Baptist History

I grew up Catholic. I have a friend which is a baptist. Sometimes he is inviting me to attend their mass and I did for couple of times. They only use the scripture. One time I asked him about the history of baptist teachings, and the pastors authority to teach and he answered

  • “it is the practice of Jesus and the apostles. The apostles started the way baptist did and now the baptist is following”.
  • I asked him again how about Martin Luther, because I read some books that protestants together with Baptist started after Martin Luther submitted his thesis about the mistakes of Catholic Church.
  • He answered " baptist church has nothing to do with Martin Luther, There is already baptist church before Martin Luther.

I don’t know how to answer them. They are telling there are books about baptist history and when It was started. They are also telling that Jesus is a baptist. Now, I am still searching answers from books, forums, websites, etc.

Sounds like Baptist successionism or just the vague and general idea that there has always been a “remnant” of true beleivers since the begining. Baptist successionism is interesting if only for being so amusing. They will search through any sort of church history and attempt to find a group that barely resembles their own and claim that this group is the successor of this group which eventually resulted in the baptists as we apparently know them.

This is called the “Landmark Baptist” view. It is not held by all Baptists by any means. In fact, Baptist scholars (I mean “real” scholars with Ph.D’s from accredited universities) have refuted it. The best history of the Baptists is The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness by Leon McBeth. This will not go far with your friends, however. Baptists who hold their views typically won’t listen to any scholarship outside their own very narrow circles, and Baptists are very far from unified among themselves, so the fact that McBeth was Baptist won’t get you very far. They will just say that he was a liberal:shrug:. But you don’t need to be troubled by their claims.

The groups they have in mind as “Baptist” were dissenting groups that have existed off and on throughout Christian history. Some of them were actually much closer to Catholicism than to Baptist belief (Montanists, Donatists, Waldenses). Others were much farther from orthodox Christianity than Baptists are, being more like the Mormons in their relationship to Christianity (Cathars). In the latter case, Landmark Baptists will typically claim that the Catholic Church lied about these people, but that won’t wash. We have actual primary sources, writings from them that show us what they believed. Also, the possibility that Catholics misrepresented them doesn’t prove that the real beliefs were like those of Baptists.

In the sense that many of these groups rejected Catholic sacramental theology and had a simpler, more decentralized church structure, the Baptists are right–in those specific ways, these folks were more like Baptists, at least in some cases. But the one big difference is soteriology (what people believe about salvation). None of the pre-Reformation groups believed in salvation by faith alone. Sometimes people will claim that they did, but the evidence never supports it. The Waldenses, for instance, who are often the Baptists’ favorite “ancestors” (partly because they claim that the Waldenses were around ever since the fourth century, although historians are pretty sure that they originated in the 12th century), became Protestants in the sixteenth century. We have records of the process by which this happened, and we know that the Reformed Protestants who negotiated with the Waldenses found their doctrine of salvation to be far too works-oriented, and that there was a lot of resistance when Protestant-trained pastors began ministering in Waldensian churches. They weren’t the same as Protestants at all. They became Protestants, so obviously they recognized common ground against the Catholic Church, but they changed in some pretty big ways in doing so. And of course they didn’t become Baptists!

On baptism itself, Baptists often misunderstand and misinterpret the evidence. On the one hand, many groups in the early Church (Donatists, for instance) rebaptized Catholics. But this wasn’t because they rejected infant baptism (infant baptism wasn’t a universal practice among Catholics at that time anyway, because people were afraid that if they sinned after baptism they would go to hell or at least would have to spend years doing penance). It was simply that they didn’t acknowledge the Catholic Church as the true Church, and they thought baptism was only valid in the true Church. Donatists, like Catholics, believed that baptism saved you. That was why they rebaptized! It wasn’t the same as Baptist theology at all.

On the other hand, some people have tried to argue that the Waldenses rejected infant baptism for the opposite reason–because we don’t have record of them baptizing at all. But there is evidence that this was because they took their children to the Catholic priest for baptism. They didn’t want to go to confession to Catholic priests or receive the Eucharist from them, but they didn’t mind having their children baptized. And by doing this, they could pass as Catholics, since baptism was the basic thing that held medieval society together. As long as their children were baptized, they could just do their own thing up in their remote mountain villages and hope to be left alone.

