1. The basic principle of Baps. is liberty of conscience. This principle manifests itself negatively in that Baps. reject subscription to human creeds, establishment of ecclesiastical organizations, and the teaching of any form of sacramentalism and sacerdotalism; and positively in that Baps. are enthusiastic, lay great emphasis on the competence and the responsibility of each individual soul in spiritual matters, accept only believer's* baptism, and vigorously maintain absolute separation of church* and state. Baps. do not consider creeds as tests of orthodoxy, but as evidences of unanimity. Since it is the inalienable right of the individual to formulate his own creed, there can be, strictly speaking, no heresy in Bap. bodies (see Democratic Declarations of Faith, 3). Historically the Baps. are divided theologically into two large families, the Gen. and the Particular Baps., the former following Arminianism* and believing in universal atonement, the latter following Calvinism* and subscribing to the theory of a limited atonement.
2. The General Baptists are the spiritual descendants of the Anabaptists,* who interpreted the reformational principle of the universal priesthood of believers to make it apply also to the pol. and soc. spheres. After the collapse of the Anabap. movement in 1535, the scattered remnants of these rebaptizers were gathered by Menno Simons and organized as the Mennonites. The theol. of the Mennonites stressed freedom of the will (see Free Will), enthusiasm* or mysticism,* asceticism,* and literal interpretation of the Bible. The Mennonites placed great emphasis on the outward purity of the ch. and held that the restoration of apostolic Christianity must include Baptism by immersion.* Anabaps. came to Eng. as early as 1534 but could not gain a foothold because of bitter persecution resulting from the 1559 Act of Uniformity, which disenfranchised all religious nonconformists. John Smith* (Smyth), who had spent some time at Amsterdam and there with Thomas Helwys (ca. 1550ca. 1616) had organized a Bap. cong., returned to Eng. 1611 and est. the 1st Eng. Bap. ch. Owing to Dutch Mennonite influence, these early Eng. Baps. were Arminian; they became known as Gen. Baps. But the distinctive principle of all Baps., liberty of conscience, was clearly enunciated in the Articles of Faith adopted ca. 1611: The magistrate is not by virtue of his office to meddle with religious or matters of conscience, or compel men to this or that form of religion, for Christ only is King and Lawgiver of the Church and conscience. The Particular, or Calvinistic, Baps. trace their origin in part to the Separatist Movement in Eng. during the 16th c. Two groups of English Protestants, the Puritans* and the Separatists (see United Church of Christ, I A), opposed the Romanizing tendencies of the Est. Angl. Ch., the former holding that the reformation of the Angl. Ch. must be accomplished by remaining within the Est. Ch., the latter by complete separation. Both the Puritans and the Separatists, also known as Non-Conformists or Congregationalists, were agreed on the principles of Calvinism. They differed only in matters of ch. polity, the Puritans favoring Presbyterianism, the Separatists believing that the Church should be a congregation of free men, founded after the pattern of the Apostolic Church, governing itself, not according to the laws of the State, but according to the Bible (see Polity, Ecclesiastical, 7). In the course of time some of the Separatists adopted the view that only believer's baptism by immersion was a valid Baptism; 1639 they organized the first Bap. Separatist cong. In theol. these early Calvinistic, or Particular, Baps. were in full accord with the Presbyterians and the Congregationalists, except on doctrines of the ch. and the sacraments. C. H. Spurgeon* is the outstanding Eng. Calvinistic Bap., and John Bunyan* the best-known Eng. Gen. Bap. Since 1891 the distinction bet. the Gen. and Particular Baps. no longer applies in Eng. since both groups have united on the basic principles of Bap. theol.: the supreme authority of Scripture, a regenerate membership, a democratic ch. govt., and believer's Baptism by immersion. On all other points great latitude of opinion is permitted. See also pars. 2034; Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland; Democratic Declarations of Faith, 3.
