Pinson outlines distinctive traits of Baptist faith

PLAINVIEW – Students at Wayland Baptist University got a bit of a denominational review on Wednesday as William “Bill” Pinson spoke on the 12 distinctives of the Baptist faith during the weekly chapel service held at Wayland on Oct. 6.

Part of Pinson’s Lectureship on Baptist Distinctives, the chapel speech was one of several events in which Pinson spoke during his two days in Plainview. The Lecture Series began on Tuesday with an evening banquet and lecture for area church leaders and continued with Pinson speaking to several religion and ethics classes on campus. Considered an expert in the field of Christian ethics and denominational features, Pinson also visited with ministerial students after the chapel service and delivered the message at the evening prayer service at First Baptist Church in Plainview.

Drawing on Galatians 5:1, which reads, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (NKJV), Pinson listed the twelve facets of the Baptist faith that he says are part of a formula that makes the denomination distinctive.

“What is the one thing that makes Baptists who we are? There really isn’t one but more of a formula of things that when put together makes us distinct,” Pinson said.

The formula, as Pinson shared it, includes a belief in the Lordship of Jesus Christ as the only Lord over creation, life and the church; belief in the Bible as the sole authority for the church; and the belief of sole competency of the believer, meaning that each person can make his or her own decisions.

“God created each of us free to make choices. We’re not His puppets, but we have a free will,” he said.

Baptists are also strong believers in salvation from sin coming “only by God’s grace gift of Jesus,” Pinson said. “We believe that grace plus faith plus nothing brings a person into a right relationship with God, and that’s where we begin to differ from other denominations.”

Other Baptist distinctives are the belief in the priesthood of the believer, meaning that each believer has direct access to God through prayer and has no need of another to act as go-between; baptism by immersion for those professing faith; and membership in a local church body for believers, which goes against the historical pattern of state churches.

“(Christianity) is not a solo sport but a team activity,” Pinson said. “The church should be made up of believers, and it’s a voluntary membership.”

Pinson added that Baptists are set apart by their belief in having two ordinances – that of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (communion) – which are symbolic of Christ’s death and resurrection. Also, Baptists have long believed that each church is self-governing under the Lordship of Jesus, with no hierarchy in the church, and that churches maintain an autonomous state as congregations. Though churches often join associations or cooperate with mission service organizations and state or national denominational groups, Pinson pointed out that each church has the authority to make its own decisions.

Finally, Pinson noted that the belief in the separation of church and state is a long-held Baptist distinctive, and one that has not always been the popular belief.

“Every time in history there has been a situation of a church state, it was disastrous,” Pinson noted. “Freedom must be a part of our life and we embrace that.”

The Pinson Lectureship was established by the BGCT in 2000 and rotates among the Texas Baptist universities and institutions. The event was funded in part by a grant from the BGCT.