Why we are baptists



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WHY WE ARE BAPTISTS

Part I




What Baptists Are:

Baptist Distinctives: Our only Authority for Faith and practice, since the NT Apostolic Age



Biblical Authority: II Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

II Peter 1:20,21



Autonomy of the Local Church:

Directly under Jesus Christ: Colossians 1:18 "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."

Its basic task: I Timothy 3:15 "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

Its Democracy: One member, one vote: Acts 6:1-7 Election of helpers/deacons by the members of the church

“A local New Testament church is a body of believers immersed upon credible confession of Faith in Jesus Christ, having two officers (pastor and deacon), sovereign in polity, and banded together for worship, the observance of the ordinances and the world-wide proclamation of the Gospel”

Priesthood of All Believers:

Right of direct access to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest

The Privilege of Prayer, granted to Believers in Christ: Hebrews 4:14-16

Revelation 1:5,6



Two Ordinances: Commands given by our Lord Jesus Christ; practiced by the local church

Believer’s Baptism: Instituted by Christ in Matthew 28:18b-20; practiced by the church in Acts 2:41

By Immersion: Romans 6:3-5; Acts 8:38

The Lord’s Table/Communion: Replacing Passover As a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice; Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 11:23-26



Individual Soul Liberty: Each one answerable before God

Romans 14:4,5b, 12; II Corinthians 5:10; Acts 10:34



Saved/Regenerate Church Membership:

Acts 2:41 "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."

As the Body of Christ: I Corinthians 12:12-27

Two Church Offices: Selected and Elected by the local church membership

Pastor: Undershepherd (I Timothy 3:1-7), Elder, Bishop: I Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:17, 28 connects all three

Deacon: Acts 6:2-7; I Timothy 3:7-13

Separation of Church and State: In our Bill of Rights; No State Church

Jesus in Matthew 22:21 "They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."

We have responsibility to civil government (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1)

We support it financially; We submit to its authority (Titus3:1); We respect it (I Peter 2:13-17), We pray for its personnel (I Timothy 2:1-6)

But there is always a prevailing priority: Acts 5:29 "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men."

As a matter of our Individual Soul Liberty

Baptist Succession: Clarifying its definition, how we use the expression

Is there a a traceable line or linkage that connects Baptists since the 19th century back to the 1st century Church, as described in the Book of Acts, whose doctrines are described throughout the New Testament?

Histories written that trace the spiritual heritage of Baptists:

George H. Orchard Concise History of the Baptists 1st - 18th cent. 1838

D.B. Ray Baptist Succession 1912

The continual learning and practice of these distinctives and other Biblical principles, since the Apostolic Age until the present time

Our connection with the first century church is its Doctrine and ultimate practices, as recorded in Scripture

Some Biblical principles to guide us:

The Church was instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: Matthew 16:18

The Foundation is Christ, not Peter

The Apostle and Prophets served as part of that foundation: Ephesians 2:20

But Jesus Christ is the “chief corner stone”

The Apostles and Prophets continued to serve the Church through the Scriptures they were inspired to write: Ephesians 4:11,12

Jesus promised that not even the gates of Hell would prevail against His Church: Therefore, the true Church cannot be destroyed nor disappear from Pentecost unto the Rapture:

The Apostle Paul assures us of the continuity of the Gospel testimony:

Acts 14:17a God has never left Himself without a witness

There has never been a time in human history that Go has not revealed Himself, either through his Creation and/or through His Word and/or through a People, be it a nation like Israel or His Church

Israel survived Egypt, Assyrians, Babylon, etc. unto this day

There has always been a “Remnant” true to Christ, whether recognized or unknown

There was never a time when it was only the Roman Catholic Church

Baptists are not Protestants because we were never in Romanism

John Quincy Adams: Baptists the Only Thorough Reformers 1876

Using a literal, grammatical, historical and contextual method of Biblical interpretation

Letting Scripture comment upon Scripture; the Clear interpreting the Obscure

God has promised to Preserve His Word: Matthew 24:35

His Word will not return unto Him void: Isaiah 55:11

So then, we conclude that God preserved His Testimony, through the Apostasy that had already begun in the 1st century and is even found in Scripture:

Note the “spirit of antichrist” already present in I John 4:3

Gnosticism, Asceticism that Paul battled

Resulting Apostasy that formed the Roman Catholic Church, 251 A.D.

