I have identified myself as a Baptist my whole life. My dad and mom were Baptists so…I guess it just came natural.
I know that John was a Baptist. I know that Jesus was baptized. So, naturally, I should be a Baptist as well, right? Yet, I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t know the history of the Baptist denomination…until now.
The class that I am now taking is the Baptist Heritage class. It’s good for sleeping…
Not really. It is but it is also quite interesting as well.
In the early 1600s, there were a group of people who wanted to follow the ways of the apostolic church. In doing so, they found that the Church of England did not follow the traditions of the apostolic church. Specifically, they didn’t agree with infant baptism. So, they set themselves apart from the Church of England.
This would bring persecution to these people and they would flee to Holland. These people of course were the separatists, puritans, some anabaptists, and two different sects of baptists.
One group were called general baptists. They followed the Arminian theology that the atonement made on the cross were for everyone. This is why they were called General Baptists because the atonement was for everyone in general. These Baptists would “generally” (see what I did there) stay back in Holland.
The other group were called the particular baptists. They followed the Calvinistic theology. They believed that the atonement of Christ was limited for the elect or a particular people. These would be the majority of Baptists that would travel to the Americas.
Up until the later half of the 1700s and some in the 1800s, Baptists were thought of as the “underclass”. While churches were established, most still considered themselves part of the Church of England and thought of themselves much more highly than they probably ought. So, Baptists weren’t the popular group among the colonies. In fact, the Baptist denomination grew but grew slowly over a period of 50 years.
The first Baptist church to be established was in 1609 in Philadelphia. These churches would grow and split until one church in Kittery, Maine received so much persecution that they decided to head south where there was less hostility towards Baptists. In 1639, the first Baptist church in the south was established in Charleston, South Carolina. It is still there today.
I think those are some interesting facts. Like I said, most of the early Baptist churches were understood to believe reformed theology. It wasn’t until much later that Baptists would divide and Arminianism would present itself as well. Of course, I am not done with this course so there is much to learn still. I am in the process of learning the history of the Baptists pre-civil war. I hope to have a post on that soon.