Introducing the Baptist Identity Series
What Are Some Things the Baptist Identity Series Does?
- Focuses on beliefs widely held by Baptists in a way that does not put down the beliefs of other faith groups but rather puts forth those of Baptists.
- Provides insight into such things as what Baptists believe and why, how Baptist churches are organized and function, what contributions Baptists have made and are making, and the ministries that Baptists carry out in Christ’s name.
- Spotlights Baptist persons and events that through the years have shaped the heritage of the Baptist family of Christians.
- Presents in a concise way what Baptists in general believe but does not claim to present an official Baptist position on any of the beliefs since Baptists do not have any such official positions.
Why Was the Baptist Identity Series Developed?
The Series is designed to help inform and inspire Baptists about basic Bible-based beliefs as a means of strengthening individuals, churches, associations, institutions, and the denomination as a whole so that they might be as effective as possible in serving Christ as Lord and carrying out the Great Commission and Great Commandment of our Lord. Strengthening the Baptist denomination helps strengthen the entire mission of Christ.
What Does the Baptist Identity Series Consist Of?
Baptist Beliefs and Heritage, a 120-page 11 x 8.5 book, is the core of the Series. It contains the nineteen Baptist Identity Leaflets, a brief summary of Baptist history, biographical sketches of several Baptist leaders, insights on key words and terms in the Series, historical vignettes, and pertinent information on each of the nineteen topics dealt with in the Baptist Identity Leaflets. The book is helpful to anyone wishing to learn about Baptist identity, but it is especially designed for use by persons studying the Baptist Identity Leaflets, either as an individual or as part of a group. The book would be an ideal gift to a new church member or to someone interested in becoming a member of a Baptist church.
Personal Study Guides, an 88-page 5.5 x 8.5 book, contains nineteen guides including learning activities for use by persons in individual or group study on the topics in the Baptist Identity Leaflets. The book is designed to be used with the Baptist Identity Leaflets, either in the Baptist Beliefs and Heritage book or with the packet of individual leaflets. Although it can be ordered separately, ideally it should be ordered in combination with the leaflets, preferably as they are contained in the Baptist Beliefs and Heritage book.
Leader’s Guide for Group Study, a 60-page 5.5 x 8.5 book, contains guides for use by leaders of study groups on the topics in the Baptist Identity Leaflets. The book is for persons who are leading groups studying Baptist identity or who are considering establishing or leading such groups. The book is designed to be used with the Baptist Identity Leaflets, either in the Baptist Beliefs and Heritage book or in the packet of individual leaflets, and with the Personal Study Guidesbook. Although it can be ordered separately, ideally it should be ordered in combination with the leaflets and the Personal Study Guides book.
The Baptist Identity Leaflets, nineteen colorful leaflets in a 4-page 5.5 x 8.5 format on Baptist beliefs and practices, are contained in the Baptist Beliefs and Heritage book and are also available in a packet of all nineteen leaflets. The leaflets can be used in many ways, such as handouts in worship services or other meetings, resources for special events, or information for persons interested in knowing about Baptist beliefs.
The Folder for the Packet of Baptist Identity Leaflets
A specially designed folder contains a packet of all nineteen of the Baptist Identity Leaflets, providing a convenient place to keep the leaflets.
Baptist Identity Series Set
A combination of all of the items in the Baptist Identity Series is available, including the nineteen leaflets in a special folder, the Baptist Beliefs and Heritage book, the Personal Study Guides book, and the Leader’s Guide for Group Study book. Ideally, the Series will be used as a complete set. However, each item in the Series can be ordered separately. The two study guides books are designed to be used with either the Baptist Beliefs and Heritage book or the packet of nineteen leaflets. Note that the leaflets are not available individually but only the packet of all nineteen since they are designed to be interrelated.
How Was the Baptist Identity Series Developed?
The process of developing the Series began with twenty-seven colorful, full-page articles that were printed in each issue of a Baptist state paper during the year 2005 and posted on the website www.baptistdistinctives.org in both a full-color and text-only version.The articles were financed by a dedicated Baptist deacon and authored at his request by William M. Pinson, Jr. with graphic design, research, and editing by Doris A. Tinker. Both have extensive experience in Baptist life. Distinguished Baptist historians, professors, and pastors were involved as consultants.
