What Kind of Baptist?

Baptists come in all shapes and sizes and are not the same. Currently, there are over 64 separate Baptist denominations in the United States and the diversity is surprising. For example, Primitive Baptists ardently defend predestination; so do Regular Baptists and Reformed Baptists. But Free Will Baptists believe just the opposite. Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists don’t believe in missions.

Swedish Baptists and German Baptists live primarily in the midwest; Northern Baptists (who later became American Baptists) were strongest in the northeast. Southern Baptists began in the south and still have their largest numbers there. Some Fundamentalist Baptists believe that the first Baptist church was started in 31 A.D. and that “nobody is a true Bible fundamentalist unless he is a fundamental Baptist.” The Alliance of Baptists are at the complete other end of the theological spectrum as they embrace diversity and nonconformity. The list goes on and on.

In light of this diversity, what kind of Baptists are we at University Avenue? 

First, we are evangelical Baptists. This means we are Gospel-centered. Jesus Christ is the most common name in our church’s vocabulary. The Bible is the primary book we study. We are concerned about knowing Jesus Christ sharing making him known to our oikos and around the world

Second, we are ecumenical Baptists. While we are Baptist, we believe that God is bigger than Baptists. We rejoice in God’s activity in numerous denominations and para-church groups. We want to cooperate with and be open to all that God is doing in these organizations. We respect and love anyone who makes the common Christian confession, “Jesus is Lord.” We are more interested in the Kingdom of God than in a specific denominational label. 

Third, we are open-minded Baptists. Within the limits of the New Testament, we want our members to enjoy the freedom that comes in following Jesus Christ. This does not mean that one person is free to use the Bible while another uses the Koran, or that one is free to worship Jesus while another bows to Buddha, or that one is free to obey the Great Commandment while another is free to reject it. 

Being open-minded does not give a believer the right to ignore or disobey Biblical teachings and the example of Jesus. With that said, however, there is not a lock-step mentality at University Avenue that requires every Christian to look, walk, and talk the same. Our goal is to follow Jesus Christ, and that necessitates a spirit of liberty and responsibility.

University Avenue Baptist Church is a member church of the Oahu Baptist Network (OBN), Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention (HPBC),  Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).