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  1. According to a Pew Research Center study in 2014, Baptists make up nearly 16 percent of the American adult population. In the Southern Baptist Convention alone, there are some 46,500 churches and some 15 million members among those churches. In 2016, there were about 280,000 baptisms reported in the Southern Baptist Convention. In the American Baptist Church USA network, there are some 5,000 congregations and about 1.3 million members. A 2015 Pew Research Center report said 36 percent of evangelical Protestants identify with Baptist denominations. In the Baptist World Alliance, the largest organization of Baptists in the world, about 48 million are part of the alliance, according to a 2016 report. christianity.com
  2. Aligning with Thomas Jefferson, early Baptists held strongly to a view that supported religious liberty. Facing some persecution for their own belief in believer’s baptism, Baptists endured fines, harassment and sometimes jail time. In Massachusetts 1645, for example, the colony outlawed Baptists, calling them “the troublers of churches in all places,” according to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In response to that persecution, Baptists later helped influence the First Amendment. The early church believed in separation in church and state so that religious liberty was available to all and all were free to practice as they saw fit. With the First Amendment, Baptists supported “free exercise of religion” and not a “national pastor.” christianity.com
  3. In response to Christ’s call to “make disciples of all nations,” many Baptists encourage missionary work and evangelism opportunities. Baptists say that millions of people around the world have not heard of Jesus and evangelism is the mission of sharing Christ’s message. Evangelism has a long history in the Baptist church. According to the American Baptist Churches USA, historians used books, tracts and other resources in evangelism as early as 1824. Former evangelist Billy Graham’s events have inspired waves of new evangelistic conferences and conventions, which draw in millions of people. Locally, Baptists encourage each other to share their faith openly and take the message of Christ to their neighbors, workplaces, schools and other day-to-day activities. Baptists believe in a “calling” to share the gospel and in many churches, Baptists are learning to adapt their approach to better deliver the message of Christ. christianity.com
  4. In the Baptist church, the Lord’s Supper, also known as communion, is a symbolic practicemeant to honor the death of Jesus. Communion is not necessary for salvation. The practice comes from Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. At the meal, unleavened bread and the wine were served. The bread symbolizes the purity of Christ and the wine (sometimes grape juice) symbolizes the blood of Christ that was shed for his people. The Lord’s Supper is meant as a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Unlike other denominations of Christianity, such as the Catholic church, the Lord’s Supper is not literally the blood and body of Christ. There is no set calendar for partaking in the Lord’s Supper among Baptist churches, but each time it is practiced, it is meant to be a time of devotion and prayer. In many churches, all are able to participate in the Lord’s Supper. christianity.com
  5. Often considered a major division in the Protestant church is Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Calvinism is named after John Calvin, a theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. The major tenant of Calvinism is predestination, where some people are predestined to be saved. That is, God decided the destiny of some with salvation by grace. Others are meant for damnation due to their original sin. In Arminianism, named after Jacobus Arminius, the teachings say that God has chosen us to bring salvation to all and people have the ability to make the decision for faith. Even within Calvinism and Arminianism in the Baptist church, there are differing beliefs and many conversationsabout it. The Southern Baptist Convention itself has held many conferences centering on the long-standing Protestant debate. christianity.com
  6. Since the origins of the church, Baptists have said the Bible is the only authority for Christian faith and practice. Baptists believe that the Bible is the only authority because it is divinely inspired or has a divine nature. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is an oft-cited example of why Baptists believe strongly in the Bible. The verses say, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible and empowered men to record the truth about God and give directives on how to apply the Bible to the Christian life. Some Baptist churches may disagree on certain practices, but many say the Bible is their sole authority. christianity.com
  7. The Baptist church believes in Baptism only after a person has professed Christ as their Savior. The Baptism symbolizes the cleansing of sins. Some churches use a sprinkling of water as Baptism, but most practice full immersion, where the candidate is fully immersed in water. This symbolizes the disciples’ own baptism as stated in John 3. The practice also stems from Romans 6, which says Christians are “buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Baptism is not a requirement for salvation and many churches do not subscribe to infant baptism Instead, Baptism in the Baptist church is a public expression of faith. “While it is personal, it is not private,” an article from the Southern Baptist Conventions’ journal says. “Such an act of obedience actually then clarifies their testimony and opens the door for ministry in the church.” christianity.com
