The Info List - Baptist

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BAPTISTS are individuals who comprise a group of Evangelical Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers (believer\'s baptism , as opposed to infant baptism ), and that it must be done by complete immersion (as opposed to affusion or sprinkling ). Other tenets of Baptist churches include soul competency (liberty), salvation through faith alone , Scripture alone as the rule of faith and practice, and the autonomy of the local congregation . Baptists recognize two ministerial offices, elders and deacons . Baptist churches are widely considered to be Protestant churches, though some Baptists disavow this identity.

Diverse from their beginning, those identifying as Baptists today differ widely from one another in what they believe, how they worship, their attitudes toward other Christians, and their understanding of what is important in Christian discipleship.

Historians trace the earliest church labeled "Baptist" back to 1609 in Amsterdam , with English Separatist John Smyth as its pastor. In accordance with his reading of the New Testament , he rejected baptism of infants and instituted baptism only of believing adults. Baptist practice spread to England, where the GENERAL BAPTISTS considered Christ's atonement to extend to all people , while the PARTICULAR BAPTISTS believed that it extended only to the elect . Thomas Helwys formulated a distinctively Baptist request that the church and the state be kept separate in matters of law, so that individuals might have a freedom of religious conscience . Helwys died in prison as a consequence of the religious persecution of English dissenters under King James I . In 1638, Roger Williams established the first Baptist congregation in the North American colonies . In the mid-18th century, the First Great Awakening contributed to Baptist growth in both New England and the South. The Second Great Awakening in the South in the early 19th century greatly increased church membership. Baptist missionaries have spread their church to every continent.

The largest Baptist denomination is the Southern Baptist Convention , with the membership of associated churches totaling more than 15 million.


* 1 Origins

* 1.1 English separatist view * 1.2 Anabaptist influence view * 1.3 Perpetuity and succession view * 1.4 Baptist origins in the United Kingdom * 1.5 Baptist origins in North America

* 2 Baptist affiliations

* 3 Membership

* 3.1 Statistics * 3.2 Qualification for membership

* 4 Baptist beliefs and principles

* 4.1 Beliefs that vary among Baptists

* 5 Controversies that have shaped Baptists

* 5.1 Missions crisis

* 5.2 Slavery crisis

* 5.2.1 United States * 5.2.2 Caribbean islands

* 5.3 Memory of slavery * 5.4 Landmark crisis * 5.5 Modernist crisis

* 6 See also * 7 References * 8 Bibliography

* 9 Further reading

* 9.1 Primary sources

* 10 External links


Baptist historian Bruce Gourley outlines four main views of Baptist origins: (1) The modern scholarly consensus that the movement traces its origin to the 17th century via the English Separatists , (2) the view that it was an outgrowth of Anabaptist traditions, (3) the perpetuity view which assumes that the Baptist _faith and practice_ has existed since the time of Christ, and (4) the successionist view, or " Baptist successionism ", which argues that Baptist _churches_ actually existed in an unbroken chain since the time of Christ.


Modern Baptist churches trace their history to the English Separatist movement in the 1600s, the century after the rise of the original Protestant denominations. This view of Baptist origins has the most historical support and is the most widely accepted. Adherents to this position consider the influence of Anabaptists upon early Baptists to be minimal. It was a time of considerable political and religious turmoil. Both individuals and churches were willing to give up their theological roots if they became convinced that a more biblical "truth" had been discovered.

During the Protestant Reformation , the Church of England (Anglicans) separated from the Roman Catholic Church . There were some Christians who were not content with the achievements of the mainstream Protestant Reformation. There also were Christians who were disappointed that the Church of England had not made corrections of what some considered to be errors and abuses. Of those most critical of the Church's direction, some chose to stay and try to make constructive changes from within the Anglican Church. They became known as " Puritans " and are described by Gourley as cousins of the English Separatists. Others decided they must leave the Church because of their dissatisfaction and became known as the Separatists.

Historians trace the earliest Baptist church back to 1609 in Amsterdam, with John Smyth as its pastor. Three years earlier, while a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, he had broken his ties with the Church of England. Reared in the Church of England, he became "Puritan, English Separatist, and then a Baptist Separatist," and ended his days working with the Mennonites. He began meeting in England with 60–70 English Separatists, in the face of "great danger." The persecution of religious nonconformists in England led Smyth to go into exile in Amsterdam with fellow Separatists from the congregation he had gathered in Lincolnshire, separate from the established church (Anglican). Smyth and his lay supporter, Thomas Helwys , together with those they led, broke with the other English exiles because Smyth and Helwys were convinced they should be baptized as believers. In 1609 Smyth first baptized himself and then baptized the others.

