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Frequently-Asked Questions

Because the Primitive Baptists are relatively few in number when compared to the popular denominations and because some beliefs and practices of Primitive Baptists are considered peculiar by most of the world, there are a great number of questions asked about them. Unfortunately, a great number of inaccurate answers are given.

The following list of frequently-asked questions is provided to satisfy the curious and to correct erroneous speculations.


Q1:  Why the name Primitive Baptist?

A: Primitive Baptist ancestors have been called by various names over the ages. The name Primitive Baptist became popular in the early 1800s when the term “primitive” conveyed the idea of originality rather than backwardness. Accordingly, Primitive Baptists claim to maintain the doctrines and practices of the original  Baptists, who are claimed to be the New Testament church. “Primitive” also conveys the idea of simplicity. This well describes the Primitive Baptists, whose church services consist of nothing more than preaching, praying, and singing. Even though the name “primitive” can convey a negative impression, it also has some benefits; one being that it provokes interest and questions.

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Q2: What is the basic difference between Primitive Baptists and other religious orders?

A: This is likely the one question which is asked most frequently of Primitive Baptists.Primitive Baptists believe that eternal salvation is by the Grace of God ALONE (Isaiah 53, Acts 4:12, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 6:37-39, John 17:2-9, Romans 8:28-39, II Corinthians 5:21, Luke 1:9-15, Galatians 2:16, Hebrews 9:12-15)The reader should examine the remainder of this document to become acquainted with Primitive Baptist practices. The Abstract to the Doctrine of Salvation will introduce the reader to Primitive Baptist views on doctrine. The Black Rock Address of 1832 will acquaint the reader with the circumstances which lead to the division between Primitive and other Baptists.

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Q3: What do Primitive Baptists believe is the role of God the Father in salvation?

A: In making a covenant with God the Son and God the Spirit, God the Father foreknew, elected, and predestinated an innumerable host out of all mankind before the foundation of the world to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28, Ephesians 1:3-6, Ephesians 1:11, I Peter 1:2, John 6:37-40, John 17:2).

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Q4: What is the role of God the Son in salvation?

A: God the Son came to earth to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), to suffer the wrath of God for their sins in their place (I Peter 3:18), and to redeem (buy back) those whom God the Father had previously chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:7, John 6:37-40, Matthew 1:21, John 10:27-30, John 17:2-3, Titus 3:6, Hebrews 9:12-14, I Peter 1:1).

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Q5: What is the role of God the Spirit in salvation?

A: God the Spirit promised to enter the heart of every person whom God the Father foreknew and whom God the Son redeemed, giving the “new birth” (Titus 3:5, John 1:13, John 3:1-8, John 6:63, I Peter 1:1), and also to guide those children in their understanding of the word of God (John 16:13). According to the scripture, this “new birth” is not given because of any action of our own, but by His mercy and grace.

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Q6:  What is my role in salvation?

A: If you have been born again by His Spirit, it means you are included in God’s purpose and your role is to give God glory in your life because of the life He has given you (Ephesians 2:1). This involves repenting of sin, embracing His truths, confessing Him, following His instruction, and joining His church (Acts 2:38, Psalms 119:105, Romans 10:9, Revelation 4:11, I Peter 3:21).

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Q7:  Must I “accept Christ” in order to be saved?

A: No.  The words “accept/accepted/accepting” occur 12 times in the New Testament in reference to salvation.  Not ONCE does it mention that you are to “accept Christ”, which is a phrase that was coined around 100 years ago. However, as one already born again, the Bible declares that “in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, IS ACCEPTED with him” (Acts 10:35). Like the “sinner’s prayer”, and other terms not found in the Bible, the idea of “accepting Christ” arose through years of distortions and mis-teaching of the fact that God’s children “receive” the Spirit into their hearts by volition of the Holy Ghost (John 1:12, John 3:27, Romans 8:15, I Corinthians 2:12, II Corinthians 11:4, Galatians 3:2, Colossians 2:6). But you can accept the gospel (II Corinthians 11:4), the good news of your salvation, which declares the truth that CHRIST has MADE US ACCEPTED (Ephesians 1:6), which involved no work of our own!  If you have received the Lord’s gift, then you are required to repent and be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38).

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Q8:  If Primitive Baptists believe in election, then why did Jesus have to die?

A: Election and predestination are merely the terms used by God to describe what He did in appointing the innumerable host of His children to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). In order for this to be accomplished, someone had to suffer the penalty for the sins of His people. God’s wrath must be satisfied on all mankind, including those He chose (the elect). Only one Man could do that - Jesus Christ. He suffered the penalty of sin in our place (Acts 17:3, II Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 53:6, Hebrews 9:12-28), which had to occur in order for the innumerable host of His children to be housed in heaven.

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Q9:  Are Primitive Baptists Calvinists?

A: No.  In the minds of most people, Christianity is divided into two major groups, those who believe eternal salvation depends upon your choice (i.e., “accepting” Christ) and Calvinists (those who advocate the theology of John Calvin).  Clearly, there is a plain distinction between Primitive Baptists and those who believe you can “accept” Christ. However, when people hear Primitive Baptists proclaim the doctrines of grace (election, predestination, etc.), they assume that Primitive Baptists are some branch of the Calvinist family.  The fact is, Primitive Baptists have never been a part of either group since they and their ancestors have maintained their identity since the days of Christ and the Apostles.  John Calvin was a Protestant Reformer who seceded from the Catholic Church and started Presbyterianism. Baptists derive their existence from Christ and the Apostles and, as such, predate Catholics and have maintained separate existence even through the Dark Ages, hence the name “Primitive” (Matthew 16:16-18, Ephesians 2:20).

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Q10: Is election/predestination something to be afraid of?

A: No.  It is essential to understand that no one would be saved it if were not for God electing a people, Christ dying for their sins and the Spirit making them a new creation (Romans 3:10, Psalms 14, Psalms 53). Interestingly, ALL of the first churches embraced election as part of the good news that was preached to them (I Thessalonians 1:4, Ephesians 1). The conversion and baptism of ALL the early church members involved an integral, working knowledge of this fundamental teaching.  The Apostle Paul taught this in his FIRST messages to the Thessalonians (Acts 17, I Thessalonians 1:4), the Ephesians (Acts 19, Acts 20, Ephesians 1, Ephesians 2), the Philippians, the Corinthians, etc. The Apostle Peter taught this truth (Acts 2:38-41, I Peter 1:2, II Peter 1:10). Furthermore, Jesus Christ taught it (Matthew 24:12, Matthew 24:31, Luke 4:25-27, Luke 18:7John 5:40, John 10:27-29, John 15:16, John 17:2-3).

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Q11: Do Primitive Baptists think they are an exclusive group?

A: It is a common misconception that because Primitive Baptists embrace salvation by grace as plainly taught in the scriptures they therefore believe God’s chosen people are an exclusive group.  On the contrary, Primitive Baptists are the only known group in existence who believe that God has an all-inclusive group of chosen, sanctified, and redeemed people in every kindred, tongue, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9). When a believer understands that were it not for God’s choice of a people then there would be no one in Heaven because of man’s sin (Romans 5:12), it is clear that God did not exclude anyone from heaven.  The Lord Himself looked down upon the children of men to see if there were any that would seek Him and He found none (Romans 3:12, Psalms 14:2, Psalms 53:2). It was Adam’s choice to sin, not God’s choice, that excluded ALL mankind from heaven and were it not for the inclusive grace of Jesus Christ, none would be saved.  Jesus declared, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden ...” (Matthew 11:28). The cry of Primitive Baptists is inclusive for all born-again sinners, no matter their age, race, color, creed, or background, to take up the cross and follow Jesus as an evidence of Jesus’ saving grace in their heart (Luke 9:23). However, a person who believes that a sinner must invite Jesus into his heart, accept Christ, say a particular prayer, or meet any man-made condition to enter Heaven, embraces a false salvation that is exclusive and not contained in the scripture. Accordingly, any person who does not meet that group’s particular condition IS excluded.

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Q12: Will all of God’s elect children be saved?

A: Yes, because Jesus said all that the Father gave Him would come to Him (John 6:37). This is the only plan of salvation that, in addition to saving competent people, would also include the salvation of those incapable of receiving the gospel, such as infants (Luke 1:41, Psalms 22:9, Jeremiah 1:5, II Samuel 12:23, I Kings 14:13) or mentally challenged persons!

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Q13: What about the person who wants to be saved but is “left out” by God’s plan of election?

A: If you believe the promise of Jesus (John 10:27-29), then you understand that this is not possible.  A person who “wants” to be saved is saved already! (John 1:13).

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Q14: What is the purpose of preaching?

A: To instruct, comfort (Isaiah 40:1-9, Ephesians 4:11-16), reprove, rebuke, exhort (II Timothy 4:2), warn, teach (Colossians 1:28), and spread the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ alone among all nations (Luke 24:47).

