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). 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.