In 1609, while still there, Smyth wrote a tract titled "The Character of the Beast," or "The False Constitution of the Church." In it he expressed two propositions: first, infants are not to be baptized; and second, "Antichristians converted are to be admitted into the true Church by baptism." Hence, his conviction was that a scriptural church should consist only of regenerate believers who have been baptized on a personal confession of faith. He rejected the Separatist movement's doctrine of infant baptism (paedobaptism ). Shortly thereafter, Smyth left the group, and layman Thomas Helwys took over the leadership, leading the church back to England in 1611. Ultimately, Smyth became committed to believers' baptism as the only biblical baptism. He was convinced on the basis of his interpretation of Scripture that infants would not be damned should they die in infancy. Print from Anglican theologian Daniel Featley 's book, "The Dippers Dipt, or, The Anabaptists Duck'd and Plung'd Over Head and Ears, at a Disputation in Southwark", published in 1645.

Smyth, convinced that his self-baptism was invalid, applied with the Mennonites for membership. He died while waiting for membership, and some of his followers became Mennonites. Thomas Helwys and others kept their baptism and their Baptist commitments. The modern Baptist denomination is an outgrowth of Smyth's movement. Baptists rejected the name Anabaptist when they were called that by opponents in derision. McBeth writes that as late as the 18th century, many Baptists referred to themselves as "the Christians commonly—though _falsely_—called Anabaptists."

Another milestone in the early development of Baptist doctrine was in 1638 with John Spilsbury , a Calvinistic minister who helped to promote the strict practice of believer's baptism by immersion . According to Tom Nettles, professor of historical theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary , "Spilsbury's cogent arguments for a gathered, disciplined congregation of believers baptized by immersion as constituting the New Testament church gave expression to and built on insights that had emerged within separatism, advanced in the life of John Smyth and the suffering congregation of Thomas Helwys, and matured in Particular Baptists."


A minority view is that early 17th century Baptists were influenced by (but not directly connected to) continental Anabaptists . According to this view, the General Baptists shared similarities with Dutch Waterlander Mennonites (one of many Anabaptist groups) including believer's baptism only, religious liberty, separation of church and state, and Arminian views of salvation, predestination and original sin. Representative writers including A.C. Underwood and William R. Estep. Gourley wrote that among some contemporary Baptist scholars who emphasize the faith of the community over soul liberty, the Anabaptist influence theory is making a comeback.

However, the relations between Baptists and Anabaptists were early strained. In 1624, the then five existing Baptist churches of London issued a condemnation of the Anabaptists. Furthermore, the original group associated with Smyth and popularly believed to be the first Baptists broke with the Waterlander Mennonite Anabaptists after a brief period of association in the Netherlands.


Main article: Baptist successionism

Prior to the 20th century, Baptist historians generally wrote from the perspective that Baptists had existed since the time of Christ. Proponents of the Baptist successionist or perpetuity view consider the Baptist movement to have existed independently from Roman Catholicism and prior to the Protestant Reformation .

The perpetuity view is often identified with _ The Trail of Blood _, a booklet of five lectures by J.M. Carrol published in 1931. Other Baptist writers who advocate the successionist theory of Baptist origins are John T. Christian , Thomas Crosby , G. H. Orchard, J. M. Cramp, William Cathcart, Adam Taylor and D. B. Ray This view was also held by English Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon as well as Jesse Mercer , the namesake of Mercer University.


In 1612, Thomas Helwys established a Baptist congregation in London, consisting of congregants from Smyth's church. A number of other Baptist churches sprang up, and they became known as the General Baptists. The Particular Baptists were established when a group of Calvinist Separatists adopted believers' Baptism.


See also: Baptists in the United States and Baptists in Canada

Both Roger Williams and John Clarke , his compatriot and coworker for religious freedom, are variously credited as founding the earliest Baptist church in North America. In 1639, Williams established a Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island , and Clarke began a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island . According to a Baptist historian who has researched the matter extensively, "There is much debate over the centuries as to whether the Providence or Newport church deserved the place of 'first' Baptist congregation in America. Exact records for both congregations are lacking."

The Great Awakening energized the Baptist movement, and the Baptist community experienced spectacular growth. Baptists became the largest Christian community in many southern states, including among the black population.

Baptist missionary work in Canada began in the British colony of Nova Scotia (present day Nova Scotia and New Brunswick ) in the 1760s. The first official record of a Baptist church in Canada was that of the Horton Baptist Church (now Wolfville) in Wolfville, Nova Scotia on 29 October 1778. The church was established with the assistance of the New Light evangelist Henry Alline . Many of Alline's followers, after his death, would convert and strengthen the Baptist presence in the Atlantic region. Two major groups of Baptists formed the basis of the churches in the Maritimes. These were referred to as Regular Baptist (Calvinistic in their doctrine) and Free Will Baptists.

In May 1845, the Baptist congregations in the United States split over slavery and missions. The Home Mission Society prevented slaveholders from being appointed as missionaries. The split created the Southern Baptist Convention , while the northern congregations formed their own umbrella organization now called the American Baptist Churches USA (ABC-USA). The Methodist Episcopal Church, South had recently separated over the issue of slavery, and southern Presbyterians would do so shortly thereafter.


