Did Baptists originate from the Anabaptists?

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by BigBossman, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. BigBossman

    BigBossman
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    I don't know too much about it, but I remember when I was in 10th grade, in my world history class they were talking about the anabaptists. They were labeled as extremists. What I am curious to know is does anyone know if the Baptists originated from the Anabaptists?
     
  2. ray Marshall

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    I have read through biblical history that it is true.
     
  3. Tom Butler

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    You'll get opinions on either side of the question.

    I googled and found several lists of Anabaptist beliefs.

    1. Infant baptism is false
    2. Baptismal regeneration is false.
    3. Salvation by grace through faith.
    4. Separation of church and state.
    5. The Bible is a closed canon.
    7. The charismatic gifts have ceased.
    8. The Bible is the supreme authority for our lives.

    Sounds like some Baptists I know.

    Some writers consider the Anabaptists of the 16th century as part of the Protestant Reformation. Yet they were also persecuted by some of the Protestant churches, nearly all of whom retained infant baptism.

    Others say that the Anabaptists and similar groups (Mennonites, for example) were not Reformers, but restorers, seeking to reflect Christianity which had existed for centuries, but at odds with the established RC church, and in many cases underground.

    Either way, their enemies considered them extreme and weird. they were condemned as heretics by both Catholics and Protestants. So were later Baptists, even in this country.
     
  4. persona non grata

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    Baptists DID NOT originate from Anabaptists.

    The first group that became "Baptist" was a Separatist group that left the Church of England. These English Separatists, under the leadership of former Anglican priest John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, fled England due to persecution and wound up in the Netherlands in 1609.

    It was during that time that these English Separatists, plunged into the Protestant milieu that was the Netherlands, were exposed to two different movements. THe first was the "Waterlander Anabaptists." It is thought that their interaction lead these English Separatists to adopt Believers Baptism (though immersion may have been an innovation that did not come for another couple of decades), to take the view that these were ordinances, not sacraments, and to affirm the idea that the local body was "the Church," rather than an institution or heirarchy (aka Catholicism or ANglicanism).

    On the other hand, the English as a whole rejected some of the main tenants of Anabaptists, such as pacifism/non-resistance, withdrawal from any and all civil/governmental involement, and the Semi-Pelagian belief that no human was "born in sin" or was condemned by "original sin." THis brought an eventual split between John Smyth -- who adopted the Anabaptist beliefs -- while THomas Helwys and most of the other English believers rejected those beliefs specified above. The John Smyth Declaration of Faith (circa 1610-1611), as compared to the Helwys "A Declaration of faith of the English SPeaking Peoples remaining..." (circa 1611-1612) makes clear the lines of division between Smyth's ANabaptist convictions and Helwys' unique new "Baptist" distinctives.

    The second group the Separatists ran across in the Netherlands were the "Remontrants." These were the theological followers of Jacobus Arminius, the "father" of Arminianism. THe English Separatists were steeped in the Calvinistic concepts of the Puritans in England, and in previous decades had espoused generally Calvinist views. But as they interacted with the followers or Arminus, very popular in Holland at the time, it appears they moved away from Calvinist extremes. While they held to Total Depravity, they also adopted a general atonement, the idea of resistiblity of grace and "free will," and also the possibility of apostasy -- or that a true believer could forfeit faith and be finally lost. Read Helwys' Declaration -- it's there in black & white.

    THe Helwys group returned to England in 1612, and planted the first church known as a "Baptist" church, in the small town of Spitalfield, outside London. Helwys appealed to King James I (Yes, the King who "authorized" the KJV -- such a NICE Christian man) shortly after that for religious freedom and toleration. He was arrested and imprisoned by King James in late 1612, and remained a prisoner (I think in the Tower of London) until his death, 4 years later in 1616.

    No, the Baptists are NOT descendents of the Anabaptists. They did "rub shoulders," and the Anabaptists were an early influence, but those that became the "original" Baptists came from the Separatist movement of the Church of England.

    Okay -- dissertation over. :)
     
  5. Jim1999

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    The first baptist church was established in England \Gloucestershire) by the Welsh Baptist Churches, which were around long before Smyth, who never was a baptist. He poured water over his own head in Holland and called it baptism His followers did likewise. It wasn't until they got back to England the practiced immersion.

    No one said the anabaptists (and there were many versions of anabaptists, not just the group you mentioned, were baptists per se, but the practiced certain baptistic principles. Such groups can be traced all the way back to NT times.

    Even the Church of England immersed before Smyth!

    Cheers,

    Jim

    By the way, last I knew, Spitalfield is in Scotland
     
    #5 Jim1999, Jan 27, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2009
  6. Magnetic Poles

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    Yes, this is what I have read also. Which, in a way, makes Baptists the ecclesiastical siblings of Methodists, Wesleyans, Congregationalists, Puritans, and Nazarenes.
     