The history of medieval dissenting/heretical groups is complex, because these groups were persecuted by Catholics and the evidence is fragmentary. But the “Landmark Baptist” picture is a fantasy. They take the lack of evidence and use it as an excuse to make stuff up.

The standard scholarly account of Baptist origins, put forward by McBeth and other historians both Baptist and non-Baptist, is that they were English Separatists (radical Puritans) who began rebaptizing in the early 17th century. There was also some influence from the “Anabaptists”–people in Germany and Switzerland and the Netherlands who rejected infant baptism at the time of the Reformation, a hundred years earlier.

Contrary to what they tell you, their origins do have something to do with Luther. However, it’s a mistake to assume that Protestants just follow Luther. Luther had a huge impact, but many Protestant groups disagreed with him. Baptists tend to follow one aspect of his teaching (justification by faith alone–but even this they interpret quite differently), but they disagree with him about the sacraments very strongly.

Edwin

Agreed.

Baptists wouldn’t call their services a “mass”. :smiley:

As IgnatianPhilo said, your Baptist friends are advocates of the “Baptist successionism” or “Baptist perpetuity” view of history. This “historical” narrative has been universally discredited by modern scholars. In fairness, I’m pretty sure that most educated Baptist ministers and laity would not buy into it as well.

Baptist churches are most certainly related to Martin Luther and the larger Reformation; however, it is not a straight lineage. Baptists don’t “descend” from Luther. They emerged from the same impulses that he unleashed, however.

While some people have theorized that Baptists developed out of Anabaptism, I think today most scholars believe that Baptist churches most likely developed out of English Separatism.

English Separatism was not created in reaction to Catholicism, but it felt that the Anglican Church had not gone far enough in Reforming the Church of England. So, a lot of English Protestants separated from the Church of England in the 1600s. Baptist churches are one incarnation of this desire to make the Church of England “more” Protestant.

Quick! Get a copy of The Essential Catholic Survival Guide, available, coincidentally, right here at CAF. Not a bad idea to also get a copy of Catholicism for Dummies. Both are absoutely excellent resources for learning your own faith first.

I quite often (with restrictions due to some differences) associate the Catholic Church with the Orthodox Churches, as all are apostolic Churches that trace their lineage directly to Jesus Christ. Those who hate the Catholic Church often have nothing at all to say about the Orthodox, who also have a hierarchy, seven Sacraments, and a 2,000 year old heritage. All other churches, communions, congregations etc. etc. etc., can trace their origins only back to the reformation. Their histories stop dead there.

Your friend’s insistence that they have nothing to do with Martin Luther is nonsensical. He has undoubtedly been taught that by someone who should know better. Not only do they use the bible as the sole rule of faith (concept introduced to mankind by Martin Luther), but their very bible (39 books of the Old Testament) is exactly the same Jewish canon of scripture that Luther also introduced to Christianity in the 1,500s.

But first, read up on your own faith.

Not really. Separatists in the England of the 1600s is somewhat removed from Martin Luther, who lived in Germany from 1483 to 1546. Obviously, the two are connected, but Baptists are not Lutherans so you can’t fault them for not taking him into account.

Actually, probably not. While there are certainly many Baptist pastors and ministers with wonderful theological education and academic qualifications, there are others who are not educated beyond perhaps rudimentary Bible knowledge. Baptist churches can ordain their own ministers and set their own qualifications for who preaches. It is highly possible that the pastor of this Baptist Church has no more education or knowledge about Baptist origins than his congregants.

And yet Lutheranism is an entirely different animal than Baptist Fundamentalism.

I am speaking of using Luther’s innovation of bible alone and the 66 book Pharisaic canon of the OT - those are indelible marks of Luther that all subsequent denominations use without fail. Now, that may be the only connection, but it has some substance to it. All denominations are children of the reformation with a common blood line running back to him.

I indeed think that they should know better. They are preaching division, which is not from heaven. The Holy Spirit unites. The demon divides.