Baptists bypassed the later corruptions through the 4th century, that led to Romanism and the subsequent Protestant Reformation, that only partially corrected the errors of Romanism

Conclusion: We do not seek a succession of Apostolic Authority:

No Apostolic authority handed down from generation to generation, since John

Neither is there any Papal succession that descends from the Apostle Peter

We do not seek a succession of who baptized whom: A problem for Roger Williams

We do not follow Landmarkism: “Baptist-briders”

For a time, our spiritual ancestors were known by other names, than Baptist or Anabaptist, and observed most, if not all of our Distinctives

Some major examples: Montanists (150AD), Novatians (240 AD), Donatists (305 AD), Paulicians, Cathari, Albigenses, Bogamils (400-1100), Petrobrusians, Waldenses (1170)

Baptist and Anabaptist names are found before the Protestant Reformation

Anabaptists were heretics and criminals under the imperial law of Justinian (AD 529) and re-baptism was punishable by death

Our “Succession” does not trace its history through the evolution of the Catholic Church, nor through the Reformation begun in the 16th century

Cardinal Hosius (1504-1579): “Were it not that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past 1200 years, they would swarm in greater number than all the Reformers” (Letters Apud Opera, pp 112,113)

Sebastian Franck (1530): “...There arose from the letter of Scripture, independent of the state churches, a new sect which was called Anabaptists...By the good appearance of their sect and their appeal to the letter of Scripture to which they strictly adhered, they drew to themselves many thousand God-fearing hearts who had a zeal for God, for they taught nothing but love, faith and the cross.”

The heart of Baptists in history may be summed up in John 5:39 "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."



What Baptists Are Not:

Baptists are not/have never been Protestants, nor descendants of Roman Catholicism

Because the distinctive doctrines above were in direct conflict with both Catholic and Protestant doctrines, there could be no reconciliation without the sacrifice of doctrine:

The Heart of the Baptists/Anabaptists; Anti-Paedobaptism: Against infant baptism

In the light of the Authority of Scripture

Defining question: Who shall be baptized? Under what terms or conditions?

Baptism relates to Salvation and to Church membership in critical ways

Is Salvation by Grace or by works?

Is baptism; of whatever mode, of whatever subject sufficient to membership?

Further concerns arise when you relate baptism to Communion/Lord’s table

For Romanism: Baptism of infants was not technically baptismal regeneration

Infant baptism brought a person into official membership of the Church

Church Membership was the actual means of Salvation

For the Protestant Reformers: Infant baptism was maintained, although with a different result:

Reformed theology taught that Baptism brought a person under the Abrahamic Covenant of God’s promise of Salvation; to be confirmed by them at a later age

Can one person believe on behalf of another; whether adult or infant?

The Origins of Infant Baptism:

First century Paganism’s love of external rites: having “magical virtue”

Purification rites of Judaism that were carried over into corrupted Christianity

Inroads made in the 1st century by Gnosticism, also influenced by Paganism

Transition from Substance to Symbolism: whereby practices like Baptism could be changed in mode, candidates, purpose by the whim of religious leaders - Still a threat to us today in other areas

Sacerdotalism: The invention of the Priesthood and Priestcraft

Divided the people into Clergy and Laity, contrary to Galatians 3:26-28

Ordinances became the “mysteries” of the Church

Empowered the Clergy to do for the Laity what they could not do for themselves; Salvation was bestowed by the Priest, through rituals

By contrast, as Baptists, there is the equality of the brethren, though there be different Gifts given to the Church and responsibilities of leadership to Pastors and the service of Deacons (two church offices); one member, one vote

Baptist Doctrine of Believer’s Baptism:

Only those who publicly and satisfactorily profess their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior may be baptized

That eliminates infants and most toddlers

The Purpose of Believer’s Baptism is to give public testimony of Salvation already possessed and to declare a person’s identity with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection: Romans 6:4-6

Scriptural evidence of Acts 8:36,37 Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch

No one is saved through Baptism!

