The Origin Of The English Baptists

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by Mark Osgatharp, Sep 4, 2003.

  1. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    Here is a quote from John T. Christian's "History of the Baptists" volume 1 page 267 which gives a first hand account of the origin of the English Particular Baptists. If this passage is cited in any work other than Christian's, I have failed to notice it. It is totally at odds with the theory that the Particular Baptists originated with the English Separatists.

    Christian prefaces the quote with the following remarks:

    "Fortunately it is not necessary to turn to a confused and misleading manuscript for an account of the organization of the Particular Baptist Churches. Hanserd Knollys was one of the principal actors of those times, and he gives an account of their organization. He rejected infant baptism in 1631 (John Lewis, Appendix to the History of the Anabaptists. Rawlinson MSS. CCCCIX, 62), and probably became a Baptist in the same year (Kiffin, Life and Death of Hanserd Knollys, p. 47. London, 1812). He tells in simple language (A Moderate Answer unto Dr. Baswick’s Book. London, 1645), the story of the planting of these churches in the days of persecution before 1641."

    Here is the quote itself:

    "I shall now take the liberty to declare, what I know by mine own experience to be the practice of some Churches of God in this City. That so far both the Dr. and the Reader may judge how near the saints who walk in the fellowship of the Gospell, do come to their practice, to those Apostolicall rules and practice propounded by the Dr. as God’s method in gathering churches, and admitting Members. I say that I know by mine own experience (having walked with them), that they were thus gathered; viz. Some godly and learned men of approved gifts and abilities for the Ministry, being driven out of the Countries where they lived by the persecution of the Prelates, came to sojourn in this great City, and preached the word of God both publicly and from house to house, and daily in the Temple, and in every house they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ; and some of them having dwelt in their own hired houses, and received all that came unto them, preached the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ. And when many sinners were converted by the preaching of the Gospel, some of them believers consorted with them, and of professors a great many, and of the chief women not a few. And the condition which those Preachers, both publicly and privately propounded to the people, unto whom they preached, upon which they were to be admitted into the Church was by Faith, Repentance, and Baptism, and none other. And whosoever (poor as well as rich, bond as well as free, servants as well as Masters), did make a profession of their Faith in Jesus Christ, and would be baptized with water, in the Name of the Father, Sonne, and Holy Spirit, were admitted Members of the Church: but such as did not believe, and would not be baptized, they would not admit into Church communion. This hath been the practice of some Churches of God in this City, without urging or making any particular covenant with Members upon admittance, which I desire may be examined by the Scripture cited in the Margent, and when compared with the Doctor’s three conclusions from the same Scriptures, whereby it may appear to the judicious Reader, how near the Churches some of them come to the practice of the Apostles rules, and practice of the primitive churches, both in gathering and admitting members."

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  2. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    Hi Mark

    My understanding is that the Particulars emerged over the course of the 1630s from the JLJ congregation.

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  3. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    Matt, that was the common teaching in Baptist Schools when I was in college in London as well..I think it was '36..and they were mostly in London itself..7 congregations.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  4. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    Matt,

    The quote I gave was written by a man who became a Particular Baptist in the 1630s. He said the churches with which he was affiliated were gathered by preachers who came to "this great city" - which I understand to be London - from other Countries from which they were driven by persecution. He also says they were founded on the basis of believers baptism as the condition of communion.

    This does not fit with the theory that the Particular Baptists originated with the "JLJ" church. Incidentally, if every thing that was ever claimed about the origin and development of the "JLJ" church is true, it only proves what happened in that one church which was not the mother of all Baptist churches.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  5. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    This statement by Knollys is an important one, being made by a highly respected Baptist living at the very time in which the "English Separatist" theory says that Baptists originated. This needs to be dealt with fairly and squarely by McBeth and other leading present day propopents of the English Separatist origins idea. Unless the Knollys statement is spurious or one thinks he is lying, it seems there is more to the origins of English Baptists that fits the current prominent theory.
     
  6. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    You musn't forget the influence of the Welsh Baptist Church, which was around long before the English Baptists. It is even suggested that the Welsh Baptists did missionary service in parts of England, in particular the midlands, and some Baptist Churches were formed at that time.

    I think there is a lot of confusion about the English Baptists because of its very nature and beginnings, the mixture of doctrinal practice and disciplines. There is also the governmental influence on the Church of England and its overflow to other "separatist" churches; the influence of Methodism and the Congregationalist movement. Many Baptists came out of the Congregational movement.

    The writer was prolly telling the truth for his locality. In England, even in modern times scarcely knew wot was going on in surrounding localities, let alone all of London itself.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  7. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    This statement by Knollys is an important one, being made by a highly respected Baptist living at the very time in which the "English Separatist" theory says that Baptists originated. This needs to be dealt with fairly and squarely by McBeth and other leading present day propopents of the English Separatist origins idea. Unless the Knollys statement is spurious or one thinks he is lying, it seems there is more to the origins of English Baptists that fits the current prominent theory. </font>[/QUOTE]Brother Vaughn,

    I've read a lot of Baptist history and I've never found a statement which more directly deals with the origin of the Baptists of the early 17th century. And yet I don't recall having seen this quote even mentioned by any author other than Christian, much less harmonized with the theories of Whitsitt.

    As far as I can see, there can only be one of two explanations for this:

    1. The popular modern Baptist historians don't know about this quote and if they don't it's because they have totally ignored Christian's writings. It cannot be that they are unaware that Christian's research exists, because they all mention him.

    2. The popular modern Baptist historians do know about this quote and summarily ignore it.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  8. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    Jim,

    Good point, which accentuates the fact that even if all that is argued in favor of a seventeenth century origin for some Baptist churches is true, it proves nothing about the origin of them all.

    I lived in Pennsylvania for 10 years and while there I found that there is a whole group of "Bible churches" in the Mid-Atlantic region who were a schism, under the influence of some Baptist preachers, out of the Winebrenner "church of God."

    Though the "church of God" movement, started by John Winebrenner, is "baptistic" in that they reject infant baptism and practice immersion and "Arminian" in theolgoy, it started among the Dutch Reformed who are infant baptizers and Calvinists. Winebrenner himself received his "believers immersion" from one of the Pennsylvania Dutch groups - the "United Brethren" I think but am not sure.

    Both the "church of God" and the "Bible churches" would, had they existed in 17th century England, have been numbered among the "Anabaptists." And yet, though....

    a. They exist side by side with other Baptist churches and...

    b. Were/are influenced by preachers from the Baptists and....

    c. At least the Bible churches are recognized by some Baptist churches as sister "baptist" churches and....

    d. Some of them have even started calling themselves by the Baptist name....

    .....had a wholly different origin from the Baptists.

    I know that was a mouthful but it speaks volumes to fallacy of attributing what may have happened among a small portion of 17th century Anabaptists to the whole Anabaptist tradition.

    Mark Osgatharp
     

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