Being of Independent Baptist persuasion, and conservative in faith, orientation, doctrine, and practice, we believe and teach the following:
NOTE-1: If you like to review doctrinal statements, as do I, you will notice that I sat down and wrote this out in long-form, narrative format—not the traditional outline format. This is not exhaustive, yet I have covered most things of primary importance.
That the Holy Scriptures (consisting of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) are the inspired, "God-breathed" Word of God; having been penned by His prophets and apostles in their own, individual writing styles. In other words, God sovereignly superintended the transcription of every word of the Scriptures, yet without subverting the personalities of the writers. As such, they were without any error in their original manuscripts; that they are relevant today in their entirety and are thus the final authority in all matters to which they address, including faith, doctrine, practice and conduct (as well as historical and prophetical accuracy) — 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Proverbs 30:5-6
See Appendix: Point #1
What about method of interpretation? I would fall under the general classification of a "Literalist" or "Textualist." Meaning, "Text without context is pretext or a disguise for deception. As conservative Bible scholars are fond of saying, 'When the plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense.' Textualism dictates that every word should be taken at its primary, ordinary, literal, historical meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and self-evident and fundamental biblical truths, clearly indicate otherwise." (Quoted from the book Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy Zuck.)
That is, that the Scriptures are to be interpreted and understood in keeping with a literal, normal, straight-forward (obvious and logical) meaning; this, in light of contextual, grammatical, lexical, historical, cultural, and prophetical considerations, using sound exegetical and hermeneutical principles, comparing rightly-divided scripture with scripture (not superimposing private, allegorical, or symbolic suppositions, i.e., "personal interpretations") Simply put, this means, not reading into the passage what one wants to find, ignoring context or the real, intended meaning of the words used.— 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Proverbs 30:5-6 See Appendix: Point #4
That according to the Scriptures, there is only One True and Living God; that He is GOD above all "gods" (so-called), King above all Kings, and Lord above all Lords; that He is the "Intelligent Designer;" the Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe, including all life-forms contained therein; that everything, every life-form, everywhere, both seen and unseen, material and non-material, throughout inner space and outer space, including all the elements and natural laws whereby everything functions, were created in their entirety by God's speaking them into existence by the power and authority of His Wisdom and His Word, ex nihilo or "out of nothing," all within the first six 24-hour day periods. That He exists above and apart from His Creation, and does not depend on His creation to exist or draw nourishment; that God's creative acts occurred devoid of any so-called big-bang, time gap, or evolutionary "chance" process; that even now, all things throughout the entire universe and cosmos are being sustained and held in position by the power of His Authoritative Word, and the natural laws He set in motion — John 1:1-3; 1Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:3, 1:10
That the One True and Living God exists forever, separate from His creation, from eternity past through eternity future, as the Triune Godhead, in three equal and distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son (the Preincarnate Christ) and God the Holy Spirit; that by Divine Nature and Character God is Omniscient (having all knowledge), Omnipotent (possessing all power and authority), and Omnipresent (always present everywhere); as well as Righteous, Just and Holy; Faithful, Trustworthy and Loyal; Tender, Kind and Compassionate; Loving, Gracious and Merciful; and that as such, God will not tolerate sin, and did not create sin in any form (i,e., the transgression against His Holy Character, Laws, and Standards), nor can He be represented by any man-made idol, effigy, amulet, or graven image — Isaiah 44:6-20; John 1:1-5; 2 Peter 1:16-18; Acts 5:3
