WHAT WE BELIEVE
Introduction: Since as American Baptists we are not a people of creeds, we allow a wide circle of beliefs within First Baptist Arlington. It is not an unlimited circle, but it is fairly accommodating and recognizes that every person is neither at the same stage of their lives nor does every person come from the same background. We believe that we should help each other in our mutual spiritual search rather than to restrict that search. We emphasize the search for God's purpose for our lives and try to help each other lead good lives.
God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit: We see that God is a divine and loving spirit who is the Creator and Ruler of the universe and who is responsible for the ordering of all things in this world and in the next. God is the very heart of love, and we regard Him as our Father as well as our Lord. God showed His love to us by corning to earth in the person of His Son and suffering death on the Cross. He did this for our salvation because of His great love for humanity. In addition to appearing to us in the person of Jesus Christ, our Savior, God continually provides for our spiritual comfort and for an ongoing revelation of His nature and purpose in the third person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. We worship The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as one God in three persons.
The Bible and its Use: We understand the Holy Scripture is given to us as the written word of God's relationship with His people and the written revelation of the Word of God personified by the Lord Jesus Christ. We view it as divinely inspired- not a scientific textbook or a history of the entire human race. In our view, it is a history of the relationship of God and His people; first with Israel, and then with all humanity in the new Israel, the Church of Jesus Christ. We attempt to interpret it in the broadest possible manner without taking texts out of context. Its primary use in our church and in our personal lives is as a source of comfort, guidance, and inspiration. The Bible is studied by all ages in structured settings of Sunday School and Bible Studies.
Baptism: Our relationship with Jesus develops in our spiritual life when we privately make a commitment to follow Jesus and trust and depend upon Him to guide us. We practice baptism by total immersion as a public announcement of our relationship with Jesus. We accept into our fellowship, by way of Christian Experience, those who have been baptized elsewhere, if they do not wish to be baptized again.
The Lord's Supper: We view The Lord's Supper as an act of remembrance. Celebration of this meal helps us grow spiritually in our relationship with Him. We partake in Communion together to emphasize our belief that we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ. We serve each other to emphasize our belief in the equality and priesthood of all believers, laity, and clergy.
The Human Condition: God created us to be His sons and daughters and gave us free will so that we may grow and learn as His children. We believe it is this free will which has allowed evil to do its work and enter the world. Our weaknesses and acceptance of the easy way makes it possible for evil to flourish and difficult for good to triumph. We try to work at correcting injustices within our own church family and within the community at large. We view charitable acts as a way by which Christ's work succeeds. Without the help of Jesus, we would be able to accomplish nothing; with His help, we can do anything.
The Purpose, Place and Mission of the Church: The purpose of any church is to train the next generation of believers, to support those of the present generation, and to remember those who have gone before us. We see our main mission as preaching the Gospel to bring God's message of justice, peace, and charity to all people. We will not be the instrument or prisoner of any political party, ideology or cause.
Role of Laity and the Minister: The laity and the clergy are equals at First Baptist Arlington. The congregation governs itself by meetings of boards and committees elected by the congregation at the annual meeting. The minister, a person educated in the Bible and in Christian doctrine, is the primary teacher in/of the congregation. The minister, although responsible for the worship life of the congregation and for its spiritual and physical well-being, consults with the appropriate boards, committees, and members about matters pertaining to the church.
Commitment to American Baptist Churches: We see ourselves as independent of any other congregation and of local (TABCOM) and national denominations (ABCUSA). We work with them to help with missions and acts of charity, which can be better done together than separately. We rely on the denomination for help in securing professional staff, in providing for the health care and retirement of professional staff, and in reconciliation when we have problems.
Our Ecumenical Witness: We believe that we should work with our fellow churches to make things better where we live, work, and worship. Locally, the pastor is expected to be involved with the Arlington Interfaith Committee and to involve us in its work. Our founding fathers did not recognize the authority of any state church. We believe strongly in the separation of church and state and are committed to upholding this principle. We feel that we can work with other churches and groups in a spirit of mutual respect even if we do not agree fully on points of doctrine or practice. It is our belief that God would have good people work together for His Kingdom without prejudice towards individual or corporate ideology.