Baptists/Locating a church/Differences between Baptist Churches
Good morning (EST). I'm feeling drawn to the Baptist Church because it's beliefs & practices appeal to me and the fact it bases alot of who they are on the New Testament as opposed to reformers after that era. In particular, the Primitive Baptist Church. I'm from Lancaster, PA and so far in my search, I haven't found any Primitive Baptist Churches here. I've found plenty who are Southern Baptist and one or two Missionary Baptists. What other Baptist Church is closest in belief & doctrine to the Primitive Baptist Church?
I have Baptist in-laws and that's inspired me to consider the Baptist Church. Problem is, most of them live in VA & NC where the Baptist Church is plentiful. And the church I'm attracted to is down there and I'm having a hard time finding the same church up here.
My other question is this: What are the key differences between the Primitive Baptist Church & the Missionary Baptist Church? Where did the "Missionary" in it's name come from, what does it mean? Your help will be most appreciated. Have a great day!
Thank you for your questions and for your patience.
As to your first question, it is difficult to answer because the majority of Baptists consider themselves to be autonomous--that is self-governing and independent. You will not find two Baptist churches that believe exactly the same on all points of faith and practice. I would direct you to the website www.primitivebaptist.org to find out what Primitive Baptists generally believe and practice. You can then compare that to another church that you would consider.
Missionary Baptists and Primitive Baptists split in the nineteenth century over whether or not to adopt newfangled modern institutions like Sunday School and missionary societies. The Primitive Baptists rejected these because they hadn't been around in New Testament times. They were restorationists of a sort, trying to recover the purity of the early, hence “primitive,” Christian church. (The twelve apostles didn't go around founding missionary boards…) The Missionary Baptists were trendy innovators–at least what passed as trendy innovation in the early 1800's. Think of them as an early nineteenth-century equivalent to the evangelical churches of today that call themselves “worship centers” or “faith centers” because they want to be current.
Lest I make this particular conflict sound too trivial, I should acknowledge that a larger stake was the question of how bureaucratized or professionalized these churches were going to be. Here’s another anachronistic, presentist analogy: Think of Primitive Baptists as being anti-”big government” and anti-elitist in the realm of religion. (I’m guessing they tend to be those things, literally, on the contemporary political landscape, too.)
Hope this helps, Jeremiah.