By 125 A.D. Baptism was considered necessary for the remission of sins:

So confessed by the Shepherd of Hermas, Justin Martyr, Tertullian

Influence of the State: As the corrupt Church sought to extend its powers with the authority of the government:

Pagan/Corrupt rulers required that the Church baptize their children

Royal pomp and circumstance cultivated the desire for ritual and ceremony in the Church, as both grew closer together

State Church ties of both Catholic and Protestant churches:

The threat of Romanism: Control of the Clergy over the people

Power over people’s Salvation by granting or withholding baptism:



Not only over the common people, but also over Kings and rulers, and thereby control over the State, under the threat of Excommunication i.e. removal from Church membership/Salvation

The threat was no less to the Protestant Reformers: Exclusion from the Communion table

The “Holy” Wars against the Anabaptists: Persecution and Annihilation

Duke of Savoy against the Waldenses and all Protestant religion, 1686

English Baptists : Putting the Lollards in the Tower of London

Henry VIII proclamation against Anabaptists in 1538; James, Charles II

We have no ties with the Roman Catholic Church:

Our spiritual forefathers were severely persecuted by the Catholic Church

We have no ties with the Reformation:

The Reformation was not a religious revival, taking them back to the sole authority of Scripture; but a grafting of Protestantism into the trunk of Catholicism

It was partial/insufficient in doctrinal changes, compromising clear Biblical teachings

It was born out of political ambitions to break off the yoke of Rome

Some in Zurich with Zwingli were “Negative Protestants” wanting nothing to do with Rome

Some believed doctrinal compromise and alliances were necessary for the Reformation to survive

The Reformers also severely persecuted our spiritual forefathers:

They lost their goods, their lands and their lives; Konred Grebel 1526, Felix Manz, drowned in Zurich, 1527; Balthasar Hubmaier burned at the stake in Vienna and his wife drowned, 1528

In Rottenburg alone there were 900 executions of Baptists, in less than 10 years

Michael Sateler, May 21, 1527

Some significant differences between Protestants and Baptists:

Their founders are Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley; we look to Christ and the Apostles: Ephesians 2:20

Their birthplaces: Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Scotland, England; we look to Palestine

October 31, 1517: Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of Wittinburg Church

April 25, 1529: Second Diet(Council) of Speier: Lutheran representatives came before the Roman Catholic Council to make protest of their doctrines “contrary to the Christian faith.”

Because of their “Protest,” these Lutherans were called Protestants

Their return to the Bible was marked by expediency, authoritative in faith, but not practice

It was a partial, not a complete return

The Baptists avoided the intellectual scholasticism which the reformers had inherited from their past; “It was said that Anabaptists trusted spirit-filled farmers more than theologians”

Baptists rejected the Reformation idea of a State Church

Baptists refused to accept the Covenant Theology of the Reformers

The problem that persists today: Problems distinguishing between Israel and the Church

Reconstructionism, Dominion Theology
Baptists and Scriptural Separation:

Separation from Apostasy, from both Catholicism and Reformation Theology

Separation from the unbelieving world; without compromise, no matter what the cost

Baptist emphasis on Discipleship and Holy living: They cultivated a testimony of applying what they believed in ordinary life

