What is the history of Baptists?


Can someone please tell me, what is the history of Baptists?When was the Baptist demonition founded, by who, where, and why?I dont know if Baptists are Prodestants-they weren’t formed during the Reformation, were they?Thanks.


I got this info off of the EWTN web site ;The Baptist religion was started by John Smith in 1605 in Amsterdam.:slight_smile:


Baptists are essentially an offshoot of the English Separatist movement, which was itself the radical wing of Puritanism. The Puritans were English Protestants who thought the Church of England needed to be reformed in a more radically Protestant direction. The Separatists decided that this was impossible because Anglicanism was a “daughter of the whore” (the whore being Catholicism!) and thus irreformable. They began establishing their own independent congregations at the end of the 16th century, and some of them (including some early Baptists) were burned at the stake as heretics by the Anglican government. Because of this vicious persecution, many Separatists fled to the Netherlands (you probably know this story if you are an American, because some of them then migrated to North America and landed on Plymouth Rock–and now you know the rest of the story!). Some of these emigres decided that infant baptism was un-biblical. Wardrandolph is right that one of the first of these was John Smith. In the Netherlands there were quite a few Mennonites–adherents of the 16th-century Anabaptist movement, which also rejected infant baptism. So many Baptists claim to be descended from the Anabaptists (and some fundamentalist Baptists go further and make the absurd claim that there is a “trail of blood” of Baptists throughout Christian history). There may well have been some influence, but from what I’ve read the evidence seems to point toward the Puritan/Separatist heritage being more important. For instance, John Smith roomed with a Mennonite in the Netherlands. Maybe the Mennonite helped convince him that he should be rebaptized, but the fact is that Smith did not ask the Mennonite to baptize him–he baptized himself, because he didn’t think he knew any validly baptized people whom he could ask to perform the ceremony!

Therefore, Baptists are best seen as radical Puritans/Separatists with perhaps some Anabaptist influence. The Baptists were divided into two groups–Particular Baptists, who were Calvinists with respect to predestination, and General Baptists, who were not (and for whom the Anabaptist influence is more probable than for the Particulars). Most Baptists in the U.S. are derived from the Particulars, but the majority of them have watered down their Calvinism to a belief in “eternal security.” However, Calvinism seems to be on the rise in some Baptist circles.

The best source for Baptist history I know of is Leon McBeth, Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness.



Excellent summary.

I would only add that “Particular” and “General” are used infrequently now. Most usually say “Reformed” (for Calvinists) or “Regular” (for non-Calvinists). There’s also a group called “Free Will” Baptists that are strictly Arminian in their soteriology.


I thought “Regular” were Calvinistic, at least in origin! But I am probably confused. My point, however, was that the descendants of Particular Baptists may not be “Reformed” any more. The standard Southern Baptist eternal-security-but-no-unconditional-predestination line is a watered-down version of Calvinism, not a derivation from the General Baptist tradition, which as I understand it has almost died out.

Free Will Baptists do not derive from the early General Baptists, but from early 19th-century revivalism (which is also the main influence in weakening the Calvinism of Baptists in general)–as I understand it, they have more historical links with Methodism than with other Baptists.

And then there are Eastern European Baptists, who in my experience are not Calvinistic at all (though 15 years of financial support and earnest proselytization by Baptists from the West has no doubt done a lot to change that). I am not quite sure how this came to be. But on the whole it seems to me that Calvinism withers away outside a fairly limited cultural zone (Korea would be the main exception to this).



You are correct. I checked my facts and the Particulars did indeed become the Regulars. I was in one of those “Independent Baptist” groups that took a rather dim view of the lot of them so I have a hard time keeping track of them.


As a Regular Baptist I can tell you that most Regular Baptist are Calvinist


That is very interesting,but somewhat complicated…Thankyou!


Because Baptists consider themselves to be the original, primitive New Testament church, they do not like to think of themselves as Protestants.

There have been many threads here about the Trail of Blood theory. It claims that, when one looks down through church history and sees bloody persecution against heretics, those were really Baptists who were falsely accused of heresy. Thus they purport to trace their history to the centuries before Constantine.

It’s a rope of sand. But, as one crusty old preacher said once, “When you know you’re right, you don’t need facts.”


…wow…first its, “lets justify our attempt to break the Church,” now its just “we were the orignals, its yalls fault, this makes no sense, but thats ok, cause we just know we are right.”

Where did Baptists come from? That is actually a very tough question.


Free Will Baptists do not derive from the early General Baptists, but from early 19th-century revivalism (which is also the main influence in weakening the Calvinism of Baptists in general)–as I understand it, they have more historical links with Methodism than with other Baptists.

Yes. :thumbsup: :thumbsup: My great-grandfather the Free Will Baptist minister would agree!!
In fact, one of the main reasons this side of the family ended up Methodist, is that given that there were not (& are not) any Free Will Baptist congregations in the area, after Grandpa Frank died, & his family moved back into this area, they (we!) went with John Wesley over the Baptists…

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