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Q15: What is the purpose of the gospel?

A: To bring life and immortality to LIGHT but NOT to LIFE (II Timothy 1:10). The gospel is the information/education/understanding of how you are saved.  It illuminates (brightens) what God has already placed in your heart. There is no life to illuminate in a spiritually dead being (Ephesians 2:1).

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Q16: What is the Primitive Baptist understanding of the Bible’s teaching concerning missionaries?

A: The term missionary is found nowhere in the Bible. The gifts of the church are found in Ephesians 4:11.  The purpose of these gifts is for the benefit of the saints, or those who are already born again.  Primitive Baptists wholeheartedly believe that gospel ministers must go where directed by the Spirit and not by a mission board (Acts 20:22-23). The call to “save lost sinners”, or the cry of mission work as is common today, whether intentional or not, works to de-emphasize the importance of the local ministry and place the importance of the Christian walk somewhere far away. It causes individuals to lose sight of their true “mission”, that of being content with where God has placed them and striving to spread the gospel to those in the area where they have the most influence - their home and their communities. It is noteworthy that Primitive Baptists have established churches in foreign lands, such as the Philippines, Africa and India, to which no organization or board has directed men to go, other than the Lord.

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Q17: What is the Primitive Baptist position on Sunday schools?

A: Like missionary societies, there is no biblical precedent for Sunday schools and the church was never instructed to have them. Bible study is expected out of church members and is not limited to a formal church setting. Scriptural example dictates that such activities are conducted in contexts other than formal church worship (Acts 2:46, Acts 17:17, Acts 20:20). There is nothing in scriptures to indicate that worshippers, either in the New Testament or the Old, were ever segregated by knowledge, age, sex, marital status, or any other criterion. Instead, all worshipped in a common assembly.  Jesus Himself charged the first preachers to feed the lambs (little ones), as well as the sheep, (John 21:15) in the context of the general assembly.  We are told that childrens’ understanding can exceed that of the wise and prudent (Matthew 11:25, Matthew 21:15) and that God has ordained praise in the utterances of babes (Matthew 21:16). Accordingly, Jesus rebuked His disciples for denying admittance of children to His presence (Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 9:36-37, Mark 10:13-15). Hence, it should not be assumed that children are incapable of receiving proper instruction from the general assembly. The modern practice of denying children entrance to church sanctuaries is very much against the spirit of the scriptures.  However, Primitive Baptists advocate a better position than Sunday schools - that of parents, whether single-parent homes or otherwise, instructing their children in their homes on a daily basis, which provides much more instruction than one hour per week. The church cannot take the place of the parental responsibility of teaching in the home (Ephesians 6:4).

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Q18: What is the Primitive Baptist view of the scriptures?

A: Primitive Baptists view scriptures as the divinely inspired word of God and as the sole rule of faith and practice for the church.  It is also believed that the scriptures have been divinely preserved through the ages and that the 1611 King James version is the proper English translation of the scriptures. Paul claimed that all scripture is given by inspiration of God (II Timothy 3:16). Accordingly, Jesus said that scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). Such infallibility could only occur in writings under the power of plenary (full) inspiration.  The apostle Peter said “... no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:  but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:20-21). Hence, scriptural prophecy is void of any private opinions of the writers. They were actually moved by the Spirit of God when writing. Furthermore, the psalmist David declares “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times ... Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.” (Psalms 12:6-7).All books of the King James Bible are regarded as scripture. No books apart from these are so considered. The books of the Old Testament are known to be scripture because Jesus and the apostles quoted them as such. The books of the New Testament are known to be scripture because of Jesus' promise that special inspirational guidance would be upon the apostles (John 14:26, John 16:13). This pertains to Paul also, as is implied by Peter in II Peter 3:15-16. The inspiration of the Bible is further evidenced by its internal consistency and its historical, scientific, and prophetic accuracy. Primitive Baptists strongly prefer the 1611 King James version based upon evidence indicating the superiority of its base manuscripts and upon evidence indicating the superior scholarship of its translators.

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Q19: How do Primitive Baptists use scriptural precedent to resolve questions of church practice?

