Tracing baptist history


The following comment was posted on another thread.

[quote=12volt_man]“Protestants” came out of the Reformation. Baptists and Anabaptists can trace our heritage back to the NT, long before the Reformation.

What are your sources and historical references?


sub question…

Did the author of the “River of Blood” write another book that refuted his earlier history of the Baptists?? I believe that is the title of the book.


Q: A Baptist friend of mine told me that he is not a Protestant, since the Baptists didn’t break away from the Catholic Church—they had existed all along under various names, such as Anabaptists, Montanists, and Novations. How do I respond?

A: Your friend’s desire to look into history to substantiate the truth of his faith is commendable. However, he has probably not read a single primary historical source to substantiate this claim of “Baptist successionism.” Instead, he has probably gotten a hold of the booklet Trail of Blood by J.M. Carroll, which puts forth the ideas he passed on to you.

Let’s examine his claims about the sects that he mentions. He claims descent from the Anabaptists, Montanists, and Novations, but was their theology of a Baptist slant?

The Anabaptists baptized babies, and so can in no way be considered the spiritual ancestors to the present-day Baptists. Novations taught that those who had fallen from the faith should never be allowed to repent and return to the fold, since God cannot forgive their sin. The same council that defined the divinity of Christ (Nicea in A.D. 325) condemned the Novations. Montanists were a movement centering around the false prophet Montanus, who taught that the heavenly Jerusalem would soon descend upon his home town, the Phrygian village of Pepuza, and that, to prepare for the imminent coming of Christ, one must practice severe asceticism.

For a person to reject the Baptist successionist view is actually a compliment to the Baptists. In fact, years after having written Trail of Blood, Carroll wrote of himself, “Extensive graduate study and independent investigation of church history has, however, convinced [the author] that the view he once held so dear has not been, and cannot be, verified. On the contrary, surviving primary documents render the successionist view untenable. . . . Although free church groups in ancient and medieval times sometimes promoted doctrines and practices agreeable to modern Baptists, when judged by standards now acknowledged as baptistic, not one of them merits recognition as a Baptist church. Baptists arose in the seventeenth century in Holland and England. They are Protestants, heirs of the reformers” (Baptist Successionism: A Crucial Question in Baptist History [1994], 1–2).

Baptist professor and historian James Edward McGoldrick adds, “Perhaps no other body of professing Christians has had as much difficulty in discerning its historical roots as have the Baptists. A survey of conflicting opinions might lead a perceptive observer to conclude that Baptists suffer from an identity crisis” (ibid., 1).

Encourage your friend to continue studying the history of Christianity by giving him the writings of the Church Fathers. As Newman said in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”

– Jason Evert


“The Trail of Blood” chart can be found here:


[quote=Eden]“The Trail of Blood” chart can be found here:

That’s really funny, but interesting. The legnths some people will go to…


I hope a Baptist will come and explain all of this.


Yeah, I’d be really interested in seeing how the Baptists developed a Bible exactly like the Protestants too. :slight_smile:


[quote=imroc]Yeah, I’d be really interested in seeing how the Baptists developed a Bible exactly like the Protestants too. :slight_smile:



I put this address on Baptist history on another thread. It has the most accurate information that I have read on the internet.
I have studied Baptist history for some years.

forever Baptist


I think that should be



Do you believe that Baptists have been around since the time of John the Baptist and that there is a “Trail of Blood” leading to your church?


[quote=Eden]I hope a Baptist will come and explain all of this.

Only some fringe groups of Baptists believe this and maybe some individually misled Baptists.


I think that should be


I am sorry but this mans concept of history is severely skewed - he’s living in some parallel world! He obviously just made up the history he presents because no historical reference corroborates anything he puts forth!

It’s really sad to think that people actually believe this dribble.


What a mass of confusion! How could anyone stake his salvation on this “baptist” fairy tale?


I do not think that it is his concept of history but his knowledge of history which is something you have no knowledge of.

forever Baptist


I do not think that it is his concept of history but his knowledge of history which is something you have no knowledge of.

This is from the link provided by allischalmers entitled “Who were the first Baptists?”:

In examining many so-called early “Baptist” churches you find many doctrinal errors and false teaching. Surely, no church that practiced false doctrine as many of these groups did can in truth be called a Baptist church. It is my conviction that it is not possible to “trace” an unbroken line of Baptist churches from Christ until today. ** However, let me strongly say there has always existed an unbroken line of churches who have not erred from the faith, and been true to the Bible, God’s Word.** **In fact Jesus emphatically stated in Matt. 16:18, concerning the church, that even "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. " These churches have always existed from the time of Christ and the Apostles until today. ** To call these people Baptists or Baptistic, in the sense that the believed the Bible and followed it as their sole authority for faith and practice, in the way same true Baptist churches do today, is acceptable, although it serves no purpose. To go so far as to say there is a unbroken line or succession of Baptist churches from the time of Christ until today cannot be shown from history.

