Baptist succession

I overheard my dad (southern Baptist) talking to my older brother on the phone saying that the Baptist church can trace its roots to the time of Jesus through the anabaptists. I read the tract on here about it but I have more questions like when did the first millenium anabaptist exist? And where can I find out more about them? I checked Wikipedia and it uses anabaptists to describe the reformation Baptists. Are there any books that rebuke this theory of Baptist succession?

The Baptists and the Anabaptists are not the same thing, and did not derive from the same source. The Anabaptists were part of the Radical Reformation, which broke from Zwingli’s “Reformed” tradition in about 1525. In the United States, the Anabaptists are best represented by the Amish, the Mennonites, and the various Church of the Brethren denominations.

The Baptists were a split from the Church of England around 1612. The first “Baptist” church in the American Colonies was in the colony of Rhode Island under Roger Williams.

The two groups do have some things in common. They both deny the validity of infant baptism; they both believe in the complete separation of Church and State (as in, the rejection of a State sponsored or imposed religion).

On the other hand, the Anabaptists were (and are) almost universally pacifist. Some Anabaptist groups also believe (at least to a certain extent) in a communal form of living. Baptists are not pacifists (individuals, perhaps, but not denominationally) and don’t tend to practice communal living.

So while there are some similarities, there are key differences – and the two groups arose at different times and places in history.

I hope that this helps . . .

Jehovah’s Witnesses use a similar argument in that they also trace their roots back to the early church and this can easily be done as long as you don’t look at what the early church fathers believed. It’s one thing to say it, but it simply can’t be proved. The writings of the ECF’s, see here…
shed much light on this subject. To refute these beliefs is also to refute other Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and the canon of the bible itself.

Peace be with you!!!

From this link:
Some (few) Baptists have claimed that they too can trace their lineage back to the time of Christ and the apostles.

This idea was popularized in the early 20th century by Baptist pastor, and historian, James M. Carroll who wrote a book entitled *Trail of Blood. *In itCarroll claims that the Baptist church, as it is known today, descended through history under different names, such as the Anabaptists, Montanists, and Novations.

At first, this may sound tenable, but when you actually look at these groups, and what they taught, you see very quickly that their theology was anything but Baptist.
The Anabaptists** denied that a person is saved by faith alone.[2]
The Montanists** taught that "God, not being able to save the world by Moses and the Prophets, took flesh of the Virgin Mary, and in Christ, His Son, preached and died for us. And because He could not accomplish the salvation of the world by this second method, the Holy Spirit descended upon Montanus, Prisca, and Maximilla, giving them the plenitude which St. Paul had not (1 Corinthians 13:9). [1]
The Novatians **refused readmission to communion of baptized Christians who had denied their faith. [3]

"For proponents [of Baptist Successionism], writes Fr. Dwight Longenecker, “the fact that there is no historical proof for their theory simply shows how good the Catholic Church was at persecution and cover-up. Baptist Successionism can never be disproved because all that is required for their succession to be transmitted was a small group of faithful people somewhere at some time who kept the flame of the true faith alive. The authors of this “history” skim happily over the heretical beliefs of their supposed forefathers in the faith. It is sufficient that all these groups were opposed to, and persecuted by, the Catholics.”

Thankfully intellectually honest Baptists, such as James McGoldrick who was once himself a believer in Baptist successionism are conceding that this “trail of blood” view is, frankly, bogus.

The idea of Baptist Succession is silly and simply untrue

The idea is based on the incorrect time line of Dr. J. M. Carroll. His claim is that Baptist are not Protestant because they never came from the Catholic Church or any other Protestant Church.

This chart details this errononous theory. This shows baptists breaking with the Catholic Church before the Bible was even cannonized. If this is true, then why do the Baptists believe in Sola Scriputra if their supposed break was before the Bible was Cannonized?

Because its false! :smiley:

It is important to realize as well that the so-called “Landmark Baptists” who believe in this concept represent a very tiny minority of Baptists. It is certainly not representative of the Southern Baptist or American Baptist Conventions.

My college level Western Civ. class never mentioned the Baptists as being prominant in the early stages of Western Civilization. The Catholic Church (from 33 AD forward) is mentioned quite often. Where were the Baptists? :shrug:

The answer to this question I have always received is “underground” :rolleyes:. With an answer like this it serves two purposes, You can’t prove them wrong and they don’t have to prove their point, both of these because of the what the connotation of “underground” brings to the discussion.