Sebastian Franck (not a Baptist): “They showed themselves humble, patient under much suffering; they brake bread with one another as an evidence of unity and love. They helped each other faithfully, and called each other brothers. They died as martyrs, patiently and humbly enduring all persecution.”
Thomas Armitage:
" In what, then do the Baptist Churches of to-day differ from other ecclesiastical bodies? Only in retaining certain peculiarities of the New Testament Churches which others have laid aside. And in what do Baptist peculiarities consist ? The fundamental difference between them and others lies much deeper that the question of Baptism, either as regards the act itself or its subjects. The distinction is more broader, deeper and more radical. The living and underlying principles of Baptist Churches, relate to the sovereign and absolute headship of Christ in his churches; to the exclusive authority of the Scriptures, as containing his law for their direction in all things; to the supernatural regeneration of each Christian forming the churches; and to the liberty and responsibility to God, of each individual conscience."

Baptists in Western Europe; The Times Before Coming to America

Part II
Baptist Claims to Antiquity Acknowledged By Non-Baptists:

Thomas Armitage quotes:

King Charles V makes a decree against the Anabaptists in 1529:

Although by common law it is ordered and provided that no one who has once been baptized according to Christian order shall have himself baptized over again or a second time, or shall himself baptize such a one, and in the imperial laws in particular so to do is forbidden under penalty of death...yet we find daily that, contrary to the promulgated common law and also to our mandate issued, such an ancient sect of the Anabaptists condemned and forbidden many hundreds of years ago more and more advances and spreads.”

Gesenius: German Hebraist and Bible critic, when given a description of Baptist churches:

“How exactly like the Primitive Churches...”

From the authors of the Netherlands Reformed Church history”
We have seen that the Baptists who in former times were called Anabaptists, and at a later period Mennonites, were originally Waldenses, who, in the history of the church, even from the most ancient times, have received such a well-deserved homage. On this account the Baptists may be considered, as of old, the only religious community which has continued from the time of the Apostles; as a Christian Society which has kept pure through all ages the evangelical doctrines of religion. The uncorrupted inward and outward condition of the Baptist community affords proof of the truth contested by the Romish church, of the great necessity of a reformation of religion such as that which took place in the sixteenth century, and also a refutation of the erroneous notion of the Roman Catholics that their denomination is most ancient.”
Tracing the Links from the 1st Century: Following the links geographically

A witness to the missionary spirit of Baptists, fulfilling the Great Commission as a result of fierce persecution: Like the Diaspora in Acts 8:1

Romanism’s outreach came by force and by exercising the power of the State against any/all who opposed them; including Baptists

Protestants’ strong Reformed theology 1520, 1529, but Calvinism did little in the works of Evangelism and Church planting

Baptists took the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18b-20) to heart

Donatists (4th century, Africa), Novatians/Paterines (3rd -5th centuries, Milan, Italy)

Term “Anabaptist” first used with the Novatians

Both Donatists and Novatians banished by the 4th Lateran Council, 413

From Palestine to Africa; from the Church at Rome to Milan

Waldeses (In the Alpine Valleys, Piedmont) where many Novatians retreated

For 1260 years, through 1655; exiled to Geneva Switzerland1686

Other descendants would be found in Bohemia (Pickards), Moravia, throughout Europe: Petrobrusians, Vaudois, Leonists,

Paulicians, “Waldeses of the East” went through Italy, France, Spain, to England

Albigenses (Southern France) over 20 years, early 13th century a million were put to death, causing survivors to flee across the Pyrenees Mountains to Spain

German Baptists: From the Waldenses

Baptists in the Netherlands: From the Waldenses

Welsh Baptists: Churches planted in Wales during the Apostolic Age

English Baptists: Also called Lollards, 1315, (German Baptists, Waldenses)

Influenced by the Dutch and German Baptists

Also to Ireland (Patrick 432) and Scotland

These Baptists would come to America, particularly from Wales, England, Netherlands, to escape persecution and find religious liberty
The Persecution of the Baptists as Anabaptists over the centuries:

Baptists have ever been the subjects of persecution; never the persecutor

II Timothy 3:12 "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

The origin of the term Anabaptist, as an epithet given to Baptists by others; to baptize again, upon confession of faith in Christ, those who were baptized as infants was most offensive to both Romanism and Reformed

Protestant Persecution/Inquisition of Baptists in Western Europe:

This Protestant inquisition was very similar to the Roman Catholic one. The Protestants required that every citizen submit to their doctrine and practice upon pain of death. They required that every citizen become a spy to report on the presence of dissidents. Not only were the dissidents persecuted, so were those who helped them in any way, including those who even failed to report them.