3. The American Baptist Churches owe their origin very largely to the work of R. Williams,* successively an Angl., Puritan, Separatist, Bap., Seeker. Coming to Massachusetts 1631, he was for a short season asst. pastor at Plymouth. In 1635 he was ordained pastor of the Salem ch. His Separatist views went far beyond those of the Salem Separatists and precipitated a bitter conflict with the ecclesiastical and secular authorities. Being an arch-individualist, he maintained that the colonists had trespassed on rights of Indians in acquiring the respective land charters. This interest in civil and individual liberty helped crystallize his views of religious liberty. He was bitterly opposed to the theocratic govt. in the Puritan colonies, denied the magistrates jurisdiction over matters of conscience and religion, and contended for liberty of conscience, for separation of ch. and state, and for the right of the people to choose their own rulers. This led to Williams' banishment from the colony and his founding of a colony at Providence, R. I., in 1636. There the Apostle of Liberty put into practice the principles of civil and religious liberty that he later defended in Bloody Tenent of Persecution for the Cause of Conscience. In 1638 he and his followers adopted Baptism by immersion; the Providence ch. may therefore rightly be called the oldest Bap. ch. in Am. The distinctive tenet of this group was rigid individualism that manifested itself chiefly in stressing the inner religious experience of the individual. This tenet showed little, if any, interest in the visible ch. and considered all ecclesiastical organizations on a par with secular institutions. The Providence Baps. were in principle opposed to the adoption of any creedal statements and granted equal rights to members of Calvinistic and Arminian convictions. The Arminian group at Providence (see 21) held that the six principles of Heb 6:1, 2 included the laying on of hands as a divine ordinance; in subsequent controversy on this point the views of the Arminian Baps., later known as Gen. (or Old) Six-Principle Baps., gained gen. acceptance by 1652. While the Providence ch. is the oldest Bap. ch. in Am., the distinction of being the first Calvinist Bap. ch. in Am. is usually given to the Newport, R. I., ch. founded 1641 by John Clarke (160976). The Baps., in New Eng. states were Calvinists, while the majority of the early Baps. in the colonies favored Arminianism.* The Arminian, or General, Baps. failed to gain a foothold, because the majority of the early colonists were reared in the tradition of Calvinism. The Calvinistic, or Particular, Baps. laid greater emphasis on a trained ministry and were able to develop greater denominational consciousness than the Gen. Baps.
4. The Baps. developed their greatest strength in the Middle Colonies, owing largely to the influence of the Philadelphia Assoc. (see also 26), which adopted the Philadelphia Conf. 1742. This was a Calvinistic standard identical with the Conf. adopted 1677 by London Baps. The latter Conf. was in full agreement with the Westminster Conf. of 1644 and the Savoy Declaration of 1658 except in the statements concerning the Sacraments and the church (see United Church of Christ, I A 2; Presbyterian Confessions, 3). It is therefore correct to state that the theological antecedents of the vast majority of American Baps. are rooted in Calvinistic theol.; this accounts for the fact that formerly all and today many Particular Baps. subscribe to such doctrines as the total depravity of man, the necessity and sufficiency of Christ's atonement (limited to the elect), and unconditional election. Historians are agreed that the Bap. agitation for the separation of ch. and state played a prominent part in the adoption of the First Amendment of the Am. Const. The great period of expansion of the Bap. Ch., began ca. 1800. The vast majority of Baps. are known simply as Baps., sometimes also as Regular Baptists, and organized the American (Northern), Southern, and National (Negro) Conventions. Other Bap. bodies use a descriptive adjective. See also 23.
