Views of Baptist Origins

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by rlvaughn, Jan 8, 2002.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    The quote below is from The Baptist Observer website. The site has several historical links. I am posting the quote because it gives a breakdown of what might be called the four major views of Baptist origins. Though I don't agree with a number of the author's conclusions (and jabs), I thought it might be of value since we have debated the historical origins of Baptists often on this History forum. <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Views of Baptist Origins

    1. Outgrowth of English Separatism -- In this view, the Baptist faith originated from within the Separatist movement, a movement which arose in Europe with the goal of breaking away from the Church of England (which previously had broken away from the Catholic Church, yet retained many of the trappings; those within the Church of England who wished to remain a part of the Church and yet purify it became known as "Puritans;" they were, in a sense, cousins to Separatists). The influence of Anabaptists upon early Baptists is considered minimal, according to this viewpoint. The earliest Baptist church is traced back to 1609 in Amsterdam, with John Smyth as pastor. The group's embracing of "believer's baptism" became the defining moment which led to the establishment of this first Baptist church. Shortly thereafter, Smyth left the group, and Thomas Helwys took over the leadership, leading the church back to England in 1611. This view of Baptist origins has the most historical support and is the most widely accepted view of Baptist origins. Representative writers include William H. Whitsitt, Robert G. Torbet, Winthrop S. Hudson, William G. McLoughlin and Robert A. Baker.

    2. Influence of Anabaptists -- This view holds that although Baptists originated from English Separatism, their emergence owes much to the earlier Anabaptists. According to this view, some early Baptist were influenced by some Anabaptists. The Dutch Mennonites (Anabaptists), for example, shared some similarities with General Baptists (believer's baptism, religious liberty, separation of church and state, and Arminian views of salvation, predestination and original sin). However, other than this, there were significant differences between Anabaptists and Baptists (Anabaptists tended towards extreme pacifism, communal sharing of earthly goods, and an unorthodox optimistic view of human nature). Therefore, few Baptists hold to this theory of Baptist origins. Representative writers include A.C. Underwood and William R. Estep.

    3. Continuation of Biblical Teachings -- Some Baptists "seek to go back beyond the Anabaptist movement to trace the continuity of Baptist forms of faith through the centuries" (Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, page 56). While advocates of this view do not claim a succession of organized Baptist churches (see below), they believe that Baptist faith and practice have existed since the time of Christ. This view has a goodly number of advocates, including a number of early Baptist historians, many of whom were concerned with presenting the validity of their faith (denomination) over and above that of other denominations. Some representative writers include Thomas Crosby (one of the earliest Baptist historians, he wrote in the early 1700s), A.H. Newman and David Benedict.

    4. Succession of Baptist Churches -- This viewpoint goes beyond mere "continuation of biblical teachings" and and declares that Baptist churches actually existed in an unbroken chain since the time of Christ and John the Baptist. Commonly referred to as "Landmarkism" or the "Trail of Blood" theory (J.M.Carroll wrote a book of supposed Baptist history by this name), this view declares that those churches which stood outside the influence of the Roman Catholic Church at various times in church history were, in actuality although not in name, Baptist churches. That which made them Baptists was their refusal to accept infant baptism, or, said another way, their refusal to accept the legitimacy of the Roman Catholic Church as a Christian entity. However, many of the historical churches which Landmarkists label as Baptist churches were actually heretical in regards to doctrine. Nonetheless, the "Landmarkist" view, which has little actual historical support, remains popular among certain Baptists. The reason for its moderate popularity (and, indeed, strong popularity among some rural Baptists in the southern and western United States) stems (to some degree) from a long-standing dislike (if not hate) of Catholics by many Baptists, sentiments which are yet strong among many rural Baptists. Representative writers of this viewpoint include J.M Carroll, G.H. Orchard and J.M. Cramp. It should also be noted that, interestingly enough, most of the Baptist history material thus far posted on the Internet is Landmarkist in nature, indicating that, truth aside, Landmarkists are a very vocal lot.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    OBSERVATIONS
    1. There is probably room for a view in between views 3 & 4 for those who hold church perpetuity, but not a chain link succession.
    2. I don't want to be overly simplistic, but notice the author implies view 1 is correct because it is widely accepted, view 2 is probably not correct because few hold it, view 3 is probably wrong because it was used to try to establish the validity of the Baptist faith, and view 4 is definitely unworthy of consideration because it is the view of bigoted rural Baptists (they probably even hate Catholics). :eek:
    3. H. Leon McBeth may be the present modern representative of the first school of thought. Thomas Armitage would have been a good name to include as representative of the third viewpoint. J. M. Cramp definitely should not be included as believing a chain link succession. His viewpoint was closer to view three. Perhaps the best Landmark representative was not included - John T. Christian.
     
