What is a credobaptist?
Credo = believe. A credobaptist is one who baptises only upon the profession of faith of the one being baptised.
This is more than a conviction about the mode and subjects of baptism. It is a conviction about what the church is, and how it is to be ordered. These set of convictions, when taken as a matrix, are sometimes called Baptist distinctives.
1) Regenerate or pure church. (1 Cor 6:11) Credobaptists believe that the visible church must be as close an approximation of the invisible church. We reject the idea that there can be a church within a church. We reject the idea that children of believers, or future believers, are part of the church. We see no distinction between the covenant community and the church.
How is this worked out?
2) Through its ordinances and membership practices. If the church is made up of believers only, whom should we baptise? (Acts 2:41) What does baptism signify? How does one join the church – through regeneration or some other means?
Who should participate in the Lord’s Supper? The answer must be: those who have been baptised. Baptism does not save, but it is the most public and visible symbol of salvation.
If someone has been baptised, and can particpate in the Lord’s Supper, what should his or her relationship with the local church be? Especially if he/she was baptised elsewhere, how should the church recognise that? Membership. If someone has been numbered amongst us, but begins to and then persist in living like the unsaved, how do we protect the idea of a regenerate church? Church discipline.
3) Through its source documents. If the church is made up of regenerate people only, is it a continuation of the nation Israel? There was an Israel within Israel, though all were circumcised. But is there to be a church within the church? No. The church is a ‘new humanity’ (Eph 2:15), under a new covenant, and in the new covenant “all know the Lord” (Jer 31:31-34). (2 Cor 3:6) As such, where should the new covenant people look for the ordering and regulation of their life? Answer: The New Testament.
4) Through its respect for individual responsibility. If a person is a believer, then we understand them to be indwelt by the Spirit, and therefore possessing important gifts that are to be cultivated. We call these soul competence & priesthood of the believer. Soul competence has to do with the believer’s ability to read and understand the Scriptures for himself. (Not on his own, but he has competence, alongside his teachers, to understand the Word.) (Acts 17:11, Col 3:16, 2 Tim 3:14-17) Credobaptists are Bible-reading people. Priesthood of the believer has to do with the believer’s right to approach God directly through Christ (1 Pet 2:9, Heb 4:6, 10:19-23) No priest or other human mediator is needed. A truly regenerate church is a praying church.
5) Through its leadership and polity. If every member is (ideally) a believer with the mind of Christ, then those believers are to be involved in some of the key spiritual decisions of the church. In Scripture, we see these decisions are: inclusion or exclusion of members (1 Cor 5), and calling and selection of its leaders (Acts 6). Therefore, congregational polity calls on members to be involved in these decisions. At the same time, the agenda for the decisions, and the wisdom for the decisions needs to be led by God-called and church-ordained leaders (Heb 13:17). Two offices are given in Scripture: elder/overseer/pastor and deacon (1 Tim 3).
6) Through its autonomy – if a church is made up of true believers, then its immediate Head is Jesus Christ (Col 1:18). Though it may belong to an association, network or denomination, no religious body should be able to dictate to a local church how it is to run its internal affairs. Overt or covert pressure to alter doctrine or practice, to select leaders, to provide unsolicited mediation in disputes, is unwarranted by Scripture.
This goes further into the relationship of the church to the State. The church ought to be apolitical (as a church), but not amoral. The church ought to speak out on matters that affect national and civil life, but it ought not to promote political parties, campaign, or seek office in its capacity as church. Likewise, Baptists have called for the State to remain neutral on matters of faith, and to pass only those laws which would promote civil peace and law and order. Interference by the government in the internal affairs of the church violates the barrier between the two (Romans 13:1-4, I Tim 2:2, Mt 22:21).