When a church chooses a name they often look for one that represents some key characteristic of their purpose statement or geographical location. When we organized as a church in 1993 we chose the name “Berean” because we were impressed by the Bible’s account of the church that was located in the city of Berea in southwestern Macedonia. The Bible says that these believers were “more noble” because they “searched the scripture daily” to make sure that that the things they were being taught were true (Acts 17:11). To the best of our ability we desire to base all aspects of our faith and practice solely on God’s word, the Bible. We do not have extra-Biblical writings that we value over the Bible.
The second name that we go by is “Baptist.” Many churches these days are dropping traditional names like “Baptist” but we have purposely decided to hold the name as it identifies us with believers that go back centuries and it declares our basic beliefs. There is evidence of Christians calling themselves “Baptists” from the 1500’s but “Baptistic” beliefs have existed from the time of Christ and His disciples. It is a heritage that we are proud to be a part of. There is an acronym that many use to give a basic description of our key distinctives:
B – Biblical Authority
The Bible is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice. We hold to no creeds, confessions, or any other works of man that supercede the Bible’s authority.
II Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; II Peter 1:20,21
A – Autonomy of the local church
The local church is an independent body directly accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the “head of the body, the church”. All human authority for governing the local church resides within the local church itself. Thus the church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious hierarchy outside the local church may dictate a church’s beliefs or practices. However, we can and do enjoy fellowship with other like-minded churches and individuals.
Colossians 1:18; II Corinthians 8:1-5,19,23
P – Priesthood of believers
“Priest” is defined as “one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God.” Every believer today is a priest of God and may enter into His presence in prayer directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and man – we all have equal access to God.
1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 5:9, 10, I Timothy 2:5
T – Two Ordinances
The local church should practice two ordinances: (1) baptism of believers by immersion in water, identifying the individual with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and (2) the Lord’s Supper, or communion, commemorating His death for our sins.
Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32
I – Individual Soul Liberty
Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose his own beliefs. Baptists have always been opposed to the use of violence, coercion, and religious persecution. However, this personal liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself.
Romans 14:5,12; II Corinthians 4:1-2
S – Saved, Baptized Church Membership
Local church membership is reserved for those who have in repentance and faith trusted Christ as their Saviour and have been baptized by immersion in a church of like faith and practice.
Acts 2:41; II Corinthians 6:14
T – Two Offices
The scripture gives two distinct offices for each local church – that of pastor (synonymously referred to as elder and bishop) and deacon.
I Timothy 3:1-7; I Timothy 3:18-13; Titus 1:6-9
S – Separation of Church and State
God has established both the church and government and has given each one distinct mandates and boundaries. Neither should control the other nor should there be an alliance between the two, although in a free society Christians may seek to influence government towards righteousness. Christians and churches are to be in obedience to their government as long as the government does not require them to disobey a clear command of Scripture.
Romans 13:1-7; Matthew 22:15-22; Acts 5:29