A: Primitive Baptists believe that issues of practice which are not explicitly addressed by scriptural commandment should be resolved, where possible, by scriptural precedent. Primitive Baptists are very disinclined to treat scriptural practices as mere cultural fashions of biblical times and will do so only where this is obviously the case (I Corinthians 9:19-23). Scriptures themselves teach that adherence to scriptural example is not a matter of indifference. Paul told the Corinthians “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am a follower of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances (traditions), as I delivered them to you.” (I Corinthians 11:1-2) Accordingly, he told the Thessalonians “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (II Thessalonians 2:15) One chapter later he wrote “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” (II Thessalonians 3:6) Traditions which have no biblical authority are not obligatory and to make them otherwise can reduce worship to vanity (Mark 7:5-13). On the other hand, traditions which have biblical authority are clearly expected of us and are sufficiently important to be criteria of fellowship. Since the New Testament church was a highly multicultural institution, being found in many nations of the world, practices uniformly observed in them cannot be dismissed as cultural peculiarities. They clearly expected these practices of themselves as churches of Jesus Christ and we should view these practices the same way.

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Q20: How does the typical Primitive Baptist view his or her role in society?

A: Primitive Baptists cannot consent with those who compromise scriptural commandments in order to gain social acceptance. We deny the claim that terms of truth and morality are to be guided by the ever changing winds of social values (Ephesians 4:14). Instead, these are defined by our ever constant Lord and are revealed in His inspired word (Malachi 3:6, Luke 21:33, Hebrews 13:8, I Peter 1:24-25). Since it is our duty, both to God and man, to teach God's revealed truth and since we represent ourselves as doing such, any compromise of this truth would deceive and betray our fellow man, even when such compromise would serve to appease him. However, it is not our purpose to incite hatred or persecution against any man or sector of society. Since our Baptist ancestry was greatly persecuted and since we are also falsely accused and ridiculed unto this day, conscience forbids that we should bring the same upon others. Instead, the scriptures command us that the servant of the Lord must not strive but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (II Timothy 2:24-25). Accordingly, we recognize that love and charity are the first test of all that claim to be Christian (Matthew 22:36-40, John 13:35, I John 2:9-11) and that though we have all truth we are but nothing without it (I Corinthians 13:2).

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Q21: Why do the Primitive Baptists refer to their preachers as elders?

A: The importance of using scriptural titles is emphasized by Jesus’ condemning the Pharisees for taking aggrandizing titles to themselves (Matthew 23:5-12). Scriptures offer two alternate titles for preachers: bishop and elder (I Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, I Peter 5:1). That bishop and elder refer to the same office is proven by the interchanged usage of these terms in Titus 1:5-9. However, Primitive Baptists typically refrain from the usage of bishop because of the misimpressions that would be conveyed under modern connotation. That elder refers to gospel preachers is evidenced by the fact that both Peter and John claimed this title for themselves (I Peter 5:1, II John 1, III John 1). The term reverend is used only once in the scriptures where it has reference to God (Psalms 111:9). We are therefore unworthy to wear this title. Though a minister can be a father in certain respects (I Corinthians 4:15), this term is never used as a title in the scriptures. In fact Jesus commanded to call no man your father upon the earth (Matthew 23:9).  The term apostle is clearly used by the scriptures to mean a minister who was an eyewitness to the sufferings and resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:1-3, Acts 1:21-26, I Corinthians 9:1, I Peter 5:1). Also, apostles were granted special powers not possessed by ordinary elders (Acts 8:18, II Corinthians 12:12, Hebrews 2:3-4). Any man claiming this title for himself today does so in error.

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Q22: Why do Primitive Baptists require that elders be male?

A: This is a requirement which is very clearly stated in the scriptures (I Corinthians 14:35-36, I Timothy 2:11-12, I Timothy 3:2). Accordingly, there is no scriptural precedent for female elders. Churches placing women in ministerial offices appear to regard the authority of the scriptures to be subordinate to current social fashions. The requirement that elders be men does not relieve women of their obligation and right to teach in other capacities (I Timothy 5:14, Titus 2:3-5) nor does it disallow the possibility of women possessing special spiritual guidance and gifts (Judges 4:4, II Kings 22:14, Luke 2:36, Acts 2:17, Acts 21:9). However, we are persuaded that any woman assuming a teaching capacity in the church cannot do so under the influence of God's Spirit as this would place the Spirit at contradiction with Himself. Though certain modern teachers offer alternate explanations to the scriptures cited above, an examination of their arguments reveals prejudiced views and a willingness to resort to unreasonable extremes to defend them. The same methods of reason would make anything mean nothing.

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Q23: Why do Primitive Baptists not have schools for training ministers?

