The Baptist Church is a Denomination of Protestant Christianity.
The word “baptism” is of ancient Greek origin and means “becoming a member of the Christian Church”, “to christen” or “to immerse somebody in water.”
The voluntary and conscious baptism, “baptism by faith”, based on firm beliefs and the abandonment of life in sin, is the fundamental feature of this religion. This is the reason that Baptists do not christen their members whilst children. During the ritual, a single complete immersion in water takes place; neither pouring nor sprinkling is ever used.
The Baptist Church is a self-governing community that adheres to the principle of independence not only from local authorities but also from any higher Baptist organizations. At the same time, other communities sometimes join Baptist alliances while maintaining their autonomy. Some of those that are affiliated have become members of the Baptist World Alliance.
There are four main theories of the origin of the religion:
In the first half of this century, there were two autonomous denominations: General and Particular Baptists. The former supported the views of Jacobus Arminius. They believed that Jesus had atoned for the sins of all men with his death. Therefore, each person is able to decide his or her own destiny.
Particular Baptists supported the views of John Calvin, an author of the doctrine of predestination, according to which Jesus atoned for the sins of a certain circle of people marked by God.
It was in North America, rather than in Europe, where Baptism became more spread. People who had been subjected to religious persecution and fled from the Puritan colonies settled there. They had been persecuted for speaking about the separation of the church from the state and the refusal to baptize their children. In 1639, a migrant Roger Williams founded the Rhode Island colony, where Baptism was freely followed as a religion.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Baptist communities began to spread rapidly in France and Germany and on into Scandinavia.
In 1905, the Baptist World Alliance was founded in London, and it still exists today.
In the 17th century, Baptists were influenced by the Anabaptists. However, even though they had similar views, the relationship between them floundered, and in 1624 it finally broke down.
Initially, historians thought so. But, in 1859, the Southern Baptist Convention rejected that view.
The history of the Baptist Church of Russia begins with the movements of predecessors. These included the Stundist and Molokan movements, which were completely or partially absorbed by Baptism. Some historians believe that the roots of Baptism in Russia originated in the 17th century, with the split of the Russian Orthodox Church, the establishment of Russian Protestant sects, and even earlier to the Raskolniks (The Priest-less Old Believers).
At first, the religion spread to the Caucasus, the Taurida and Kherson Governorates. The first Union of Russian Baptists was founded in 1884, but this broke up in the mid-1930s.
In today’s world, the Russian Union of Evangelical Christian-Baptists is an extensive religious alliance. Since 1991, the Euro-Asian Federation of Evangelical Christian-Baptist Unions has been the coordinator of numerous such alliances and fraternities.
What unites Baptism, Christianity and Protestantism?
Baptists have common beliefs with Christians and Protestants.
Like Christians, Baptists believe in the Holy Trinity, the Church, the Kingdom of God, the Second Coming of Christ, the Day of the Last Judgment, the Immaculate Conception of Jesus, His performance of miracles, the crucifixion, and the resurrection.
Like Protestants, Baptists consider the Bible – consisting of 66 books – to be their Holy Scripture.
Baptists treat other religions tolerantly and they denounce religious persecution.
Along with these similar principles, however, there are some differences. For example, General and Particular Baptists mentioned above.
Also, there are differences in tenets of worship and theology within the movement. Isolation from the rest of the world, missionary activities, the concept of the end of the world, how one atones for sins and views of the afterlife are all issues that spark off heated debate among the followers of this faith.
Parishioners gather for the main service weekly on Sundays. As a rule, the service consists of sermons, singing with musical accompaniment, the reading of poems dedicated to religion and prayers in a free form. On weekdays, followers of this faith are likely to gather to read and discuss the Bible together.
To become a parishioner, a person must be baptised with water. Baptists do not equate this ordinance with the salvation of the soul. For them, it is more an indicator of a person’s true faith in Jesus and his/her repentance. Therefore, Baptists do not baptize children who, because of their age, do not yet have firm faith and understanding of the essence of this action.
Baptists are actively engaged in missionary activities. They often set up charity centers to help different sectors of the population under challenging situations.
Easter and Christmas are the main church holidays, as well as the Harvest Festival when people thank God for earthly and heavenly gifts.
To sum up, the Baptist Religion, despite its strict principled position on independence matters, preaches tolerance and love for one’s neighbor, God and the Church. Despite numerous past persecutions, its members are open to dialogue and ready to lend a helping hand to those in need.