Christian denominations in English-speaking world


* World Council of Churches * World Evangelical Alliance


* Friends World Committee for Consultation * Mennonite World Conference * Anglican Communion * Baptist World Alliance * World Convention of Churches of Christ * Eastern Orthodox Church * Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference * International Lutheran Council * Lutheran World Federation * World Methodist Council * Pentecostal World Conference * International Conference of Reformed Churches * Reformed Ecumenical Council * World Communion of Reformed Churches * World Reformed Fellowship


* All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) * Association of Evangelicals of Africa (AEA) * All Africa Baptist Fellowship * Africa Lutheran Communion


* Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) * Evangelical Fellowship of Asia * Asia Pacific Baptist Federation * Asia Lutheran Communion


* Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) * Evangelical Association of the Caribbean * Caribbean Baptist Fellowship


* Conference of European Churches (CEC) * European Evangelical Alliance * European Baptist Federation * Pentecostal European Fellowship

Middle East

* Middle East Council of Churches (MECC)

Latin America

* Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) * Latin American Evangelical Fellowship (FIDE) * Union of Baptists in Latin America

North America

* North American Baptist Fellowship * Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America * North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council


* Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) * Evangelical Fellowship of the South Pacific (EFSP) * Asia Pacific Baptist Federation



Australian Interchurch

Australian Evangelical Alliance • site National Council of Churches

Catholic display:none;">

Anglican Church of Australia Roman Catholic Church

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Christian and Missionary Alliance Christian Outreach Centre Church of the Nazarene Salvation Army Seventh-day Adventist Church

Historical Protestantism

Australian Friends Australian Baptist Ministries Open Brethren Christian Reformed Churches of Australia Churches of Christ Fellowship of Congregational Churches Lutheran Church of Australia Presbyterian Church of Australia Uniting Church in Australia Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia


Antiochian Orthodox of Australia & New Z. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia Serbian Orthodox of Australia background: Lavender;">Pentecostal display:none;">

Australian Christian Churches (AOG) Christian City Church Intl. CRC Churches International Revival Centres International Vineyard Churches Australia Worldwide Church of God


LDS Church

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Canadian Christian bodies

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Canadian Interchurch

Canadian Council of Churches S. Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America North Am. Presbyterian background: Lavender;">Anabaptist display:none;">

Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches Canadian Yearly Meeting (Quakers) Mennonite Church Canada

Baptist display:none;">


Association of Regular Baptist Churches Baptist General Conference of Canada Canadian Baptist Ministries Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists Fellowship of Evgcl. Baptist Churches, Canada North American Baptist Conference STONE-CAMPBELL RESTORATION MOVEMENT

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Evangelical Christian Church in Canada

Catholic display:none;">

Anglican Church of Canada Anglican Church in North America Polish National Catholic Church Roman Catholic Church

Holiness display:none;">

Christian and Missionary Alliance, Canada Church of the Nazarene Evangelical Free Church of Canada The Salvation Army Wesleyan Church


Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada Lutheran Church–Canada Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod


British Methodist Episcopal Church Free Methodist Church in Canada United Church of Canada


Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, N.Am. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Orthodox Church in America American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada NON-CHALCEDONIC

Armenian Apostolic Diocese of Am. Coptic Orthodox Church in Canada SYNCRETIC

Evangelical Orthodox Church


Apostolic Church of Pentecost Canadian Assemblies of God Church of God of Prophecy Intl. Foursquare Gospel, Canada Intl. Pentecostal Holiness Church Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada Pentecostal Church of God ONENESS PENTECOSTAL

United Pentecostal Church Intl.

Presbyterian display:none;">

Canadian and American Reformed Churches Christian Reformed Church in North America L\'Église réformée du Québec Presbyterian Church in Canada Presbyterian Church in America Reformed Church in America United Church of Canada


Messianic Jewish Alliance of America Plymouth Brethren Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada LDS Church Vineyard Canada Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada SYNCRETIC

Evangelical Orthodox Church


Irish Christian bodies

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Irish Interchurch

Irish Council of Churches Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Evangelical Alliance , UK

Church of Ireland (Anglican) Association of Baptist Churches Roman Catholicism Assemblies of God Elim Pentecostal Church Presbyterian Church in Ireland



Nigerian Interchurch

Christian Association of Nigeria Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Nigeria

African initiated

Cherubim and Seraphim Society Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim Church of God Mission International Church of the Lord (Aladura)


The African Church Church of Nigeria

Baptist, Anabaptist , DC

Church of the Brethren in Nigeria Churches of Christ in Nigeria Mambila Baptist Convention of Nigeria Nigerian Baptist Convention


