Thursday, August 9, 2012

Print Page Are Baptists Protestants?

Are the Baptist Protestants? That is often the claim but that view wasn't so common a century ago. I hope to show you that Baptists are not Protestants. They have been around since the time Jesus started the first church when he called his first disciples. They didn't always go by the name of Baptist. In fact that name was given by our enemies. God made this promise:
Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
This isn't some cult like view started by Dr. J.M. Carroll in his talks recorded in The Trail of Blood in 1931. Charles Spurgeon at a public meeting at the Metropolitan Tabernacle on Tuesday April 2, 1861 said this:
We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the Reformation, we were Reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it. We have an unbroken line up to the Apostles themselves! We have always existed from the very days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten like a river which may travel underground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with Government! And we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men.
Later, Charles Spurgeon in the Sword and the Trowel in August 1868 stated:
All who know much of the Baptist denomination must have regretted that so few are acquainted with its early history. We are not surprised that those who do not admit the scripturalness of our principles should be thus ignorant; nor can we be surprised that those who have superciliously looked upon our comparative feebleness should have put us down as of latter-day growth; but it remains a matter of great surprise that our own congregations should be, for the most part, uninstructed in the past doings of our body. We certainly can boast of godly defenders of the faith, of noble men persecuted and contemned, who have sacrificed position, wealth, and life, for the truth: we can tell of able preachers and learned divines, and we can rejoice in the spirit of enterprise and heroism which has existed among Baptists of all ages. Why therefore should there be so much ignorance abroad as to the ecclesiastical history of the denomination? Why should so few know anything, and so many care nothing for the early Baptists, when their history is beyond measure instructive and interesting?
Spurgeon couldn't be clearer where he stood on the issue. Spurgeon is often quoted in Baptists pulpits but you never hear about his view on Baptist perpetuity. The problem is with modern day historians that have twisted history along with people like Albert Mohler. They want to claim Baptists are Protestants even though it was the Protestants that persecuted the Baptists! The Southern Baptist theologians took a different stance years ago. Look at this quote from William Williams, D.D. Professor of Church History in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on September 5, 1876.

I now hasten to reply that it is not the teaching of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, through its Professor of History, that the origin of Baptists is to be traced to the Church of Rome in the sixteenth century. … The Baptist churches, in my opinion, are of divine origin, and originated in the first century under the preaching and founding of the Apostles of our Lord.

Many Baptist Historians from just a century ago held the same view as Spurgeon and Williams. Here is just a small number of the examples.

But the more I study the subject, the stronger are my convictions, that if all the facts in the case could be disclosed, a very good Succession could be made out. A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America and Other Parts of the World David Benedict 1849

A Concise History of Baptists From the Time of Christ Their Founder to the 18th Century G. H. Orchard 1855

All well-informed Baptists are agreed in the belief that we, as a people, have continued from the time of Christ until the present. Baptist Succession: Handbook of Baptist History D. B. Ray 1871

All that Baptists mean by church “Succession,” or Church Perpetuity, is: There has never been a day since the organization of the first New Testament church in which there was no genuine church of the New Testament existing on earth. Baptist Church Perpetuity W.A. Jarrel 1894

I have no question in my own mind that there has been a historical succession of Baptists from the days of Christ to the present time. A History of the Baptists Volume 1 pg 5-6  John T. Christian 1922

You may wonder who these Baptists were before the Reformation. They went by various names, names given by their enemies. Often their works were burned and most of what we know is from their enemies. Because of these claims by their enemies need to be taken with a grain of salt. Here is just a brief list of some of the groups that may have been Baptist in doctrine and practice.

Montanists 150 AD

Location: Asia Minor

We have now found, by the glimmering and oftshaded lamp of history, relumed by Pedobaptist scholars, that, previous to Tertullian and the Montenses schism,

I. None but believers were baptized.

II. Baptism was immersion, and

III. Each Church was an independent little republic, knowing nothing of ecclesiastical conferences, synods, general assemblies, or authoritative councils, and, consequently,

IV. They were all Baptist Churches then.

For, if the baptism of none but professedly converted believers, and that by immersion, with independent and democratic church government, constitute Baptist churches, then the primitive churches were Baptist Churches. Origin of the Baptists S.H. Ford 1905
That the Montanist churches were Baptist churches is the only legitimate conclusion from their comparison with the facts in this chapter. Baptist Church Perpetuity W.A. Jarrel 1894

Novations 150 AD

Locations: Armenia, Numedia, Spain, Phrygeia, Constantinople, Alexandria, Carthage and Rome

Without adding other testimonies, suffice it to conclude this chapter with J.M. Cramp, D.D., whom Dr. Armitage pronounces, “A sound theologian and thoroughly versed in ecclesiastical history.”

