1. Southern Baptists believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is authoritative, reliable and never misleading. It is the guide for faith and practice. In the Scriptures, God has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ and has declared His purpose for all creation.
2. Each person is able to come to God for himself or herself. There is no need for a third party to tell a person how to pray, or how to interpret the Scriptures. All believers are ministers or servants of God. This is called the priesthood of believers.
3. Southern Baptists insist that for one to be baptized into a church's fellowship, he or she must claim Jesus as Savior and Lord of life. Thus, only believers may be baptized. Baptists practice baptism by immersion. They hold that baptism is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It also symbolizes the fact that the new believer has died to his or her old life and has been raised to live a new life with Christ.
4. Southern Baptists believe in the right of each church to manage its affairs with no central authority except that of Christ Himself. Freedom does not rule out cooperation. The Southern Baptist Convention enables churches to pool and distribute their money for supporting ministries at home and around the world. This plan is called the Cooperative Program. Churches also support Southern Baptist causes through special offerings, designated gifts and other channels.
5. Southern Baptists affirm that God has assigned specific duties to the state and to the church. The 1963 Baptist Faith and Message states: "Church and state should be separate." Baptists object to government interfering with the church.