Denomination: What makes a Baptist a Baptist? What makes the Black Baptists different from the Southern Baptists?
ANSWER PART 1: We are Baptist because:
1. We believe in total immersion in water based on personal confession of faith in Jesus Christ as the only source of salvation on the part of a believer.
2. We believe the most doctrinally correct church organizational, decision-making structure is one that is Congregationally-based. This means, ultimately, church decisions reside with the active membership on the basis of democratically voting procedures. The general example used to highlight this reality has to do with employing a pastor. Each local church interviews and makes an offer to a preacher to become its pastor. In many non-baptist denominations, i.e. Methodists, Episcopalians, Catholics, etc., a Bishop appoints pastors to churches.
3. We believe a Christian's conscience is ultimately accountable to Christ alone and therefore no decisions made by others can be forced upon him or her. For example, when it comes to tithing, a person cannot be denied membership in a Baptist church because he/she doesn't believe in tithing.
4. We believe in the separation between Church and State. This simply means that the our church will never be controlled and, or financed by city, state or federal government.
5. We believe that each Baptist church is structurally and doctrinally independent from other Baptist Churches. We are separate and unequal. No Baptist church can be told by another Baptist church what to believe, how to think, or how to organize itself. Each is autonomous.
ANSWER PART 2: Black Baptists differ from Southern Baptists:
Black Baptist differ from Southern Baptist most of all in our theological understanding of church/community relationship. We believe the church should promote justice and peacemaking legislation and policies that deal with the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, social, political and economic needs of not only individuals and families, but just as important, one's race. Since Blacks in America have always dealt with "racism" our understanding of the church's mission is deeply determined by our sociological status in America and the world at any given time.