Skip to Content

What are Southern Baptists Anyways?

What are Southern Baptists Anyways?

#1 Are Southern Baptists Evangelicals?

Yes, in fact, Southern Baptists are the largest protestant-evangelical denomination in the United States

Not all Southern Baptists are Evangelicals, but most are. There is a great deal of variance within the Southern Baptist Convention’s beliefs due to the governing system offering autonomy to each individual church.

Evangelicals are known for having the opposite of a fundamentalist viewpoint. To clarify each:

  • Fundamentalists – Believe in a literal, direct, and non-interpretable version of scriptures. Often airing on the side of modesty, fundamentalists tend to be very conservative politically and be traditionalists.
  • Evangelicals – Believe in embracing a more open-ended, welcoming, and interpretable version of scriptures. Having a broader political view, being more liberal, and seeking the ability to determine their own code for what is ‘right and wrong,’ evangelicals are drawn towards the Southern Baptist denomination for their ability to not paint things as ‘black or white,’ leaving room for gray in the middle.
Figure 1 – Why US Evangelicals are Flocking to Trump

Related Scripture(s):

  • “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:1-4  

#2 Are Southern Baptists Calvinists?

For 400 years, Baptists have disagreed over the issue of being Calvinistic or not. In the 19th century, a significant number of Calvinists became Free Will Baptists throughout Maine, Massachusettes, and New Hampshire.

Calvinism is known by the following names:

  • Reformed Tradition
  • Reformed Christianity
  • Reformed Protestantism
  • Reformed Faith

The religions most active in Calvinism include:

  • Primitive Baptists
  • Reformed Baptists
  • Presbertariants
  • Protestant Reformed Churches

As a large branch of Protestantism, Calvinism is an original approach to the forms of Christianity, established by John Calvin

Figure 2 – SBC Pastors on Calvinism – Baptist Press

Calvinists strongly believe in the doctrine of predestination (a pre-ordained salvation of an established group of people that cannot be influenced by human life and free will). Predestination lies at the center Calvinistic core, being the foundation upon which the religion has built its principals and underlying basis.

Huffington post discusses How Calvinism is Dividing The Southern Baptists Convention:

Eighty percent of SBC pastors disagreed with the idea that only the elect will be saved, according to last year’s LifeWay poll, and two-thirds disagreed with the idea that salvation and damnation have already been determined.”

Leaders acknowledge within the church – ‘It is obvious that we all cannot be right.’

Related Scripture(s):

  • “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
  • “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.” – Proverbs 16:4

Related Video(s):

#3 Are Southern Baptists Arminian?

Yes, a large majority of Southern Baptists embrace Arminianism over Calvinism. Arminians is established on the condition of faith, whereas Calvinism is not.

Figure 3 – Arminianism by

According to LifeWay Research, nearly half of Protestants believe in Arminianism, while another 30% either strongly or somewhat agree. 

The major points of the Arminian theology include:

  • It is a liberal reaction to the Calvinist belief of predestination, dismissing the idea that God has already pre-determined who will be saved, and who will be not. 
  • Arminianism was established in the early 17th century as a rebellion of free will.
  • People are not beyond the ability to fall from grace
  • People are not beyond their ability to find grace

Essentially offering more hope for one’s good deeds in their duration on earth, the Arminianism dogmatics offers more significance and implication to one’s everyday morals.

Opposingly, Calvinism may let one off the hook because ‘everything is already pre-determined, we may as well do as we please.’ Due to this, Arminianism is seen as offering more freedom, control, and accountability over one’s life and the afterlife.

Related Scripture(s):

  • “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” – John 6:44
  • “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain…” – John 15:16.  

Related Video(s):

#4 Are Southern Baptists Christian?

Yes, Southern Baptists are Christian and deeply believe in the power of the trinity. As evangelical Protestants established since the 17th century, Baptists are most often:

  • White – 85% of Southern Baptists are Caucasian.

