Christian Baptist Religion in a Sociological Perspective

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Defining the world ‘religion’ is not an easy process, fraught with difficulties. Throughout the ages, many attempts have been made. Often time’s people tend to focus on a very narrow definition that matches the person’s own beliefs but not others. One of the reasons it’s notoriously difficult to define because it crosses so many different boundaries in human experience. According to the Miriam Webster dictionary, religion could be identified as ‘a set of ideas concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs’ . Some see religion as a belief, while some understand it as the interaction of belief, behavior and belonging. In other words, what makes religion religion is that it is something people do together. Private beliefs and practices can be referred to as spirituality, but religion is usually social. This project attempts to describe Christian Baptist religion, its main beliefs, values and traditions as a part of an urban lifestyle. ‘Baptists are a group of Christian denominations and churches who subscribe to a theology of believer's baptism as opposed to infant baptism, salvation through faith alone, Scripture alone as the rule of faith and practice , and the autonomy of the local church’ . Salvation through faith alone is a principle that distinguishes Christian Baptists from other Christian denominations. It states that God's forgiveness for sinners is granted through faith alone, to the exclusion of all individual efforts or works. Scripture alone is a belief that the Bible is the only reliable authority for Christian faith, and that it contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and eternal life. I grew up in a Christian household and consider myself Catholic even though I do not attend church regularly. As I moved to the United States from Europe around seven years ago, I was forced to work on several days including Sundays which didn’t make it easy for me to attend church. Before migrating, I never used to pray at home and so my spiritual life somewhat got off track when I stopped attending church. I became interested specifically in this religion, because of my close friend Jonathan (who I’m going to refer to as JT throughout this paper). JT, a person I can always rely on, is certainly a believer and God plays a huge role in his life. JT, a Baruch student in his twenties, attends a Baptist church regularly and often mentions God in our everyday conversations. He would sometimes justify certain events by saying it was meant to be or that God wants it that way and there’s nothing us humans can do about it. It also appeared fascinating to me how some of us (me for instance) could go through our lives without any serious need to feel connected to ‘something greater’, and simultaneously individuals like my friend JT can’t even think of living their lives without daily prayers and conversations with God or reading the Bible. I also thought it’d be exciting to learn more about Christian Baptist beliefs and be able to compare them to Catholicism since I was raised in such household. Interestingly enough, over ninety five percent of the Polish population is Catholic. Since I was never really exposed to any other types of religion I figured it’d be a great and enlightening experience. Religion could be considered a cultural, social and historical concept, concept sociologists would observe or analyze. Sociology is a study of people, culture and different aspects of human life. In other words it is a study of society.

Today's Woodside Baptist Community Church located in Queens, NY began as a combined effort of only six men from several churches of different denominations around the 1870's. They were concerned that there was little gospel witness in the area. In 1880 they began a "Sabbath School which developed into a church over the years. When the train was built on Roosevelt...
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