That Satan, also known as The Devil, Deceiver, Destroyer, Enemy, Evil One, Angel of Light, and That Old Serpent, is a created spirit-being, the now-fallen Archangel Lucifer; that he is an actual, living, spirit-entity (not a concept, force, or figment of imagination) and is the sworn enemy of God and man; that he is the author of sin and the personification of evil; that although he is limited in power; that Satan has influence and sway over this world's system and its occupants; that neither Satan, or his minions (fallen angels under his authority), have no authority, power, or control over the born-again Believer–through the protection of the indwelling Holy Spirit–except for the potential to influence the emotions (fear, doubt, etc.) and imagination, resisted through exercising the Shield of Faith by the Believer — Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 4:4
That Adam and Eve were created specifically by God's own Hand, in His image and for the express purpose of blessed fellowship with Him; that they were tempted by Satan to doubt God's goodness and promises; that they fell from God's good graces by an act of willful disobedience, thus they became separated from God, lost and banished from His presence, and experienced spiritual death and condemnation as a result of their sin —
That subsequently, all born into Adam's fallen race are lost sinners by natural birth and by willful choice, and are fallen short of the perfect requirements of God's Divine Law; that they are lost in their sin and devoid of any ability to save or redeem themselves to a right standing before God, from which they have fallen —
That the Scriptures describe the extent of mankind's lostness and rebellious condition, the scope of God's purpose and plan of redemption; i.e., that He does not desire that anyone should perish in their sin, but that all people everywhere should repent and receive Him as their Creator-God, Savior and Lord; but that sin and evil must ultimately be punished wherever found —
That the virgin-born advent of Jesus Christ (seed of the woman) into the Jewish race, coming as preexistent Son of God and promised Messiah-Savior, was prophesied in Scripture and fulfilled; that as Son of Man, Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and after meeting all the requirements of God's Divine Law for us, sacrificially shed His own Blood on Calvary's Cross, dying in our stead as a substitutionary payment price for our sins and those of the entire world — Genesis 3:15, 12:3; Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; John 3:14-16; Galatians 4:4; 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:2
That after three days, as promised, Jesus was resurrected from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit (in the same crucified body) for our justification, gloriously vanquishing His enemy Satan and establishing victory and power over sin, death and the grave; that He is presently seated at the Father's Right Hand as our Living Lord, Savior, Advocate, High Priest and coming King; that His pretribulation, premillennial return for His own Bride is eminent, i.e., the Church, comprised of all born-again believers, purchased and redeemed by His own Blood —
That this one-time, all-inclusive, sacrificial act on our behalf — death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ — is the core essence of the Gospel message, i.e., the Good News; that the sole purpose for Jesus' coming into this world was to be our sacrificial Lamb or sin-bearing Messiah; that the intended result of accepting the Gospel is not to enhance social harmony, cure political injustice, or provide a more fulfilling or successful life-style here on Earth — although these things may well occur as secondary benefits — but that we, sinners guilty of breaking God's Holy Law, might receive total restoration and reconciliation to God, forgiveness of sin, and eternal life; and that we are completely and fully delivered from the wrath of God's impending judgement, thus escaping eternal banishment to Hell and the Lake of Fire — Matthew 10:34-39; John 1:29, 3:14-18, 5:24, 14:27; 1 Corinthians 15:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:15
See Appendix: Point #3:
That God is no respecter of persons; and that by means of the Gospel, He graciously offers eternal salvation and forgiveness of all sin as a free gift to all people everywhere; that this act is reflective His compassionate and merciful character and because of His longsuffering and loving-kindness; that salvation is gained solely through personal faith in the Person, Name and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ alone on their behalf, imparted freely and entirely upon that faith, totally apart from any form of so-called "good works," personal merit, or church membership — Ephesians 2:4, 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7; 2 Peter 3:9
