Question: "What are Particular Baptist churches, and what do Particular Baptists believe?"
Answer: Particular Baptist Churches are so called because they hold to a “particular” (limited) atonement, in contradistinction to other Baptist groups who hold to a “general” (unlimited) atonement. Since their view of the atonement aligns with Reformed theology or Calvinism, many Particular Baptist churches simply call themselves “Reformed Baptist” today.
Long before the Protestant Reformation, there were religious groups who rejected the idea of infant baptism, believing that baptism should be administered to adults who had made a choice to follow Christ. These groups eventually came to be called Baptists. In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, two different Baptist groups emerged: one Separatist, and one non-Separatist. The General Baptists were Separatist, believing that the Church of England was apostate and that Bible-believing Christians should have nothing to do with it. The Particular Baptists were non-Separatist, forming their own congregations outside of the Church of England but seeking to maintain friendly relations with the Church of England. Notable Particular Baptists in England included John Gill, William Carey, John Bunyan, and Charles Spurgeon.
In Colonial America, the Particular Baptists thrived, especially after the First Great Awakening (c. 1735–1743). The Particular Baptists began to be called the Regular Baptists, and as time went on their group diversified. Some Particular Baptists retained their commitment to five-point Calvinism; these still call themselves Particular Baptists or Reformed Baptists. Some, such as today’s Regular Baptists, modified their view of the atonement to Amyraldism. Others questioned the use of musical instruments in the worship service and rejected the formation of mission boards and other agencies not specified in Scripture; these are the Primitive Baptists. There are other branches in the Baptist vein, and many of them can trace their history back to the Particular Baptist Church.
Like all Baptists, the Particular Baptists practice believer’s baptism by immersion and have a congregational form of church government. Believing that no civil authority has a right to dictate what a person believes or how he worships, Baptists strongly support freedom of religion and the separation of church and state, as delineated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In general, Particular Baptists uphold a Bible-based theology and follow the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. Of course, when seeking a church, one should closely examine the teachings and practices of that church before getting involved.