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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
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clear.gif - 808 Bytes Question:

clear.gif - 808 Bytes Does a Church have to hang Baptist over the door or have Baptist in it's name to be a Baptist Church? The Church I am referring to practices all the doctrines of the Baptist Faith, but the people just DO NOT want Baptist in the name.
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Thanks for your letter. I do not believe that a church MUST have Baptist in the name in order to be a New Testament church. There are several churches that I am familiar with that do not have Baptist in the name, yet take a strong stand on historic Baptist doctrine and practice. By the same token, there are any number of churches from various "Baptist" conventions and associations that call themselves Baptists, but do not have any concept of Biblical truth.

However, I am curious as to why a church would not want to be identified with the historic (and Biblical) name of Baptist. Some argue that the name Baptist may carry a bad connotation in their area. However, the names "Bible Church" or "Community Church" certainly carry connotations of wishy-washy doctrine throughout much of Fundamentalism. Whatever name is chosen will tell the community how the church believes. I personally would rather go with a name that has a historical connection to sound Biblical teaching.

Some say that even though they may not have Baptist in the name, that the church is "Baptistic". Names identify you as to who you are. When my wife married me, she took the name Montgomery. She did this because she wanted to be identified with me. She did not keep her maiden name, but tell everyone that she was "Montgomeryistic". She took the name of what she was: a Montgomery.

Others say that churches should choose a "neutral" name (Bible, Community, Open Door, etc.), so that they can better attract the unchurched who may be put off by Baptists. However, I do not find any place in the Scriptures where we should attempt to attract the unsaved through deception (Matt 5:37: "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay"). I also do not believe that the primary place of evangelism is to be within the local church. Again, the New Testament example is that people go out from the church, win the lost, and then bring them into the church to be baptized and discipled. If we are going to teach the new convert Baptist doctrine, why not do it in a Baptist church?

One more thought. If we are going to water down our name to appease the unbelievers, what else will we someday water down to appease them? A quick examination of contemporary "evangelicalism" shows that there has been a great increase of churches with "neutral" names. However, many of these churches have also tailored their services so as to not offend the unsaved once they come into the church. How can we preach a message that men are sinners, condemned to Hell, and completely unable to save themselves, without being offensive? I Peter 2:8 calls Christ Himself "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence". Most men that I know who have removed Baptist from the original name of their church so as to not be offensive have also removed important Biblical teaching. The philosophy of being acceptable to the unregenerate is a slippery slope indeed!

I hope this gives you some food for thought. You can be a Baptist church and not have it in the name. However, I would question why a church would want to go that way. Perhaps they are not really as Baptistic as they think they are.

May the Lord bless you.
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Dr Mark Montgomery
Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209

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