The overwhelmingly positive response to the articles included requests that they be put in leaflet form and made more widely available. As a result, the Baptist Identity Leaflets, nineteen colorful, 4-page 5.5 x 8.5 leaflets based on the articles, were prepared. The leaflets were distributed to persons attending a number of Baptist meetings as well as to individuals and churches at their request. Feedback on the leaflets was requested.
Persons viewing the leaflets suggested that in order to enhance their usefulness a book be prepared with guides for studying them. The book Personal Study Guides was prepared. Further input indicated that a guide also be prepared for persons to lead groups studying the leaflets and the personal study guide. The book Leader’s Guide for Group Study was developed. The manuscripts for these books were evaluated by a number of persons of various ages and backgrounds, and their input was utilized in the preparation of the final copy for publication.
Additional field testing of the materials revealed a desire to have the leaflets bound in a book along with summary information about Baptist heritage and leaders. Pinson and Tinker prepared a manuscript of the book and put it out for evaluation along with the personal and group study guide books. During 2011-12 response was received from a wide variety of persons. With input from these persons, the final copy of the book Baptist Beliefs and Heritage was prepared during 2013 for publication in 2014.
In conjunction with the printed materials on Baptist identity, the website
www.baptistdistinctives.org correlates the Series with other resources. The website contains the original twenty-seven articles in a full-color version and a text-only version, a sampling of the Baptist Identity Leaflets, an extensive bibliography on Baptist identity, links to numerous resources on Baptists, and information about the Baptist Identity Series including information on ordering the Series. Additional links and items are continually added to the website. The original articles can be downloaded in full-color or text-only format. The website is designed to use in conjunction with the printed material in the Series by persons in individual and group study.
Effort was made to keep the cost of the Series reasonable. Preparation of the material for the Series and the website was made possible by financial assistance from interested individuals and foundations, by volunteers, by professionals who charged less than their standard fees, and by the authors who volunteered their services for production of the leaflets, books, and website. The materials are available for only the cost of reprinting, processing payments, and packing material for mailing. The Series is a product of a not-for-profit religious/education entity, the Texas Baptist Heritage Center. Thus, no royalties or profits are included in the charges.
Who Developed the Baptist Identity Series?
Many persons cooperated in the development of the materials of the Baptist Identity Series. The following were the primary contributors:
William M. Pinson, Jr. authored the materials in the Baptist Identity Series. He has served as a seminary professor, pastor, interim pastor in Texas, Kansas, and New York, president of Golden Gate Baptist Seminary in California, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), and member of various commissions of the Baptist World Alliance. He has taught and written extensively on Baptist beliefs and heritage.
Doris A. Tinker served as the primary designer for the Series leaflets and books, assisted in research and editing, and coordinated the entire project. She has served as a volunteer in Baptist churches in Arkansas, Illinois, and Texas, pastor’s secretary, long-time executive associate in the BGCT executive director’s office, communications and organization director of the Texas Baptist Heritage Center, and facilitator for many meetings on Baptist identity.
Dennis A. Parrott provided valuable input for the personal and group study guides in the Series. He has been on the staff of Baptist churches and was the director of the Bible study department of the BGCT. He has authored curriculum material for various Baptist publications and has led numerous conferences on Christian education.
Skyler G. Tinker assisted in developing the graphics and layout for the leaflets and the study guides in the Series. He has been part of a Baptist church all of his life and serves in several areas of his church. He graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas majoring in arts and technology with a minor in computer science.
Other persons provided suggestions, evaluated materials, and assisted in various ways. These included historians, professors, pastors, deacons, Sunday School teachers, denominational executives, college and seminary students, and editors of Baptist publications. Persons who field-tested the material made valuable input for the final product which is a resource from the Texas Baptist Heritage Center.
What Are The Goals of the Baptist Identity Series?
The Baptist Identity Series is the result of a decade-long process involving scores of persons. The primary goals of the process were to develop materials that would…
- Inform and inspire persons about Bible-based Baptist beliefs and heritage in order to strengthen the Baptist contribution to helping fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Supply a resource to be used both by individuals and by groups studying Baptist identity.
- Produce attractive, colorful, and relatively brief materials to supplement the many large volumes of textual material on Baptists that are already available.
- Interrelate with a website that provides additional information on Baptists.