“We may safely infer that they abstained from compliance with the innovation, and that the Novatian churches were what are now called Baptist churches, adhering to the apostolic and primitive practice.” Baptist Church Perpetuity W.A. Jarrel 1894
They were Baptists. The Minuteness, made up of Novatians and Donatists, and called Eucharites, Messalians, Melchedecians, Anabaptists, were the true churches of Jesus Christ, which have witnessed in every age against corruption, innovation, Jewish rites, and clerical rule. Origin of the Baptists S.H. Ford 1905

Donatists 305 AD

Location: North Africa

We may, therefore, having examined the only charges on which the Donatists are called in question as Baptists, conclude the examination as proving, beyond any reasonable doubt, that, in all essential respects, the Donatists were genuine Baptist churches. Baptist Church Perpetuity W.A. Jarrel 1894
the Donatists were watched by the Shepherd of Israel, preserved by an unseen but almighty hand; and continued, like the bush amid the fires of persecution, unconsumed, undismayed, the true, independent, spiritual churches of Jesus Christ, composed of baptized believers. They were Baptists. Origin of the Baptists S.H. Ford 1905
They were Baptists. The Minuteness, made up of Novatians and Donatists, and called Eucharites, Messalians, Melchedecians, Anabaptists, were the true churches of Jesus Christ, which have witnessed in every age against corruption, innovation, Jewish rites, and clerical rule. Origin of the Baptists S.H. Ford 1905


Paulicians 650 AD

Location: Armenia 


I, therefore, conclude this examination of the Paulicians in the language of perhaps the highest authority on the subject — Brockett — “The Armenian Paulicianists were clearly Baptists.” Baptist Church Perpetuity W.A. Jarrel 1894 
We have seen that the Paulicians were Baptists. Origin of the Baptists S.H. Ford 1905 


Albigenses 700 AD

Location: Eastern Europe
This was so much the case that the Romish church, not seeing any church in so simple an organization, thought they had no churches, and Prof. Schmidt has, thereby, been mislead into the same conclusion. In Chap. XI — noticing them as Paulicians — they are clearly proved to have been, in church government, Baptist. Baptist Church Perpetuity W.A. Jarrel 1894

Waldenses 1120 AD

Locations: Italy, France, Germany and South America.

But I am willing to close this chapter with the statement, that the Waldenses were, certainly, as a whole, Baptists. Baptist Church Perpetuity W.A. Jarrel 1894
The main question at issue between our historians is, whether the Waldenses were Pedo-baptists or Baptists. The editors of Peyran and Perrin affirm that they baptized infants: this Mr. Jones denies, and maintains that they were Baptists. The History of the Christian Church Volumn 1 William Jones 1849


Waldenses Confession of 1120

1. We believe and firmly maintain all that is contained in the twelve articles of the symbol, commonly called the apostles' creed, and we regard as heretical whatever is inconsistent with the said twelve articles.

2. We believe that there is one God - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

3. We acknowledge for sacred canonical scriptures the books of the Holy Bible. (Here follows the title of each, exactly conformable to our received canon, but which it is deemed, on that account, quite unnecessary to particularize.)

4. The books above-mentioned teach us: That there is one GOD, almighty, unbounded in wisdom, and infinite in goodness, and who, in His goodness, has made all things. For He created Adam after His own image and likeness. But through the enmity of the Devil, and his own disobedience, Adam fell, sin entered into the world, and we became transgressors in and by Adam.

5. That Christ had been promised to the fathers who received the law, to the end that, knowing their sin by the law, and their unrighteousness and insufficiency, they might desire the coming of Christ to make satisfaction for their sins, and to accomplish the law by Himself.

6. That at the time appointed of the Father, Christ was born - a time when iniquity everywhere abounded, to make it manifest that it was not for the sake of any good in ourselves, for all were sinners, but that He, who is true, might display His grace and mercy towards us.

7. That Christ is our life, and truth, and peace, and righteousness - our shepherd and advocate, our sacrifice and priest, who died for the salvation of all who should believe, and rose again for their justification.

8. And we also firmly believe, that there is no other mediator, or advocate with God the Father, but Jesus Christ. And as to the Virgin Mary, she was holy, humble, and full of grace; and this we also believe concerning all other saints, namely, that they are waiting in heaven for the resurrection of their bodies at the day of judgment.

9. We also believe, that, after this life, there are but two places - one for those that are saved, the other for the damned, which [two] we call paradise and hell, wholly denying that imaginary purgatory of Antichrist, invented in opposition to the truth.