That, any and all persons, who, according to the Scriptures, humbly repent and personally receive (trust fully in) the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, by simple faith, as his or her personal sin-bearer and only hope for Heaven, immediately receives full and complete forgiveness, the gift of eternal life and indwelling Holy Spirit, which once granted can never be lost — John 3:36; John 10:27-30; Acts 20:21
That, upon exercising saving faith, believers are immediately forgiven of all sin (past, present, and future), as an immediate and integral part of salvation; that they are regenerated (given new, eternal life), in-dwelt (the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in their heart and life), and "sealed" (irrevocably secured as God's personal possession) by the Holy Spirit; believers are reconciled to God, are justified or declared righteous, and are kept by the power of God unto the Day of Redemption (the day Christ returns for them); they are born-again into God's forever family of redeemed Saints, i.e., the Church, and will never again be lost or judged for their sin; they are destined by God to spend a blissful eternity in new, glorified resurrected bodies in His presence — 1 Corinthians 3:10-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:13-14 1 John 2:16, 4:4
See Appendix: Point #2:
Concerning the Believer
Undergo Believer's Baptism Once: The picture is, "Made like Him in death – In Him we rise in newness of life." That all believers, everywhere, are responsible to receive "Believer's Baptism" upon confession of faith, following Christ's command; that Believer's Baptism is by full immersion (Greek: baptizo); that Believer's Baptism does not help to "Save," or enhance the Salvation experience in any way; that it is done as an act of obedience; that it is a personal testimony before all concerning what has already taken place in one's life, i.e., a picture of having been buried with Christ in His death, and raised again with Christ unto newness of life — Matt 28:18,19; John 3:23; Acts 2:38a; Acts 8:36-38
NOTE 1: Some have taken this to the extreme, requiring people to be re-baptized into their particular denominational orientation before allowing membership in their local church. Even if they have already undergone bona fide believer's baptism (by immersion), conducted by born-again, Grace-oriented leaders. This belief and practice cannot be supported by scripture.
NOTE 2: The religious rite of sprinkling an infant—called Paedobaptism—as practiced in mainline, non-Baptistic, protestant denominations, is an heretical tradition and hold-over from Roman Catholicism. This belief and practice cannot be supported by scripture. What is scriptural is a prayer of dedication of an infant, to the Lord, by the parents, done in front of the church body, performed by the pastor or head elder.
Celebrate The Lord's Supper Often: That the Believer should partake in Holy Communion, or "The Lord's Supper," on a regular basis ("As oft as ye do this..."), in fellowship with others of like precious faith; that partaking of the Communion elements is a celebratory act, done in remembrance of Christ's broken body and shed blood as a sacrifice for sin; that the partaking of the Communion elements is an on-going proclamation of the Gospel, until Christ returns; that the communion elements "represent" the Body and Blood of Christ — 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
NOTE: The communion elements—typically unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine—are not transformed into the actual Body and Blood of Christ, as Catholicism wrongly claims concerning the Mass, the Eucharist. This is known as "Transubstantiation," which is based on the misinterpretation of one of Christ's analogous statements in John 6:53-56, a chapter where He made other analogies concerning His true identity to the unbelieving Jews—"I am the Bread of Life..." (John 6:35), "I am the living bread..." (John 6:51), etc.
Live a Separated Godly Life Always: That the Believer is commanded by scripture to walk in obedience, live in newness of life, and bear spiritual fruit; that the Believer's life should be lived out to the glory of God, reflective of one's standing as God’s redeemed ones (His Saints); that as such, every Believer should rely on God's strength and wisdom in an effort to proclaim the Gospel message vocally, with the goal of winning souls to Christ; and that the Believer should seek to live his or her life in a sanctified, Holy manner, separated from personal sin (looking for the Lord's return), deliberately avoid ungodly, worldly, social practices, as well as shun believers who habitually practice sin and/or promote false teachings — John 10:27-28; Acts 16:31; Romans 5:1, 10:9; Ephesians 1:13-14, 2:10, 4:1, 5:1-2