A: Primitive Baptist elders are called by God and chosen by the individual congregations from among male members who have demonstrated a calling and proven to be faithful to the church and its principles.  All Primitive Baptist elders are expected to be educated in the Word of God and have frequent contact with other ministers about questions of scriptural interpretation and other matters pertaining to the church (II Timothy 2:2). The Apostle Paul taught Timothy as a father instructs a son, laboring and serving together in the gospel (Philippians 2:22). This system of education is preferred above ministerial training schools because:

  • Elders in the New Testament were primarily self-educated in the scriptures.
  • Elders in the New Testament learned under the direction of the Holy Spirit and other elders rather than academicians.
  • This system makes the scriptures themselves to be the curriculum.
  • The elder learns in the same setting in which he is expected to teach. Congregations taught by these elders will be expected to have the discipline to educate themselves in the Word of God. The elder should therefore prove himself to have the same discipline.

This system is less vulnerable to the widespread propagation of error so commonly found when numerous ministers are trained under the same teachings of heretical academicians.

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Q24: Why do Primitive Baptists commune only with baptized believers of like faith and practice?

A: The primary reason for requiring communion participants to be baptized believers is expressed by the words of Paul: “Wherefore, whosoever shall eat of this bread, and drink of this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.” (I Corinthians 11:27-29) A person who has not yet submitted to the obedience of baptism has yet to examine himself in matters of Christian duty and therefore should not partake of communion. Nor should the church sanction such participation since this would make baptism appear inconsequential, thereby dulling the individual's sense of conviction over their negligence in this matter. Such churches also carelessly treat others in that they fail to alert them to the gravity of communion and the consequences of being an unqualified participant. Jesus' final statement to his disciples clearly specified the proper order of gospel obedience: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Hence, the proper order is: belief of the gospel, then baptism, then observance of all that Jesus commanded. This pattern is consistently followed elsewhere in the scriptures (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:41-42, Acts 8:36-37, Romans 6:3-4). Neither should baptized persons participate in the communion of churches espousing principles contrary to their own. Paul's statement in I Corinthians 10:16-21 forcefully argues that communion denotes the highest degree of fellowship in matters of principle. Communion is in effect a common union with the implied principles. For this reason, Primitive Baptist communion services involve only baptized individuals of like faith and practice.

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Q25: Why do Primitive Baptists require baptism by immersion?

A: The example set by Jesus is clearly one of baptism by immersion. Mark described Jesus' baptism with these words: “And straitway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him”. (Mark 1:10) A baptism followed by one coming up out of the water cannot be by sprinkling or pouring. We must take Jesus' example as being the ultimate authority on the matter. John baptized in AEnon because there was much water there (John 3:23). An abundance of water is not needful for sprinkling or pouring. Accordingly, the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized in a body of water (Acts 8:36). Paul explains in Romans 6:1-5 that baptism represents a death, burial, and resurrection. Nothing about pouring or sprinkling depicts these events. Immersion obviously does. Finally, the Greek word for baptism (baptisma) means immersion or submersion.

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Q26: Why do Primitive Baptists rebaptize persons joining them from other orders?

A: The scriptural precedent for rebaptism is taken from Acts 19:1-7. These verses teach that persons formerly baptized under improper principles should be baptized again and that failure to do so can prevent proper reception of the Holy Spirit. Since baptism is an ordinance of the church, it is necessarily tied to the principles maintained by the church. When these principles are significantly changed, the baptism should be changed also. The claim that baptism is an ordinance of the church is proven by the fact it is the scriptural means of induction to the church (Acts 2:41). Further proof is provided in Paul's statement “Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel.” (I Corinthians 1:17) This statement refers to Paul's evangelical duties and implies that baptism is principally the responsibility of local churches and their pastors. There are cases where former baptisms are obviously in gross error (e.g. infant baptisms, sprinklings, etc) and therefore necessitate rebaptism. However, the scriptures offer few guidelines as to the exact point at which rebaptism is required. Consequently, the safest and most objective policy is to rebaptize as a general rule.

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Q27: Why do Primitive Baptists use real wine and real unleavened bread in communion?