  7. Marcia

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    Thanks for clearing that up. I always wondered how baptists could come from Anabaptists since the Mennonites and I believe the Amish come from Anabaptists. They are pacifists and tend to be separatists, as well as somewhat communal. I never thought the Baptists had much in common with them.
     
  8. Thermodynamics

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    For a moment there I was afraid it had been moved!
     
  9. Jim1999

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    Those of us who are Landmarkists do not claim that there were baptist churches per se all down through history, but organizations that embraced similar doctrines and in particular baptism by immersion of believers only and local church autonomy.

    It is hard to trace history exactly in the first 4 centuries because its records were dominated by the Church of Rome.

    The Baptist Churches however, did not originate with Smyth. They were in Wales long before they were in England. Welsh Baptist Churches even sent missionaries to Ireland and Scotland early on.

    The early baptists in England were also split on theology and eventually divided. Some didn't even remain baptists. They theologically Reformed Baptists did remain and are still in existence to-day, true the doctrines of Calvinism.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  10. Squire Robertsson

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    I look at the relationship between Anglo-American Baptists and our Continental brethren as cross pollinating. No, one group is not descended from the other. Both developed concurrently in their respective locations. Yes, there was a large influx of Separatists into the movement. One large enough to flood out any obvious signs of the original groupings. However, to flatly state that "Baptists" did not exist in England before the Separatist group took up the philosophy title is to try and prove a negative. By the very nature of "Baptist" polity, "Baptists" can and do exist without much visible evidence.
     
  11. JDale

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    Baptists didn't begin with Smyth, but with Thomas Helwys. I agree that Smyth never was a "Baptist," and I'm not sure anyone can say. But Helwys and his movement most certainly were. The General Baptist Churches have histoircally linked themselves with the Helwys movement -- and there is no lack of evidentury documentation.

    As to Baptist churches in Wales predating Helwys (1612) -- I have no objection to that possibility. I've just never seen any documentary (or other) evidence. Maybe I've missed it -- have you listed sources that provide evidence of Welsh Baptists before?
     
  12. JDale

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    I agree...
     
  13. JDale

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    I realize this is what Landmarkists believe -- there's just scant (or no) reliable evidence that can establish it historically.

    Again, Smyth was NOT the actual founder of Baptists in England, but Helwys. And there IS plenty of evidence for that origin of Baptists.
     
  14. JDale

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    I think you confuse our arguments -- You argue from silence ("by the very nature of "Baptist" polity, "Baptists" can and do exist without much visible evidence.") To the contrary, I've never heard of a real Baptist that ANYONE could silence.

    My argument is from established historical fact -- from clear documented links. I do not argue that other Baptists could NOT have existed prior to the Helwys movement, either in Wales or England. THe case often made to "prove" earlier Baptists existed because some local bodies "practiced some Baptist principles" is weak, indeed. Sure, some did -- even some of the Roman and Anglican churches practiced "some Baptist principles."

    Historically, the strongest case for origins of Baptists was the Helwys movement as begun in England in 1612.
     
  15. Jim1999

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    Shucks, you even had the first church formed at a marketplace in East London! Granted the largest and most famous marketplace. By the way, East London, not far from Spitalfields Market Place, was where I was born and grew up, Plaistow. Your founder's church was near Nottingham up north.

    It is ok. I have a Lutheran's church history text who makes the same error.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  16. Pastor David

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    There appears to have been at least two distinct threads of Baptists. One thread appears to have developed independent of and seperate from the Roman Catholic Church. There are many sects, or groups (i.e. the Waldensians, etc.) of believers who tried to live peaceful Christian lives outside the scope of the RCC - they were primarily "baptistic" in their doctrine and practice.

    And then there was a distinct thread of Baptist who came out of the Protestant Reformation - commonly known as "Reformed Baptist". These are confessional baptists and often identify closely with other denominations who grew out of the PR as well.

    Blessings,
    Pastor David
     
    #16 Pastor David, Jan 29, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2009
  17. Jim1999

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    There are some that expect to find First Avenue Baptist Church in history before the Reformation of the Catholic Church. All we say, as Landmarkists, is that some Baptist distinctives existed in independent bodies all through history apart from the Catholic Church.

    This is not a soul-saving doctrine, so we need not get our knickers in a knot over it. It does, however, make sense, that one man didn't suddenly see the light after the Reformation, when all the other reformers maintained Catholic doctrines, modified, in their church establishments, including sprinkling of a baby.

    Cheers, and welcome to the Board, Pastor David, bless and enjoy,

    Jim
     
  18. Palatka51

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    Both you and Jim1999 are spot on. And thanks Jim, you have finally posted something for me to cheer about.:thumbsup: :godisgood:
     
  19. Jerome

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    The term "Reformed Baptist" is a neologism.
     
  20. Jim1999

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    "reformed" is an old, old French word, anglicized for our benefit and ME. Is that old enough? The baptist part is relatively new,,,,from anabaptists...or re-baptizers..heretics!

    Cheers,

    Jim
     

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