That all believers, upon physical death, are immediately translated into the presence of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in Paradise (i.e., garden of pleasant tranquility, conscious happiness: Albert Barnes' Commentary Notes). There, to later be rejoined with their resurrected and glorified bodies at the time of the Rapture of the Church Bride (catching up, taking away), their bodies being changed from their once corruptible and mortal condition, to being transformed into incorruptible and immortal glorified bodies, to be rejoined in the clouds with those believers who are yet living, who will also undergo the same transformation unto glorification at that juncture, and forever be with the Lord Jesus Christ. (We reject the unbiblical concepts of "Purgatory" and "Soul Sleep.") — Luke 23:39-43; John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
NOTE: The term "Soul Sleep," a popular belief among some groups, including Adventists, implies that the believer, upon physical death, enters into a state of "spiritual hibernation" until the Rapture (calling up) of the Church to be with Christ occurs. Bible scholars feel this is a misinterpretation of the figurative term for died, i.e., "fallen asleep," in 1 Thes. 4:13. Compare this with the Apostle Paul's statement concerning his approaching martyrdom: "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:1-10, specifically v1 & v8)
That everyone who rejects God's free gift of forgiveness and salvation through personal acceptance of the Person, Name, and Work of God's Son on their behalf, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be held personally responsible to pay the ultimate price for their own sin. Meaning that, in rejecting Christ, they will have condemned themselves to stand personally before a Righteous and Holy God, to undergo His all-seeing and all-knowing scrutiny at the White Throne of Judgement; that they will be judged, found guilty, and because they rejected Christ's sacrifice on their behalf, will be thrown bodily into the Lake of Fire reserved for Satan and his angels; there, to anguish throughout eternity in a state of conscious torment in payment for their own sin. This is known as the "Second Death," where they will be separated from God and all that is good, condemned to dwell in eternal darkness forever and ever. — Revelation 21:8
How can all this be so? God's Word (the Holy Bible) tells us that "For God so loved the world (of humanity), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him (Jesus, or God the Son) is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God — He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." — John 3:16-18, 36
Point #1: Concerning the Apocryphal writings: (i.e., extra books sometimes couched between the Old and New Testaments), we believe that they are clearly extra-biblical and extraneous in nature, and as such, we do not consider any of them (or their content) acceptable as being part of the canon of holy writ.
Point #2: Concerning demon possession, Satan's minions, demons, or fallen angels, are powerful and cunning spirit beings that are many times more intelligent than any human—originating from a higher created form of life. That being said, we believe scripture teaches that once a person is saved or spiritually born-again into God's redeemed family of forgiven Saints, that person is immediately regenerated or recreated into a new person "in Christ." As such, is set apart, sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God forever, and therefore cannot actually be demon possessed, since the Holy Spirit dwells within;
However, the Believer can be tempted or influenced by Satan's demons to doubt and disobey God, and thus choose to walk in darkness (sin), yielding to the passions of the flesh and/or pressures and principles of this present world's system, instead of walking in the light, under the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit — the battle for the will being in the mind.
This is not equivalent to the term "demonized," a popular concept among some Charismatic types, which lumps believers into a nebulous class where they are said to be capable of becoming "possessed," of sorts, and need to be "delivered" by long and tedious prayer sessions, and by repeated attempts at exorcism... not unlike an unbeliever. As such, we feel that this term and doctrinal practice is clearly extra-biblical in nature, since it fosters much misunderstanding and confusion. This incorrect view and pursuit also greatly detracts from the understanding of the authority, power, and sovereignty of God, not to mention His ability to keep, protect, and watch over His Saints (redeemed, set-apart, Born-again Holy Ones), who, according to 1 Peter 1:5, are kept by His power unto the day of final redemption.
