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Primitive Baptist Beliefs and Practices

Distinctive Primitive Baptist Beliefs

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King James Bible
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Primitive Baptists draw all of their beliefs directly from the 1611 King James Version of the Bible. If they can't support it with Scripture, they don't follow it. Their services are modeled on the early New Testament church with preaching, praying, and singing without instrumental accompaniment.

Primitive Baptist Beliefs

Baptism - Baptism is the means of induction into the church, according to Scripture. Primitive Baptist elders conduct baptisms and rebaptize a person who has been baptized by another denomination. Infant baptism is not conducted.

Bible - The Bible is inspired by God and is the sole rule and authority for faith and practice in the church. The King James Version of the Bible is the only holy text recognized in Primitive Baptist churches.

Communion - Primitives practice closed communion, only for baptized members of "like faith and practice."

Heaven, Hell - Heaven and hell exist as real places, but Primitives rarely use those terms in their statement of beliefs. Those who are not among the elect have no inclination at all toward God and heaven. The elect are predestinated through Christ's sacrifice for them on the cross and are eternally secure.

Jesus Christ - Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and rose from the dead. His sacrificial death paid the sin debt of his elect in full.

Limited Atonement - One of the doctrines that sets Primitives apart is Limited Atonement, or Particular Redemption. They hold that the Bible says Jesus died to save only his elect, a specific number of people who can never be lost. He did not die for everyone. Since all of his elect are saved, he is a "completely successful Savior."

Ministry - Ministers are males only and are called "Elder," based on biblical precedent. They do not attend seminary but are self-trained. Some Primitive Baptist churches pay support or a salary; however, many elders are unpaid volunteers.

Missionaries - Primitive Baptist beliefs say the elect will be saved by Christ and Christ alone. Missionaries cannot "save souls." Mission work is not mentioned in Scripture in the gifts of the church in Ephesians 4:11. One of the reasons Primitives split from other Baptists was a disagreement over missions boards.

Music - Musical instruments are not used in Primitive Baptist churches because they are not mentioned in Scripture in New Testament worship. Some Primitives go to classes to improve their four-part harmony a cappella singing.

Pictures of Jesus - The Bible forbids images of God. Christ is the Son of God, is God, and pictures or paintings of him are idols. Primitives do not have pictures of Jesus in their churches or homes.

Predestination - God has predestinated (chosen) a number of elect to be conformed to the image of Jesus. Only those people will be saved.

Salvation - Only Christ's elect will be saved. Salvation is totally by God's grace; works play no part. Those who express an interest or curiosity in Christ are members of the elect, because no one comes to salvation on their own initiative. Primitives believe in eternal security for the elect: once saved, always saved.

Sunday School - Sunday School or similar practice is not mentioned in the Bible, therefore Primitive Baptists reject it. They do not separate services by age groups. Children are included in worship services and adult activities. Parents should teach their children at home. Further, the Bible states that women are to be silent in church (1 Corinthians 14:34). Sunday Schools usually violate that rule.

Tithing - Tithing was an Old Testament practice for the Israelites but is not required of today's believer.

Trinity - God is One, consisting of three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is holy, omnipotent, omniscient and infinite.

Primitive Baptist Practices

Sacraments - Primitives believe in two ordinances: baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper. Both follow New Testament models. Baptism of people of the age of accountability is performed by a qualified elder of the local church. The Lord's Supper consists of unleavened bread and wine, the elements used by Jesus in his last supper in the Gospels. Feet washing, to express humility and service, is generally a part of the Lord's Supper as well.

Worship Service - Worship services are held on Sunday and resemble those in the New Testament church. Primitive Baptist elders preach for 45 to 60 minutes, usually extemporaneously. Individuals may offer prayers. All singing is without instrumental accompaniment, again, following the example of the early Christian church.

To learn more about Primitive Baptist beliefs, visit What Primitive Baptists Believe.

(Sources: pbpage.org, oldschoolbaptist.com, pb.org, and vestaviapbc.org)

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