1. The Holy Scripture is the basis of the dogma of the Evangelical Christians Baptists.
2. The church has to be composed exclusively of born-again people.
3. The Commandments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper relate exclusively to born-again people.
4. Every local church is independent.
5. All members of local churches have equal rights.
6. Freedom of conscious for all.
7. The church and the state function separately from one another.
(as researched by S. Sannikov and Y. Reshetnikov
as «The Survey of the Evangelical Baptist movement in Ukraine »)
First of all, these principles point to the source of authority and the basis of all formations – the Holy Scripture, and then the peculiarities of church formation are characterized. Evangelism and missions are оbvious for this position and the specific goals of teaching the Baptist principles (that is why they are not singled out as a separate item).
The church is to be built exclusively of born-again people. The requirements to the membership of the Baptist church and insularity of the main religious rights restricted only by those who personally received Christ and committed himself to live in accordance with evangelical standards, are tightly knitted with the independence and sovereignty of each local church. In practical aspect, this norm radically distinguishes Baptism from other churches in history. The main difference lays in the sense of “local church”.
In particular, the Orthodox church sees the local church as the church of one nation or one state. At the same time, all evangelical groups treat local churches as communities which gather at certain place: the local church is a “gathering, union or assembly of born-again souls united by one faith (one сonfession), one love and hope and living in one area” (Іvan Prokhanov).
Coming from the biblical examples of state organization and the autonomy of each local church, Baptists have always highly esteemed the importance of the will and widened it both to the individual community and the person in the community.
The autonomy of each community lays in the absence of any organizational and leading or аdministrative power over the community. It means that the community independently appoints the creeds and matters of church discipline, especially those not accentuated in the Bible. It receives new members, condemns and punishes sinners, forgives those earlier excommunicated and those who repented. The general gathering of all church members works out ways of organization of its inner life, the number of ministers, their responsibilities etc. The election and appointment of ministers, financial and other matters also belong to the competence of the community. Тhe traditional way of solving everything are members’ meetings of the community, in between which the leadership is passed to the specially formed committee at Western churches and to so-called church councils at our churches. Sometimes the community elects the Council, but more often it is formed of ministers (pastors, deacons, preachers).
Laying stress on the autonomy of local churches, Baptists reach sound harmony between the independence and necessity of mutual fellowship. This principle is incarnated in the forming of the Baptist unions which had to help local churches solve their problems and accumulate efforts of some communities. Of course, such union is not competent to directly solve spiritual, administrative or organizational problems at churches, but only gives help to local churches by advice or other ways of support during solving conflicts or any problem. J. Vins explains: “The union may, through church electives that come to the stated meeting, give its advice and speak out its view to the independent local churches which are its members, but it doesn’t have the right to independently, without consulting with the community, enter into their inner relationships and give advice according its judgement. Such right belongs exclusively to the local church itself ” (The basic faith principles of the evangelical Christians Baptists– Elkhart, 1992. – p. 121).
The independence of life of the local church comes from Baptists’ general concept of freedom as one of the highest fundamental values of humans’ existence. “To be a Baptist means to believe in religious freedom. First Baptists understood religious freedom as a notion which has deep roots in Scriptures” (William Estep, 17th cent).
In is generally known that the evangelical Christians Baptists have always and under every circumstance defended the freedom of conscience for all people, irrespective of nationality, race and denomination and never persecuted anyone for their beliefs.
The principle of the separation of the church from the state is tightly united with the principle of freedom. Тhe traditional Baptist point of view to these issues is stated fully enough in the crede of Hamburg , the 13th chapter of which,