5. Doctrine. It is a distinct principle with Baps. that they acknowledge no human founder, recognize no human authority, and subscribe to no human creed. The competence of the individual soul under God is said to eliminate every extraneous thing between the soul and God. Included are ecclesiastical or civil order, ordinances, sacraments, preacher, and priest. Strictly speaking, there can be no heresy trial in the Bap. Ch., because there is no creedal subscription; there is no creedal subscription, because it is the inalienable right of every individual to form his own creed. This basic principlein many points similar to that of the Cong. churchesis largely responsible for the fact that Baps., esp. those of the N Conv., grant equal rights to Modernists and Fundamentalists. The conservatives, who hold to the principles of the Philadelphia* and New* Hampshire Confessions, and the liberals, who have accepted the theories of Higher* Criticism, divine immanence, and the soc. gospel, are forced to recognize others' views according to the basic Bap. principle. The essentially distinctive feature of the Baps. is neither their practice of immersion nor their rejection of infant Baptism, but rather their insistence upon the right and competence of every individual, without the intervention of any outside agency, to acknowledge by faith the lordship of Christ and to profess such faith by immersion. Principles which distinguish Baps. from other Ref. denominations: 1. Independence of the local ch.; 2. separation of ch. and state; 3. rel. liberty an inalienable and inherent right of the soul; 4. the local ch. is a body of regenerated people, Baptism being the outward profession of their personal faith; 5. infant baptism is fatal to the spirituality of the ch.; 6. immersion (a dramatic proclamation of the believer's spiritual death and resurrection); 7. the Scriptural ch. officers are pastors and deacons; 8. the Lord's Supper is observed in commemoration of Christ's death. The controversial points that originally separated Particular and General Baps. are no longer an issue among the Regular Baps., but they are still a live issue in some smaller Bap. churches.
6. Polity. In accord with its basic theol. principle, Bap. ch. polity is cong., the local cong. absolutely autonomous in fixing its doctrinal platform, discipline, and worship. All members have equal voting rights. Baps. are opposed in principle to every kind of ecclesiastical organization. This anticlericalism accounts in a large measure for the aggressive lay participation in ch. activities. Ordinarily Bap. churches unite as associations or state conventions; these bodies, however, have no legislative, judicial, or ex. powers. Formerly the miss. and educ. activities of the Baps. were carried on by various societies whose membership was not identical with the Bap. congregations, but was made up of those individuals who regularly contributed toward the respective soc. Toward the close of the 18th c. a number of such societies were founded for the purpose of spreading Bap. ideas and establishing Bap. churches in the territories which were opened after the Revolutionary War. In 1814 Baps., organized a soc. for for. missions; in 1824 the Am. Bap. Pub. Soc.; in 1832 the Home Miss. Soc. These societies were entirely indep. of ecclesiastical control and were responsible only to their membership. The various activities of the N Baps. have been reorganized somewhat along denominational lines in the hope that this move will eliminate duplication and work for greater efficiency.
7. Particular Baptists (719). These bodies originally followed and to some extent still follow Calvinistic rather than Arminian theol. The N and S Conventions and the Negro Baps. constitute the vast majority of so-called Particular Baps. These 3 large bodies are agreed in doctrine and polity, but each group has retained its denominational identity for purposes of more efficient administration.
8. American Baptist Chs. in the USA. The hist. of this body until 1844 is described in the previous statement. In that yr. the state conventions of the N and the S split on the question of sending a slaveholding Bap. as a for. miss. It must be noted that the N Baps. were more willing to recognize the desirability of ecclesiastical organizations for effective and systematic ch. work. This willingness resulted in organizing the N Bap. Convention as a corporation in 1907 so that all churches, while retaining local autonomy and the independence of every other ch. and the Conv. itself, were united in carrying out the various Bap. activities. By uniting and coordinating the work of the many Bap. societies and bds., the N Baps. could expand their miss. educ. and philanthropic work considerably. In doctrine the N Baps. have become increasingly liberalistic. Their disregard for creeds and opposition to regimentation of thought has enabled theol. schools such as Colgate Rochester and the Divinity School of the U. of Chicago to introduce liberal theol. with Higher* Criticism, the theories of evolution and divine immanence, and the social* gospel. The N Baps. adopted the name Am. Bap. Conv. in Boston 1950. Present name adopted 1972. See also 26; Missionary Baptists; Union Movements, 7.
