1. That our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and that each Church has liberty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer His laws.
2. That Christian Baptism is the immersion in water into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, of those who have professed repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ who 'died for our sins according to the Scriptures; was buried, and rose again the third day'.
3. That it is the duty of every disciple to bear personal witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to take part in the evangelisation of the world.
Explored: a symbol of working together
A three-part "Declaration of Principle” forms the basis of understanding for all who belong to the Baptist Union. It was introduced in 1873 with the intent of holding in Union Baptists with widely different theological understandings, and progressively refined (1904, 1906, and 1938).
It is rooted in Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) with its threefold pattern of authority, baptism and mission. The first clause of the Declaration focuses on the absolute authority of Jesus Christ, with clause two on baptism into the life of God. Clause three is all about mission.
In 1996 the then principals of the four England-based Baptist colleges produced a study guide called Something to Declare in an attempt to make the Declaration better known and understood.
They concluded that the Declaration “still has a great deal to offer,” describing it as “notably theological… an authentic expression of Baptist ecclesiology… much more than a statement of organisational policy pragmatically to achieve certain ends.”
“Something important is here for our present and future life,” they continued. “By Christ, in the Spirit, we come to the Father. We are baptised into the life of the triune God and live to share God’s mission.”