The Baptists were not seditionists. They were not trying to overthrow the government. They merely desired to practice their own faith in peace.

Though the Protestant Reformers of the 16th to the 18th centuries demanded religious liberty from the Roman Catholic Church, in many cases they did not give liberty to others. Protestants of the Reformation era persecuted Baptists and others who differed from them.

Zwingli was a hypocrite in the matter of persecution. He spoke against the Catholics when they persecuted Protestants, but he supported the persecution of Baptists. In his sixty-seven theses against Rome, Zwingli had said: “No compulsion should be employed in the case of such as do not acknowledge their error, unless by their seditious conduct they disturb the peace of others.” Yet, he ignored his own rule and compelled others to believe as he did.

Zwingli in Zurich, January 17, 1525; Disputed with those who believed the Scriptures taught only regenerate church membership, baptism by pouring (later immersion) and opposed infant baptism

Zwingli led city council opposition to those like Felix Manz and Conrad Grebel, who were put into prison for opposing the city edict

In 1527, Manz, together with Jacob Falk and Henry Reiman were executed by drowning

Likewise, Balthasar Hubmaier: Both he and his wife imprisoned, he suffer the rack, on March 10, 1528, in Vienna, he was burned to death and his wife drowned 8 days later

Protestant persecution of Baptists continued in Switzerland until the 17th century

John Calvin: Established a church-state in Geneva

Police invaded homes to examine their clothing, hairstyles, jewelry, shoes, books, food, children’s names, for unapproved items; citizens were examined whether they attended Calvin’s sermons and memorized approved prayers

Forbidden were any criticism’s of Calvin’s dictatorship; servants and children were required to report any forbidden conduct or possessions, unapproved Bible translations

The burning of Michael Servitus, 1553: At the direction of Calvin, supported by Philip Melanchthon in Germany and other Protestant leaders

Calvin would also encourage King Edward VI of England to execute Baptists there

Martin Luther and other Lutheran leaders in Germany:

While he earlier taught baptism by dipping or immersion, in later years he turned towards the destruction of all those who revolted against the state and church in pursuit of independence, leading to the slaughter of 100,000 in the peasant wars.

His opposition to Baptists sought to silence their desire for religious liberty

Diet of Speirs, 1529, composed of both Catholic and Protestant heads of state: pronounced a death sentence upon all Baptists; 400-1000 police were engaged in the hunt for Baptists who were summarily executed

Urbanus Rhegius: Another Lutheran leader, in Augsburg wrote against the Baptists, caused the execution of many, 1527-1528

Osiander; Lutheran reformer in Nuremburg, Germany

Martin Bucer 1491-1551: Lutheran leader in Augsburg Germany

The Church of England (Anglican) formed by King Henry VIII in 1534

Persecuted Baptists there through the 17th century; many burned to death

Notable cases of Ann Askew, burned July 1546 and Joan Bucher, 1550

Continued under Edward VI, 1547

After the reign of Catholic Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth I restored the Church of England, giving freedom to Protestants and even Catholics, but Baptists were banished

1559 Act of Uniformity: An injunction against any preaching contrary to the Church of England

Resulting in the burning of Dutch Anabaptists who fled to England to escape persecution in Holland

Yet there were underground Baptist churches in England, 1588

King James I, 1566-1625: Whom we recognize as the one who authorized the KJV Bible

Persecution of Baptists continued; burned, their possessions confiscated, many others died in prison

Petitions from Baptists were regularly rejected; 1610,1615

Brief respite during the civil war of 1641, when James I and Charles I were executed and Lord Oliver Cromwell took power