9. Southern Baptist Convention. The center of activity of the early Baps. was in the New Eng. and the Atlantic seaboard area. When Bap. churches were planted in the S after the Revolutionary War by missionaries from the N it was natural that the S Baps. united with N Baps. in such activities as for. miss. The agency for this phase of Bap. work was the Missionary Convention for Foreign Missions, organized 1814 with headquarters in Boston. This soc. opposed slavery, and refused to approve the appointing of a candidate for for. miss. work who was a slaveholder. Thereupon the state associations in the S withdrew from the N Conv., and 1845 organized the S Bap. Conv. at Augusta, Georgia In doctrine the S Baps. are much more conservative than the N, and gen. adhere to the Calvinistic New Hampshire Conf. Many of their churches practice close Communion. The seminaries, Southern Bap. at Louisville, Southwestern at Fort Worth, and Bap. Bible School at New Orleans, are fundamentalistic. The S Bap. Conv. has abstained from WCC and NCCCUSA. But the basic principle of all Baps., the right of the individual in all matters of conscience, permits the conservative S Baps. to interchange membership and ministry on terms of perfect equality with N Baps. The reason for the continued separation of the 2 bodies is not doctrinal, but administrative. Five denominational bds. have charge of home miss., for. miss., S. S. work, educ. institutions, and ministerial relief. See also Missionary Baptists.
10. National Baptist Convention, U. S. (A.) Inc.. In the first 15 years after the Civil War Baptists claim to have gained ca. 1,000,000 adherents among the Negroes. The rapid expansion of the Bap. Ch. among the freed slaves was due in part to the Bap. principle of individual liberty, to the ease with which local churches could be formed, and to the low standard of indoctrination required. In 1880 the Negro Bap. churches organized the Nat. Bap. Conv. at St. Louis. The Nat. Bap. Conv. was incorporated in 1915. The Nat. Bap. Conv. of the U. S. (A.), Inc., perpetuates the parent body. The Nat. Bap. Conv. of Am., often called the unincorporated group, withdrew from the parent body in 1916.
11. Primitive Baptists. Following the Bap. principle that Christians must turn to the NT for doctrine and practice, including ceremonies and ch. rites, the Primitive Baps. hold that every form of ecclesiastical organization is sinful if not expressly prescribed in the NT. Since no miss. societies with a money basis are mentioned in the NT a number of Bap. associations denounced the formation of all miss. societies and the pubs. of educ. bds. as contrary to the NT. In protest against what they viewed as anti-Scriptural ecclesiasticism, a number of associations, local groups of Bap. congregations, announced that they would no longer maintain fellowship with those associations which had united themselves with the world and, by their support of benevolent societies, had been preaching a different Gospel. These associations are in principle opposed to every form of denominational organization, to state or nat. conventions. The only bond uniting the various associations is the exchange of the annual minutes. Any assoc. whose minutes are not approved is dropped from fellowship. Since there is no denominational organization, these Baps. have no official distinctive name, and have been known as Antimission (see also Missionary Baptists), Hard Shell, Old School, and most commonly as Primitive Baps. In polity they are extremely cong. Theol. training for pastors is not required; miss. work is not on an organized basis; instrumental music in the service, Sunday schools, and secret societies are not authorized. In theol. the Primitive Baps. are strictly Calvinistic.
12. Nat. Primitive Bap. Conv., Inc. (organized 1907). founded 1865. Later, and till the late 1960s, called Nat. Primitive Bap. Conv. in the U. S. (A.) African-American body formerly called Colored Primitive Baptist.
13. Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists. This group teaches the Manichaean error that all mankind falls into two classes. One class is endowed with a good spiritual seed, implanted by God into Adam. This class is a spiritual generation existing in Christ before creation and are gathered into the Church which is Christ's resurrected body. This group is absolutely sure of salvation (which is by grace). In the spirit of the rest of mankind Satan planted an evil seed.
