Introducing the Baptist Identity Materials

What Are Some Things the Baptist Identity Materials Do?

  • Focuses on beliefs widely held by Baptists in a way that does not put down the beliefs of other faith groups but rather puts forth those of Baptists.
  • Provides insight into such things as what Baptists believe and why, how Baptist churches are organized and function, what contributions Baptists have made and are making, and the ministries that Baptists carry out in Christ’s name.
  • Spotlights Baptist persons and events that through the years have shaped the heritage of the Baptist family of Christians.
  • Presents in a concise way what Baptists in general believe but does not claim to present an official Baptist position on any of the beliefs since Baptists do not have any such official positions.

Why Were the Baptist Identity Materials Developed?

The Materials were designed to help inform and inspire Baptists about basic Bible-based beliefs as a means of strengthening individuals, churches, associations, institutions, and the denomination as a whole so that they might be as effective as possible in serving Christ as Lord and carrying out the Great Commission and Great Commandment of our Lord. Strengthening the Baptist denomination helps strengthen the entire mission of Christ.

How Were the Baptist Identity Materials Developed?

The process of developing the Materials began with twenty-seven colorful, full-page articles that were printed in each issue of a Baptist state paper during the year 2005 and posted on the website in both a full-color and text-only version.The articles were financed by a dedicated Baptist deacon and authored at his request by William M. Pinson, Jr. with graphic design, research, and editing by Doris A. Tinker. Both have extensive experience in Baptist life. Distinguished Baptist historians, professors, and pastors were involved as consultants.

The overwhelmingly positive response to the articles included requests that they be put in leaflet form and made more widely available. As a result, the Baptist Identity Leaflets, nineteen colorful, 4-page 5.5 x 8.5 leaflets based on the articles, were prepared. The leaflets were distributed to persons attending a number of Baptist meetings as well as to individuals and churches at their request. Feedback on the leaflets was requested.

A website was developed to correlate articles and leaflets with other resources. The website contains the original twenty-seven articles in a full-color version and a text only version, the nineteen leaflets, an extensive bibliography on Baptist identity, links to numerous resources on Baptists, and information about the Baptist Identity Materials. The original articles can be downloaded in full-color or text-only format and the leaflets in full-color only. The website is designed for use by persons in individual and group study.

The Baptist Identity Materials were originally part of a website titled and a collection of resource books titled the Baptist Identity Materials. The additional books are: Baptist Beliefs and Heritage, Personal Study Guides, and Leader’s Guide for Group Study. This website was developed by the same team of person who developed the original site and gifted to Dallas Baptist University as part of the resources for the Center for Baptist History and Heritage.

Who Developed the Baptist Identity Materials?

Many persons cooperated in the development of the materials of the Baptist Identity Series. The following were the primary contributors:

William M. Pinson, Jr. authored the materials in the Baptist Identity Materials. He has served as a seminary and university professor, pastor, interim pastor in Texas, Kansas, and New York, president of Golden Gate Baptist Seminary in California, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), and member of various commissions of the Baptist World Alliance. He has taught and written extensively on Baptist beliefs and heritage.

Doris A. Tinker served as the primary designer for the Materials articles, leaflets and books, assisted in research and editing, and coordinated the entire project. She has served as a volunteer in Baptist churches in Arkansas, Illinois, and Texas, pastor’s secretary, long-time executive associate in the BGCT executive director’s office, communications and organization director of the Texas Baptist Heritage Center, and facilitator for many meetings on Baptist identity.

Skyler G. Tinker assisted in developing the graphics and layout for the leaflets. A deacon and Bible study leader, he has been part of a Baptist church all of his life and serves in several areas of his church. He graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas majoring in arts and technology with a minor in computer science.

Other persons provided suggestions, evaluated materials, and assisted in various ways. These included historians, professors, pastors, deacons, Bible study leaders, denominational executives, college and seminary students, and editors of Baptist publications. Persons who field-tested the material made valuable input for the final product.

What Are The Goals of the Baptist Identity Materials?