·   Republican – With 64% of them leaning towards the Conservative party  

  • Christians – Essentially 100% are Christians
  • Arminians – With 79% opposing Calvinism (as stated by Lifeway Research)

Southern Baptists also are proven to believe in God more powerfully than nearly any other religion, with 89% of them believing in a God with ‘absolute certainty’ and another 8% being ‘fairly certain.’

Figure 4 – Southern Baptists by Religion News Service

Related Scripture(s):

  • “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (2) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:1-2

Related Video(s):

#5 Are Southern Baptists Fundamentalists?

Yes, there are Southern Baptists Fundamentalists that preach a very ‘fire and brimstone’ version of the bible being a text without error or opportunity for theological interpretation. Fundamentalists were more common in the 1900s, with less and less remaining as steadfast in the 21st-century.

In 1990, Southern Baptists elected a Fundamentalist President. 

Nearly 25 years later, the new President of The Southern Baptists Convention, J.D. Greear writes:

                “Don’t be a Fundamentalist (Calvinist or Otherwise).” 

With the new President’s very modernized leadership over the SBC denomination, the future for Southern Baptists appears less and less fundamentally-constrained.

Related Scripture(s):

  • John Calvin’s favorite scripture – “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” – Deuteronomy 29:29

Related Video(s):

#6 Are Southern Baptist Churches Autonomous?

Yes, the Southern Baptists church is autonomous of an overarching governing force. Although they are a network of connected allies, each church is able to determine if it’s teaching will be more:

  • Calvinistic
  • Arminian
  • Fundamental
  • Reformed
  • Modern

The varying types of Baptists in the United Stated include:

  • Predestinarian Baptists
  • Independent Baptist
  • Primitive Baptists
  • General Baptists
  • Calvinistic Baptists
  • Southern Baptists
  • Baptists Cessationalists
  • And many more

This diversification and looseness of indoctrinated policy are due to the SBC religion being so liberal, offering each SBC church autonomy over their methodology towards Baptism.

Figure 6 – SBC Voices on Local Church Autonomy

Figure 6 – SBC Voices on Local Church Autonomy

Related Scripture(s):

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – Corinthians 3:17

Related Video(s):

#7 Are Southern Baptist Churches Strict?

In many ways, the Southern Baptist religions is one of the least strict, offering autonomy to each church and individual. However, Southern Baptists are considered strict regarding their rules against:

  • Dancing
  • Alcohol
  • Substance
  • Female Pastors
  • Speaking Tongues
  • Sex before marriage, etc.

Compared to Catholicism, where wine is consumed during mass, Baptists would be considered quite strict and conservative, hiding any drinking at home and certainly never drinking in church.

The bible offers many accounts of strict law, following God’s word, and abiding by strict morals. But it also states in Colossians 3:21:

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”

Figure 7 – Sexism Has Long Been Apart of The SBC Culture – The Conversation

Related Scripture(s):

  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

Related Video(s):

#8 Are Southern Baptists Churches Reformed?

Yes, there are a large number of converted and reformed SBC church denominations within the United States. Reformation was initially employed in the 16th century as a title for Evangelicals, separating themselves from those that are ‘unreformed and unchanged.’

A few of these groups include:

  • The Continental Baptist Churches
  • The Sovereign Grace Baptists Association of churches
  • And other Sovereign-titled groups

Reformation was established in the Baptist church in the 1630s, with each modernly reformed church believing in The Five Points of Calvinism:

  1. Total Depravity
  2. Unconditional Election
  3. Limited Atonement
  4. Irresistible Grace
  5. Perseverance of the Saints
Figure 8 – Reformation and Remembrance – Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Related Scripture(s):

  • “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” – 2 Timothy 3:16
  • “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” – Hebrews 9:22.   

Related Video(s):

Learn More

If you are interested in learning about other Religions in the world, then check out this book on World’s Religions on Amazon.