Once the lid was pried off of Pandora’s box, the theological field was wide open. The principle of entropy as applied to the Body of Christ.

=po18guy;11405748]I am speaking of using Luther’s innovation of bible alone and the 66 book Pharisaic canon of the OT - those are indelible marks of Luther that all subsequent denominations use without fail. Now, that may be the only connection, but it has some substance to it. All denominations are children of the reformation with a common blood line running back to him.

Luther’s approach to scripture alone was, 1) not so innovative as some might think, and 2) completely different than what one finds in Baptist usage, or that of many protestant groups.
To say that all denominations have a bloodline running to Luther, one would have to identify the link in fifteen-teens between Luther and Zwingli, a link between Luther and the Anabaptists, and a link between the Anglicans and Luther.

I indeed think that they should know better. They are preaching division, which is not from heaven. The Holy Spirit unites. The demon divides.
Once the lid was pried off of Pandora’s box, the theological field was wide open. The principle of entropy as applied to the Body of Christ.

The lid of division was off far before Luther, or Huss, or Zwingli, or even Wycliffe.

Jon

Isn’t using earlier heretics (Hus, Wyclif, etc.) as precedent setters a bit of the old “Everybody’s doing it” defense? Consider: by severing Baptist origins from the European reformation, you might be unintentionally backing up their claims of being the true remnant. Now, the European reformation was not a tidy package that UPS dropped off one day. Division and heresy are the second oldest Christian traditions.

Actually, I am not addressing history so much as foundational concepts. Whether it be Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, or any other common denomination, the following apply:

100% of non-Catholic western Christians rely solely on the Pharisee’s 39 book Old Testament. That is a shared trait.

100% of non-Catholic western Christians have discarded the Apostolic tradition. That is a shared trait.

100% of non-Catholic western Christians have rejected a single universal Church authority as seen in Acts 15. That is a shared trait.

100% of non-Catholic western Christians have rejected the succession of the Apostles. That is a shared trait.

The same with many other long-established norms of Christianity.

Each of these came from somewhere. At the same or almost the same time. I see the genesis of it all in the spiritual realm.

=po18guy;11406709]Isn’t using earlier heretics (Hus, Wyclif, etc.) as precedent setters a bit of the old “Everybody’s doing it” defense? Consider: by severing Baptist origins from the European reformation, you might be unintentionally backing up their claims of being the true remnant. Now, the European reformation was not a tidy package that UPS dropped off one day. Division and heresy are the second oldest Christian traditions.

Not at all. Your comment was that all Protestantism leads back to Luther, and that just isn’t the case. Now, they may all have borrowed from him, but they borrowed from Rome, too, and from others.

Actually, I am not addressing history so much as foundational concepts. Whether it be Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, or any other common denomination, the following apply:

100% of non-Catholic western Christians rely solely on the Pharisee’s 39 book Old Testament. That is a shared trait.

So did Cardinal Cajetan, and earlier St. Jerome. Unlike protestants, Luther kept the DC books, even though he was under no compulsion to do so.

100% of non-Catholic western Christians have discarded the Apostolic tradition. That is a shared trait.

Not exactly true of Lutherans.

100% of non-Catholic western Christians have rejected a single universal Church authority as seen in Acts 15. That is a shared trait.

Not true of Lutherans. We simply reject the supremacy of one bishop, not unlike our Orthodox siblings. Melanchthon mentions a willingness to return to communion with Rome.

100% of non-Catholic western Christians have rejected the succession of the Apostles. That is a shared trait.

Again, not true of Lutherans. Many Lutherans have AS (the Catholic rejection of the orders notwithstanding), those that do not rely on the historic Catholic practice of presbyter ordination.

Jon

Substitute “a number of Anglicans” for “Lutherans” and this will do double duty.

GKC

Neither Jerome, Luther or Cajetan was a Church council, correct? Opinion does not determine truth.

There’s a little more to it than that. The authority of the entire Catholic and Orthodox Churches was rejected by the reformers. Even the Orthodox rejected the advances of the reformers. Can’t blame the Catholic Church for that.