Roman Catholic Church

Holiness display:none;">

African Methodist Episcopal Church in Nigeria Deeper Christian Life Ministry Redeemed Christian Church of God United Methodist Church of Nigeria


Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria Lutheran Church of Nigeria


The Apostolic Church Nigeria Christ Apostolic Church General Council of the Assemblies of God Nigeria Gospel Faith Mission International Church of the Foursquare Gospel The Lord\'s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement New Apostolic Church in Nigeria Winners\' Chapel

Presbyterian display:none;">

Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria Church of Christ in Nigeria Church of Christ in the Sudan Among the Tiv Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ N.K.S.T Presbyterian Church of Nigeria Reformed Church of Christ in Nigeria

Other Protestant

Evangelical Church of West Africa QIC-United Evangelical Church Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nigeria Word of Faith Ministries

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South Africa

Christian denominations in South Africa

South African Interchurch

South African Council of Churches

Catholic display:none;">

Anglican Church Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church Roman Catholicism

Holiness display:none;">

Die Heilsleër Zion Christian Church

Pentecostal Apostolic Faith Mission

Protestantism, Other

Baptist Union Evangelical Lutheran Church LDS Church Methodist Church


Dutch Reformed: NGK Dutch Reformed: NHK Evangelical Presbyterian Church Presbyterian Church of Africa Reformed Church in Africa Reformed Churches: GKSA United Congregational Church Uniting Presbyterian Church Uniting Reformed Church

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United Kingdom

Christian denominations in the United Kingdom

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UK Interchurch

* Affinity (formerly British Evangelical Council) * Churches Together in Britain padding:0"> Anglican

* Church of England * Church of Ireland * Scottish Episcopal Church * Church in Wales


* Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland * Baptist Union of Great Britain * Baptist Union of Scotland * Baptist Union of Wales


* Roman Catholicism

* Roman Catholicism in England padding:0"> Holiness padding:0.2em 0 0.4em;text-align:center">

* Church of the Nazarene * Salvation Army * Seventh-day Adventist Church * Wesleyan Holiness Church


* Lutheran Church in Great Britain

Methodist padding:0.2em 0 0.4em;text-align:center">

* Methodist Church of Great Britain * Methodist Church in Ireland

New Church Movement

* Newfrontiers * Pioneer Church


* Greek Orthodox of G.B. (Eastern Orthodox)


* Assemblies of God * Church of God in Christ * Elim Pentecostal Church

Presbyterian padding:0.2em 0 0.4em;text-align:center">

* Asso. Presbyterian Churches, Scotland * Church of Scotland * Congregational Federation * Evangelical Presbyterian Church * Presbyterian Church in Ireland * Presbyterian Church of Wales * United Free Church of Scotland * United Reformed Church


* LDS Church in England * LDS Church in Wales * LDS Church in Scotland * LDS Church in Ireland * Quakers / Britain Yearly Meeting

United States


U.S. Interchurch

* National Association of Evangelicals * National Council of Churches * Churches Uniting in Christ

Anabaptist and Friends

* Church of the Brethren * Mennonite Church USA * Amish


* Alliance of Baptists * American Baptist Association * American Baptist Churches * Baptist Bible Fellowship International * Baptist Missionary Association of America * Conservative Baptist Association of America * Converge * General Association of Regular Baptist Churches * National Association of Free Will Baptists * National Primitive Baptist Convention of the U.S.A. * North American Baptist Conference * Southern Baptist Convention


* National Baptist Convention of America * National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. * National Missionary Baptist Convention of America * Progressive National Baptist Convention

Catholic and Anglican

* Anglican Church in North America * Episcopal Church * Roman Catholic Church

Eastern Christian

* Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese * Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America * Orthodox Church in America * Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia * Serbian Orthodox Church


* Armenian Apostolic Diocese of Am. * Coptic Orthodox Church * Syriac Orthodox Church

Holiness display:none;">

* Christian and Missionary Alliance * Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) * Evangelical Covenant Church * Evangelical Free Church of America * Church of the Nazarene * The Salvation Army * Seventh-day Adventist Church * Wesleyan Church


* Evangelical Lutheran Church in America * Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod * North American Lutheran Church * Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod


* African Methodist Episcopal Church * African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church * Christian Methodist Episcopal Church * Free Methodist Church * United Methodist Church


* Assemblies of God * Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) * Church of God in Christ * Church of God of Prophecy * Church on the Rock International * Full Gospel Fellowship * International Church of the Foursquare Gospel * International Pentecostal Holiness Church * Pentecostal Church of God


* Pentecostal Assemblies of the World * United Pentecostal Church Intl.

