At Judson Baptist Church, we value our association with the American Baptist Churches of Michigan and the American Baptist Churches, USA. If you would like to learn about what it means to be American Baptist, a good place to start is with this brochure, entitled “10 Facts You Should Know About American Baptists.”
In addition to affirming the core beliefs common to all Christians (e.g., the inspiration and centrality of Scripture, the Trinity, the dual nature of Christ, the salvation that we have by the death of Christ on the cross), American Baptists also emphasize the following principles, which set us apart:
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- The priesthood of all believers - This is the belief that each Christian may approach God directly through Christ, without going through another human mediator or human institution. While we do embrace the vital importance of Christ’s Church, its role, and its witness through the ages, we do not see these as being in contradiction with the priesthood of all believers. As such, while we are bound by God to interpret Scripture rightly and in keeping with orthodox Christian doctrine, each believer has the freedom and the responsibility, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to study and apply God’s Word to his or her life.
- Religious freedom and social justice - Our own Baptist history of being oppressed and persecuted (both in Europe and America) has motivated us to support religious freedom for all and to be a voice for justice, serving as leaven in the culture. This has been the case for hundreds of years, as evidenced by our advocacy of freed African Americans following the Civil War, our role in the Civil Rights Movement, and our public stances on women in societal leadership, ecological responsibility, and many other issues.
- Diversity - As the most racially diverse denomination in Protestantism, American Baptist Churches USA is inclusive, proclaiming Christ’s death on the cross for all nations, while affirming the exclusive claims of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He alone is the way, the Truth, and the life. Some of the most significant growth within our family in recent years has been witnessed in our African American, Hispanic, Native American, Haitian, Portuguese, and Asian American churches. There is no single majority racial or ethnic group within the denomination. The breadth of our denominational family can in part be attributed to our longstanding commitment to offering fellowship and support to all people.
- Self-governing local churches - The local church is the fundamental building block of the ABC. We treasure our regional and national relationships, which provide accountability, resources, and opportunities for joint worship and mission—and yet, our governance is “bottom-up,” meaning that there is no group of clerics or administrators presiding over our churches. Each church follows the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit in seeking how to govern itself.