What does it mean that Unity Baptist Church identifies as a Reformed Southern Baptist congregation?
First, it certainly means that we endorse the The Baptist Faith & Message, a doctrinal statement published by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000. (For more on our doctrinal commitments, click here.) In addition, it means that we exist in a cooperative relationship with other churches in the Southern Baptist Convention.
When we identify as a Reformed church, we have several distinctives in mind. Here are a few brief summary statements:
The “Five Solas”
Reformed Southern Baptists embrace the classic summary phrases of the Reformation: Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura, & Soli Deo Gloria.
Sola Gratia—Salvation come to us by grace alone & not in any sense because we somehow deserve it.
Sola Fide—We receive this grace by our faith alone, not in any sense by works that we do.
Solus Christus—Salvation comes through the redeeming work of Christ alone, with no human contribution added to it.
Sola Scriptura—Our source for knowing these things is Scripture alone, which is our final & ultimate authority for faith & practice.
Soli Deo Gloria—All glory is to God alone in the salvation of sinners. Indeed, all glory for all things is to go to Him & Him alone.
Reformed Southern Baptists acknowledge that God is sovereign over human salvation. In His grace & according to His good purpose, God determined to save certain sinners from the righteous wrath they deserved. God works to draw the elect to Himself & perfectly applies Christ’s redemption to them.
Concern for God’s Glory
Reformed Southern Baptists believe that God’s supreme purpose in creating the natural order is the display of His own glory. Human beings are most in line with the heart & mind of God when we make His glory our highest concern, embracing the truth of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which states that the chief end of man “is to glorify God, & to enjoy him forever.”
The Regulative Principle
Reformed Southern Baptists affirm that Scripture gives us authoritative guidelines for the structure & order of the local church. In addition, Scripture gives authoritative guidelines for the worship practice of the church, & any worship practice that is in contradiction to Scripture is not legitimate.
Meaningful Church Membership
Reformed Southern Baptists believe that salvation & new life in Christ should have a serious & lasting impact in the lives of professing believers. There should be evidence of increasing transformation in Christ. Church membership provides a testimony that a local church is seeing that fruit in an individual believer. In addition, church membership invites the encouragement & accountability of a local church into an individual believer’s life.
Continuity with Historical Reformed Baptists
There exist several valuable creedal statements authored by historical Baptists since the time of the Reformation. Unity Baptist Church stands in the doctrinal stream of some of these confessions, in particular the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689, which can be found here. While we do not utilize this historical creed as the doctrinal standard of our contemporary church, we do in general endorse the Second London Baptist Confession as an appropriate standard of biblical Christianity. We would differ from it only on points 22.7 & 22.8, & point 26.4, all of which we believe to be too strongly worded.