  8. In the United States, the largest group is made up of the Southern Baptist Convention. As of 2015, the group was made up of more than 15 million members. Southern Baptists who split with northern Baptists founded the Convention in 1845 in Georgia over the issue of slavery. Other affiliations include smaller conservative organizations (such as the American Baptist Churches USA, Baptist General Conference and the Baptist General Convention of Texas) of Baptist churches and the Independent Baptist churches that are not part of a hierarchical structure or governing authority. This group started in the late 19th and early 20th century and is made up of believers who wanted to adhere to a more conservative doctrine. There is a Baptist World Alliance, which includes some 200 Baptist organizations and conventions. The Southern Baptist Convention, however, left the Alliance in 2004 over the issues of homosexuality and women in the clergy. christianity.com
  9. In America, a former member of the Church of England, Roger Williams, separated from officials in the Massachusetts Bay Colony over his belief on church functions. In 1638, he founded the first Baptist church in America in uncolonized Rhode Island. Also in Rhode Island, Englishman John Clarke founded a Baptist church around the same time. The two men later received a charter from King Charles II guaranteeing religion freedom in Rhode Island. According to American Baptist Churches USA, by 1790 there were 35 Baptist associations in America and some 560 ministers. Estimates say there were some 750 churches and 60,000 Baptist in the states. Historians say that the Baptist belief in religious freedom was a significant influence on the forming of the First Amendment of the Constitution. christianity.com
  10. According to Bruce Gourley, who served as executive director of Baptist History & Heritage Society, there are four main opinions on how Baptists originated. The first is that Baptists grew from within the English Separatist movement, where in the 16th-18th centuries, Protestant Christians separated from the Church of England. This is the most accepted view and the earliest Baptist church is considered a 1609 church in Amsterdam. The second opinion holds that Baptists originated from English Separatism and was greatly influenced and formed out of Anabaptists, or Dutch Mennonites. The third and fourth opinions say that the Baptist church has existed in some form since Christ and John the Baptist. christianity.com
  11. In the United States, evangelicalism is an umbrella group of Protestant Christians who believe in the necessity of being born again, emphasize the importance of evangelism, and affirm traditional Protestant teachings on the authority and the historicity of the Bible. Nearly a quarter of the US population, evangelicals are diverse and drawn from a variety of denominational backgrounds, including Baptist, Mennonite, Methodist, Holiness, Pentecostal, Reformed and nondenominational churches. Evangelicalism has played an important role in shaping American religion and culture. The First Great Awakening of the 18th century marked the rise of evangelical religion in colonial America. As the revival spread throughout the Thirteen Colonies, evangelicalism united Americans around a common faith The Second Great Awakening of the 19th century led to what historian Martin Marty called the "Evangelical Empire", a period in which evangelicals dominated US cultural institutions, including schools and universities. Some evangelicals were strong advocates of reform, largely in the northern United States. They were involved in the temperance movement and supported the abolition of slavery in addition to working towards education and criminal justice reform. Many evangelical denominations split over slavery, with evangelicals in the southern United States establishing new branches that did not formally or openly call for abolition of slavery. (For example, the Southern Baptist Convention was founded over the issue of slaveholders serving as foreign missionaries.) By the end of the 19th century, the old evangelical consensus that had united American Protestantism no longer existed. Protestant churches became divided over new intellectual and theological ideas, such as Darwinian evolution and historical criticism of the Bible. Those who embraced these liberal ideas became known as modernists, while those who rejected them became known as fundamentalists. Fundamentalists defended the doctrine of biblical inerrancy and adopted a dispensationalist theological system for interpreting the Bible. As a result of the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy of the 1920s and 1930s, fundamentalists lost control of the Mainline Protestant churches and separated themselves from non-fundamentalist churches and cultural institutions. After World War II, a new generation of conservative Protestants rejected the separatist stance of fundamentalism and began calling themselves evangelicals. Popular evangelist Billy Graham was at the forefront of reviving use of the term. During this time period, a number of evangelical institutions were established, including the National Association of Evangelicals, Christianity Today magazine and a number of educational institutions, such as Fuller Theological Seminary. As a reaction to the 1960s counterculture, many evangelicals became politically active and involved in the Christian right, which became an important voting bloc of the Republican Party. Observers such as Frances FitzGerald have noted that since 2005 the influence of the Christian right among evangelicals has been in decline. Though less visible, some evangelicals identify as Progressive evangelicals. wikipedia.org
