At Morgan Valley Baptist Church, we are primarily concerned with being people who are conformed to the image of Christ through the transforming power of God's word and of the Holy Spirit. We desire to avoid many of the negatives often attributed to denominationalism in general, and by some Baptists specifically. On one hand, there have been Baptists who have compromised biblical truth, and subject themselves to denominational tradition, even when in error. On the other hand, there have been Baptists who have practically worshipped the Bible, and in that process become not only legalistic idolators, but tyrannical and abusive to other Christians and non-believers, alike.
Historically speaking, Baptists have been people of the book, a position which has often put them in jeopardy. The Swiss Anabaptists, for instance, found that insisting on biblical consistency placed them squarely in the sights of both the Roman Catholics in Germany, and the Protestants in Switzerland (Zwingli); they were martyred by both parties, in part, because of their insistence that baptism was only for believers, and not infants.
We readily recognize that being a Baptist has nothing to do with one's standing in Christ. No one will ever be reconciled to God because they are a Baptist. So why are we a Baptist Church?
The acrostic in the next column represents historical distinctives of Baptists. It does not comprehensively cover all of our doctrine, but rather distinguishes our beliefs in key areas of Christian faith from those of other Christians and churches. Baptists have lived, and died, for these distinctives, and by God's grace, so too will the body of Morgan Valley Baptist Church.
B - Biblical Authority
Only God's word, the Bible, is authoritative in doctrine and practice.
A - Autonomy of the Local Church
The church is a local body, subject directly to our Lord, Jesus Christ. There is no biblically authorized ecclesiastical hierarchy existing outside the local body of Christ.
P - Priesthood of the individual believer
The New Testament, and particularly the book of Hebrews, clearly teaches that believers are priests, dependent upon the only efficacioius mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus. It is because of His finished work, and the standing God imputes to the believer on that basis, that we have direct and personal access to God.
T - Two Offices; Pastor/Bishop/Elder and Deacon
I - Individual Soul Liberty
While we are to contend for the faith ONCE delivered to the saints, and to plead with men in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God, we recognize that each individual is personally and directly accountable to God for their standing before Him. He alone judges the thoughts and the hearts. No person should face compulsion in any religious matter.
S - Separation of Church and State
The state ought not be controlled by the church, and the church ought not be controlled by the state.
T - Two Ordinances; Baptism and the Lord's Supper
These ordinances are symbolic memorials, prescribed the Lord Jesus, and have no sacramental merit.