  2. mark

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    I wonder if these beliefs are somewhat regional... I have been involved in Southern Baptist, General Conference Baptist, GARBC and IFBaptists in the midwest and all have held at least to #2, and even leaned to a stronger link to the Anabaptists and early groups.
     
  3. rlvaughn

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    mark, I think that at least among missionary Baptists this may be somewhat regional. Baptists of the south have generally held to a more landmark tradition than Baptists in the north. Of course, one must realize that some Baptists in the north have strong ties to the southern tradition. I think southern Illinois would be a good example. W. P. Throgmorton, a landmarker, was very influential there. Also the southern churches on the east coast (GA, SC, NC, & VA) seem to be influenced less by landmarkism than the deep south and southwest (esp. MS, TN, AR, OK, TX, & LA). But probably among the Primitive Baptists, for example, one would not see as much regional difference in their opinions of the origin of Baptists.
     
  4. Daveth

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    Hi, good discussion, I believe in the continuity of Baptist or (born-again) forms of faith through the centuries and that true heart felt faith has existed since the time of Christ. So a view between views 3 & 4 can be true. But it’s hard to prove substantiality and actuality. There is an old rule for deciding which explanation is the most plausible. It is most often called "Ocean’s Razor", and it basically says that the simplest is the best. So there is no room for bigoted or hateful views in any born-again faith successions. Peace, Bro. David


    [​IMG]
     
  5. J.R. Graves

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    I would also note that the Succession view is somewhat regional. While there are churches all over America that hold this view it is strongest in certain areas. Besides the Mississippi River valley, I would also mention the northwest (Washington, Oregan, etc.) The reason Southern Illinois is so landmark is its connection to western KY. Many pastors from Kentucky go to Illinois to pastor.

    I also disagree with this summery of the four positions. The writer is confused about 3 and 4 and leaves out 3.5. There is a 3 which is a successionism of Baptist principles, but neither Crosby nor Bendict held it. I would place Armitage, Vedder, and Newman under this catagory. Then there should be a 3.5 called "A continuation of Baptist churches" with Christian, Crosby, Cramp, Ray, and others here. Then 4 should be a chain-length succession of Baptist churches with modern Baptists like John Gilpin and Milber Cockrell holding this view.
     
  6. Michael Wrenn

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    So, does a view exist which could be described as a "Baptist apostolic succession?
     
  7. DocCas

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    As John was the last of the Apostles, it seems obvious there can be no Apostolic succession if there are not longer Apostles.
     
  8. rlvaughn

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    Michael, so far as I know, no Baptists have ever advocated apostolic succession. The only successionist theory with which I am familiar among Baptist is church succession.
     
  9. Pluvivs

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    Good evening,

    My pastor is beginning a Sunday School/Sunday Evening "maxi-series" on Baptist doctrines. I have had one serious discussion before with him on the "ekklesia," and have not been pleased with his reasoning [not to say I don't agree with the views]. Therefore, I have searched a bit on this website for items in regards to the Universal Church/Independant Body debate, and have sadly found nothing as yet. I pray that if you know of some string in particular, you could direct me to such.

    In regards to the issue at hand, my above-mentioned questions appear [at first glance] to directly relate to the question of perpetuity, or the continuous existance, of the Baptist church to which I belong. That is to say in plain English, holding a Universal viewpoint eases my questions concerning the highly-questioned viewpoint number 4 at the top of this yarn, whereas holding a IFBC [is not this an ice cream shop down the street?] viewpoint means that one must fully show that there is an undying, unending line of pure, unadulterated churchs throughout history. Correct?