  12. Christian views on alcohol are varied. Throughout the first 1,800 years of Church history, Christians generally consumed alcoholic beverages as a common part of everyday life and used "the fruit of the vine" in their central rite—the Eucharist or Lord's Supper. They held that both the Bible and Christian tradition taught that alcohol is a gift from God that makes life more joyous, but that over-indulgence leading to drunkenness is sinful or at least a vice. In the mid-19th century, some Protestant Christians moved from a position of allowing moderate use of alcohol (sometimes called "'moderationism") to either deciding that not imbibing was wisest in the present circumstances ("abstentionism") or prohibiting all ordinary consumption of alcohol because it was believed to be a sin ("prohibitionism"). Many Protestant churches, particularly Methodists, advocated abstentionism and were early leaders in the temperance movement of the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, all three positions exist in Christianity, but the historic position remains the most common worldwide, due to the adherence by the largest bodies of Christians, such as Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Roman Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy. Alcohol in the Bible Alcoholic beverages appear in the Bible, both in usage and in poetic expression. The Bible is ambivalent towards alcohol, considering it both a blessing from God that brings merriment and a potential danger that can be unwisely and sinfully abused. Christian views on alcohol come from what the Bible says about it, along with Jewish and Christian traditions. The biblical languages have several words for alcoholic beverages, and though prohibitionists and some abstentionists dissent, there is a broad consensus that the words did ordinarily refer to intoxicating drinks. The commonness and centrality of wine in daily life in biblical times is apparent from its many positive and negative metaphorical uses throughout the Bible. Positively, for example, wine is used as a symbol of abundance, and of physical blessing. Negatively, wine is personified as a mocker and beer a brawler, and drinking a cup of strong wine to the dregs and getting drunk are sometimes presented as a symbol of God's judgment and wrath. The Bible also speaks of wine in general terms as a bringer and concomitant of joy, particularly in the context of nourishment and feasting. Wine was commonly drunk at meals, and the Old Testament prescribed it for use in sacrificial rituals and festal celebrations. The Gospel of John recorded the first miracle of Jesus: making copious amounts of wine at the wedding feast at Cana. Jesus instituted the ritual of the Eucharist at the Last Supper during a Passover celebration, he says that the "fruit of the vine" is a "New Covenant in [his] blood," though Christians have differed on the implications of this statement (see Eucharistic theologies contrasted). Alcohol was also used for medicinal purposes in biblical times, and it appears in that context in several passages—as an oral anesthetic, a topical cleanser and soother, and a digestive aid. Kings and priests in the Old Testament were forbidden to partake of wine at various times. John the Baptist was a Nazirite from birth. Nazirite vows excluded not only wine, but also vinegar, grapes, and raisins. (Jesus evidently did not take such a vow during the three years of ministry depicted in the gospels, but in fact was even accused by the Pharisees of eating and drinking with sinners. St. Paul further instructs Christians regarding their duty toward immature Christians: "It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall." Jewish priests cannot bless a congregation after consuming alcohol. Virtually all Christian traditions hold that the Bible condemns ordinary drunkenness in many passages, and Easton's Bible Dictionary says, "The sin of drunkenness ... must have been not uncommon in the olden times, for it is mentioned either metaphorically or literally more than seventy times in the Bible." Additionally, the consequences of the drunkenness of Noah and Lot "were intended to serve as examples of the dangers and repulsiveness of intemperance." St. Paul later chides the Corinthians for becoming drunk on wine served at their attempted celebrations of the Eucharist. wikipedia.org
