Friday, April 13, 2007

What others say about Baptist origins

Voices from historians and others in different groups within the Baptist denomination show the similarities and differences of Baptists on their origins

John Smyth early English General Baptist (1600s): "I deny all succession except in the truth ...There is no succession in the outward church, but that all succession is from heaven."1

A Confession of Faith of certain English people, living at Amsterdam: "That there is no succession in the outward church, but that all the succession is from heaven, and that the new creature only hath the thing signified, and substance, whereof the outward church and ordinances are shadows (Col. ii. 16, 17), and therefore he alone hath power, and knoweth right, how to administer in the outward church, for the benefit of others..."

John Spilsbury, early English Particular Baptist (1600s): "There is no succession under the New Testament, but what is spiritually by faith and the Word of God."

John Spittlehouse and John More, early English Baptists (1600s): "But that you declared the very truth in so saying (though not wittingly) I shall prove further from Scripture, where Jesus Christ promises to be with it to the end of the world, Matt. 28:20. Ergo, It was to have a continuance unto the end of the world. And if so, then during the aforesaid time of 1260 years. Again, If continued a Church, then in all the Essentials, Substantials, and Circumstantials that appertained unto it, (so far as there was need of, in its then condition) as aforesaid. Again, I would gladly know any one Church (in that which we now call Christendom) that can produce the like hidden condition, as the Church now scandalously termed Anabaptists. And much more in that it is so clearly discovered to be so near, yea even one and the same with the Pattern of the first Church that was erected by the commands of Jesus Christ, and the practice of the Apostles." -- from
A Vindication of the continued succession...

Adam Taylor, historian of the English General Baptists: "But we may be permitted to state a few facts, which will prove that, in all ages of the church, there have been Baptists, who have heartily joined with the first Baptist, John, in pointing sinners 'to the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world'." (Taylor, History of the English General Baptists).

Charles H. Spurgeon, English Baptist preacher (1800s): "We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel under ground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents." -- As cited on
The Reformed Reader

Ollie Latch, General Baptist, History of the General Baptists: "Many interesting, but profitless labors have been expended in times past to the tracing of Baptist churches back through the historical lag of the centuries (p. 1)." "The stream of Baptist history shows clearly that all Baptist movements have had their stem in the work of Smyth and Helwys (p. 75)."

John T. Christian, Southern Baptist,
A History of the Baptists: "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 (pp. 5, 6)."

William Wright Barnes, Southern Baptist, in The Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, Vol. I -- Baptists originated with John Smyth and Thomas Helwys (p. 135).

R. G. Lee, Southern Baptist: "...all Christians today should believe that Baptists began their denominational life under the ministry of Jesus." (tract "Perpetuity of Baptist Churches" by Abington, cited in The Southern Baptist Convention by Fletcher)

J. S. Newman, Primitive Baptist,
The Baptists in All Ages: "Any church that can be traced back to some man as its originator is not the 'one church' of the New Testament. It is said by a man inspired (Dan. 2:44) that the church was set up by the God of heaven and that it 'shall never be destroyed' and it 'shall stand forever.'...As the church was established upon Jesus as its foundation, and as it cannot be moved, destroyed, prevailed against, and must stand forever, we have positive proof that the one church has been in existence ever since the days of those kings (p. 2)."

Michael Ivey, Primitive Baptist,
A Welsh Succession of Primitive Baptist Faith and Practice: "They embraced the Old, primitive Baptist creed, which is the word of God, the only rule of faith and practice. They joined or affiliated themselves with churches whose unbroken succession of authorized baptism and true faith is traced back to Christ."

Roy Dearmore, Independent Baptist, Biblical Missions: "Unaffiliated Baptist churches have existed continuously, carrying out the great commission, since the founding of the first Baptist Church (Baptist in doctrine and practice) by Christ in Jerusalem about 26 A.D." (Preface)

Chris Traffanstedt, Reformed Baptist,
A Primer on Baptist History: The True Baptist Trail: "Let us start with the basic premise about Baptist history: the modern Baptist denomination originated in England and Holland in the early seventeenth century."

1. It is always good to review the context of the statements, as well as any modifications or changes the persons may have made in their positions. E.g., John Smyth became dissatisfied with his baptism and applied to the Waterlander Mennonites, evidently as he thought, as those who had (or possibly had) church succession. (e.g. Christian, Ch. 16 "The difficulty in the mind of Smyth was...the proper succession.")

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