Baptist Principles Reset: Believers’ Baptism -- By: Jeremiah B. Jeter

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 02:1 (Spring 1998)
Article: Baptist Principles Reset: Believers’ Baptism
Author: Jeremiah B. Jeter


Baptist Principles Reset:
Believers’ Baptism

Jeremiah B. Jeter

Jeremiah B. Jeter (1802–1880) was one of the founders of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, and was its first missionary. He was the pastor of First Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia (1835–1849) and of Second Baptist Church, St. Louis, Missouri (1865–1880). A prolific author, he edited Virginia’s Religious Herald (1865–1880), wrote Campbellism Revisited, and penned several biographies. This article is taken from Baptist Principles Reset (1902), and has been edited for publication.

A Spiritual, or Regenerate, Church Membership

A spiritual, or regenerate, church membership, as already stated, lies at the foundation of all Baptist peculiarities. On this point Baptists and the few small sects that agree with them differ from the whole Christian world. If numbers were an infallible sign of truth, we should be constrained to abandon our principles. But they are not. On this supposition, Protestantism would be compelled to yield to Romanism, and Christianity itself to paganism. The oracles of God are the only infallible test of truth. To these we appeal.

The Israelitish theocracy, or commonwealth, differed widely from the Christian church, or, more properly, churches. That institution—a politico-religious organization—consisted only of the descendants of Abraham, in the line of Jacob, or Israel, with such foreigners as chose, by submission to a painful and bloody rite, to become incorporated with the nation. Citizenship in the commonwealth was hereditary, and was maintained, not by regeneration and a life of piety, but by the observance of various costly rites. The government was designed and admirably adapted to preserve the nation from commingling with the neighboring heathen. To the Israelites were committed the oracles of God and the honor of maintaining his worship amid the gloom of surrounding idolatry. From that favored race the Messiah was to descend, in whom all nations were to be blessed.

In the fullness of time, Jesus of Nazareth made his appearance. He claimed to be the promised Messiah, and confirmed his title to the office by the wisdom of his words and the number and greatness of his miracles. He came, not to establish or to modify the “commonwealth of Israel,” but to introduce a new dispensation, or order of things. After a brief but most instructive, ministry, terminating in his sacrificial death, he endowed his apostles with plenary inspiration and the power of working miracles, and entrusted to them the duty of carrying into effect his gracious and sublime mission.

In the execution of the plan, the apostles organized churches, first in Judea, then in Samaria and Galilee, and afterwar...

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