BAPTIST DISTINCTIVES

B       Biblical Authority – All authority flows from a right understanding of the Bible.

A      Autonomy of the Local Church – Each local expression of the universal or catholic church answers to Christ directly.

P       Priesthood of the Believer – Because of Christ’s atonement, each believer is a priest themselves unto God.

T      Two Ordinances – Baptism & the Lord’s Supper are means of worship by our obedience.

I        Individual Soul Liberty – Unless regulated by scriptural principle or dogma, believers have freedom in life & worship

 S        Saved Church Membership – Only those who give testimony of their regeneration are permitted to be members.

T       Two Officers – Elders and Deacons are the only two offices of the church ordained by God the Father.

S        Separation of Church and State – The state has no right to interfere with how the church conducts its worship.


The BAPTISTS acrostic was developed in the early 1960s by L. Duane Brown when he was pastor of Pine Valley Baptist Church, Pine Valley, N.Y. Brown was a graduate of Baptist Bible Seminary, where he studied theology with Paul R. Jackson.

Brown left Pine Valley Baptist Church to complete his PhD at Bob Jones University, graduating in 1965. He was then called as state representative for New York’s Empire State Fellowship of Regular Baptist Churches. Still receiving requests for his mimeographed copy, Brown decided to have his material printed as a booklet, which he published and copyrighted in 1969. The book became so popular among Regular Baptists that RBP editor Jim Dersham asked Brown for permission to print an edition of the book, leading to the updated edition released by RBP in 1987. After it fell out of print with RBP, Brown continued to publish the book himself (still available at www.drbrownbooks.com). Brown reports 65,000 copies have been printed in English, and the book has been translated into 20 languages.

Brown’s acrostic has roots in Paul Jackson’s summary of the Baptist distinctives, published in Doctrine of the Church (1956) and his later full length book, The Doctrine and Administration of the Church (1968). Jackson’s outline is quite similar to what became Brown’s acrostic, but interestingly, Jackson never used the BAPTISTS acrostic in print.

Is the acrostic still an effective teaching tool? When a teaching method becomes wildly popular, it often attracts criticism and reevaluation. Colin Smith addressed this in a recent Baptist Bulletin article, “Where’s the ‘C’ in the Baptist Distinctives?” (July/August 2008, available online at BaptistBulletin.org). Smith suggests that we should not confuse a teaching method with a theological system. And a teaching method that works very well in a local church setting may not be equally effective with seminary students and church leaders. (This explanation comes from the General Assembly of Regular Baptist Churches website.)