Baptist represent the largest Protestant (more on this later) group in the nation, and are the 2nd biggest Christian denomination- by far- in the country (after Roman Catholics). Their influence in our current society is significant, although there are various further groups and divisions within the overall term “baptist”. In this column we will not have time to delve into those differences, but rather review some of the keys of the current Baptist church within the United States. To do this we interviewed Pastor Fred DeRuvo, ThD.
Do you consider Baptists to be Protestants? Why or why not?
Only in a general sense. Generally speaking, Baptists rose up from the English Separatist movement, which was not connected to Protestantism.
Essentially, being Baptist is being part of a fellowship of other believers
without the control of a main body or group.
What is your opinion on the recent name change of the SBC?
Regarding the name change, I don’t think it will really replace the original name of Southern
Baptist. I understand why they did it, but will it really catch on? It makes no real difference to me. Currently, my family and I are members of a Southern Baptist Church in Georgia and I will likely continue to refer to it as that.
Who, in your opinion, is the most influential and/or vocal leader today within the Baptist community? Why?
Undoubtedly, I would have to say that Billy Graham has been the most influential leader. There are certainly others though, like Al Mohler. These people stand on biblical truth and are not afraid to present it. However, of late, Billy Graham seems to have backed off on certain areas of doctrine that he once held dear.
What are the basic 3-4 tenets of the Baptist faith/ doctrine?
Baptism (water) and the Lord’s Supper are two main sacraments practiced symbolically within the Baptist denomination.
What is a “Fundamentalist”, and does a Fundamentalist have to be a Baptist? Who determines what is “fundamental”?
A “fundamentalist” is a person who believes in the five essential fundamentals of the faith: 1. The inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, 2. The deity of Jesus Christ, 3. The virgin birth of Christ, 4. The substitutionary, atoning work of Christ on the cross, 5. The physical resurrection and the personal bodily return of Christ to the earth.
(Columnist note: By this definition, wouldn’t the majority of current American Christians be deemed “fundamentalist”?)
A person does not have to be a Baptist to be considered a fundamentalist. IFCA churches
(Independent Fundamental Churches of America) are not Baptist, yet believe in the main fundamentals of the faith.
Tell us something most people may not know about Roger Williams, the American “co-founder” of the colonial Baptist church?
Something I just learned about Williams is the fact that he worked with Native Americans and was, in fact, a student of Native American languages.
(Dr. Fred DeRuvo is the author of numerous articles and a growing number of books related
to religious studies. Fred is also ordained and has received his Th.D from Northwestern Theological Seminary in Florida. You can hear Fred’s weekly program Study-Grow-Know through the following venues: SermonAudio.com/studygrowknow . This column is part of a TT series about various Christian denominations.)