Presbyterian display:none;">

* Christian Reformed Church in North America * Conservative Congregational Christian Conference * Cumberland Presbyterian Church * Evangelical Presbyterian Church * Korean Presbyterian Church in America * International Council of Community Churches * National Association of Congregational Christian Churches * Presbyterian Church (USA) * Presbyterian Church in America * Reformed Church in America * United Church of Christ


* Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) * Christian churches and churches of Christ * Churches of Christ * International Churches of Christ


* LDS Church * Community of Christ * Grace Gospel Fellowship * IFCA International * Jehovah\'s Witnesses * Messianic Jewish Alliance of America * Plymouth Brethren * Vineyard USA

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Many Baptist churches choose to affiliate with organizational groups that provide fellowship without control. The largest such group is the Southern Baptist Convention . There also are a substantial number of smaller cooperative groups . Finally, there are Independent Baptist churches that choose to remain autonomous and independent of any denomination, organization, or association. It has been suggested that a primary Baptist principle is that local Baptist Churches are independent and self-governing, and if so the term 'Baptist denomination' may be considered somewhat incongruous.

In 1925, Baptists worldwide formed the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). The BWA now counts 218 Baptist conventions and unions worldwide with over 41 million members. The BWA's goals include caring for the needy, leading in world evangelism and defending human rights and religious freedom. Though it played a role in the founding of the BWA, the Southern Baptist Convention severed its affiliation with BWA in 2004.


The First Baptist Church in America . Baptists constitute roughly one-third of U.S. Protestants .


See also: List of Christian denominations by number of members and List of Baptist denominations

Today, more than 100 million Christians identify themselves as Baptist or belong to Baptist-type churches. There are 36 million Baptists who belong to churches cooperating with the Baptist World Alliance . Many Baptist groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist Bible Fellowship do not cooperate with the Alliance.

Baptists are present in almost all continents in big denominations. The largest number by baptized memberships are in Nigeria (3.5 million) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (2 million) in Africa, India (2.5 million) and Myanmar (1 million) in Asia, United States (35 million) and Brazil (1.8 million) in the North and South America.

According to the Barna Group researchers, Baptists are the largest denominational grouping of born again Christians in the USA. A 2009 ABCNEWS/Beliefnet phone poll of 1,022 adults suggests that fifteen percent of Americans identify themselves as Baptists.

A large percentage of Baptists in North America are found in five bodies—the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC); National Baptist Convention (NBC); National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. ; (NBCA); American Baptist Churches USA (ABC); and Baptist Bible Fellowship International (BBFI).


Membership policies vary due to the autonomy of churches, but the traditional method by which an individual becomes a member of a church is through believer\'s baptism , which is a public profession of faith in Jesus, followed by water baptism.

Most baptists do not believe that baptism is a requirement for salvation, but rather a public expression of one's inner repentance and faith. Therefore, some churches will admit into membership persons who make a profession without believer's baptism.

In general, Baptist churches do not have a stated age restriction on membership, but believer's baptism requires that an individual be able to freely and earnestly profess their faith. (See Age of Accountability )


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Main article: Baptist beliefs







Persecution -------------------------


* Adventism * Anabaptism * Anglicanism * Baptist churches * Calvinism * Lutheranism * Methodism * Pentecostalism

MINOR BRANCHES -------------------------

Transdenominational movements:

* Evangelicalism * Charismatic movement * Neo-charismatic movement


* Nondenominational churches * House churches

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Baptists, like other Christians, are defined by doctrine—some of it common to all orthodox and evangelical groups and a portion of it distinctive to Baptists. Through the years, different Baptist groups have issued confessions of faith—without considering them to be _creeds_—to express their particular doctrinal distinctions in comparison to other Christians as well as in comparison to other Baptists. Most Baptists are evangelical in doctrine, but Baptist beliefs can vary due to the congregational governance system that gives autonomy to individual local Baptist churches. Historically, Baptists have played a key role in encouraging religious freedom and separation of church and state.

Shared doctrines would include beliefs about one God; the virgin birth; miracles; atonement for sins through the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus ; the Trinity ; the need for salvation (through belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God, his death and resurrection, and confession of Christ as Lord); grace; the Kingdom of God; last things (eschatology) ( Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth, the dead will be raised, and Christ will judge everyone in righteousness); and evangelism and missions. Some historically significant Baptist doctrinal documents include the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith , 1742 Philadelphia Baptist Confession, the 1833 New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith , the Southern Baptist Convention 's _ Baptist Faith and Message ,_ and written church covenants which some individual Baptist churches adopt as a statement of their faith and beliefs.

Most Baptists hold that no church or ecclesiastical organization has inherent authority over a Baptist church. Churches can properly relate to each other under this polity only through voluntary cooperation, never by any sort of coercion. Furthermore, this Baptist polity calls for freedom from governmental control.

Exceptions to this local form of local governance include a few churches that submit to the leadership of a body of elders , as well as the Episcopal Baptists that have an Episcopal system .

Baptists generally believe in the literal Second Coming of Christ. Beliefs among Baptists regarding the "end times " include amillennialism , dispensationalism , and historic premillennialism , with views such as postmillennialism and preterism receiving some support.