Cromwell gave religious liberty to all but the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, but it ended with Cromwell’s death in 1658

King Charles II, 1660-1685; James II, 1685-1688

Charles II restored the state church, took away the freedoms under Cromwell

Act of Uniformity, 1662; Conventicle Act, 1664; Five-Mile Act, 1665; Second Conventicle Act,1670 all served to punish non-conformists

From 1660-1689, 70,000 men and women suffered persecution; 8,000 died

The Toleration Act 1689 (William of Orange and Mary) brought liberty of conscience, ending 155 years of Anglican persecution, after overthrowing James II

Baptists Come to America; Seeking Liberty in A New Land

Part III
Persecution in the Colonies: Protestant persecution brought to America:

Baptists were among the colonists who landed at both Plymouth Rock, 1620, and in Virginia, 1608

Cotton Mather: “Many of the first settlers in Massachusetts were Baptists, and that they were as holy and faithful and heavenly people as any, perhaps in the world”

The Protestants who settled in America, though fleeing religious persecution, themselves persecuted Baptists and Quakers and others who differed from them until the time of the American independence and the formation of the United States Constitution

Persecution in the Massachusetts Bay Colony: Puritans, 1630

The Pilgrims who were separatists fleeing the Church of England settled in Plymouth earlier, in 1620, after they retreated to the Netherlands:

They denied religious liberty to others, practiced infant baptism, denounced Baptists

The Puritans: sought reform of the Church of England, but did not really separate from it and maintained a state church practice

John Quincy Adams:


"Even the Puritans, who fled from persecution, had no idea of religious liberty. They came here to establish their own faith, and to exclude all others: hence they were more rigidly intolerant than the countries whence they had fled from persecution. 'Intolerance was a necessary condition of their enterprise. They feared and hated religious liberty.' All who did not conform to their views, were fined, and imprisoned, and whipped and banished; and, as Baptists were especially opposed to religious oppression, the heaviest persecutions feel upon them."
Halfway Covenant: 1662 by the Puritans of New England, compromising membership

Struggles for Religious Freedom in the Colonies:

Perceived threats to the state church in Massachusetts:

A letter from Rev. Thomas Corbett to Increase Mather:


"And I add theyr very principle of makeing infant Baptism a nullity, it doth make at once all our churches, and our religious Civil state and polity, and all the officers and members thereof to be unbaptized and bee no Christians and so our churches to bee no churches; and so we have no regular power...."
Thomas Painter, William Witter, John Wood, John Spur, punished for denying infant baptism

Historic case, 1651, John Clark, Obadiah Holmes, John Crandal, held a service in the home of William Witter, where they were arested and imprisoned in Boston; Holmes, who refused to pay the fine levied upon them was whipped 30 times with a three-corded whip:


“…for in truth, as the strokes fell upon me, I had such a spiritual manifestation of God’s presence, as the like thereof I never had nor felt, nor can with fleshly tongue express, and the outward pain was so removed from me, that indeed I am not able to declare it to you, it was so easy to me, that I could well bear it, yea, and in a manner, felt it not, although it was grievous, as the spectators said, the man striking with all his strength (yea, spitting in his hands three times, as many affirmed) with a three corded whip, giving me therewith thirty strokes. When he had loosed me from the post, having joyfulness in my heart and cheerfulness in my countenance, as the spectators observed, I told the magistrates, you have struck me as with roses…”
Obadiah Holmes lived for the next weeks on his elbows and knees, unable to either lie down or sit

Obadiah Holmes would go on to be a champion for religious liberty, both in Massachusetts and the new nation, and encouraged the second Continental Congress in Philadelphia to incorporate religious liberty in the forthcoming Constitution

The Massachusetts persecution of Baptists continued until their state Constitution, 1780, provided guarantees of religious freedom; However Massachusetts was the last to give up its state church, in 1833

Persecutions in Virginia:

