Hopeful was organized in 1807 as a Southern Baptist Church, and has maintained an affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention from the beginning. As Southern Baptists, we believe certain biblical truths, called doctrines. We use those truths as guidelines for membership, fellowship, and as a basis for Christian education. Below is a statement of beliefs held by the Southern Baptist Convention. It serves to clarify who we are as Baptists. Put a check mark beside the statements you agree with. If you have any questions, submit them to the church office; or contact Pastor Cole and arrange to meet with him to discuss any issues you feel are important.
Southern Baptists believe in soul competency. The concept that each person, individually, can communicate with God, and is, therefore, personally accountable before God. Your family can not save you. Neither can your church. Salvation is a matter between you and God alone.
Against the backdrop of this religious freedom, it is important for us Baptists to set forth with conviction the things we believe concerning faith and salvation.
Priesthood of All Believers
Southern Baptists believe in the priesthood of all believers. Lay persons have the same right as ordained ministers to communicate with God, understand the Scriptures, and minister in Christ's name. That is why we require members of the church to head up organizations and serve on committees to carry out the work of the church.
The Priesthood of All Believers is a matter of responsibility and servanthood, not privilege and license. This means that no one can rule the church as he or she wishes outside of the Body of Christ (The Church), and no one can interpret the Scriptures anyway they wish. All views of Scripture are not equally valid. We can not believe anything we want and still be a Baptist.
Creeds and Confessions
In some groups, statements of belief (like the one you are reading) have the same authority as Scripture. Baptists call this creedalism. The difference between Baptist statements of belief and creeds and confessions is that statements of belief are not authoritative, and can be revised in light of Scriptural teaching.
Southern Baptists have no creed but the Bible. Still, we are creedal in the sense that we do believe certain things. Baptist have always had Baptist beliefs and set Baptist limits, and within those limits Baptists have always had preferences
Southern Baptists believe in local church autonomy. Each church is free to determine its own membership and to set its own course under the headship of Jesus Christ. Churches may affiliate with other churches, associations, state and national conventions, so long as these other entities are willing, since they too are autonomous.
Any Baptist entity may freely accept to fellowship with other churches, associations, or state or national conventions, or reject, or withdraw fellowship without infringing on the autonomy of other Baptist bodies. No entity is forced to comply with the business or practice of other entities; to do so is voluntary. Those who do not wish to comply with an entity's beliefs or practices, and are rejected by the entity, are still fully autonomous and perfectly free to go on with their own business or practice. That choice is theirs.
Church and State
Southern Baptists stand for a free church in a free state. We support the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States , with its "establishment" and "free exercise" clauses. At the same time, we acknowledge that the state, for example, has the right to enforce fire codes for church nurseries, and that it is appropriate to offer prayers in the Senate of the United States and at civic functions. Neither the Constitution nor Baptist tradition would build a wall of separation against such practices as these.
Evangelism and Missions
Southern Baptists believe all people are lost without Jesus Christ; he is the one and only-begotten Son of God and Savior. As such, we ask the people of the world to conform to Him and to His Word, and not to our merely human traditions. We cannot, however, compromise doctrine or give up who we are to win the favor of those we try to reach or those with whom we desire to work. We believe in personal involvement in evangelism and missions through the local church and through the Mission Boards of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Southern Baptists believe the Bible teaches that both men and women are of equal value, and that both men and women participate equally in the priesthood of all believers. While Scripture teaches that a woman's role is not identical to that of men in every respect (just as the roles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not identical in every respect), the role of each is defined in Scripture, and is critical to the work of the church.
The Cooperative Program of missions is integral to the Southern Baptist genius. In the early days, the material resources of each ministry were dependent upon the persistence and eloquence of the spokesmen raising financial support. This approach was uneven and exhausting. In 1925, Southern Baptists chose a denominational plan of unified giving. this Cooperative Program laid the foundation for extraordinary growth and fruitfulness in mission work. Recognizing this, the Southern Baptist Convention has steadfastly resisted a return to the societal method of raising funds for mission causes.
The Sanctity of Life
Southern Baptists believe procreation is a gift from God, a precious trust reserved for marriage. At the moment of conception, a new being enters the universe, a human being, a being created in God's image, with a life of its own. This new, fragile, human being deserves our utmost love and protection before birth as well as after birth.
Southern Baptists affirm God's plan for marriage and sexual intimacy--one man, one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a "valid alternative lifestyle." The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals, and like all other sinners, homosexuals must repent of their sin, and become new creations in Christ Jesus.