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Session 2—The Prime Distinctive

Published on 01/18/11

By Dr. Larry Oats; delivered during the MRBF Bible Conference October 2, 2008

The Bible (and for church matters, the New Testament) is the only rule for faith and practice

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Message Notes

The Prime Distinctive

I. The Bible (and for church matters, the New Testament) is the only rule for faith and practice

A. Important Scriptures

1. The Bible is God’s revelation to man.

2. The Bible is our only authority for faith and practice.

3. Key Scriptures

a) 2 Tim. 3:15-17

b) 2 Peter 3:1, 2

c) 1 Thes. 2:13

d) Acts 17:11

e) Rev. 22:18, 19 (cf. John 14:26; 16:13)

f) Gal. 1:8

B. Four historic sources for truth:

1. Scripture

2. Tradition

3. Reason

4. Experience

C. Bible claims its own exclusiveness (no other divine revelation).

Our Distinctives as Baptists

The distinctives discussed in this study are not the traditions of men which have become distinctive of Baptists. They are, rather, biblical truths that distinguished the local churches in the New Testament era and are distinctive of all true New Testament local churches, regardless of the name they use. Baptists have historically espoused all these distinctives, thus they have become known as the Baptist Distinctives. Some other denominational groups accept various of these biblical truths, but not all of them.

The Baptist Distinctives need to be emphasized to every generation of Christians. This is especially true as many Baptists and Baptist organizations have moved away from their biblical foundations, convictions, and distinctives in recent years. Modernism and new-evangelicalism masquerade under the name “Baptist,” as they do under many other names today.

If these truths are not biblically grounded, they should be rejected. If they are taught in Scripture, then they should be believed, defended, and obeyed.

Dr. Richard Weeks, Maranatha’s first academic dean, was an avid bibliophile and Baptist historian. Well educated, he pastored for several years in Chicago before going to Pillsbury and then Maranatha to teach Baptist Polity and Baptist History, among other classes. Not content with the usual BAPTIST acrostic for the Baptist distinctives, he began a study of the various lists of distinctives identified by a wide variety of Baptist writers—old and new, northern and southern, American and European, and especially Fundamental Baptists of the early 20th century. From this study he created a list of what he thought the key Baptist distinctives were, without trying to force them into an acrostic grid. He also established an order to these distinctives, considering not so much that some distinctives are more important than others, but rather that some distinctives tend to flow out of other distinctives. The result was BRAPSIS2.

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