First Baptist Church is proud to affirm the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message.

We also value the four Baptist traditions as guiding principles for our church.  In this tradition, we approach our context of ministry with confidence that the Holy Spirit empowers us to join God at work in our community and to share the Gospel of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

We believe in these four fragile freedoms…

Bible Freedom

Baptists believe that the Bible is the record of God’s revelation to all humankind.  Believers are free to read and interpret the Bible under the lordship of Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  Baptists are not beholden to any creeds or mediators outside of scripture.

Soul Freedom

Baptists practice “believer’s baptism”, which affirms that people may only come to Christ on their own volition, not by force or coercion.  Historically, believer’s baptism is by immersion. 

Church Freedom

Each Baptist church is an autonomous Body of Believers with its own polity, rules for membership, and leadership.  This comes from the congregational model of authority, in which the congregation (often guided by a church covenant or constitution) determines the values, identity, mission, and ministry of the local church.  Additionally, each church establishes the scope and nature of its partnerships in the local and global communities and is not beholden to any outside authority or influence.

Religious Freedom

Baptists believe that people have an inalienable right to the freedom of religion.  The earliest Baptists championed the separation of church and state in the American colonies and, later, the United States.  In the words of Walter Shurden, Baptists affirm that “religious liberty is for all, not for a selected few nor even for an overwhelming majority.”

 

Source: Walter Shurden, The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms Macon (GA): Smyth & Helwys, 1993.