I am Baptist. Are you?
I am Baptist by conviction. Yes, I was raised as a Baptist. As a small child, I was raised in an independent Baptist church, and then as a teenager in a Southern Baptist Church. I have degrees from three different Baptist institutions. However, I am not Baptist because my parents were, or because my grandparents were. I am Baptist because I am convicted that Baptist doctrine best aligns with Scripture.
So what does it mean to be Baptist? There are several distinctions Baptist hold to; distinctions such as our congregational polity, our local church autonomy, and our symbolic interpretation of the Lord’s Supper. I want go deeper on the distinction that we derive our name from though, baptism.
Baptism is a word in English that looks and sounds just like the Greek word. Every Christian denomination believes in some sort of baptism, but that is about as far as agreement goes. There is disagreement about the meaning of baptism: Is it symbolic or is regenerative (does it save)? There is disagreement about the subject of baptism: Who should be baptized? or Should we baptize infants? There is disagreement about the mode of baptism: Do we sprinkle, pour, or dunk? Even among those who argue for immersion, there are those who believe one immersion is sufficient, as we do, and there are those who believe three immersions are necessary; one in the name of the Father, one in the name of the Son, and one in the name of the Spirit. Questions arise about who should be the one to administer baptism: some argue that only the pastor, some argue that the person who led the new believer to Christ, and there are even those that argue for a self-baptism (exactly what it sounds like).