14. American Baptist Association. Fellowship of regular and indep. missionary Bap. chs. in the US that withdrew from various convs. because they considered the organization of such convs. as contrary to the letter and spirit of the NT; a Gen. Assoc. of Bap. Chs. was organized 1902; nat. fellowship (Bap. Gen. Assoc.) formed 1905; present name adopted 1924. Believing their chs. alone are true, they claim to be the divine custodians of the truth, and that they only have the right of carrying out the Great Commission, of executing the laws of the Kingdom, and of administering the ordinances of the Gospel. This assoc. is a cooperation of local congregations for the purpose of joint work, but its constituent members are so averse to ecclesiastical organizations and so zealous in preserving the rights of local congregations that the annual meetings are called the meeting of the messengers [delegates] composing the American Baptist Association. In doctrine they are in harmony with the New* Hampshire Conf., but interpret Article XVIII concerning Christ's final coming acc. to modern premillennialism. They are represented chiefly in the South and Southwest. See also Landmark Baptists.
16. Seventh Day Baptists General Confernece, USA and Canada. The first Seventh Day Bap. ch. was organized 1617 in London. Some members in both the Providence and Newport, R. I., Bap. churches shared the views of this London Bap. ch. and maintained fellowship with other Baps. until 1671, when Stephen Mumford organized the 1st Am. Seventh Day Bap. ch. The Seventh Day Bap. Gen. Conf. was founded 1801. The Sabbatarian Baps. have been unable to gain a large following. They have, however, been a large factor in determining the views of the Seventh-day Adventists (see Adventist Bodies, 4) and the Ger. Seventh Day Baps. In ch. polity the Seventh Day Baps agree fully with all Baps. thoroughly congregationalistic and uniting for joint work on a voluntary basis. In doctrine they follow the Calvinistic Baps. except in their view that the Sabbath was instituted at man's creation and sanctioned by Christ and the apostles. But their latitudinarianism allows fellowship with all immersionists. See also Seventh Day Baptist World Federation.
17. Seventh Day Baptists (German, 1728). This group of Ger. Brethren, organized 1728 by J. C. Beissel,* est. as communistic* celibate society 1732, Ephrata, Pennsylvania was characterized by extreme pietism, mysticism, and legalism. After a brief period of success as a monastic community with its flourishing industries, school, and printing press, the denomination dwindled away. In theol. and practice they agreed with the Brethren.*
19. Conservative Baptist Association of America. Organized in Atlantic City New Jersey, 1947, this group regards the Bible as divinely inspired Word of God, infallible and of supreme authority. It stresses the autonomy of the local cong.
20. General Baptists (2034; see also 2). These are groups whose doctrinal position is closely related to that of the Anabaps. or who adopted Arminian theol. In contrast to the Particular Baps. they emphasize such doctrines as the universal Atonement and human responsibility. Many of the Gen. Baps. practice foot washing,* observe close Communion, and may be characterized as legalistic, pietistic, and given to enthusiastic expressionism. They are opposed to denominational and organized ch. work. The majority of the Gen. Baps. are united in associations or local federations for purposes of fellowship. Fellowship between the various associations is established and maintained by exchanging the annual minutes. The Arminian Baps. were unable to gain a large following because they were opposed to the organization of denominations, lacked denominational consciousness, and did not believe in a trained ministry. Many Arminian Baps. affiliated with the Calvinistic Baps.
21. General Six-Principle Baptists. The Arminian group at Providence (see 3) held that the laying on of hands was not only a ceremony, but a principle as essential as repentance, faith, Baptism, resurrection, judgment (citing Heb 6:1, 2). By 1652/53 the Six-Principle Baps. gained the majority of the Providence ch. and made the laying on of hands after Baptism the sign of the reception of the Holy Ghost, an indispensable condition for ch. membership. Though the Gen. (or Old) Six-Principle Baps. claim to be the original Bap. Ch. founded by Williams, they are rapidly disappearing.
22. General Baptists (General Association of). While all those Bap. bodies which reject Calvinism of the Particular Baps. are called Gen. Baps. (see 20), there is also a separate branch by this name. The origin of this group is probably due to the work of Robert Nordin and Thos. White, who were sent 1714 to the Arminian Baps. in Virginia by the London Gen. Baps. But it was not until 1823 that Gen. Baps. appeared as a separate group. This branch tried to unite with other Bap. bodies, and in 1915 formed a cooperative union with the N Conv.
