What Being Baptist Really Means
There are many kinds of Baptist churches, and differing beliefs, so what defines Third as Baptist?
Most Baptist beliefs and practices are ones held in common with other Christian denominations. But there are specific beliefs known as the "Baptist Distinctives."
Primary among them are these core beliefs embraced by Third Baptist Church:
Priesthood of the Believer
You do not need an intermediary in order to gain access to God; not a church, not a denomination, not a member of clergy. Actually, there is no substantial difference between clergy and laity; those in pulpits and those in pews stand before God on equal footing. As an individual believer you have direct access; you have a one-to-one relationship with God.
Autonomy of the Local Church
The ultimate authority in Baptist life is the local church. No denomination or other entity dictates to us who we should accept as a member or choose as a pastor, or where our money goes, or what congregational statements we adopt.
Separation of Church and State
The First Amendment to the Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Baptists believe in keeping a wall of separation between church and state; we believe government must not dictate values and beliefs to the church, and we believe the church—while it may proclaim beliefs that seek to influence public policy—must not attempt to use the power of government to force its beliefs on others. All this, because we answer to a higher calling than that of the state; we follow the ways taught by Jesus.