Some additional distinctive Baptist principles held by many Baptists: :2

* The supremacy of the canonical Scriptures as a norm of faith and practice. For something to become a matter of faith and practice, it is not sufficient for it to be merely _consistent with_ and not contrary to scriptural principles. It must be something _explicitly_ ordained through command or example in the Bible. For instance, this is why Baptists do not practice infant baptism—they say the Bible neither commands nor exemplifies infant baptism as a Christian practice. More than any other Baptist principle, this one when applied to infant baptism is said to separate Baptists from other evangelical Christians. * Baptists believe that faith is a matter between God and the individual (religious freedom ). To them it means the advocacy of absolute liberty of conscience. * Insistence on immersion as the only mode of baptism. Baptists do not believe that baptism is necessary for salvation. Therefore, for Baptists, baptism is an ordinance , not a sacrament, since, in their view, it imparts no saving grace.


Since there is no hierarchical authority and each Baptist church is autonomous, there is no official set of Baptist theological beliefs. These differences exist both among associations, and even among churches within the associations.

Some doctrinal issues on which there is widespread difference among Baptists are:

* Eschatology * Calvinism versus Arminianism * The doctrine of separation from "the world" and whether to associate with those who are "of the world" * Speaking-in-tongues and the operation of other charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit in the modern church * How the Bible should be interpreted (hermeneutics ) * The extent to which missionary boards should be used to support missionaries * The extent to which non-members may participate in the Lord\'s Supper services * Which translation of Scripture to use (see King-James-Only movement ) * Dispensationalism versus Covenant theology * The role of women in marriage . * The ordination of women as deacons or pastors. * Attitudes to, and involvement in the ecumenical movement . In Britain the majority of Baptist churches take a pragmatic and positive view, but some church groupings (not always bearing the name Baptist but Baptist in practice) take a strong negative line.


Baptists have faced many controversies in their 400-year history, controversies of the level of crises. Baptist historian Walter Shurden says the word "crisis" comes from the Greek word meaning "to decide." Shurden writes that contrary to the presumed negative view of crises, some controversies that reach a crisis level may actually be "positive and highly productive." He claims that even schism, though never ideal, has often produced positive results. In his opinion crises among Baptists each have become decision-moments that shaped their future. Some controversies that have shaped Baptists include the "missions crisis", the "slavery crisis", the "landmark crisis", and the "modernist crisis".


Early in the 19th century, the rise of the modern missions movement, and the backlash against it, led to widespread and bitter controversy among the American Baptists. During this era, the American Baptists were split between missionary and anti-missionary. A substantial secession of Baptists went into the movement led by Alexander Campbell , to return to a more fundamental church.


United States

Leading up to the American Civil War , Baptists became embroiled in the controversy over slavery in the United States . Whereas in the First Great Awakening , Methodist and Baptist preachers had opposed slavery and urged manumission, over the decades they made more of an accommodation with the institution. They worked with slaveholders in the South to urge a paternalistic institution. Both denominations made direct appeals to slaves and free blacks for conversion. The Baptists particularly allowed them active roles in congregations. By the mid-19th century, northern Baptists tended to oppose slavery. As tensions increased, in 1844 the Home Mission Society refused to appoint a slaveholder as a missionary who had been proposed by Georgia. It noted that missionaries could not take servants with them, and also that the board did not want to appear to condone slavery.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed by nine state conventions in 1845. They believed that the Bible sanctions slavery and that it was acceptable for Christians to own slaves. They believed slavery was a human institution which Baptist teaching could make less harsh. By this time many planters were part of Baptist congregations, and some of the denomination's prominent preachers, such as the Rev. Basil Manly, Sr. , president of the University of Alabama , were also planters who owned slaves.

As early as the late 18th century, black Baptists began to organize separate churches, associations and mission agencies, especially in the northern states. Blacks set up some independent Baptist congregations in the South before the American Civil War . White Baptist associations maintained some oversight of these and, after a slave rebellion, required a white man to be at church services.

In the postwar years, freedmen quickly left the white congregations and associations, setting up their own churches in order to be free of white supervision. In 1866 the Consolidated American Baptist Convention, formed from black Baptists of the South and West, helped southern associations set up black state conventions, which they did in Alabama , Arkansas , Virginia , North Carolina , and Kentucky . In 1880 black state conventions united in the national Foreign Mission Convention, to support black Baptist missionary work. Two other national black conventions were formed, and in 1895 they united as the National Baptist Convention . This organization later went through its own changes, spinning off other conventions. It is the largest black religious organization and the second-largest Baptist organization in the world. Baptists are numerically most dominant in the Southeast. In 2007, the Pew Research Center 's Religious Landscape Survey found that 45% of all African Americans identify with Baptist denominations, with the vast majority of those being within the historically black tradition.

