The Priesthood of All Believers.

From our earliest history, Virginiga Baptist have

believed and have been committed to the biblical doctrine

of "the preisthood of the believer." It is basic to our

Baptist faith and practice. It is a cherished Baptist

distinctive and one Baptists take very seriously.

Perhaps one of the key Bible passages for the

priesthood of all believers comes from Exodus 19:4-6. This

is the account of the establishment of the covenant

between God and the nation of Israel.

God called His people to be a "kingdom of priest and a holy

nation." The people of God responded to that call and answered

affirmatively that they would be priests.

First century Christians applied Exodus 19 to themselves.

In I Peter 2:9 these Christians were reminded, " are a

chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, apeople

belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who

called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."

Therefore, because of New Testament guidance, by the term

"priesthood of believers" Baptist have ment that a believer is

once and for all saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:5-10)

and has free access to God the Father through the one and Only

High Priest, Jesus Christ our Savior (Hebrews 9:11-28).

Guided by this princple of "individual competency under God

in all matters of religion," Baptists have refrained from

excessive ritualism and sacramentalism for the same reason. And

finally, they have refraned from using creedal statements to

doctrinal conformity, preferring to rely upon the compentency of

a regenerate believer to interpret the scriptures rightly under

the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

In short,the biblically-centered doctrine of the priesthood

of the believer affirms: (1) every person has the privilege of

approaching God for himself without the need for any human

intermediary, and (2) every person has equal acess to the Bible.

This access gives every person the right of interprtation led by

the Holy Spirit. And therefore, no authority can force or presume

to compel submission to his or her interpretation or belief by

another believer.

Throughout history, there have been those who have sought to

Undermine this biblical doctrine and replace God's authority with

human authority. It is not a new phenomenon that such a basic

doctrine as the "priesthod of believers" is under attack, as it

seems to be today within our Baptist fellowship.

We can be proud that Baptists were part of those early reformers

who demanded that the church be open and that the laity have oppor-

tunity for service and ministry. Baptist rwere on the cutting edge

of holding to and reestablishing this basic belief of Christian


Growing out of the priesthood of the believer doctrine is the

matter of idividual responsibility. Freedom alway brings


We are not free to interpret scripture based upon our own wild

tangents or preconceived ideas. A proper understanding of the

priesthood of all believers demands that believers interpret the Bible

in the contest of the body of fellowship to which they are related and

the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

This freedom also demands that every believer exercise the truth

of scripture, that every person is free and able to approch God for

themselves and that accessibiltiy to our Savior is unlimited. Every

person has the same access to God.

Indeed, the priesthood of the believer doctrine is not license

to be anything, to say anything, or to do anything. It is the essence

of being responsible to God and to God alone.

To pass a resolutionat a Southern Baptist Convention attempting to

alter this fundamental truth is a departure from what we as Baptists

believe to be a matter that our Lord has already determined. It is our

responsibility to affirm and practice this doctrine. Such truths are

not subject to a majority vote.

Virginia Baptists cherish the biblical doctrine of the priesthood

of all believers. It is a truth on which we stand.

On These Truths We Stand.

First printed in The Religious Herald May 11 through

August 24, 1989

Prepared by the Committee on Denominational Crisis

Baptist General Association of Virginia.

Keyed in by Mike Olah Sysop Christian Resources BBS

Data 804-543-0830 Oct 1990

The Committee on Denominational Crisis.

Lewis T. Booker, Attorney and legal counsel for the

Virginia Baptist General

Board; member of Second Baptist Church, Richmond,


Michael J. Clingenpeel, pastor of Franklin Baptist Church,

Franklin, Virginia

William J. Cumbie, retires Executive Director of the Mount

Vernon Baptist

Association; member Calvary Hill Baptist Church, Fairfax,


Alma Hunt, retired Exective Director of Women's Missionary

Union; member

of First Baptist Church, Roanoke, Virginia.

William L Lumpkin, retired pastor of Freemason Street

Baptist Church, Norfolk,


Bob D. Lynch, pastor of First Baptist Church, Gate City,


John W. Patterson, Executive Director of Peninsula Baptist


member of Liberty Baptist Church, Newport News, Virginia.

James Slatton, pastor of River Road Church, Baptist,

Richmond, Virginia.

Jean Woodward, President, Baptist General Association of


(ex officio); member River Road Baptist Church, Richmond,


Neal T. Jones, Chairman, pastor of Columbia Baptist

Church, Falls Church,





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