A: While scriptural descriptions of the original communion use the terms bread, the cup, and fruit of the vine, it may be conclusively inferred that the bread was unleavened and that the drink was fermented wine. This follows from:

  • The communion took place immediately after the Passover. This was a time in which leavened bread was prohibited, both by scriptural law and by Jewish tradition (Exodus 12:3-8, Numbers 9:9-11, Deuteronomy 16:1-3, Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7).
  • Leaven is used in the scriptures as an emblem of sin (Luke 12:1, I Corinthians 5:6-8, Galatians 5:7-9) and is therefore an unsuitable representative of the Lord's body.
  • Wine is symbolically consistent with unleavened bread in that neither contain leaven. On the other hand, unfermented grape juice would contradict all that is portended by the unleavened bread because grape juice typically does contain leaven. There are some who erroneously assert that the opposite is true - that wine contains leaven but grape juice does not. The reader is invited to consult any authority on wine chemistry to resolve the matter.
  • Wine was a traditional part of the Jewish Passover.
  • Without modern methods of refrigeration, grape juice could not be preserved for all times of the year. The Passover season was not conducive to grape juice since it was well between harvests.
  • The Corinthians obviously used a fermented substance in their communion service since they perverted it into a drunken festival (I Corinthians 11:20-30). Paul condemns them for their impiety and excesses, but not for the usage of wine in communion.

The importance of adhering to the scriptural example in this matter cannot be questioned since God punished the Corinthians with illness and death for departing from it (I Corinthians 11:29-30). The usage of a leavened substance, such as grape juice, to represent the Lord is, in our opinion, a severe negligence and is at risk of being chargeable as failure to discern the body of the Lord (I Corinthians 11:29).

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Q28: Why do Primitive Baptists wash feet during communion?

A: John explains that at the end of the Last Supper the Lord began to wash the feet of the disciples. After performing this great act of humility, the Lord said, “If I then, your Lord and master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done unto you.”(John 13:14-15) Primitive Baptists understand that this commandment is to be followed in literal detail as well as in spirit. Many will dismiss these actions of Jesus as being no more than symbolic gestures.  However, these same persons understand the last supper to be a literal example. We fail to see the consistency in this. If we are to take one as a symbolic gesture we must take the other as being such also. Conversely, if the Lord intended literal observance of the last supper, then literal observance must have been intended for feet washing as well. The scriptures leave no doubt that the last supper is to be literally observed (I Corinthians 10:16-21, I Corinthians 11:23-30). I Timothy 5:9-10 indicates that feet washing was practiced by the New Testament church. Neither this text nor the example of Jesus can be dismissed as a cultural phenomenon since texts describing the cultural practice of feet washing have individuals washing their own feet (Genesis 43:24, Judges 19:21, Song of Solomon 5:3). Unfortunately, such plain reasoning is easily obscured by human vanity.  Yet it was this very vanity that Jesus would have us destroy in the act of feet washing.

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Q29: Why do Primitive Baptists prefer a cappella singing?

A: There is no biblical precedent for the usage of musical instruments in New Testament worship.  The scriptures give repeated instructions to sing in the church, but never to play (Romans 15:9, I Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 2:12, James 5:13). Things that affect the setting of worship, for example, electric lights, air conditioners, etc., are not a part of the worship service and are allowable.  A distinction must also be made between an addition to the New Testament pattern and an aid to this pattern.  Electric lights, song books, reference Bibles, etc., are aids to worship but musical instruments are additions to worship.  It is commonly objected that Psalms 150 offers instruction to praise the Lord with various kinds of musical instruments.  However, these instructions are not referring to New Testament worship.  Procedure used in Old Testament worship obviously cannot be used to amend the New Testament pattern. Otherwise, animal sacrifices, priests, etc., could be legitimately introduced into the church.  It should be observed that Psalms 150 also commands to praise the Lord with dance (Psalms 150:4) yet those who use the Psalms to defend musical instruments would generally condemn dancing in the church. Furthermore, the prophet Amos condemned the very musical instruments David invented (Amos 6:1-5).

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Q30: Why do Primitive Baptists not have Sunday schools?

A: Bible study is greatly to be commended and there are definite benefits to studying and discussing scriptures with other Christians.  However, scriptural example dictates that such activities should be conducted in contexts other than formal church worship. There is nothing in scriptures to indicate that worshippers, either in the church or in the law, were ever segregated by knowledge, age, sex, marital status, or any other criterion. Instead, all worshipped in a common assembly. Some will say that Sunday schools are necessary for the instruction of children. However, the Lord cautions against assuming a posture which views the understanding of children with slight or disdain. He tells us that their understanding can exceed that of the wise and prudent (Matthew 11:25, Matthew 21:15) and that God has ordained praise in the utterances of babes (Matthew 21:16). Accordingly, Jesus rebuked His disciples for denying admittance of children to His presence (Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 9:36-37, Mark 10:13-15). Hence, it should not be assumed that children are incapable of receiving proper instruction from the general assembly. The modern practice of denying children entrance to church sanctuaries is very much against the spirit of the scriptures.