10. Moreover, we have ever regarded all the inventions of men [in the affairs of religion] as an unspeakable abomination before God; such as the festival days and vigils of saints, and what is called holy-water, the abstaining from flesh on certain days, and such like things, but above all, the masses.

11. We hold in abhorrence all human inventions, as proceeding from Antichrist, which produce distress (Alluding probably to the voluntary penances and mortification imposed by the Catholics on themselves), and are prejudicial to the liberty of the mind.

12 We consider the Sacraments as signs of holy things, or as the visible emblems of invisible blessings. We regard it as proper and even necessary that believers use these symbols or visible forms when it can be done. Notwithstanding which, we maintain that believers may be saved without these signs, when they have neither place nor opportunity of observing them.

13. We acknowledge no sacraments [as of divine appointment] but baptism and the Lord's supper. 
14. We honour the secular powers, with subjection, obedience, promptitude, and payment.

Waldenses Confession of 1544

1. We believe that there is but one God, who is a Spirit - the Creator of all things - the Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all; who is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth - upon whom we are continually dependent, and to whom we ascribe praise for our life, food, raiment, health, sickness, prosperity, and adversity. We love him as the source of all goodness; and reverence him as that sublime being, who searches the reins and trieth the hearts of the children of men.

2. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son and image of the Father - that in Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells, and that by Him alone we know the Father. He is our Mediator and advocate; nor is there any other name given under heaven by which we can be saved. In His name alone we call upon the Father, using no other prayers than those contained in the Holy Scriptures, or such as are in substance agreeable thereunto.

3. We believe in the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, proceeding from the Father, and from the Son; by whose inspiration we are taught to pray; being by Him renewed in the spirit of our minds; who creates us anew unto good works, and from whom we receive the knowledge of the truth.

4. We believe that there is one holy church, comprising the whole assembly of the elect and faithful, that have existed from the beginning of the world, or that shall be to the end thereof. Of this church the Lord Jesus Christ is the head - it is governed by His word and guided by the Holy Spirit. In the church it behooves all Christians to have fellowship. For her He [Christ] prays incessantly, and His prayer for it is most acceptable to God, without which indeed their could be no salvation.

5. We hold that the ministers of the church ought to be unblameable both in life and doctrine; and if found otherwise, that they ought to be deposed from their office, and others substituted in their stead; and that no person ought to presume to take that honour unto himself but he who is called of God as was Aaron - that the duties of such are to feed the flock of God, not for filthy lucre's sake, or as having dominion over God's heritage, but as being examples to the flock, in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, and in chastity.

6. We acknowledge, that kings, princes, and governors, are the appointed and established ministers of God, whom we are bound to obey [in all lawful and civil concerns]. For they bear the sword for the defence of the innocent, and the punishment of evil doers; for which reason we are bound to honour and pay them tribute. From this power and authority, no man can exempt himself as is manifest from the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, who voluntarily paid tribute, not taking upon himself any jurisdiction of temporal power.

7. We believe that in the ordinance of baptism the water is the visible and external sign, which represents to as that which, by virtue of God's invisible operation, is within us - namely, the renovation of our minds, and the mortification of our members through [the faith of] Jesus Christ. And by this ordinance we are received into the holy congregation of God's people, previously professing and declaring our faith and change of life.

8. We hold that the Lord's supper is a commemoration of, and thanksgiving for, the benefits which we have received by His sufferings and death - and that it is to be received in faith and love - examining ourselves, that so we may eat of that bread and drink of that cup, as it is written in the Holy Scriptures.

9. We maintain that marriage was instituted of God. That it is holy and honourable, and ought to be forbidded to none, provided there be no obstacle from the divine word.

10. We contend, that all those in whom the fear of God dwells, will thereby be led to please him, and to abound in the good works [of the gospel] which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them - which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, sobriety, and the other good works enforced in the Holy Scriptures.

11. On the other hand, we confess that we consider it to be our duty to beware of false teachers, whose object is to divert the minds of men from the true worship of God, and to lead them to place their confidence in the creature, as well as to depart from the good works of the gospel, and to regard the inventions of men.

12. We take the Old and the New Testament for the rule of our life, and we agree with the general confession of faith contained in [what is usually termed] the apostles' creed.

I encourage you to read some of the Baptist historians quoted here. Most of the works are now public domain and available free on the internet. Baptists have always existed under various names. We never needed to protest any group. The Roman Catholics taught a false gospel for over a 1,000 years before the reformation. During that time there were still groups faithful to the Bible and the gospel. The gospel didn't have to be rediscovered as Albert Mohler has claimed on national radio. Believers Baptism has taken place from the time of Jesus to now. Rejoice in our Baptist heritage and educate yourself with our rich history.

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