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Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JesusFan, Jun 1, 2011.
And no, don't mean John the Baptist and Apostle Paul!
The first Baptist is likely John Smythe...and thus the first theologian since all Baptists become theologians after either a pint or a well cooked ham...
In America, Roger Williams is traditionally seen as establishing the first Baptist congregation.
Charles Spurgeon said this:
Most true historians will disagree with him in fact, but not in sentiment.
Henry Vedder, A Short History of the Baptists, for instance, says this:
There is an effort made by many down through the ages (since the advent of the actual Baptist movement, post Reformation) to trace baptistic concepts and doctrines through protesting groups set apart in some way from Roman Catholicism, but in almost every instance there is a failure of said groups to actually adopt pure Baptist doctrines -- and at times the failure of the groups in question was downright heretical in nature.
John Smyth and Thomas Helwys are widely regarded as the first to adopt a purely "baptist" doctrine, but even they did not baptize by immersion, which is part and parcel of what it means to be Baptist. The first group to actually be called "Baptist" (versus "ana-Baptist") were a splinter group from the separatists that comprised the Smyth Helwys group who were in exile in Holland during their formation years.
If ONLY baptism by immersion is considered, then the Greek Orthodox Church might be seen as a forerunner to modern Baptists, for they have continually baptized by immersion in the biblical model since their first days following the Apostles of Christ. But, certainly, there are other more serious doctrinal differences between actual Baptists and the Orthodox Church that disqualify them from being seen as leading to modern Baptists.
There are also the ana-baptist groups, in large part coalesced by Menno Simmons, and there are several distinctions that draw the two groups -- ana-baptists and baptists together and some suggest that Smyth and Helwys were influenced by the ana-baptists while in Holland, though no historical evidence exists to prove this contention.
Some or all of the above plus the leadership of the Holy Spirit operating through and with the Word of God are actually the most likely cause of the people called Baptist.
At the end of the day, after reading thousands of pages on this subject, I am convinced that GOD was the foundation of the Baptists, and that no man can rightly take credit. Men, as led by the Holy Spirit, working with the true text of Scripture, were led to do what it says (plainly) that Scripture said, even in the face of great opposition.
Baptist church after church started and failed as the people drifted to and fro in doctrine, yet Baptists still exist in the world.
So, who was the first Baptist? God knows...
Dagg would likely be considered the first writing theologian of the SBC, followed by Boyce.