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Baptist

Baptizing in the Jordan by Silas Xavier Floyd.

Baptists are Christians distinguished by baptizing professing believers only (believer's baptism, as opposed to infant baptism), and doing so by complete immersion (as opposed to affusion or sprinkling). Baptist churches also generally subscribe to the tenets of soul competency/liberty, salvation through faith alone, scripture alone as the rule of faith and practice, and the autonomy of the local congregation. Baptists generally recognize two ordinances: baptism and the Lord's supper. Baptist churches are widely considered to be Protestant, though some Baptists disavow this identity.

Diverse from their beginning, those identifying as Baptists today differ widely from one another in what they believe, how they worship, their attitudes toward other Christians, and their understanding of what is important in Christian discipleship.

Historians trace the earliest "Baptist" church to 1609 in Amsterdam, Dutch Republic with English Separatist John Smyth as its pastor. In accordance with his reading of the New Testament, he rejected baptism of infants and instituted baptism only of believing adults. Baptist practice spread to England, where the General Baptists considered Christ's atonement to extend to all people, while the Particular Baptists believed that it extended only to the elect. Thomas Helwys formulated a distinctively Baptist request that the church and the state be kept separate in matters of law, so that individuals might have freedom of religion. Helwys died in prison as a consequence of the religious persecution of English dissenters under King James I. In 1638, Roger Williams established the first Baptist congregation in the North American colonies. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the First and Second Great Awakening increased church membership in the United States. Baptist missionaries have spread their faith to every continent.

The largest Baptist denomination is the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), with the membership of associated churches totaling more than 15 million. Many Baptists cooperate through the Baptist World Alliance. Independent Baptist churches are unaffiliated with denominations.

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The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a Christian denomination based in the United States. With more than 15 million members as of 2015, it is the world's largest Baptist denomination, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, and the second-largest Christian denomination in the United States after the Catholic Church.

The word Southern in Southern Baptist Convention stems from it having been organized in 1845 at Augusta, Georgia, by Baptists in the Southern United States who split with northern Baptists over the issue of slavery, specifically whether Southern slave owners could serve as missionaries. After the American Civil War, another split occurred when most freedmen set up independent black congregations, regional associations, and state and national conventions, such as the National Baptist Convention, which became the second-largest Baptist convention by the end of the 19th century. Others joined new African-American denominations, chiefly the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the early 19th century, as the first independent black denomination in the United States.

Since the 1940s, the Southern Baptist Convention has shifted from some of its regional and historical identification. Especially since the late 20th century, the SBC has sought new members among minority groups and to become much more diverse. In addition, while still heavily concentrated in the Southern United States, the Southern Baptist Convention has member churches across the United States and 41 affiliated state conventions. Southern Baptist churches are evangelical in doctrine and practice. As they emphasize the significance of the individual conversion experience, which is affirmed by the person having complete immersion in water for a believer's baptism, they reject the practice of infant baptism. Other specific beliefs based on biblical interpretation can vary somewhat due to their congregational polity, which allows local autonomy. The average weekly attendance is 5,200,716. Read more...

Selected biography

John Stephen Piper (born January 11, 1946) is an American Reformed Baptist continuationist pastor and author who is the founder and leader of desiringGod.org and is the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Piper served as Pastor for Preaching and Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 33 years. His books include ECPA Christian Book Award winners Spectacular Sins, What Jesus Demands from the World, Pierced by the Word, and God's Passion for His Glory, and bestsellers Don't Waste Your Life and The Passion of Jesus Christ. The organization Desiring God is named for his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986). Read more...

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Bethany (5).JPG

Bethabara, called today Al-Maghtas in Jordan, where John the Baptist is believed to have conducted his ministry and where Jesus is believed to have been baptised.

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