Caribbean Islands

A healthy Church kills error, and tears evil in pieces! Not so very long ago our nation tolerated slavery in our colonies. Philanthropists endeavored to destroy slavery, but when was it utterly abolished? It was when Wilberforce roused the Church of God, and when the Church of God addressed herself to the conflict—then she tore the evil thing to pieces! -- C.H. Spurgeon an outspoken British Baptist opponent of slavery in 'The Best War Cry' (1883)

Elsewhere in the Americas, in the Caribbean in particular, Baptist missionaries and members took an active role in the anti-slavery movement. In Jamaica, for example, William Knibb , a prominent British Baptist missionary, worked toward the emancipation of slaves in the British West Indies (which took place in full in 1838). Knibb also supported the creation of " Free Villages " and sought funding from English Baptists to buy land for freedmen to cultivate; the Free Villages were envisioned as rural communities to be centred around a Baptist church where emancipated slaves could farm their own land. Thomas Burchell , missionary minister in Montego Bay , also was active in this movement, gaining funds from Baptists in England to buy land for what became known as Burchell Free Village.

Prior to emancipation, Baptist deacon Samuel Sharpe , who served with Burchell, organized a general strike of slaves seeking better conditions. It developed into a major rebellion of as many as 60,000 slaves, which became known as the Christmas Rebellion (when it took place) or the Baptist War . It was put down by government troops within two weeks. During and after the rebellion, an estimated 200 slaves were killed outright, with more than 300 judicially executed later by prosecution in the courts, sometimes for minor offenses.

Baptists were active after emancipation in promoting the education of former slaves; for example, Jamaica's Calabar High School , named after the port of Calabar in Nigeria, was founded by Baptist missionaries. At the same time, during and after slavery, slaves and free blacks formed their own Spiritual Baptist movements - breakaway spiritual movements which theology often expressed resistance to oppression.


In the American South the interpretation of the American Civil War, abolition of slavery and postwar period has differed sharply by race since those years. Like other peoples, Americans have often interpreted great events in religious terms. Historian Wilson Fallin contrasts the interpretation of Civil War and Reconstruction in white versus black memory by analyzing Baptist sermons documented in Alabama. It should be noted that, soon after the Civil War, most black Baptists in the South left the southern Baptist Convention, reducing its numbers by hundreds of thousands or more. They quickly organized their own congregations and developed their own regional and state associations and, by the end of the 19th century, a national convention.

White preachers in Alabama after Reconstruction expressed the view that:

God had chastised them and given them a special mission – to maintain orthodoxy, strict biblicism, personal piety, and "traditional" race relations. Slavery, they insisted, had not been sinful. Rather, emancipation was a historical tragedy and the end of Reconstruction was a clear sign of God's favor.

Black preachers interpreted the Civil War, Emancipation and Reconstruction as: "God's gift of freedom." They had a gospel of liberation, having long identified with the Book of Exodus from slavery in the Old Testament. They took opportunities to exercise their independence, to worship in their own way, to affirm their worth and dignity, and to proclaim the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Most of all, they quickly formed their own churches, associations, and conventions to operate freely without white supervision. These institutions offered self-help and racial uplift, a place to develop and use leadership, and places for proclamation of the gospel of liberation. As a result, black preachers said that God would protect and help him and God's people; God would be their rock in a stormy land.

The Southern Baptist Convention supported white supremacy and its results: disenfranchising most blacks and many poor whites at the turn of the 20th century by raising barriers to voter registration, and passage of racial segregation laws that enforced the system of Jim Crow . Its members largely resisted the Civil Rights Movement in the South, which sought to enforce their constitutional rights for public access and voting; and enforcement of midcentury federal civil rights laws.

On 20 June 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to adopt a resolution renouncing its racist roots and apologizing for its past defense of slavery. More than 20,000 Southern Baptists registered for the meeting in Atlanta. The resolution declared that messengers, as SBC delegates are called, "unwaveringly denounce racism, in all its forms, as deplorable sin" and "lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest." It offered an apology to all African Americans for "condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime" and repentance for "racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously." Although Southern Baptists have condemned racism in the past, this was the first time the convention, predominantly white since the Reconstruction era, had specifically addressed the issue of slavery.

The statement sought forgiveness "from our African-American brothers and sisters" and pledged to "eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry." In 1995 about 500,000 members of the 15.6-million-member denomination were African Americans and another 300,000 were ethnic minorities. The resolution marked the denomination's first formal acknowledgment that racism played a role in its founding.


Southern Baptist Landmarkism sought to reset the ecclesiastical separation which had characterized the old Baptist churches, in an era when inter-denominational union meetings were the order of the day. James Robinson Graves was an influential Baptist of the 19th century and the primary leader of this movement. While some Landmarkers eventually separated from the Southern Baptist Convention, the movement continued to influence the Convention into the 20th and 21st centuries. For instance, in 2005, the Southern Baptist International Mission Board forbade its missionaries to receive alien immersions for baptism.


