Why Be A Baptist? -- By: William B. Riley

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 04:1 (Spring 1961)
Article: Why Be A Baptist?
Author: William B. Riley

Why Be A Baptist?

William B. Riley

Pastor First Baptist Church


“And who is he that will harm you, if ye be zealous of that which is good ? But, and if ye should suffer for righteousness’ sake, blessed are ye: and fear not their fear, neither be troubled? but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, wherein ye are spoken against, they may be put to shame who revile your good manner of life in Christ.” I. Peter 3:13-16.

THE series of “Vagaries and Verities,” fourteen discourses intended for publication, was concluded a week ago. In the progress of these discourses I trust it appeared to you that men’s doctrines have not been condemned because, forsooth, they were lacking my denominational label; or commended only when they spake the shibboleths of the Baptist faith. Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this Word it is because there is no light in them” was deliberately chosen as the touchstone of these modern movements. Before this text some fared unfortunately, and others with favor; but all, we trust, with justice.

The same Scripture provides a standard for the older and better established beliefs—now embodied in the greater denominations. Hence our question: “Why be a Baptist?” What of the creed of this company of people, and how far can it be shown to accord with the Sacred Word? It makes no difference that their history is ancient and honorable; it argues nothing that their present standing is enviable; even the strength of their numbers, and their increasing conquests, do not prove their doctrines “all divine.”

The question is a deeper and a higher one. The criterion before which they must stand or fall is made up of the fundamentals of the Christian faith. How far do these people, who once suffered for righteousness sake, find it possible now to “give answer to every man that asketh them, a reason concerning the hope that is in them,” and yet stand strictly by the tests of Scripture?

It shall be my endeavor at this time to answer that question, not in full—for neither the time nor the occasion would permit the review of Baptist doctrines. But thirty minutes will suffice for the selection and discussion of the few particulars by which this people are differentiated from other evangelicals.

If you will pardon me, I want to give a personal reply to this question, “Why be a Baptist?”

Baptists And ...
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