23. Regular Baptists. While the term Regular Baps. is often used to denote the Particular Baps. in the 3 large conventions, there are also a number of smaller associations which claim to represent the original Eng. Bap. principles before a distinction was made between Particular and Gen. Baps. They are similar to Duck River Assoc. Baps. and are found in the S Atlantic states. In doctrine they are gen. Arminian, practice foot washing, observe close Communion, reject creeds and denominational organizations, and est. fellowship with like-minded associations. See also 4.
24. Separate Baptists in Christ. The origin of the Separate movement may be traced to the Whitefield revival, which caused the New and Old Light controversy among Congs., Presbs., and Baps., the New Lights overemphasizing the spiritual qualifications of the ministry. Under the leadership of the outstanding Bap. theol. I. Backus,* who occupied a mediating position between Calvinism and Arminianism,* many New Eng. Bap. churches withdrew from fellowship with the Regular Baps. This breach is now healed in New Eng. and practically so in Virginia In 1754 New Eng. Separate Baps. under Shubael Stearns (170671) settled in North Carolina and spread into adioining states, forming several associations. These Separate Baps. are anti-Calvinistic, rejecting the limited Atonement and double predestination; they lean toward Arminianism. In polity they follow strict Bap. principles and are opposed to all ecclesiastical organizations.
25. Duck River (and Kindred) Associations of Baptists. As a protest against the theory of a limited Atonement, a number of Bap. churches withdrew from the strictly Calvinistic Elk River (Tennessee) Assoc. and in 1825 organized the Duck River Assoc. This assoc. and smaller ones in the mountains of Tennessee occupy a mediating position between Calvinism and Arminianism, and are closely related to the Separate, United, and Regular Baps. These associations frown on every form of denominational organization and have no miss. or benevolent societies.
26. Free Will Baptists. The hist. of so-called Freewill Baps. is difficult to trace because they developed no real denominational consciousness and had no interest in organizing a denomination. The earliest group of Arminian Baps. known as Freewill Baps. was gathered 1727 by Paul Palmer in North Carolina Subsequently the Philadelphia Assoc. (see also 4) exerted its Calvinistic influence, and during the 18th c. the Freewill Baps. almost disappeared. Toward the close of that c. John Randall, a Cong., who had embraced Arminian and Bap. views, was denied fellowship with the Regular Baps. in New Eng. and sought fellowship with the Freewill Baps. of the middle and S Atlantic states. This and other support from N Freewill Baps. enabled the Southern Freewillers to reorganize and gradually to expand their work considerably. In the course of time the Freewill Baps. of New Eng., also known as Free Baps., lost heavily to the Adventist* movement; the remnant united with N. Bap. Conv. 1911 (see also 8) and are no longer separate group. In doctrine Freewill Baps. accept Five Points of Arminianism,* stressing particularly free will, stating that all men, at one time or another, are found in such capacity as that, through the grace of God, they may be eternally saved.
27. United Free Will Baptist Church, The. This is colored ch. corresponding in doctrine to the Freewill Baps. In polity this group grants greater authority to the assoc. or conf. than most Arminian Baps. Organized 1870, but apparently not clearly distinguished from white chs. Separate denomination organized 1901 as United Am. Free Will Bap. Ch. (Colored). American dropped in the 1950s.
28. United Baptists. The origin of this group is similar to that of Regular Baps. ignoring the distinction between Calvinistic and Arminian views. In recent yrs. many United Bap. churches, while retaining their hist. name and affiliation with their respective associations, are also enrolled with the N or S Bap. Conventions.
31. National Baptist Evangelical Life and Soul Saving Assembly of the U. S. (A.) Founded 1921 by A. A. Banks in Kansas City.
35. Two Bap. groups were organized in the 1960s. Their classification is not given. The Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. was organized in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1961. Bethel Ministerial Association, Inc., began in Evansville, Indiana, 1934 as Evangelistic Ministerial Alliance; became Bethel Bap. Assem.; inc. under present name in Indiana 1960. FEM
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