Was Spurgeon a Baptist Successionist?

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by tojasonharris, Oct 6, 2006.

  1. tojasonharris

    tojasonharris
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    Ok. Let me say that I am not a Baptist Successionist. By Baptist Successionism, I mean the line of thinking that believes modern Baptists can be traced through various baptistic [keyword] groups in history like the anabaptists and the waldensians all the way to the time of Christ.

    I personally believe the theory is indefencible both biblically and historically. I also believe that re-writing history to back our theories is unconscionable. That said, I was recently given some quotes that seem to indicate that Spurgeon was a successionist. I've looked them up in context and this seems to be his intent. I've also found statements he made that seem to contradict successionism.

    NOTE: I am not looking for arguments for or against successionism, but simply for Spurgeon's position. Can anyone shed light on this?


    Charles H. Spurgeon:

    "I am not ashamed of the denomination to which I belong, sprung as we are, direct from the loins of Christ, having never passed through the turbid stream of Romanism, and having an origin apart from all dissent or Protestantism, because we have existed before all other sects . . ." (C. H. S., New Park Street Pulpit, Vol. 16, 1860, Pasadena, TX., Pilgrim Publ., p. 66).

    "We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never came from the church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the very days of Christ . . ." (C. H. S., Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 7, 1861, Pasadena, TX, Pilgrim Publ., p. 225).

    ". . . we are the old apostolic Church that have never bowed to the yoke of princes yet; we, known among men, in all ages, by various names, such as Donatists, Novatians [sic], Paulicians, Petrobrussians, Cathari, Arnoldists, Hussites, Waldenses, Lollards, and Anabaptists, have always contended for the purity of the Church, and her distinctness and separation from human government. Our fathers . . . present to us, their children, an unbroken line which comes legitimately from the apostles, not through the filth of Rome, not by the manipulations of prelates, but by the Divine life . . ." (C.H.S., ibid., Vol. 7, p. 613).

    "Long before your Protestants were known of, these horrible Anabaptists, as they were unjustly called, were protesting for the one Lord, one faith, and one baptism." (C.H.S., ibid., Vol. 27, p. 249).
     
  2. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    I think, like many, Brother Charles could be said to hold to the Spiritual Kinship Theory. He was too much of a scholar to put any creedence in the Chain Link Theory. And he was too close to the seventeenth century to agree with the English Separatist Theory.
     
  3. J.D.

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    I'm undecided on the issue, but currently I'm sympathizing more with the no-succession side of it, because it seems to me that most of the reformation/post-reformation era "Baptists" (note, they dropped the "ana") held no dear kinships to the anabaptists. I think it was the "Goatyard Confession", or maybe the 1644, that was written for the express purpose of forming a separate identity from the anabaptists.

    And BTW modern anabaptists, and there is such a thing, don't resemble a typical Baptist church in many ways.
     
  4. J.D.

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    I think the key to the kinship is that the anabaptists held to certain principles, such as separation of church and state, that was unique to them, for those principles we "Baptists" have a debt of gratitude to them. But does it go any farther than that?
     
  5. Jim1999

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    For a direct lineage, Spurgeon also refers back to the Welsh Baptist Churches, which existed long before the English Baptist Churches were formed under Smyth. The Welsh Baptist were instrumental in training up the so-called St Patrick, who was so declared by Rome post-mortem,who evangelized Ireland out of Wales.

    The Welsh Baptist also planted the first Baptist Church in England in the vicinity of Gloucestershire, along the Welsh border.

    Those Baptists were Calvinistic and remained a separate entity to other Baptist organizations, even to this day.

    Just a thought.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  6. tojasonharris

    tojasonharris
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    Could you summarise your understanding of the Spiritual Kinship Theory?
     
  7. tojasonharris

    tojasonharris
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    Jim,

    I'm a little unclear. Do you believe that Spurgeon was a Baptist Successionist?
     
  8. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    The theory holds that it's a mugs game to try and document a clear path from today's assemblies back to the proverbial FBC Jerusalem aka the Chain Link Theory.
    It is however within the realm of possibility to develop a set of distinctives of a NT church and then look back to see who if any one fits them.
    Because of the dearth of original (something that doesn't originate from the RCC) documentary evidence, the best a person can find are various and sundry second and third cousins once or twice removed
     
  9. Jim1999

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    Yes, Spurgeon was a successionist. That is clear from his preaching and from his writing.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  10. rsr

    rsr
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    Given his comments, I would say Spurgeon was a successionist, probably of the lineal variety.

    Spurgeon was a great preacher, but I think it's fair to say he had no expertise in Baptist history. Preaching the gospel was his goal, not systematic history. In any event, he was not blinded by the faults of Baptists nor unwilling to call brethren those who were not Baptists.

    — C.H. Spurgeon, Things Unknown, 1858

    Successionism is very difficult to prove from historical records. The doctrine of perpetuity, OTOH, does not require strict successionism to be proved. The Baptists are assumed — given the teaching of Bible on the church — to have existed. Whether or not you can establish a historical claim doesn't matter.

    The idea of spiritual kinship is flexible and does not need to establish any strict successionism from historic Christian groups, only that Baptists hold certain basic beliefs in common with those groups.
     
  11. tojasonharris

    tojasonharris
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    Thank you gentlemen. Some very helpful thoughts. I appreciate your input.
     
  12. CarpentersApprentice

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    Excellent point!

    Please direct me to the best examples of those "second and third cousin" sources that will demonstrate that the "distinctives of a NT church" that Baptist hold today were, in fact, held by those in ages past.

    Thanks.
     
  13. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    I wasn't refering to "sources" but to groups that as best could be considered "second or third" cousins. A current group is the Evangelical Christian-Baptists of the former Soviet Union. Their polity and doctrine doesn't follow the Anglo-American school of thought.

    As for your question:
    Am I correct in assuming your presuposition is what we consider to be the Baptist distinctives are not representive of NT assemblies in the past?
     
    #13 Squire Robertsson, Nov 2, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2006
  14. El_Guero

    El_Guero
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    To be clear, do you believe that he was not?

     
  15. Jim1999

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    As a Baptist, I firmly believe we are the nearest to the New Testament Church. If I didn't believe that, I would be elsewhere. I am not in love with the name Baptist, but I am in love with what it once stood for.

    I believe this is the truth defended by various groups down through the ages. Not that they were Baptists, or even held to all the same doctrines, but did uphold the basic principles of the New Testament church. That is successionism in principle.

    Is the Trail of Blood absolute? I don't think so. There are questionable areas in that booklet. It is, however, a decent stab at following the trail of kin.

    Whilst I am prepared to die for the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, I am not prepared to die for the Trail of Blood, or even Baptist successionism. There is a difference.

    The truth of Jesus is written in His blood and in His word and tattooed in my heart and life.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  16. CarpentersApprentice

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    Hi Squire,

    Sorry about the misqueue. Looking back (referencing your earlier post) what groups fit-the-bill when you "look back to see who if any one fits..."?

    :godisgood:

    Thanks.

    CA
     
  17. El_Guero

    El_Guero
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    Yep,

    And a little known guy wrote down the Trail . . .

     
  18. tojasonharris

    tojasonharris
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    Well, from my limited research, he appears to have been a successionist to some degree or another.
     

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