal agendas. If we truly love Christ, we will follow His commandments (1 Jn 5:2).
Everything a church does (worship, membership, how they teach to be saved, how they spend their money, even their name) needs to have Bible verses backing them up (1 Tim 3:15). A church needs to be able to explain the reasons for why they do what they do (1 Pet 3:15).
Our congregation here in Monroe goes by the name ‘Monroe Valley church of Christ’ because ‘church of Christ’ is a Biblical name for a congregation (Rom 16:16). We worship by singing (Col 3:16), studying the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), praying (2 Thess 3:1), taking communion (only on Sundays – Acts 20:7), and taking up a collection (also only on Sundays – 1 Cor 16:1-2). We teach that you must hear God’s Word (Rom 10:17), believe God’s Word (Jhn 3:16), repent of your sins (Mk 6:12), confess Jesus as your Savior (Lk 12:8), and be baptized to be saved (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21). We do all these things because they are practices found in the Bible. As you said, you don’t want to go to a church that offers their own thoughts – you want God’s thoughts.
There are other congregations like ours scattered across the country and the world. Most of them use the name ‘church of Christ’, but then again, many churches that use that name aren’t faithful. A Bible name for a church isn’t enough to make it faithful. We have helped others, like yourself, looking for New Testament Christianity find faithful congregations in their area by contacting other preachers and christians that we know. We’d be happy to do the same for you. If you feel comfortable, just let us know what general area you live in, and we will try and get you in touch with a congregation that lives like your Bible reads (our e-mail is email@example.com). It is frustrating, confusing, and exasperating to deal with denominationalism. Thanks be to God that there is a better option!