In Virginia, new arrivals were tested by the Church of England and those who declined to be tested or failed could suffer fines, whippings, imprisonment, banishment from the colony

By 1696, Baptists fled Virginia to North Carolina; there would be no evidence of Baptists in Virginia until 18 years later

Laws enacted in 1623, 1643 and 1661 established the Anglican Church as the state church

Other Acts of the Virginia Assembly required infant baptism and prohibited the assembling of Quakers and other “dissenters”

Anglican clergy were supported by taxation of all citizens: Glebes

At least thirty Baptist preachers were imprisoned:

Some preached through the barred windows to people gathered to hear God’s Word

People gathered outside Fredericksburg, Culpepper, other county prisons, while their opponents would direct the smoke of burning brimstone and pepper toward the windows to choke them, attempted to blow them up with gunpowder, poison them

On the site of Culpepper Prison, a Baptist meeting house was built exactly where James Ireland preached through prison bars to the people gathered outside to hear God’s Word

During these times in both Massachusetts and Virginia, Baptist churches and believers multiplied in both colonies and elsewhere:

When freedom was established in Virginia, fifty Baptist churches were established in four years, 1767-1771

Missionaries had to be sent from London to Virginia, for lack of Baptist pastors

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”

Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke make their impact on New England:

Williams came to Boston in 1631 as a Puritan, became an Anglican pastor, but quickly became a Separatist, avoiding the Congregationalist -Church of England controversy in New England

Questioning the right of civil authority to interfere with free religious exercise, he was banished in October, 1635

Williams departed to establish Providence Rhode Island, as a “shelter for those distressed for conscience,” befriending the Indians there and purchasing the land for Providence from them in 1636

He became a Baptist pastor for a brief period of time, 1639, Williams made major contributions to the limits of civil authority that would ultimately make their way into our Constitution; namely, consent of the governed and liberty of the conscience (soul liberty)

Troubled over Baptist Succession

Dr. John Clarke: A Puritan turned Baptist minister, came under the influence of Roger Williams in 1638

He authored the Portsmouth Compact, whereby Portsmouth Colony was founded upon faith in Jesus Christ and a government by the people, for the people

By the Royal Charter of 1663, King Charles II guaranteed their religious freedom and was imitated by other colonies in writing their own Constitutions

Clark pastored First Baptist Church of Newport for 38 years and served as Deputy Governor of Rhode Island two terms
Other Biblical principles set aside, at the peril of the colonies, Massachusetts and Virginia:

Attempts to make both the Plymouth Colony and Jamestown communal societies nearly destroyed both colonies by starvation

Under Governor Bradford, in Plymouth Colony, property and fruits of all labors were gathered into a common storehouse, where each could take according to his need

Confusion and discontent quickly set in, as those who labored saw injustice in providing for others who did hardly any work, and slackened their own labor, famine, in 1620

Half of the 101 who arrived in 1620 died; Another 100 came over the next three years, but were barely able to survive

Indian generosity kept them alive, until Governor Bradford could restore private ownership of land and private enterprise, which reversed their fate and made them flourish as a successful colony

Likewise in Jamestown, Virginia:

The two-thirds of first settlers there in 1607, died, mostly by starvation

Of the second settlers in 1609, 440 out of 500 died of starvation and disease

The problem was the communal property system, set up by the Virginia Company

High Marshall Sir Thomas Dale distributed three acres to each man, of which one month’s profit would repay the Virginia Company

Baptists and Higher Education: Harry Dunster, President of Harvard College came under conviction after Clarke, Crandall and Holmes had been arrrested and Holmes whipped and reconsidered infant baptism:


"All instituted Gospel worship hath some express word of Scripture but Paedobaptism hath none."
Dunster was deposed from his presidency in October 1654, for “..disturbing the ordinance of infant baptism in the Cambridge Church.”

