The founders’ purpose was to hold tight to the precious truths of the Word of God which had been recaptured by our Protestant forefathers. This heritage of Evangelical, Reformed, and Baptist theology forms the basis for who we are as a church family.
Evangelical refers to the heritage of the New Testament revelation of the core message about Jesus Christ and His saving life and work. In the New Testament the word for this core is the “gospel” or “evangel” which means “good news”. Evangelicals have always been those who believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God containing the life-saving, life-transforming gospel. Evangelicals have usually been the ones concerned to communicate this evangel to the whole world. So over the centuries, one could speak of “evangelical” Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and know that they were members of those denominations who believe in the Bible, the power of the Gospel which saves those who believe, and the evangelistic preaching of this gospel at home and to the uttermost parts of the world.
Reformed refers to the heritage of the teachings of our Lord and His Apostles which were recaptured at the time of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century by such men as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox, among many others. These “reformers” were given grace to see that the Word of God had been encrusted with centuries of human traditions and the gospel obscured. The saving message of the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ in the gospel had been lost. But these men, who had their own souls reborn by the power of the gospel of free grace, preached from the pulpits of Europe with tremendous power and blessing by the Holy Spirit and whole nations were changed. The key ideas of the Reformation were captured at that time in five Latin slogans:
- SOLA SCRIPTURA – The scripture alone is our final authority in every area of life, because it is the Word of God;
- SOLA CHRISTI – Christ alone, in his perfect life and atoning death in the sinner’s place, is the basis for our acceptance by God;
- SOLA GRATIA – The grace of God alone in Christ, not works of human merit or effort, is how God saves sinners;
- SOLA FIDE – Faith alone is the means by which sinners receive or appropriate this grace of God; and
- SOLI DEO GLORIA – To God alone be the glory for saving sinners and for everything else in this life and the life to come, eternal.
Baptist refers to the heritage of the teachings of the New Testament as recovered by our Baptist forefathers. They saw that the Bible teaches a personal appropriation of the work of Christ by faith – personally repenting of sin and believing in the work of Christ alone to save. Following the Reformers, Baptists have always held “the just shall live by faith”. those who believe are then to obey Christ’s command by being baptized. Our Baptist forefathers saw that the Holy Scriptures reveal only “believers” being added to the local churches. Public baptism was the outward visible sign or symbol of the inward spiritual reality that a believer was engrafted into Christ through personal repentance from sins, self, and this world, and faith in Jesus Christ and His saving work alone. These baptized believers were gathered into local assemblies where they gave themselves to the Apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Baptists have always emphasized the believer’s responsibility to witness for Christ, beginning with one’s family, then at work, at school, in the neighborhood, and to the remotest parts of the world. Baptist missionaries and preachers like John Bunyan, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Charles Spurgeon, Jesse Mercer, Richard Furman, and John Broadus have carried on this heritage.
Here is a helpful podcast on what it means to be a Reformed Baptist: https://irbsseminary.org/episode-34-what-is-a-reformed-baptist/