Culturally rich and ethnically diverse, American Baptist churches are found in every state and often reflect the cultural flavor of their communities.
This individualism, along with a strong belief in the autonomy of the local congregation, allows American Baptists to examine and maintain a wide range of social, political, and theological positions. These differences, rather than creating dissensions, enrich our fellowships and strengthen our sense of mission.
Yet amidst such diversity, American Baptist hold certain truths as foundational:
We believe that Jesus Christ, as fully God and fully human, is the only true Lord and Savior.
We believe the Bible is the divinely inspired record of God's actions in history, and that it serves as our authority for faith and practice.
We believe that individuals become Christians as they confess their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, and that they receive forgiveness of sins through His death and resurrection.
We believe Christians have an eternal relationship with God and are given strength and help in living today through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean American Baptists are perfect, simply forgiving.
We demonstrate our new faith in Christ through "believer's baptism" by immersion, following Jesus' own example. Baptism serves as a symbol of death to our old life, and resurrection to a new life in Christ.
We celebrate the Lord's Supper in which all believers are invited to symbolically accept the broken body of Jesus and the grace-filled gift given to us in and through Jesus Christ.
Finally, we believe in a personal relationship with the Lord which compels us to share our faith with all people and live a life in which we act justly, love, mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
We are a Biblically based people. Since our inception in the 17th century, the Scriptures have been held as holy and central to our faith. In all our churches the Bible is regularly read and taught through study, sermon, and song.
Mission work is a high priority for American Baptists. We have a rich history of outreach throughout the world, with an urgency to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with every person in every culture.
We appreciate the work of others. Having suffered harsh persecution at the hands of state churches, American Baptist are especially sensitive to the need for separation between church and state. Because of this history, we are tolerant and understanding, recognizing that God is at work among other Christian groups as well. And we choose to love these brothers and sisters, work with them, and learn from them.
Evangelism and Outreach
American Baptists as individuals and churches have a passion for and are highly committed to spreading the Good News and reaching people with the life-transforming love of Jesus Christ.
We are willing to take a stand. American Baptist Christians have been leaders in the struggle for social reform, women's rights, and the civil rights movement. Because Jesus modeled a life free of bias and prejudice, and because all people have an equal need for His love, American Baptist congregations have grown to include members from all racial and cultural backgrounds.
Local Church Autonomy
American Baptist are congregationally oriented. We see Christ at the head of each fellowship. It is the individual members of a local American Baptist congregation who come together as a church body and are responsible, together with the local church leadership, for being led by the Spirit in their actions and directions.