Yeah. I think the “underground” explanation has a certain scent to it (if you know what I mean). Of course, the very same people who would defend this ludicrous claim without ANY proof, are the same people who demand proof from us for pretty much everything.

Also, without any tangible proof; aren’t they reduced to resting on “tradition”? Isn’t that funny?

There was always Jesus’ cousin John…

Yes, their claims have been refuted.

  • Step 1: We’ll see what the reference is all about. Clarence Walker in J.M. Carroll’s “Trail of Blood”
    said it was in Apud Opera, pages 112-113. Another said this was a quote from Hosius AT the Council of
    Trent. So far, “Apud Opera” is a hoax.

*Step 4: The Introduction to Carroll’s “Trail of Blood” lists Hosius’ quote as “1524”, which I suppose is possible, but places it nowhere near the council of Trent (1561-1563), and, as Hosius was BORN in 1504, where is the authority of a 20-year-old Polish dude? Clarence Walker also calls Hosius the “President of the Council of Trent”, but he was “papal legate” of the Council of Trent, which just meant he “represented the Pope armed with his authority” (Oxford English Dictionary). So, I hate to say this, but Clarence Walker gave faulty information at best, and deceptive information at worst. He undoubtedly got
the citation of the quote from the other reference. My question is: Did HE rephrase the quote, or did he just hear someone preach about it and used their paraphrase of it?

This is from a Protestant site…so your dad may believe this first before he believes catholic sites:

As David Zampino described, anybody can look up the lineage of the Baptist or Anabaptists religion. One can find their founders and when they were founded. They are both religions started by men who thought they had the power to start a religion… 100% human tradition .

John Smyth (1570-1612 or 1616? A.D.) invented the Baptist religion that ex-communicated him on account of his eventual “theological cross-pollination” with the Mennonites.

The “Baptists” are really Anabaptists (they deny Baptismal regeneration of the soul).

The Baptist religions are not Apostolic (none of the many varieties), not even close.

Consider reading the links below for more information.

Here will likely be a most helpful book (get one for yourself, your Dad, and one for your older brother Shaolen). . . .

If you have Baptist family, friends, or neighbors, you may have been handed a copy of the little booklet entitled, “The Trail of Blood.” If you are a Baptist yourself, you may have read it, or been influenced by it through various sermons, lessons, or other material that repeats its errors. Though originally published in 1931, it is still being circulated today, with almost 2 million copies in print.

 The book is a supposed history of Christianity that establishes the present day Baptist denomination as the authentic Church of Christ.  The author claims his denomination is merely the most recent inheritor of “New Testament” Christianity that began with John the Baptist and continued through the centuries.  This trail is established by identifying the Baptists with nearly every heretical and schismatic group that existed during the early and medieval periods.  . . . 

The whole quote and book can be found here:

Also consider this quote from Christianity Today (bold mine) . . . .

. . . . The more Smyth conversed with the Mennonites, the more he liked them. And the more he became convinced that baptizing himself—like his ordination in the Anglican church and acceptance of Separatist teachings—had been a mistake. “We are inconstant in error,” he wrote. Eventually, Smyth applied for membership with the Mennonites. Helwys, who agreed with Smyth on nearly every point but could not accept Mennonite teachings on Christ and ministerial succession, recommended to the church that Smyth, then in bad health, be excommunicated. In 1611 they agreed. Smyth continued to defend his membership with the Mennonites up to his death in 1616. But to this day, it is not as a Mennonite that he is remembered, but as the first Baptist.

The whole article can be found here:

I summarized some of this info. here below.

Men like the Zwickau “prophets” (principally Nicholas Storch, Thomas Dreschel and Markus Stübner) as well as the politician Thomas Müntzer (1489-1525) in Germany, and “the Swiss Brethren” from 1525 (Felix Manz, Conrad Grebel, and ex-Catholic Priest George Blaurock) in Switzerland. Also ex-Catholic Priest Menno Simons (inventor of the Mennonite religion), or ex-Anglican Priest John Smyth (inventor of the “Baptist” religion) who didn’t think anyone was worthy of Baptizing him so he Baptized himself (you can read about it in Christianity Today here)! That’s why even fellow Anabaptists called Smyth a “Se-Baptist” (short for “Self-Baptist”).

Smyth was even excommunicated from the religion he invented for getting too chummy with the Mennonites.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit