What do I mean by Reformed Baptist?
By D. Wayne Layton
To some the term “Reformed Baptist” is an oxymoron. It is like saying “I am a Presbyterian Baptist” others may argue. Traditionally many of those who identify themselves in the “reformed” camp often practice infant Baptism, hold to Covenantal Theology, and practice a Presbyterian form of church government. However the term “reformed” is not exclusively the characteristic of secondary doctrines such as Baptism, eschatology, or church polity.
The term “reformed” is a distinction brought about by the reformers of the sixteenth century. The core of the Reformation was a recovering and a reemphasizing of fundamental primary Biblical truths. The hallmark doctrines that were recovered during the reformation are often described as the “five solas.”
1. "Sola Scriptura" ("Scripture alone" as the authority for life and practice in the church).
2. "Sola Gratia" (God's sovereign "grace alone" as the reason for our salvation without any actual or potential human merit).
3. "Sola Fide" (justification by "faith alone" and no human works).
4. "Solus Christus" (salvation through the Person and work of Jesus "Christ alone").
5. "Soli Deo Gloria" (all things ultimately for "the glory of God alone").
These five Biblical concepts were the pillars upon which the foundation of the Reformation was built. Key reformers such as Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli had divergent views concerning Baptism and Communion, but were in agreement with the five core principle doctrines of the Reformation. The Reformation was focused on recognizing the absolute sovereignty of God in all things. So to be identified as “reformed” is to communicate that you are in agreement with the five pillars of the Reformation, the “five solas” or in short, the absolute sovereignty of God.
The term “Baptist” primarily refers to individuals who affirm believer’s baptism by immersion. Many of those who describe themselves as Baptists do not share the same view on the sovereignty of God, church polity, and eschatology. However, the common distinction among Baptists is the practice of immersion following regeneration.
A “Reformed Baptist” then is person committed to the five pillars of the Reformation and believer’s Baptism by immersion. The “Reformed Baptist Churches” are a group of independent local congregations committed to historic Christianity and in particular, historic Baptist principles. They may vary on secondary doctrines but agree on the primary doctrines of the Faith.
In essentials unity
In non-essential liberty
In all things charity
- St. Augustine