In his work, he forgot to mention that the Church in which “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” is the Catholic Church. I strongly agree with his assessment the history of the Baptist churches in the last sentence (in bold), by the way.


From the same site, on St. Patrick:

The importance of these churches was not in their name, but in what they believed and practiced. These churches patterned themselves strictly after the New Testament example, and this made them valid churches approved of God. This is the true heritage that the Fundamental Baptists holds dear, that there have always been assemblies which submitted themselves only to the sole authority of the Word of God. It is difficult to document these congregations because they were rarely in the spot light of history. For an example there is Patrick of Ireland. Patrick was born in Scotland in 360 AD and sold into slavery at age sixteen and carried to Ireland. Later, he escaped and became a Christian missionary. Although the Roman Catholic Church claims him as one of their “saints,” there is no evidence he even knew the Catholic church existed. **In his writings he appears totally ignorant of the practices of the Roman Church and never refers to church councils, creeds, traditions or even to the existence of a pope. There was no hierarchy in the churches he founded, which were patterned after the simple New Testament example. **

No evidence St. Patrick even knew the Catholic Church existed?


Compare this “Baptist” knowledge" with the facts (I begin the excerpts with Patrick escaping Ireland and slavery):

He found a ship ready to set sail and after some rebuffs was allowed on board. In a few days he was among his friends once more in Britain, but now his heart was set on devoting himself to the service of God in the sacred ministry. We meet with him **at St. Martin’s monastery at **Tours, and again at the island sanctuary of Lérins which was just then acquiring widespread renown for learning and piety; and wherever lessons of heroic perfection in the exercise of Christian life could be acquired, thither the fervent Patrick was sure to bend his steps. **No sooner had St. Germain entered on his great mission at Auxerre than Patrick put himself under his guidance, and it was at that great bishop’s hands that Ireland’s future apostle was a few years later promoted to the **priesthood. It is the tradition in the territory of the Morini that Patrick under St. Germain’s guidance for some years was engaged in missionary work among them. **When Germain commissioned by the Holy See proceeded to Britain to combat the erroneous teachings of Pelagius, he chose Patrick to be one of his missionary companions and thus it was his privilege to be associated with the representative of Rome in the triumphs that ensued over heresy and **Paganism, and in the many remarkable events of the expedition, such as the miraculous calming of the tempest at sea, the visit to the relics at St. Alban’s shrine, and the Alleluia victory. Amid all these scenes, however, Patrick’s thoughts turned towards Ireland, and from time to time he was favoured with visions of the children from Focluth, by the Western sea, who cried to him: "O holy youth, come back to Erin, and walk once more amongst us."
Pope St. Celestine I, rendered immortal service to the Church by the overthrow of the Pelagian and Nestorian heresies, and by the imperishable wreath of honour decreed to the Blessed Virgin in the General Council of Ephesus, crowned his pontificate by an act of the most far-reaching consequences for the spread of Christianity and civilization, when he entrusted St. Patrick with the mission of gathering the Irish race into the one fold of Christ. Palladius (q.v.) had already received that commission, but terrified by the fierce opposition of a Wicklow chieftain had abandoned the sacred enterprise.



It was St. Germain, Bishop of Auxerre, who commended Patrick to the pope. The writer of St. Germain’s Life in the ninth century, Heric of Auxerre, thus attests this important fact: “Since the glory of the father shines in the training of the children, of the many sons in Christ whom St. Germain is believed to have had as disciples in religion, let it suffice to make mention here, very briefly, of one most famous, Patrick, the special Apostle of the Irish nation, as the record of his work proves. Subject to that most holy discipleship for 18 years, he drank in no little knowledge in Holy Scripture from the stream of so great a well-spring. Germain sent him, accompanied by Segetius, his priest, to Celestine, Pope of Rome, approved of by whose judgement, supported by whose authority, and strengthened by whose blessing, he went on his way to Ireland.” It was only shortly before his death that Celestine gave this mission to Ireland’s apostle and on that occasion bestowed on him many relics and other spiritual gifts, and gave him the name “Patercius” or “Patritius”, not as an honorary title, but as a foreshadowing of the fruitfulness and merit of his apostolate whereby he became pater civium (the father of his people). Patrick on his return journey from Rome received at Ivrea the tidings of the death of Palladius, and turning aside to the neighboring city of Turin received episcopal consecration at the hands of its great bishop, St. Maximus, and thence hastened on to Auxerre to make under the guidance of St. Germain due preparations for the Irish mission…

One writing attributed to St. Patrick is the famous synodical decree: “Si quae quaestiones in hac insula oriantur, ad Sedem Apostolicam referantur.” (If any difficulties arise in this island, let them be referred to the Apostolic See)…

More here:

Didn’t know the Catholic Church existed? I think it is clear who has no knowledge of history. Of course, the Baptist author doesn’t even attempt to explain the fact that St. Patrick was a bishop.


For a refutation of the “Trail of Blood” check this out:

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