Baptist Heritage-September 18, 2013

These sessions have been prepare to offer insight into Baptist History and Heritage.  It is hard to tell a story from so many sides.  If there appears to be bias it is unintentional.

Baptist Heritage                                                                                                                               September 18, 2013

From John Smyth to Mentow Baptist

Baptist Beginnings

  • The Reformation
  • Martin Luther and the 95 Theses, 1517
  • Reformers everywhere!
  • Radical Reformers
  • Reformation in England!

-Church of England breaks away from the Roman Catholic Church.

-Puritans want to reform the Church of England and ‘purify it.’

-Separatists want more.  Freedom of the church from the state was their desire.

-Baptists come from this desire as well.

Baptist Beginnings

  • Problems in the Church of England

-Absenteeism-priests weren’t showing up

-Simony-Bishops gave appointments to priests for kickbacks.  Bishops getting rich.

-Privilege for the rich.

-Even though separate from the Roman Catholic Church it had problems still.

The General Baptists

  • Believed in a “general atonement” (non-Calvinist)
  • Believed you could lose your salvation
  • Founded by John Smyth and Thomas Helwys.
  • 1608-1609

Particular Baptists

  • Came from those Separatist in 1630’s
  • Did not evolve from General Baptists
  • Influenced by John Calvin
  • First Church founded in 1633 or 1638
  • Wrote the “First London Confession of Faith.”
  • Many Baptists today are more influenced by this group than General Baptists.
  • Many are a mix of the two.

What were these two Baptist groups like?

  • Bible Centered.
  • Fussy-lots of splits.
  • Determined.

Worship in the Early Baptist Tradition

  • No structure in worship/spontaneity.  Didn’t like written prayers or written sermons.
  • Resisted hymns and wanted things from the heart.
  • General Baptists open to women as deacons and pastors.  No hymns and no structure.
  • Particular Baptists against women deacons and pastors and allowed some structure.

Worship in the Early Baptist Tradition

  • Normal Sunday

-Church starts at 8:00am

-Prayers first.  Then reading from the Bible, comments, and discussion.  Prayers and hymns.

-Ends at Noon.  Lunch break.  Back at 2:00pm. Continue until 5 or 6.

-High level of participation.

-Clergy and laity similar (no real difference).

-Women preached and led in General Baptists and in the Particular Baptist.

-Bible central.

-Small Congregations

-Evolved into a singing people in time.


  • Two Offices

-Pastors-They interpreted the Bible (Ministry of the Word) and were “called.”  Generally served one church for life.  Some severed up to fifty years.  To      hire a pastor the previous church had to vote to let them go and the new church had to vote to make them the pastor (like buying a house today).  Arguments on whether they should be educated.

-Deacons-Were necessities.  Men and women served depending on whether it was a General Baptist or Particular Baptist Church.  Deacons tended to be over 60.


  • Baptism and Communion

Creeds and Confessions

  • Baptists didn’t like creeds but did have confessions.  A creed is a statement you had to agree to belong.  A confession was a description and basic statement of who the church was.  Churches would have church constitutions etc but you didn’t have to sign on the dotted line to join.  The Bible was our ‘creed.’

Myths about Baptists

  • Baptists come from the Anabaptist movement.
  • Baptists are the one true church and have existed since the New Testament.

What happened to the General and Particular Baptists?

  • General Baptists did well until the 1700s and doctrinal battles hit.  The deity of Christ was question and atonement watered down.  They began to die out.  Faded.
  • Particular Baptists did better.  They grew.  But became hyper Calvinist and rejected Anabaptist influence.  Eventually became heavily mission minded and continued on in England.

Baptists in the New World-USA

  • First Baptist Church in America:  Providence, Rhode Island, 1639
  • The Story of Roger Williams
  • Baptists spread.  Grew in 1600s-1700s.  Churches opened everywhere.
  • Baptists suffer persecution in the US at the same time.
  • Revivals come and Baptists divide into groups.  2 Major traditions begin.

Baptists in the New World-USA

  • Group #1 Separate Baptists

-Shubal Sterns led this charge.


-Grew from Sandy Creek, NC.

-Spread into VA, NC, GA.

-Sandy Creek Baptist Association began.