That being stated, this erroneous idea of a genuine believer becoming "demonized" is not to be misconstrued with the Biblical practice that the Apostle Paul admonished of the heretofore complacent Corinthian believers to: "deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus," This was referring to disfellowshipping (expulsion and shunning by fellow believers) and severely disciplining the unrepentant believer, who was openly practicing an unspeakable form of gross incest and fornication. The disfellowshipping was done for the sake of encouraging repentance and restoration, which occurred as a result of the disciplinary action taken... (cf. 1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Corinthians 2)
For more information, read:
What I Believe and Teach Concerning the Charismatic Movement - Myers (Ver 7.5) (PDF Format)
Point #3: Concerning various extra-Biblical or non-Biblical views, and/or unconventional teachings pertaining to major or crucial doctrinal themes... we believe that if anyone intentionally adds to, detracts from, alters, or complicates the basic tenets of the simple "whosoever will" Gospel of God's Amazing Grace, we consider them to be either confused, lacking in knowledge and understanding, blinded by tradition, or purposely teaching outright heresy, i.e., "other gospels." That is, man-made perversions, or, what the scriptures define as "doctrines of demons," i.e., those lying in wait to deceive by purposefully straying from the clearcut teachings that the Apostle Paul set forth, himself having received them from the Lord Jesus Christ (Downloaded directly from God's Heart to his in a personal vision), which he in turn preached, taught, and delivered unto the Saints. Galatians 1:6-12; Jude 1:3
Important doctrinal themes would include: the Triune Godhead, including scope of roles and divisions; the Character of God the Father; Christ's Divine pre-incarnate existence, His virgin conception/birth, sinless humanity, sacrificial death to purchase our redemption, bodily resurrection, and soon return; the Person, purpose, and work of the Holy Spirit; spiritual gifts, walk of the believer; the Church (Body of Christ); positions and qualifications for church leadership; the accuracy and relevancy of the scriptures; dispensational versus reformed doctrinal views concerning specific stewardships, time periods, or lack thereof(i.e., Millennial Reign of Christ); the scope of salvation ("Whosoever Will May Come" versus Calvinism); the causative agent of salvation (i.e., mercy and grace versus legalism and works); ; the extent and aspects of salvation (justification, sanctification, and glorification); judgements; rewards, Heaven; Hell; eternity; prophecies; days, times, and seasons; Liberalism; Ecumenicalism; Biblical Separation, et cetera
Concerning ambiguity: As a rule, God's Word is typically very precise, logical, easy understanding, and clarity of meaning, especially when approached using sound exegetical and hermeneutical methods of interpretation, including immediate and wider contextual considerations, while comparing scripture with interrelated scriptural proof-texts. This does not mean there isn't room for alternative views or differences of opinion on passages that come across somewhat ambiguous as to the author's intended original meaning... Hebrews 6:1-6 being a prime example—who is the actual subject of the descriptions?
Point #4: Concerning Bible texts and translations (the short version). Regarding original language texts and Bible translations in general, I have made the journey and have come pretty-much full circle in my understanding and preferences. When I received Christ in mid-1963, I was given a King James Bible (KJV), which was certainly adequate and rich in its Shakespearian-era Elizabethan English. It spoke to my heart, even though there were a few words and sections that were somewhat difficult to decipher at first glance; not the thee's, thou's, or -th suffixes, but various archaic word meanings or syntax order that had changed over the years, yet which made perfect sense to any common plowboy, when it was first introduced in 1611.
A little later, around 1966, I learned that there was a new translation being introduced that was purported to clarify portions of text that were difficult to understand in the KJV. This was essentially the dawning of the modern translation era. At that juncture, I was still a very young believer, and most of the new-translation onslaught was still in the future... nor was I at all aware of the degree of variations in the various Hebrew and Greek textual readings, textual criticism, etc., etc. As did many others, I bought into the argument and shelved my trusty ol' KJV Bible for what was claimed to be a very faithful and grammatically accurate study Bible that had just recently been completed, i.e., the New American Standard Bible, or NASB, published by the Lockman Foundation.
In actuality, speaking strictly from a translator's viewpoint, the translation to which I refer, was and still is considered to be one of the most grammatically-accurate available today, except for the fact that it is based on a questionable source manuscript, textually speaking, i.e., the Alexandrine or Critical Greek text. Therein lies the quandary ... the quality of any translation is reflected, not only in philosophy of translation and the ability of the translator(s), but in the source text from which it is derived. The more I became aware of this source-text issue, the more I began to rekindle an appreciation for the old KJV standby, and other translations based on the Byzantine/TR Greek text. This transition was not immediate, but was the result of a gradual awakening process that spanned many years.
Thus, the watershed question remains: which of the two main Greek text sources available today most-accurately reflects the actual original autographs? Is it the Alexandrian (and its derivatives), on which almost all modern translations are based, or the Byzantine/TR (Received Text), on which the Authorized King James and various other translations are based? It would seem that there is no empirical or scientifically-provable way of knowing for sure... surely not by listening to conjecture and allegations on both sides of the argument.
That being said, after studying and researching the two positions over the years, and working my way through reams of sometimes-misleading promotional hype or "strawman" arguments—on both sides of the equation—I have concluded to my own satisfaction, albeit against popular, politically-correct opinion, that the actual preponderance of manuscript evidence lends itself more towards the Byzantine/TR than the Alexandrian. The Byzantine is sometimes associated with the Majority Greek text, which is a compilation of the best existing Byzantine/TR manuscripts, which prevail in quality and quantity over the more-scarce Alexandrian Greek manuscript fragments (also known as the Westcott and Hort, Critical, Nestle-Aland, or UBS).
In conclusion, with the above in mind, I consider myself to be a Byzantine/TR-only proponent, which includes a renewed appreciation for the KJV—that I carry and use (and occasionally the Byzantine/TR based NKJV). Having a preference and liking for the King James is one thing; however, I repudiate the various extreme KJV-only positions, promoted by the likes of Mr. Peter Ruckman, and others. The more radical of these assertions border on heresy and even idolatry in that they assert that God abandoned the originally-inspired Old and New Testament autographs in favor of the KJV, which they claim are inspired in like manner as the originals.
Furthermore, they allege that all other Bible translations are counterfeit, having been inspired by Satan. And, that no one can be truly saved through reading anything other than the English 1611 KJV. These views and beliefs are absurd—based solely on hypothetical conjecture, conjured up and spurred on mostly by peer-pressure and emotional zeal, without any actual proof or scriptural evidence whatsoever.
Now, speaking strictly from a translator's standpoint, I don't personally like, or agree with, the interpretive wording choices of many of these newer English translations, or even the philosophy of translation, and see them as essentially unnecessary, if not confusing and misleading. Furthermore, as mentioned, I have a renewed appreciation for the KJV; however, I consider the statement and position that one can't be saved apart from the KJV to be absolutely ludicrous, not to mention an affront to reasonable-thinking people's intelligence.
The implication is that a native-born unreached tribal person, raised deep in the jungles and far removed from English or a Judeo-Christian oriented culture, must first master Elizabethan English before he or she can ever hope to be saved. Believe it or not, I have heard well-meaning and sincere people make that preposterous assertion. Furthermore, what if that tribal person was fading away on his or her death bed and wanted to receive Christ, but only spoke his or her native language, and was illiterate as well? How then could that person ever receive Christ if these restrictions were true? Think about it...
If this describes your understanding, consider for a moment Acts 2:1-11, where, at Christ's command, the Apostles were gathered together in Jerusalem to await the approaching Day of Pentecost, when the promise of the Father was to be revealed—the descent of the Holy Spirit to take up residence in the hearts and lives of believers, i.e., the beginning of the Church Age. Consider also the various number of languages and dialects represented by the visiting Jews and Proselytes gathered there.
When the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and gave them unction, they spoke the "Wonderful Works of God" to those there, i.e., the fulfillment of their long-awaited Messiah having been fulfilled. This news was delivered verbally by the Apostles by supernatural means, in the languages (glossa) and even the specific dialects (dialektos) of those present.
Of the languages and dialects cited in verses 9-11, there were at least sixteen represented, and likely more. Yet, not one of the languages named was KJV English (or any other form of English) since English was not in existence at that juncture.
So, according to the KJV-Only theory, if salvation requires hearing the Word of God in KJV or Elizabethan English, why then did Christ command the Apostles to await the Day of Pentecost in one accord, and why did the Holy Spirit empower the Apostles to deliver "The Wonderful Works of God" to the Jews and Proselytes in attendance in their own (non-KJV English) languages and dialects? Again, think about it...