Bible Class Curricula - Denominational Doctrines (Part 1) - Lesson #7 - The Baptist Religion

  1. History of the Baptist Denomination
    1. When did the denomination start? 1607–1609
    2. Where did this movement start? London, England
    3. How did this movement start? This movement began during the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Baptists were originally called Anabaptists and were closely associated with (and even partly indoctrinated by) Menno Simmons, founder of the Mennonite religion. Anabaptists (or Baptists) were considered unique in the Reformation because they believed that those who had been sprinkled as children needed to be re-baptized as adults.1
    4. Where did the name “Baptist” originate? There is no reference in the Bible to the church ever being called "the Baptist church" (see Romans 16:16). Most likely, Baptists were labeled Baptists because they insisted on the rebaptism of adults who had been sprinkled. (Note: It is a misconception on the part of both Baptists and non-Baptists alike that the name “Baptist” came from John the Baptist.)
    5. Who founded the Baptist religion? John Smythe, a British separatist who become infatuated with Mennonite teaching.
    6. Who is the head of the Baptist denomination? Christ is called the Head, but the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) sets policy concerning faith and doctrine.
    7. What is their authority? Scripture is claimed to be their guide in all matters. However, tradition and creeds are also very important.
  2. Baptist Doctrine Examined in Light of Scripture
    1. Baptists believe that a church can omit certain requirements of the Gospel and yet still be pleasing to God.
      1. The Standard Baptist Manual says, "A body of Christian disciples may fail to meet some of the requirements of the gospel, and still be a true church of Christ."2
      2. The Scriptures teach if we leave out any of the requirements of the Gospel, then we are no longer pleasing to God (Revelation 2-3; Matthew 7:21; John 14:15; Revelation 22:18-19; 2 John 9; 1 Corinthians 4:6).
    2. Baptist doctrine teaches that baptism is a good command of Christ to follow, but that it is not essential to salvation.
      1. The Standard Baptist Manual says, "Baptism is not essential to salvation, for our churches utterly repudiate the dogma of ‘baptismal regeneration’; but it is essential to obedience since Christ has commanded it."3
      2. The Scriptures are clear on the essentiality of baptism (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3: 21; Galatians 3:27). (Note: The Scriptures do not teach the idea of baptismal regeneration – i.e., that there is some “mystical power” in the water itself that effects salvation.)
    3. Concerning the Lord’s Supper, Baptists believe that this is a command of which the time and frequency have been left up to man.
      1. The Standard Baptist Manual says:

        As to the time, place, and frequency of the ordinances, no Scriptural directions are given. These are left optional with the churches. They are usually observed on Sundays, but not necessarily. As to the Supper, our churches have generally come to observe it on the first Sunday of each month.4

      2. An approved example of the day and frequency of the Lord’s Supper is found among first-century Christians (Acts 20:7 cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
    4. Baptists believe that to become a part of the Baptist Church, a person must be “voted in.”
      1. For example, the Standard Baptist Manual says:

        It is most likely that in the Apostolic age when there was but "one Lord, one faith, and one baptism," and no differing denominations existed, the baptism of a convert by that very act constituted him a member of the church, and at once endowed him with all the rights and privileges of full membership. In that sense, “baptism was the door into the church.” Now, it is different; and while the churches are desirous of receiving members, they are wary and cautious that they do not receive unworthy persons. The churches therefore have candidates come before them, make their statement, give their “experience” and then their reception is decided by a vote of the members. And while they cannot become members without baptism, yet it is the vote of the body which admits them to its fellowship on receiving baptism.5

      2. To see the scriptural problem with this, one needs to look no farther than Acts 2:38ff. (especially verse 47).
    5. Baptists believe that in order to be saved, one must “pray to ask Jesus to come into his heart.”
      1. One of the best-known Baptist preachers, Billy Graham, speaks for the majority of Baptists on salvation when he says:

        Here is how you can receive Christ: Admit your need (I am a sinner). Be willing to turn from your sins (repent). Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose from the grave. Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit. (Receive Him as Lord and Savior.)6

        The person seeking salvation is then invited to pray this prayer:

        Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen.7

      2. Baptist teaching on salvation is in conflict with the New Testament which teaches that one must do more than most Baptists teach. For example, a person must hear the word (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of past sin (Luke 13:3), confess Christ (Romans 10:10), be baptized for the forgiveness of one’s sins (Acts 2:38), and live a faithful Christian life (Revelation 2:10).
    6. Baptists offer misguided examples of salvation (such as the thief on the cross).
      1. "Baptists believe that the Bible teaches that baptism is important but not necessary for salvation. For example, the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43) … experienced salvation without the necessity of baptism."8
      2. A thorough study of the Scriptures shows that the thief on the cross is not a good example of salvation for four reasons:
        1. The argument is based on an unproven assumption that the thief was never baptized (cf. Matthew 3:5-6).
        2. The thief lived and died under the Old Testament (Hebrews 9:15-17).
        3. The thief was unable to believe that Jesus had died and risen from the grave because Jesus had not yet died nor risen from the grave (Luke 23:39-46; 24:1ff).
        4. Jesus had power while on Earth to forgive sins any way He chose (Mark 2:10).
    7. Baptists employ instrumental music in their worship to God.
      1. However, even the well-known Baptist preacher of the last generation, Charles Spurgeon, wrote in his commentary on Psalm 42:

        David appears to have had a peculiarly tender remembrance of the singing of the pilgrims, and assuredly it is the most delightful part of worship and that which comes nearest to the adoration of heaven. What a degradation to supplant the intelligent song of the whole congregation by the theatrical prettiness of a quartet, bellows, and pipes. We might as well pray by machinery as praise by it.

      2. Also, justification for such a practice cannot be found within the New Testament. Every reference to singing in the New Testament is a cappella (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).
    8. The religious celebration of such holidays as Christmas and Easter is not founded upon the Scriptures; rather, we remember a memorial feast weekly (1 Corinthians 11:26 cf. Acts 20:7).
  3. How to Convert a Baptist
    1. Remind them of the importance of having God’s authority for everything we do in worship and life (Colossians 3:17; Matthew 28:18; 1 Corinthians 4:6).
    2. Ask them, "If a person were to take the Bible only, would he or she become a Baptist?" Have them explain their answer.
    3. Teach the fundamental “who, what, when, where, and how” of the New Testament church.
    4. Look at clear examples where people had to do more than “just believe in Jesus” (e.g., James 2:24; Matthew 7:21-23).
    5. Discuss the worship of the church as found in the Book of Acts (Acts 2:42).
    6. Look at passages in the New Testament which teach that baptism is essential to salvation (Mark 16: 16; Acts 2:38; John 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:10).

Study Questions

  1. Did John the Baptist start the Baptist denomination? Who began this religious movement? What is wrong with John Smythe starting this movement?
  2. Can a church "fail to meet some of the requirements of the gospel" and still be a true church of Christ? What Scriptures teach we must go exactly by what the Bible says?
  3. What passages teach baptism is essential to salvation?
  4. Do the Scriptures teach the idea of baptismal regeneration (i.e., something mystical/magical occurs in the waters of baptism)?
  5. Are there any Scriptural directions given concerning the time, frequency and place of the Lord’s Supper?
  6. What is wrong with someone being “voted in” to a religious group? See Acts 2:47.
  7. Compare Billy Graham’s Plan of Salvation with the Lord’s. What are the differences? Whom would you rather put your faith in?
  8. Is the sinner’s prayer even found one time in Scripture?
  9. Why is the thief on the cross not an example of salvation for people today?
  10. What is wrong with celebrating religious holidays like Christmas or Easter?


  1. Mead, Frank S., Handbook of Denominations (Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, 1985), p. 35.
  2. Hiscox, Edward T., The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches (American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia, PA, 1951), p. 12, note 1.
  3. Ibid., pp. 20–21, note 8.
  4. Ibid., pp. 20–21, note 5.
  5. Ibid., pp. 22.
  6. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Online: (, retrieved April 3, 2014 .
  7. Ibid.
  8. Online: (, retrieved April 3, 2014 .
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