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, "...you 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
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,
William J. Cumbie, retires Executive Director of the Mount
Association; member Calvary Hill Baptist Church, Fairfax,
Alma Hunt, retired Exective Director of Women's Missionary
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,
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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