  13. Evangelicals dissatisfied with the movement's conservative mainstream have been variously described as progressive evangelicals, post-conservative evangelicals, Open Evangelicals and post-evangelicals. Progressive evangelicals, also known as the evangelical left, share theological or social views with other progressive Christians while also identifying with evangelicalism. Progressive evangelicals commonly advocate for women's equality, pacifism and social justice. As described by Baptist theologian Roger E. Olson, post-conservative evangelicalism is a theological school of thought that adheres to the four marks of evangelicalism, while being less rigid and more inclusive of other Christians. According to Olson, post-conservatives believe that doctrinal truth is secondary to spiritual experience shaped by Scripture. Post-conservative evangelicals seek greater dialogue with other Christian traditions and support the development of a multicultural evangelical theology that incorporates the voices of women, racial minorities, and Christians in the developing world. Some post-conservative evangelicals also support open theism and the possibility of near universal salvation. The term "Open Evangelical" refers to a particular Christian school of thought or churchmanship, primarily in Great Britain (especially in the Church of England). Open evangelicals describe their position as combining a traditional evangelical emphasis on the nature of scriptural authority, the teaching of the ecumenical creeds and other traditional doctrinal teachings, with an approach towards culture and other theological points-of-view which tends to be more inclusive than that taken by other evangelicals. Some open evangelicals aim to take a middle position between conservative and charismatic evangelicals, while others would combine conservative theological emphases with more liberal social positions. British author Dave Tomlinson coined the phrase post-evangelical to describe a movement comprising various trends of dissatisfaction among evangelicals. Others use the term with comparable intent, often to distinguish evangelicals in the so-called emerging church movement from post-evangelicals and anti-evangelicals. Tomlinson argues that "linguistically, the distinction [between evangelical and post-evangelical] resembles the one that sociologists make between the modern and postmodern eras". wikipedia.org
  14. Fundamentalism regards biblical inerrancy, the virgin birth of Jesus, penal substitutionary atonement, the literal resurrection of Christ, and the Second Coming of Christ as fundamental Christian doctrines. Fundamentalism arose among evangelicals in the 1920s to combat modernist or liberal theology in mainline Protestant churches. Failing to reform the mainline churches, fundamentalists separated from them and established their own churches, refusing to participate in ecumenical organizations such as the National Council of Churches (founded in 1950). They also made separatism (rigid separation from non-fundamentalist churches and their culture) a true test of faith. According to historian George Marsden, most fundamentalists are Baptists and dispensationalist. wikipedia.org
  15. One influential definition of evangelicalism has been proposed by historian David Bebbington. Bebbington notes four distinctive aspects of evangelical faith: conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism, noting, "Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism." Conversionism, or belief in the necessity of being "born again", has been a constant theme of evangelicalism since its beginnings. To evangelicals, the central message of the gospel is justification by faith in Christ and repentance, or turning away, from sin. Conversion differentiates the Christian from the non-Christian, and the change in life it leads to is marked by both a rejection of sin and a corresponding personal holiness of life. A conversion experience can be emotional, including grief and sorrow for sin followed by great relief at receiving forgiveness. The stress on conversion differentiates evangelicalism from other forms of Protestantism by the associated belief that an assurance of salvation will accompany conversion. Among evangelicals, individuals have testified to both sudden and gradual conversions. Biblicism is reverence for the Bible and high regard for biblical authority. All evangelicals believe in biblical inspiration, though they disagree over how this inspiration should be defined. Many evangelicals believe in biblical inerrancy, while other evangelicals believe in biblical infallibility. Crucicentrism is the centrality that evangelicals give to the Atonement, the saving death and the resurrection of Jesus, that offers forgiveness of sins and new life. This is understood most commonly in terms of a substitutionary atonement, in which Christ died as a substitute for sinful humanity by taking on himself the guilt and punishment for sin. Activism describes the tendency toward active expression and sharing of the gospel in diverse ways that include preaching and social action. This aspect of evangelicalism continues to be seen today in the proliferation of evangelical voluntary religious groups and parachurch organizations. Many evangelical traditions adhere to the doctrine of the believers' Church, which teaches that one becomes a member of the Church by the new birth and profession of faith. This originated in the Radical Reformation with Anabaptists but is held by denominations that practice believer's baptism. Some evangelicals, such as those in the Anglican and Reformed traditions, practice infant baptism as one's initiation into the visible church, while also stressing the necessity of personal conversion later in life for salvation. wikipedia.org
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