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Q31: Why do Primitive Baptists not have entertainment for youth?

A: Primitive Baptists do not condemn entertainment when it is moral and in moderation.  We also recognize that men of God in the scriptures occasionally use humor and sarcasm (Isaiah 40:18-23, Isaiah 44:12-20, Luke 16:9) so this, too, is acceptable provided that it is clean, purposeful, and moderate. However, the idea that it is the role of the church to entertain is absolutely alien to all that is scriptural. When churches have taken sports, games, comedy, and other amusement and have commingled them with songs of praise, prayer, and preaching, then no difference is being made between the holy and profane (Ezekiel 44:23). The scriptures suggest that Paul had an interest in some sports (I Corinthians 9:24, II Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 12:1) yet he condemned competitiveness in the church (I Corinthians 4:7, I Corinthians 11:21-22). The instruction of the scriptures is both necessary and sufficient to guide young people as well as old and to strengthen them against the temptations of the world (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Psalms 119:9-11, I Timothy 5:14, II Timothy 3:15-17). Furthermore, youth group involvement yields more civil and criminal liability risks each year as deviant and deceptive individuals are at times unknowingly placed in positions of supervision over children.

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Q32: Why do Primitive Baptists not have crucifixes or pictures of Jesus in their churches and homes?

A: The scriptures unequivocally forbid images of God of any kind (Exodus 20:4-5, I Corinthians 10:14, Galatians 5:19-21, I John 5:21). Since Jesus is the Son of God, and therefore equal with God (John 5:18, Philippians 2:5-8), pictures of Jesus must also be censured by these commandments. Pictures of Jesus are in every sense idols. The popular portraits of Jesus are products of man's imagination, and misrepresent Jesus in dishonoring ways. If Jesus' hair had in fact been long, then Paul would have never condemned this practice (I Corinthians 11:14).

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Q33: What is the attitude of Primitive Baptists towards tongues and other miraculous spiritual gifts?

A: Any true Christian should firmly believe in the possibility of miracles (Matthew 17:19-20, Mark 9:23, Mark 11:23) and most prayerful Christians can witness to the fact that miracles do occur. However, scriptures and experience lead us to expect such miracles to be elicited by the general prayers of God's people rather than the workings of someone possessing a miraculous spiritual gift. New Testament occurrences of miraculous gifts are almost always observed either in apostles or in those upon whom apostles had laid hands. The apostles had special gifts and had the ability to confer them upon others. However, it appears that those receiving miraculous gifts from the apostles were not able to transmit them to third parties. Hence, Philip received special gifts from the apostles (Acts 6:5-6, Acts 8:5-8) but was unable to confer these same gifts upon the Samaritans (Acts 8:5-19).  Since there are no apostles in the world today, any modern occurrences of extraordinary spiritual gifts would represent an exception to the scriptural pattern. This is not to say that such exceptions are impossible and it certainly is not intended to say that miracles can no longer happen. However, the scriptures lead us to expect such miracles to be elicited by the individual and collective prayers of God's people (Matthew 17:19-20, Mark 9:23, Mark 11:23, Philippians 4:6James 5:13-15, I John 5:14-15). Paul told the Corinthian church “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” (II Corinthians 12:12) This verse implies that extraordinary spiritual gifts were signs of apostleship. This raises the simple question: If ordinary gospel ministers also possess these gifts, then how could such abilities distinguish an apostle from other ministers?  If it is true that modern charismatic ministers have the ability to heal, speak in tongues, etc, then Paul appealed to invalid grounds for confirmation of his apostleship. The reasoning above is further substantiated by Hebrews 2:3-4:  “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken to us by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” This text appeals to the signs and wonders of those that heard the Lord but says nothing of miraculous gifts being observed in the current generation of Christians. Since miracles within the observation and memory of the reader would serve as greater confirmation than reports of miracles in the past, one should certainly expect the writer of Hebrews to have advanced these as proof if miraculous gifts were still occurring with equal degree and frequency. There are other indications that the frequency of miraculous gifts tended to diminish toward the end of New Testament times. Paul told Timothy to take wine for a chronic stomach problem (I Timothy 5:23) and spoke of leaving Trophimus sick at Miletum (II Timothy 4:20). In earlier times, one would have expected these to have been healed by apostolic powers. The decreased frequency of miracles was partly due to expiration of the apostolic era and partly due to the gospel being carried to the Gentiles. Paul said that it was the nature of a Jew to require signs but the nature of the Gentiles to demand wisdom (I Corinthians 1:22). Accordingly, the experience of scriptures indicates that the Lord is most apt to give signs when dealing with the Jewish people. The practice of counterfeiting miracles in the name of Christ is to be condemned (Matthew 7:21-23), not only because it is deceptive, but because it tends to discredit the true miracles recorded in the Bible and diminishes belief in the power of prayer (II Peter 2:1-2).