-Education was suspicious.

-Emotional, revivalistic, heat felt.

Baptists in the New World-USA

  • Group #2

-Formal, liturgical, traditional.

-Educated Clergy.

-First Baptist Church of Charleston, SC is the heart of this school.

-Deplored revival excesses.

-More Calvinistic.

-Not overly emotional.

Baptists in the New World-USA

  • Missions unite Baptists.  1814 Triennal Convention-first Baptist organization larger than an association
  • Baptists Divide Over Slavery-1844 in Philadelphia

-The Northern Baptist Convention (American Baptist Churches, USA)

-The Southern Baptist Convention

  • Baptists divide over issues (We will discuss this at length in a few weeks)

Baptists in the New World-USA

  • Many Baptist denominations now exist.
  • Many Baptist denominations are still dividing.

The Story of the SBC Struggle

  • 1979-The Struggle Begins
  • The claim:  “We believe the Bible-You don’t”
  • Two sides:  Moderates vs. Fundamentalists (or Liberals vs. conservatives-according to the side you are on.)
  • The Strategy-About 10 years of winning presidential elections and stacking the deck on committees and in doing so take over (or take back).

The Story of the SBC Struggle

  • The result 1979-1990 War.
  • Professors, employees forced out or fired.
  • Complete change of direction.
  • Outright campaigning and close presidential elections but they do win enough votes.
  • The national SBC was ends in 1990
  • Next-the state conventions and associations.

The Story of the SBC Struggle

  • State conventions are separate from the national body.  Every state eventually falls except Texas and Virginia.  New state conventions form and the existing ones isolated and still under attack.
  • Most associations fall in line except in Texas and Virginia.
  • Colleges pull out of the SBC or are taken over.
  • Missouri is still battling in the courts and has two state conventions (the moderates formed one this time and the SBC ignores it).
  • The Alliance of Baptists forms first but stays small (100 churches).
  • The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship forms in 1990 and has 1900 churches.

The Story of the SBC Struggle

  • Churches can give to as many organizations as the want.  Some churches in the 1900 give to SBC still as well as CBF.
  • CBF grows into a mission force.  Dozen new seminaries formed.  ABP, BCE, and many organizations were created.
  • Alliance of Baptists becomes more liberal (affirming of homosexuality) and stays small.
  • CBF remains more central.
  • SBC moves more to the right.  Leaves BWA, continues to be hostile to CBF.  SBC has more internal problems.

The Story of the SBC Struggle

  • SBC has done several things during and since the struggle that upsets many Baptists.
  • Leaves the BWA and becomes more isolated from other Baptists.
  • Blames women for the fall.
  • Uses Baptist Faith and Message as a creed and rewrites it.
  • Tightens control and fires missionaries.
  • Calvinism has grown at a fast rate.
  • Authority of the Pastor is a big issue.
  • SBC leaders get into national secular politics.
  • Some SBC folks call for an exodus from public schools.
  • Refuse to hire anyone who belongs to churches with women deacons/ministers.

The Story of the SBC Struggle

  • The SBC claimed Liberalism needed purging from convention.  Was this true?
  • Really conservative people had never been locked out of leadership.
  • Many of their leaders had never given much money to the SBC until they took over.
  • There may have been some ‘liberalism’ but what is the definition of liberalism (women deacons, etc).
  • The cry of inerrancy was not fair.  It became a political word.  It was about interpretation and not belief in the Bible.
  • What was at the heart?   A desire to be more conservative and greed for some.

The Story of the SBC Struggle

  • The SBC Today

-Some leaders are spending money in ways that might not make the typical person happy.

-Some extreme views OK (Calvinism, exodus from schools, etc.) but other views such as women deacons not tolerated.

-Inner battles happening.  The same few lead everything.  Information is not shared.

-VA Baptists and TX Baptists and others who try to cooperate are not wanted or included.

-Missionaries have been removed for refusing to sign the Baptist Faith and Message in a creed like way.

A Few Controversies

  • Landmarkism
  • Modernism/Fundamentalism
  • Southern Baptist Battles

4 Basic Concepts we will study

  • Church Freedom
  • Religious Freedom
  • Bible Freedom
  • Soul Freedom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.