Not exactly false, either.

Also rejected was the the historic Orthodox practice of ordination. There is no other that traces back to Christ.

Are you claiming that Baptists are pre-reformation?

=po18guy;11406991]Neither of them was a Church council, correct? Opinion does not determine truth.

True, and there is no truly ecumenical council that determined the canon of scripture for the whole Church, before or after the Schism, before or after the Reformation.

There’s a little more to it than that. The authority of the entire Catholic and Orthodox Churches was rejected by the reformers.

I would disagree.

Not exactly false, either.

That we do not equate Tradition with scripture is true. That we exclude or reject Tradition is false.

What about the historic Orthodox practice? Name another that traces back to Christ.

I don’t know if Orthodoxy ever used the practice of presbyter ordination as was done in the Catholic Church.

Are you claiming that Baptists are pre-reformation?

No, Po. I’m saying, 1, that not all reformation era communions trace their roots to Luther, nor do they care to (in fact, most do not), and 2, Baptists have little in common with Lutherans, historically, doctrinally, or currently.
If some Baptists want to claim what the OP says his acquaintance says regarding their history, they’re welcome to, though I doubt the Landmark Baptist view has any historical evidence.

Jon

Such a council is impossible. Still, one was needed. As to 39 books, the mythical “council of Jamnia” is certainly no authority - specifically rejecting Christ. Yet, for some reason, all western non-Catholics use that 39 book OT canon. All of them. Is this not absolutely the most stupefying of coincidences? What is magic about the number 39, and where did it come from? Who introduced it to Christianity?

Also why the Orthodox rejected Melanchthon and the reformers.

Of course it does! Their orders are indisputably valid and unbroken. The reformers never argued against it - in fact, they sought communion with them against the papacy. From the article:

“Except for those doctrines and customs of the Roman church that the East had never accepted, the changes in church teaching and polity advocated by the Lutherans were rejected by the Orthodox, who thus implicitly agreed on most issues with the Catholics.”

Instead of ignoring this, should not non-Catholics, in a search for the truth, investigate it?

=po18guy;11407159]Such a council is impossible. Still, one was needed. As to 39 books, the mythical “council of Jamnia” is certainly no authority - specifically rejecting Christ. Yet, for some reason, all western non-Catholics use that 39 book OT canon. All of them. Is this not absolutely the most stupefying of coincidences? What is magic about the number 39, and where did it come from? Who introduced it to Christianity?

No idea. The fact that throughout the history of the Church there have been books that have been disputed, and among these are the Deuterocanonical books, it seems like a reasonable coincidence.

Also why the Orthodox rejected Melanchthon and the reformers.

Perhaps so.

Of course it does! Their orders are indisputably valid and unbroken. The reformers never argued against it - in fact, they sought communion with them against the papacy.

I never said their orders were not valid. Of course they are, as are yours. And we also have valid orders. What I said was that I don’t know if they ever used presbyter ordination, as has been done in the Catholic Church, and was and is the practice within a good part of Lutheranism.

From the article: Instead of ignoring this, should not non-Catholics, in a search for the truth, investigate it?

Agreed. And at the same time, perhaps the Catholic Church should investigate: Except for those doctrines and customs of the Roman church that the East had never accepted,

Jon

This is the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic,[12] which our Savior, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care (Jn. 21:17), commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it (cf. Matt. 28:18, etc.), and which he raised up for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him…Vatican II

Those outside the RCC cannot rightfully claim the title Catholic or catholic.

There is no answer here. Enough derailing. I’m bailing.

Not true of Lutherans and not true of Anglicans either. The Church of England never discarded the Deutero Canonical books and they are still to be found in Anglican Lectionaries.

The Anglican Communion retains Apostolic orders and succession. Besides the fact the Roman Catholic church chooses not to accept them.

There are huge differences between non-Catholic churches. I think it is a mistake to try and compare them all with fundamentalist sects.

Seperated from the Church is seperated…unless you think degrees of seperation matters to God.

Not entirely true. The RCC now has some Anglicans under its flock. I believe they are not considered a rite,but nonetheless, back in the fold.

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