The development of the Baptist Identity Materials was a multi-year process involving scores of persons, including Baptist church members, pastors, historians, theologians, denominational workers, and editors. The primary goals of the process were to develop materials that would…

  • Inform and inspire persons about Bible-based Baptist beliefs and heritage in order to strengthen the Baptist contribution to helping fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Supply a resource to be used both by individuals and by groups studying Baptist identity.
  • Produce attractive, colorful, and relatively brief materials to supplement the many large volumes of textual material on Baptists that are already available.
  • Interrelate with a website that provides additional information on Baptists.
  • Major on what Baptists hold in common rather than on divisive matters.
  • Contribute resources that would be useful to scholars and laypersons alike but prepared in a “popular” style.

Comments/Testimonials Concerning the Baptist Identity Materials

The original twenty-seven articles and the website, the Baptist Identity Leaflets, and the field testing of materials for the Baptist Identity Materials have brought about many comments and testimonials from a wide variety of persons in different states and parts of the world. Samplings of some of the comments/testimonials are below.

“We would like to translate the excellent articles on Baptists beliefs into French for French Baptists.”
Baptist Leader, France

“We have used the article on regenerate church membership and look forward to using more articles as we go along.”
Baptist Church Member, Australia

“…would help me greatly to have copies of all…”
Interim Pastor, Arkansas

“Thank you for wanting to help us in learning and discovering Biblical truths.”
Baptist Leader, Croatia

“The material was a big help as I prepared Sunday School lessons on Baptist beliefs…”
Deacon, Alabama

“I think it’s great…most Baptists, at least in my generation, don’t know much of this, if any at all…”
Baptist Young Adult, California

“I came across Baptist Distinctives and the information is awesome.”
Deacon, South Carolina

“…you are making a real contribution…”
Baptist Attorney, Tennessee

“…covered Baptist distinctives, etc. better than any other materials I had found.”
College Student, Oregon

“…like to disseminate more widely the outstanding work…”
Pastor, Virginia

“…the very direction that we at our church need to move toward in that I find relatively few Baptists understand who they are.”
Baptist Engineering Professor, Oklahoma

“Your website, Baptist Distinctives, has been helpful to me as a young Baptist. I needed some information on the two offices as one of our distinctives and your site was helpful.”
Young Baptist, Ghana

Questions and Answers on Baptist Identity Materials Content

Are the Materials an official statement of Baptist beliefs?

No, they are not. The Materials do not purport to present an official statement on any of the topics. Baptists do not have any such official statement. The authors have endeavored to set forth beliefs and polities commonly held by Baptists.

Do the Materials present a comparison of Baptist beliefs with other denominations?

The Materials were not designed to deal specifically with such comparisons. Baptists have many beliefs and practices in common with other parts of the Christian community even while being a distinct denomination.

Do the Materials set forth why Baptists are a distinct denomination?

Yes. No single belief sets Baptists apart as a distinct group, but rather it is a combination or recipe of beliefs. The Materials discusses this. The intent of the Materials is not to put down the beliefs of others but rather to hold up the beliefs and practices that in combination make Baptists a distinct denomination of Christians.

Why study about a denomination rather than about what it means to be a Christian?

Studying what it means to be a Christian is always of vital importance, and the Materials do that. However, the study of a denomination is also important. To strengthen the Baptist denomination is one means of strengthening the Christian movement worldwide. A way to do this is to help Baptists to be thoroughly aware of and committed to the beliefs and polities which enable the Baptist family of Christians to function effectively in missions, evangelism, Christian education, ministry, and social action.

Do the Materials contain a history of Baptists?

The Materials contain a brief summary of Baptist history, but they do not major on the history of Baptists. This website in the Books section contains a list of resources on Baptist history.

Do the Materials present all of the various points of view on Baptist beliefs?

Baptists are a diverse people in many ways, including different views on certain doctrines and practices. However, Baptists in general hold to a core set of beliefs and practices which set them apart as a distinct part of the Christian family. The Materials are based on these core beliefs rather than on the different views certain Baptist groups have about particular beliefs.

What are distinctive characteristics of the Materials?

The Materials are biblically-based, concise, colorful, illustrated, popular in style, general in approach, and useful for group as well as for individual study. They were developed to meet a need for content on Baptist identity that supplements what is available in lengthy books, scholarly journals, and text-only pamphlets. An outstanding Baptist theologian/historian/author commented that while those are essential resources in studying Baptist identity, the format and materials as presented in the Baptist Identity Materials are needed as another resource in Baptist life.