Editorial Introduction: Foundations For Baptist Doctrines & Distinctives -- By: Steve W. Lemke

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 06:1 (Spring 2009)
Article: Editorial Introduction: Foundations For Baptist Doctrines & Distinctives
Author: Steve W. Lemke


Editorial Introduction: Foundations For Baptist Doctrines & Distinctives

Steve W. Lemke

Baptists are evangelicals, but not all evangelicals are Baptists. Baptists have different views from other evangelical groups on some doctrinal issues, and sometimes we as Baptists don’t even agree among ourselves. As the old saying goes, listen to four Baptists and you’ll find at least five or six different opinions!

Attention to doctrine and doctrinal distinctives have been a focal part of the mission of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry since its inception. This issue of the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry deals with three clusters of foundational doctrinal issues of interest to Baptists. Some of these issues define Baptists in differentiation from other evangelical groups, while on some other issues there is a range of disagreement among Baptists.

The first section of this edition of the Journal focuses on the church ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Both of these ordinances are confessional, since they are designed for believers to identify publicly with Jesus Christ. Both ordinances remind the participant of core truths of the Christian life -- the substitutionary atonement of Jesus and the new life that comes through Him. The proper meaning and mode of these ordinances are described in Article VII of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Participation in the ordinances is inextricably tied to church membership. The BF&M 2000 describes baptism as “prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, participation in these ordinances presupposes confession and covenant.”

Dr. Rex Butler, Associate Professor of Church History and Patristics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, contributes the first article on “Sacramentum: Baptismal Practice and the Theology of Tertullian & Cyprian.” Obviously, the practice and teaching of the early church and patristic fathers on baptism is important to the practice and teaching of baptism today. Moving forward a few centuries, Dr. Lloyd Harsch contributes the article entitled, “Were the First Baptists Sacramentalists?” Harsch, who also serves as Associate Professor of Church History at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, compares the beliefs of the early Baptists with those of the Catholic and Reformed churches of that time. One of our doctoral fellows in the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, Christopher Black, contributes “Infant Baptism and the Half-Way Covenant.” Black’s article utilizes the compromise within New England Puritanism in the Half-Way Covenant to discuss the role of baptism in church membership. The last article in this section is written b...

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