The rise of theological modernism in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries also greatly affected Baptists. The Landmark movement, already mentioned, has been described as a reaction among Southern Baptists in the United States against incipient modernism . In England, Charles Haddon Spurgeon fought against modernistic views of the Scripture in the Downgrade Controversy and severed his church from the Baptist Union as a result.

The Northern Baptist Convention in the United States had internal conflict over modernism in the early 20th century, ultimately embracing it. Two new conservative associations of congregations that separated from the Convention were founded as a result: the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches in 1933 and the Conservative Baptist Association of America in 1947.

Following similar conflicts over modernism, the Southern Baptist Convention adhered to conservative theology as its official position. In the late 20th century, moderate Southern Baptists who disagreed with this direction founded two new groups: the Alliance of Baptists in 1987 and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in 1991. Members of both groups originally continued to identify as Southern Baptist, but over time the groups "became permanent new families of Baptists."


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* Bumstead, JM (1984), _Henry Alline, 1748–1784_, Hantsport, NS: Lancelot Press . * Christian, John T (1926), _History of the Baptists_, 2, Nashville: Broadman Press . * Kidd, Thomas S. and Barry Hankins, _ Baptists in America: A History_ (2015) * Leonard, Bill J (2003), _ Baptist Ways: A History_, Judson Press, ISBN 978-0-8170-1231-1 , comprehensive international History. * Torbet, Robert G (1975) , _A History of the Baptists_, Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, ISBN 978-0-8170-0074-5 . * Wright, Stephen (2004), _Early English Baptists 1603–49_ .


* Bebbington, David. _ Baptists through the Centuries: A History of a Global People_ (Baylor University Press, 2010) emphasis on the United States and Europe; the last two chapters are on the global context. * Brackney, William H. _A Genetic History of Baptist Thought: With Special Reference to Baptists in Britain and North America_ (Mercer University Press, 2004), focus on confessions of faith, hymns, theologians, and academics. * Brackney, William H. ed., _Historical Dictionary of the Baptists_ (2nd ed. Scarecrow, 2009). * Cathcart, William, ed. _The Baptist Encyclopedia_ (2 vols. 1883). online * Gavins, Raymond. _The Perils and Prospects of Southern Black Leadership: Gordon Blaine Hancock, 1884–1970._ Duke University Press, 1977. * Harrison, Paul M. _Authority and Power in the Free Church Tradition: A Social Case Study of the American Baptist Convention_ Princeton University Press, 1959. * Harvey, Paul. _Redeeming the South: Religious Cultures and Racial Identities among Southern Baptists, 1865–1925_ University of North Carolina Press, 1997. * Heyrman, Christine Leigh. _Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt_ (1997). * Isaac, Rhy. " Evangelical Revolt: The Nature of the Baptists' Challenge to the Traditional Order in Virginia, 1765 to 1775," _William and Mary Quarterly,_ 3d ser., XXXI (July 1974), 345–68. * _Life & Practice in the Early Church: A Documentary Reader_, New York University press, 2001, pp. 5–7, ISBN 978-0-8147-5648-5 . * Kidd, Thomas S., Barry Hankins, Oxford University Press, 2015 * Leonard, Bill J. _ Baptists in America_ (Columbia University Press, 2005). * Menikoff, Aaron (2014). _Politics and Piety: Baptist Social Reform in America, 1770-1860_. Wipf and Stock Publishers. * Pitts, Walter F. _Old Ship of Zion: The Afro- Baptist Ritual in the African Diaspora_ Oxford University Press, 1996. * Rawlyk, George. _Champions of the Truth: Fundamentalism, Modernism, and the Maritime Baptists_ (1990), Canada. * Spangler, Jewel L. "Becoming Baptists: Conversion in Colonial and Early National Virginia" _Journal of Southern History._ Volume: 67. Issue: 2. 2001. pp. 243+ * Stringer, Phil. _The Faithful Baptist Witness,_ Landmark Baptist Press, 1998. * Underwood, A. C. _A History of the English Baptists._ London: Kingsgate Press, 1947. * Whitley, William Thomas _A Baptist Bibliography: being a register of the chief materials for Baptist history, whether in manuscript or in print, preserved in Great Britain, Ireland, and the Colonies_. 2 vols. London: Kingsgate Press, 1916-22 * --do.-- --do.--(reissued) Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1984 ISBN 3487074567 * Wills, Gregory A. _Democratic Religion: Freedom, Authority, and Church Discipline in the Baptist South, 1785–1900,_ Oxford.


* McBeth, H. Leon, ed. _A Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage_ (1990), primary sources for Baptist history. * McKinion, Steven A., ed. _Life and Practice in the Early Church: A Documentary Reader_ (2001) * McGlothlin, W. J., ed. _ Baptist Confessions of Faith._ Philadelphia: The American Baptist Publication Society, 1911.


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