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Q34: What do Primitive Baptists believe about John 3:16?

A: This verse of scripture is often taken out of context to attempt to prove that Jesus died for all the inhabitants of the world.  Taken in context, Jesus is making a factual point to Nicodemus, a Jew who erroneously believed that eternal salvation was limited to the physical nation of the Jews.  Jesus explained to Nicodemus that God so loved the world (Greek kosmos - created order), AND not just the Jews, that He gave His only begotten Son. The purpose of His Son being given was that whosoever, which is a definitive group and not mankind in general, believeth on Him should not perish but have eternal life.  The Greek word for believeth is pisteuo, which is the same root word for faith, and faith by definition is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). The very belief/faith in the heart of those who believe is placed there by the mercy and grace of God. The fact that John 3:16 is not teaching that Jesus offered Himself to all the inhabitants of the world is further confirmed when Jesus said that he who does not believe is condemned already (John 3:18), indicating the fallen state of mankind in Adam’s sin (Romans 5:20). Furthermore, it is of the utmost importance to understand to what “world” Jesus is referring.  Christ declares in the same gospel of John, Chapter 17, Verse 9 that “I pray NOT for the world.” For example, in Luke 2:1, the writer declares that Caesar Augustus sent out a decree that “all the world should be taxed”. Obviously, Caesar did not send tax collectors to pre-North America to collect taxes from the native Indians. Rather, he taxed the “world” that was under his jurisdiction.  Jesus Christ could not have died for the general population of the world because that is not the “world” under consideration. Also, this would have contradicted the promise of Christ that ALL of His children would never perish (John 10:28). If Christ offered Himself for all the inhabitants of the world, then according to His promise all the inhabitants of the world would be housed in heaven.  On the contrary, Christ declared that He had power over ALL mankind for the purpose of giving life to “as many as Thou hast given Him” (John 17:2) and not all the inhabitants of the world.  This relates to that innumerable host of children that God the Father foreknew, predestinated, called, justified, and glorified in His Son (Romans 8:29-30). The world that God created was good in God’s eyes (Genesis 1) until mankind defiled that world with sin.  God so loved this created order that He sent His Son to die for whosoever believes in Him.  Obviously, this is a factual statement and not a non-contextual offer.

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Q: Why should I become a Primitive Baptist?

  • FOR THE SAKE OF GOD’S TRUTH. God has declared that His glory can only be seen in the salvation plan set out in His Holy word.  This plan involves no work or act of our own but His alone. Revelation 4:11 declares that we are created for His glory and we are to glorify Him in our bodies (I Corinthians 6:20). In order to achieve maximum glory to God, His truths must be embraced and man’s opinions and devices put aside.  Forsaking all for His glory is our only choice.
  • FOR THE SAKE OF SINCERITY. In a time when people are looking for depth and quality, a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ and with brothers and sisters in Christ can only be found by embracing His truth.
  • FOR THE SAKE OF SIMPLICITY.  Because of additions to worship, such as programs, entertainment, day-care facilities, Sunday schools and age-segregated congregations, religious worship grows more complicated each year. Instead of looking for God in a multitude of activities, we should strive to see the simplicity in Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 11:3) that can be found in a worship style in which families, whether single-parent homes or traditional, worship together in spirit and in truth, where spiritual food can be bought without price (Isaiah 55:1-2) and where the only demands placed upon the individual are the commandments of God, which are not grievous (I John 5:3). The purpose of a Primitive Baptist is to sing, preach, and pray in worship of the Lord; to fellowship together frequently in His work; and to bring the good news to captive, condition-laden sinners that their salvation rests in the free grace of Jesus Christ alone.  

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Special thanks to Elders Tim McCool, David Pyles, Lonnie Mozingo, Jr., Michael Gowens, and Louis Culver for permission to use this list of frequently-asked questions about the Primitive Baptists.