Baptist in history are heroes of the faith. They suffered so much misunderstanding,persecution, pain and death from Catholics, Reformed, Lutheran and Anglicans. They suffered because they believed in a regenerated congregation who believes in Jesus Christ with a living and informed faith. Many-within the Roman Catholic church- entered through the church by forced conversion or through their kings-mass conversion. It also means mass baptisms.
I am only commenting with my experience here in the Philippines. Good Baptists usually used the term Evangelicals or Christians to describe themselves. Those who remain Baptist in name are almost always synonymous with “fundamentalist, separatist”. Other good Baptists want to prefaced their label with a descriptive “Reformed”.
I have some qualms with the term “Reformed” if it instantly refers to a covenant theology with a flatline view of the covenant-like that of the Reconstructionist or the Federal Visionist. That is why I am using the term “New Covenantal Reformed” to show that my view is historical-which means it begins with Noah and Abraham-and not with Adam. I see Adam as the first representative of man- but I am still weighing the term “federal head” since Augustine understanding of original sin does not necessitates a covenantal transaction. Not all Reformed theologians advocates the Westminster -type of covenant theology. But I am not dispensational (though I with some appreciation of their view of discontinuities about the land,people and temple-as well as the law) and neither I am not anti-covenantal. But I don’t want to be identified as a modern-day Baptist because of the following:
1. Creedless-There are some advantages of being without a confession or statement of faith -meaning you can easily follow the Scriptures -wherever you and your church decided that it is what Scripture teaches. However if a church does not have a statement of faith-who says if a teaching is an aberration or truth? If you will be conducting a discipleship or basic course on doctrines-which ones are important? If there will be questions within the church-who will tell if someone is in danger of falling away from the faith?
2. Singular Leadership- Presbyterian,Reformed and some Baptist and evangelical churches have plural elderships. This reflects the singular headship of Jesus Christ. This also reflects New Testament (especially Pauline) Christianity. This tendency for singular leadership tends to mimic, in a local church setting, -the papacy. He is the one who decided the direction, doctrine and discipline of members. Some churches were able to weather this situation because of the servant of its pastors and/or the vigilance of its members or board of deacons.
3. Culture-bound-I am not a member of a Protestant Reformed Church-so I am not against the doctrine of common grace/presence. But I believe in the doctrine of the antithesis. I see culture and the media through the lens of Reformed Theology of -creation,fall,redemption and consummation. It is the sieve that I use whether a thing,activity or idea maybe redeemed and used for His glory. I am also missional and believe in contextualization (based on the Lausanne Covenant) or incarnational-type of evangelism and missions. But seeker-friendly? I would not used that word since Romans 1-3 as well Ephesians 2 prevents me to see that depraved-unregenerated man will ever seek God on his own. So most of these churches will use these resources with minimum theological resources. It is only through the defensive stance of the Holy Spirit that they are not engulf inside this secular quicksand.
4. Unbiblical evangelism-not knowing about the total depravity of man and that unregenerate man will only resist the gospel-these churches will resort to gimmicks, manipulation, coercion and tickling the ears of their hearers. Though we are told by our Lord not to be a stumbling block to others coming to Him (meaning there are behaviors,attitudes and actions we must avoid doing or being) -He also told us to share the gospel in a way that will not reduced its demand on men to eb truly His disciples. Using manmade methods will surely result to man’s disicples -not Jesus’.
5. No exposition of God’s Word-not confident of the power of the Gospel and Word of God to change peoples’ lives-they resort to topical preaching -which is geared towards the shallow diagnosis of man’s needs. Result? there is almost a famine of God’s Word in these churches.And the problem is -they don’t know that-because their speakers-are great speakers-but their manna is not from heaven. It may inspire them for a while. It may alleviate them for a while. But it will not be the living water-nor the bread from heaven.
6. Unconcerned about children’s biblical education-since they think that their children will have an adult commitment around 12 to 18 years old-they neglect to catechize and teach the bible-using the bible itself-their own children. This is not true with reformed Baptists though-I have talked with Pastor Noel Espinosa and he believes that we should not set the minimum age when a child may understand the gospel and trust the Lord Jesus for their salvation. But amongst baptists-they will treat their children with coloring sections and activities instead of delving into bible segments and doctrines. I thought they should be more aware and concerned of their children’s education-but they are not. So the Baptist I admired does not live in my neighborhood or immediate surroundings. Understanding the bible through a covenantal lens may correct this neglect.
7. Unaffiliation/ unaccountability- I do not believe in hierarchical or sacerdotal church government. Nor do I believe in one-man church leadership. I believe in multiple leadership in a local church-and the local church and its leaders accountable collegialy to a group of Christians for their doctrine,practices and finances. If I don’t believe in the Pope in ROme-much more for a pope inside a local church.
8. Barging in worship-I don’t believe in a wooden worship-meaning you already know what will exactly happen each week-nor I believe in totally unstructured public worship. We worship in Spirit and in Truth. And we worship in an order that glorifies God. Worship that lifts up men and their group is not good worship. Worship must points to the great themes of the Scripture-Creation, Fall, Redemption and the New Creation. Most evangelical churches just barges into the throne of Grace without even being led by the Word-nor we are made conscious of our unworthiness except for the work done by the Lord Jesus at Calvary. They just barge in.
So I rather be labeled with a long set of descriptors-Born Again Christian, Lausanne Covenant-Evangelical, New Covenantal and Missional Reformed (Kuyperian,Van Tillian, Vossian and Schaefferian).