    My questions are thusly:
    1. What are the defining points of a church that truly identify it as legit? I note this in regards to the mentioning of churches of spurious and dubious doctrine.
    2. Can these be trace back reasonably well? Can they be followed forward from 1st and 2nd Century Christians as far as preserved, written history contains?
    3. Is the "Trail of Blood" worthy of reading? I've seen some serious questioning concerning this piece of literature, and I sincerely fear to pick up a man-written document that could poison my doctrine.

    That is all for now. I pray the collective reasonings of all on the internet will seem vacuous and empty next to the responses I will see in reply.

    Salve,
    Pluvivs
     
  10. Pluvivs

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    Sorry, but question 2 should read: "2. Can these be traced back..."

    Pluvivs
     
  11. rlvaughn

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>...concerning the highly-questioned viewpoint number 4...means that one must fully show that there is an undying, unending line of pure, unadulterated churches throughout history. Correct?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>No, I think very few would hold that as necessary or correct. Church perpetuity is based on the promises of Christ to perpetuate His church. Whether or not it is historically demonstrable does not disprove it. <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>1. What are the defining points of a church that truly identify it as legit? I note this in regards to the mentioning of churches of spurious and dubious doctrine.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>MY opinion (I blame this on no one else) - Such a body would have a orthodox view of God as sovereign and creator, see the sacrifice of Jesus as efficacious and atoning (including rejecting works for salvation), hold to the sufficiency of Scripture as our rule of faith and practice, understand the church as a gathered body of baptized believers, and hold the ordinances to be without any saving power. <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>2. Can these be traced back reasonably well? Can they be followed forward from 1st and 2nd Century Christians as far as preserved, written history contains?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>The faith can be found in different periods of history, but a historically demonstrable chain (with no links missing) from the 1st century till today is just not possible with the available facts. I am making no claim that it does not exist, just that the records are not available to prove or disprove it. <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> 3. Is the "Trail of Blood" worthy of reading? I've seen some serious questioning concerning this piece of literature, and I sincerely fear to pick up a man-written document that could poison my doctrine<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I would recommend that you read The Trail of Blood, if for no other reason than because it is referred to frequently by those who object to successionist views. It is an abbreviated version of historical facts and leaves a lot to be desired. Nevertheless it will give you an overview of the successionist idea, and it won't take long to read. For a more scholarly work from a Landmark viewpoint, read John T. Christian's A History of the Baptists.

    There are numerous historical works online:
    Baptist History by J. M. Cramp
    A Short History of the Baptists by H. C. Vedder
    A History of the English Baptists by Joseph Ivimey
    A Primer on Baptist History: The True Baptist Trail by Chris Traffensted
    A Critique of the English Separatist Descent Theory by Philip Bryan
    A Welsh Succession of Primitive Baptist Faith and Practice by Michael Ivey

    Also a few excerpts from William R. Estep's The Anabaptist Story - Estep takes the Anabaptist Kinship position (view 2)

    Most of these links favor views 3 & 4, except the Primer by Traffensted. Vedder holds that Baptists originated in 1600 England, but that Baptist principles have a history from the 1st century. Ivey gives a Primitive Baptist viewpoint. Bryan critiques the idea that Baptists first originated from English Separatists. Another book that should be considered in studies of Baptist History is The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness by H. Leon McBeth. It is a thorough presentation of the English Separatist Descent theory. It is readily available if you have the over $30 to put into buying it. Just type in title and author on a YahooSearch and you'll find it.

    [ January 21, 2002: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  12. Michael Wrenn

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    WEll, folks, I'm about to make a very surprising statement--surprising because it surprises me. You see, up until vey recently i would have said that my views were a combination of viewpoints 1 and 2, above; I totaly discounted the perpetuity theory. But as a result of further study, my views now are compatible with the idea of perpetuity and even successionism,and they might even go further than that! Now, I'm still no Landmarker; my moderately conservative, non-Calvinist position would not let me be that, but my views have definitely undergone a drastic change.