- Make available resources at a reasonable cost.
- Major on what Baptists hold in common rather than on divisive matters.
- Contribute resources that would be useful to scholars and laypersons alike but prepared in a “popular” style.
Comments/Testimonials Concerning the Baptist Identity Series
The original twenty-seven articles, the website www.baptistdistinctives.org, the Baptist Identity Leaflets, and the field testing of materials for the Baptist Identity Series have brought about many comments and testimonials from a wide variety of persons in different states and parts of the world. Samplings of some of the comments/testimonials are below, as well as in various places in the “Ways to Use the Baptist Identity Series” section of the website.
“We would like to translate the excellent articles on Baptists beliefs into French for French Baptists.”
Baptist Leader, France
“We have used the article on regenerate church membership and look forward to using more articles as we go along.”
Baptist Church Member, Australia
“…would help me greatly to have copies of all…”
Interim Pastor, Arkansas
“Thank you for wanting to help us in learning and discovering Biblical truths.”
Baptist Leader, Croatia
“The material was a big help as I prepared Sunday School lessons on Baptist beliefs…”
“I think it’s great…most Baptists, at least in my generation, don’t know much of this, if any at all…”
Baptist Young Adult, California
“I came across Baptist Distinctives and the information is awesome.”
Deacon, South Carolina
“…you are making a real contribution…”
Baptist Attorney, Tennessee
“…covered Baptist distinctives, etc. better than any other materials I had found.”
College Student, Oregon
“…like to disseminate more widely the outstanding work…”
“…the very direction that we at our church need to move toward in that I find relatively few Baptists understand who they are.”
Baptist Engineering Professor, Oklahoma
“Your website, Baptist Distinctives, has been helpful to me as a young Baptist. I needed some information on the two offices as one of our distinctives and your site was helpful…I do have one request…is it possible for you to send me some materials…to be used as Sunday School (Bible Studies) materials for my local Church….”
Young Baptist, Ghana
Questions and Answers on Baptist Identity Series Content
Is the Series an official statement of Baptist beliefs?
No, it is not. The Series does not purport to present an official statement on any of the topics. Baptists do not have any such official statement. The authors have endeavored to set forth beliefs and polities commonly held by Baptists.
Does the Series present a comparison of Baptist beliefs with other denominations?
The Series was not designed to deal specifically with such comparisons. Baptists have many beliefs and practices in common with other parts of the Christian community even while being a distinct denomination.
Does the Series set forth why Baptists are a distinct denomination?
Yes. No single belief sets Baptists apart as a distinct group, but rather it is a combination or recipe of beliefs. The Series discusses this. The intent of the Series is not to put down the beliefs of others but rather to hold up the beliefs and practices that in combination make Baptists a distinct denomination of Christians.
Why study about a denomination rather than about what it means to be a Christian?
Studying what it means to be a Christian is always of vital importance, and the Series does that. However, the study of a denomination is also important. To strengthen the Baptist denomination is one means of strengthening the Christian movement worldwide. A way to do this is to help Baptists to be thoroughly aware of and committed to the beliefs and polities which enable the Baptist family of Christians to function effectively in missions, evangelism, Christian education, ministry, and social action.
Does the Series contain a history of Baptists?
The Series contains a brief summary of Baptist history as well as biographical sketches of several Baptists and information on particular events in the Baptist story. However, the Series does not major on the history of Baptists. This website contains a listing of a number of histories of Baptists in the “Bibliography” section of the “On-Site Resources.”
Does the Series present all of the various points of view on Baptist beliefs?
Baptists are a diverse people in many ways, including different views on certain doctrines and practices. However, Baptists in general hold to a core set of beliefs and practices which set them apart as a distinct part of the Christian family. The Series is based on these core beliefs rather than on the different views certain Baptist groups have about particular beliefs.
What are distinctive characteristics of the Series?
The Series is biblically-based concise, colorful, illustrated, popular in style, relatively inexpensive, general in approach, available both in print and electronic versions, useful for group as well as for individual study, and is correlated with a website. It was developed to meet a need for materials on Baptist identity that supplement those available in lengthy books, scholarly journals, and text-only pamphlets. An outstanding Baptist theologian/historian/author commented that while those are essential resources in studying Baptist identity, the format and materials as presented in the Series are needed as another resource in Baptist life.