There are at least five beliefs, which are distinctively Baptist and which constitute the reasons for the existence of Baptists as a separate denomination:
1. The Bible is the norm and authority for the life and faith of the believer.
2. The "priesthood of all believers": Each Christian has the privilege of praying to God
on his/her own and the duty to pray for fellow believers.
3. The separation of Church and State.
4. The autonomy of the local congregation.
5. The Baptism of believers only:
The Ordinances of the Baptist Church
An ordinance is a ceremony which the Lord has prescribed and told the Church to observe. Baptists believe there are only two ordinances: Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
What is Baptism?
Baptism is the act of totally immersing a candidate in water. It is the door of membership to the church. Baptism pictures symbolically the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 6.3); the believer, through Christ, dies to the old life of sin and is made alive to the new life of righteousness. Baptism also points to the Great Resurrection beyond the grave, which the believer will experience at the end of the age.
Jesus set the precedent by being baptized himself (Matthew 3.14-15) and commanding his disciples to baptize (Matthew 28.19). It was also the practice of the first century Christian Church (Acts 2.38-41; Romans 6.3-5).
Who should be baptized?
Only a believer should be baptized; one who has confessed Jesus as Lord (Romans 10.9); one who has given him/her self freely to Christ and is ready to serve him. We do not baptize infants because it was not a New Testament practice and an infant has no knowledge about or choice in what is happening. (We observe a Child Dedication Service. Parents bring their children to be blessed by God (Mark 10.13-15). They dedicate themselves to raise the child, with the help of the church, to love and reverence God.)
What is the Lord's Supper?
The Lord's Supper/Holy Communion/Service of the Lord's Table is the ceremony instituted by Jesus on the night of his betrayal (I Corinthians 11.23-29). We eat bread and drink from a cup. The "bread" represents the Body of Christ, broken for us; it symbolizes his sacrificial death on the cross. The "cup" represents the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of our sins; it establishes a New Covenant relationship between God and us.
What is its significance?
The Supper is a memorial observance done in remembrance of Christ's death, the ultimate manifestation of God's love for us (John 3.16). Holy Communion reminds us of our deliverance from sin and death, through Christ's death and resurrection, and our union with Christ (John 6.53-56). It also proclaims that Jesus is our source of life both here and hereafter.