    So, Thomas Cassidy, what does that make me--an "infidel" Landmarker? ;)
     
  13. rlvaughn

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    &lt;rl steps in, fields question for Thomas&gt; ;)
    Actually, Michael, though Landmarkism and successionism are tied together in the minds of most people, you can be one and not the other. If memory serves, R. B. C. Howell, archenemy of Landmarker J. R. Graves, was a successionist. Secondly, the oldest and largest body of Landmark Baptists, the American Baptist Association, might actually be described as "anti-Calvinism". They are "two-pointers" at best (Graves was a "four-pointer"), and "drove" out most of the Calvinists they had about 25 or 30 years ago.

    So what shall we do, Michael, just use "infidel" and leave off the Landmarker part? :D
    [​IMG]

    [ January 25, 2002: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  14. Kiffin

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    Great thread fellas [​IMG]

    I would say my viewpoint would be a combination of number 2 and 3.

    I call myself a "Anabaptist Kinshipper".
    I agree with those who hold position number 1 that the first Baptists were English separatists but on the other hand I agree somewhat with position number 4 that there existed some churches in Pre Reformation times that had similar beliefs to modern day Baptists.


    Has anyone here read Peter Allix's history of the Albigences and Waldenses or Samuel Moreland's History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valley of Piedmont? Great books on two Pre Reformation Churches!

    :cool:
     
  15. Kiffin

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    rlvaughn,

    You mention Michael Ivey. I find his book to be very interesting but have heard that Primitive Baptists generaly don't like to be called Landmarkers though Ivey's book seems to hold to such a position (At least for the PB's). Is their view basically a form of Landmarkism?

    Michael,

    Most Landmarkers I know are not Calvinists, so you would probably fit in with them.

    Speaking of Arminian Baptists...I wonder if the Free Will Baptists Churches have a position on this or is there diversity among them on Baptist origins?
     
  16. rlvaughn

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    Kiffin, in all fairness to Primitive Baptists, I think Landmarker should be generally reserved as a missionary Baptist term. The Primitive Baptists were not present for the Landmark controversy, and though they hold many of the same positions (and in some ways out-Landmark the Landmarkers), they also missed some of the peculiarities of Graves that have marked the Landmark movement. Ivey's position (and that of a number of Primitive Baptists) on succession is exactly the same as that of most Landmarkers. Though they could not be said to hold a "universal church" idea, they do not hold the local church only idea in the same way Landmarkers do (and seem to have some kind of idea of the elect ultimately as the church). They also do not hold to the idea of the Great Commission being given to the church like Landmarkers do. This is probably influenced by their views on election, predestination, etc., and most do not hold the idea that the church today is operating under the Great Commission. In practice they will not receive alien immersion (only like faith & order, i.e., Primitive Baptist), will not practice pulpit affiliation, and observe close communion (like faith & order, but not restricting it to local church members only as many Landmarkers do). And, in my opinion, I think sometimes the Primitives and Landmarkers arrive at the same conclusion from a different starting point. Jeff Weaver and Tyndale1946 are PB's and maybe they will step in and answer things more specifically. Though I am closer to the PB's theologically than I am to the ABA-ers, etc., I am not a Primitive Baptist and therefore may speak too generally to answer some things well. Some present controversies among the Primitive Baptists over missions seem to be influenced by a Landmark-type theology, and this may make the Old-Liners want to stay further away from the term Landmark.
     
  17. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    rl,

    I've got it! I think I'm a moderate, non-Calvinist, musical instrument-loving, successionist Primitive Baptist who believes in women pastors! [​IMG] :rolleyes: :D
     
  18. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    Ouch! [​IMG] How will we get all of that on the sign?? ;)

    Hey, I've got it - Monocalmulovitivist Baptist. That takes care of everything except the women pastors part. If it's alright with you, we won't tell anyone about that. :D
     
  19. Michael D. Edwards

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    I'll say, This post is EXCELLENT! These links and discussions are really getting me going on the topic of Baptist History!

    Thanks!
    MIchael
     
  20. DocCas

    DocCas
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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by rlvaughn:
    Hey, I've got it - Monocalmulovitivist Baptist. That takes care of everything except the women pastors part<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Monocalmulovitivist Baptistette?
     

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