Baptists Come to Pennsylvania

Part IV

The Progress of New England and Virginia Influences Pennsylvania:



A Baptist makes Pennsylvania possible:

Sir Admiral William Penn of the British Royal Navy: the father of William Penn

In repayment for his financing of the Navy, received a charter from King Charles II, March 14, 1681 for the land in the New World

William Penn received the charter, as a surveyor staked out the land that would be Pennsylvania, laid out the City of Philadelphia

Great Law of Pennsylvania

Baptists come to the Philadelphia region of Pennsylvania:

Close ties between the Quakers and the Baptists; between William Penn and Baptists

Quakers and Baptists suffered under persecution together in New England

Pastor Thomas Dungan, from First Baptist Church, Newport, Rhode Island to Cold Spring, north of Bristol PA

Ties between William Penn and the Dungan family

After Dungan’s death in 1688 Cold Spring would close in favor of Pennepack Baptist Church in Lower Dublin, still in existence today, 323 years later

Pennepack Baptist Church: mother church to at least five Baptist churches from Philadelphia to Montgomery County PA, Delaware and New Jersey

Some members came as pastor and people from Swansea Wales, others from England

Notable members: Dr. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence

A model in church planting worth imitating

Introduction of music in worship at Pennepack Baptist Church

Pennepack begins First Baptist Church in center city Philadelphia: built in 1707; controversy over using Barbadoes storehouse and Christ Church (Church of England)

Philadelphia Baptist Association: July 27, 1707 first met at First Baptist Church, Phila.

Distinguishing between Associations and Conventions

Philadelphia Confession of Faith, 1743, published by Benjamin Franklin

Ministry of George Whitefield in Philadelphia, 1740,41 at College of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia becomes the seat of American government: First Continental Congress

Work of Isaac Backus on behalf of the Warren Association and Baptist churches in New England, to gain freedom from civil authority over religious matters,1774

Elder John Leland, Virginia, 1788 meeting with James Madison , to secure a Bill of Rights to be attached to the ratified Constitution

Changing Times in Baptist History

Since the Civil War through the 20th Century

Part V
Developments across the turn of the Century:

Progress of Baptist Churches: In 1871: 13,355 regular Baptist churches (in 1790 872 churches), with 1,109,926 members (1790 64,974 members)

Entering the 20th century, one American in nineteen was a Baptist (1800, one in fifty-three)

Impact of the Civil War: 1861-1865

Impact of Charles Darwin and Theory of Evolution, 1859

Impact of German Rationalism and Higher Criticism: Mid 19th century

Changes brought to schools here training men for the Gospel ministry

Downgrade Movement in England: 1887, written about by Charles H. Spurgeon


Developments Since the 20th Century:

World War I: 1914-1918

By 1920, surge of the Social Gospel, Northern Baptists drawn into social causes:

Committee report from the Northern Baptist Convention 1919:


That as a denomination we record our acceptance of the conception that the mission of the Christian Church is to establish a civilization, Christian in spirit and in passion throughout the world”
Only two of seven Baptist seminaries in America were still true to orthodox Baptist doctrines: Examples of Eastern and Westminster

Others, like Chicago Divinity School, 1892, were Liberal since they opened

Development of Conventionism: Religious politics becomes a fine art with State Secretaries

Federal Council of Churches, 1908, Northern Baptist Convention, 1907

Under Modernist control and worldly financial support, from their beginnings

Undermining the key role of the Local Church

The story of M & M

Corresponding growth of Unitarianism, Modernism and Liberalism:

Development of Para-Church organizations: begun pragmatically, but became an end rather than a means unto a greater end than themselves

Withdrawal from the Convention to form the Baptist Bible Union: 1922

Formation of the Conservative Baptist Association and the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (successor to the Baptist Bible Union), 1932

Differences between CBA and GARBC

Developments in the Second half of the 20th Century:

Neo-evangelicalism, Ecumenicism, Charismatic Movement, further expansion of Cults

Developments in the opening of the 21st Century:

Emerging Church; Conservative Evangelicalis







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