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Baptist is a term describing individuals belonging to a church or a denomination characterized by a conviction regarding believer’s baptism (as opposed to infant baptism). While the term Baptist has its origins with the Anabaptists, and was sometimes viewed as pejorative, the denomination itself is historically linked to the English Dissenter or Separatist or Nonconformism movements of the 16th century.[1] Most Baptist churches choose to associate with denominational groups that provide support without control. The largest Baptist association, apart from the Baptist World Alliance, is the Southern Baptist Convention (which left the World Alliance in 2004) but there are many other Baptist associations. There are also those that choose to keep their autonomy by remaining independent from any organization or association. Both Roger Williams and his compatriot in working for religious freedom, Dr. John Clarke, are variously credited as founding the earliest Baptist church in America.[2] In 1639, Williams established a Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island, and Clarke began a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island. According to a Baptist historian who has researched the matter extensively, "There is much debate over the centuries as to whether the Providence or Newport church deserved the place of ’first’ Baptist congregation in America. Exact records for both congregations are lacking."[3] populations of Baptists also exist in Asia, Africa and Latin America, notably in India (2.4 million), Nigeria (2.5 million), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (1.9 million), and Brazil (1.7 million).[5] According to a poll in the 1990s, about one in five Christians in the United States claims to be a Baptist. U.S. Baptists are represented in more than fifty separate groups. Ninety-two percent of Baptists are found in five of those bodies — the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC); National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (NBC); National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.; (NBCA); American Baptist Churches in the USA (ABC); and Baptist Bible Fellowship International (BBFI).[6]

Only those people who are baptized can be members of a local Baptist church[7] and are included in the total number of Baptists. Some Baptist churches do not have an age restriction on membership, but will not accept as a member a child who is considered too young to fully understand and make a profession of faith of their own volition and comprehension. In such cases, the pastor and parents usually meet together with the child to verify the child’s comprehension of the decision to follow Jesus. There are instances where persons make a profession of faith but fail to follow through with believers’ baptism. In such cases they are considered saved but not church members until baptized. Most churches require you to be baptized to become a member of the church or, alternatively, to transfer membership from a church of like faith. Baptists believe that being baptized alone will not save you; it is only the outward showing of the washing away of the consequences of the sin nature through the acceptance of the sacrificial death and shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ. Baptists believe that the act of baptism is an outward display of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. When a person who has already been saved and confessed Christ submits to scriptural baptism, they are publicly

See also: List of Christian denominations by number of members See also: List of Baptist sub-denominations Christian Denominations
in English-speaking countries

Baptists number over 110 million worldwide in more than 220,000 congregations, and are considered the largest world communion of evangelical Protestants, with an estimated 38 million members in North America.[4] Large


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identifying with Him in His death to old self, burial of past sinful thought and action, and resurrection in newness of life, to walk with Christ the remainder of their days. "Arise and walk, my brother, in newness of life." Some churches, especially in the UK, do not require members to have been baptized as a believer, so long as they have made an adult declaration of faith -- for example, been confirmed in the Anglican church, or become communicant members as Presbyterians. In these cases, believers would usually transfer their memberships from their previous churches. This allows people who have grown up in one tradition, but now feel settled in their local Baptist church, to fully take part in the day to day life of the church, voting at meetings, etc. It is also possible, but unusual, to be baptized without becoming a church member immediately.

totally consistent from one Baptist church to another, especially beliefs that may be considered minor. However, on major theological issues, Baptist distinctive beliefs are held in common among almost all Baptist churches. Baptists share orthodox Christian beliefs with most other moderate or conservative Christian denominations. These would include beliefs about one God; the virgin birth; miracles; atonement through the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus; the Trinity (the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, together with God the Father); the need for salvation (through belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God, his death and resurrection, and confession of Christ as Lord); grace; the Kingdom of God; last things (Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth, the dead will be raised, and Christ will judge everyone in righteousness); and evangelism and missions. Some historically significant Baptist doctrinal documents include the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1742 Philadelphia Baptist Confession, the 1833 New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Faith and Message, and written church "covenants" which some individual Baptist churches adopt as a statement of their faith and beliefs. Baptists generally believe in the literal Second Coming of Christ at which time God will sit in judgment and divide humanity between the saved and the lost (the Great White Throne judgment Revelation 20:11) and Christ will sit in judgment of the believers (the Judgment Seat of Christ 2 Corinthians), rewarding them for things done while alive, knowing that works will not get someone to Heaven. Beliefs among Baptists regarding the "end times" include amillennialism, dispensationalism, and historic premillennialism, with views such as postmillennialism and preterism receiving some support. See also: List of Baptist Confessions or Doctrinal Statements The following acrostic backronym, spelling BAPTIST, represents a useful summary of Baptists’ distinguishing beliefs:[8] • iblical authority (Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:23; 2 Timothy 3:16-17) • utonomy of the local church (Matt. 18:15–17; 1 Cor. 6:1-3) • riesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:5-9; 1 Timothy 5)

Baptist beliefs and principles
Part of a series of articles on


Historical Background Christianity · Anabaptists General · Strict · Reformed Doctrinal distinctives Sola scriptura Congregationalism Priesthood of all believers Ordinances Individual soul liberty Separation of church and state Offices Confessions Pivotal figures John Smyth · Thomas Helwys · Roger Williams · John Bunyan · Shubal Stearns · Andrew Fuller · Charles Haddon Spurgeon Baptist Associations and Conventions Baptist Portal Baptist churches do not have a central governing authority (See Autonomy in BAPTIST Acrostic Below). Therefore, beliefs are not


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• wo ordinances (believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper) (Acts 2:41–47; 1 Cor. 11:23-32) • ndividual soul liberty (Romans 14:5–12) • eparation of Church and State (Matthew 22:15–22) • wo offices of the church (pastor-elder and deacon) (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1–2) Most Baptist traditions believe in the "Four Freedoms" articulated by Baptist historian Walter B. Shurden:[9] • : the soul is competent before God, and capable of making decisions in matters of faith without coercion or compulsion by any larger religious or civil body • : freedom of the local church from outside interference, whether government or civilian (subject only to the law where it does not interfere with the religious teachings and practices of the church) • : the individual is free to interpret the Bible for himself or herself, using the best tools of scholarship and biblical study available to the individual • : the individual is free to choose whether to practice their religion, another religion, or no religion; Separation of church and state is often called the "civil corollary" of religious freedom The polity of autonomy is closely related to the polity of congregational governance. Just as each Baptist priest with soul competency is equal to all other Baptists in a church, so each church is equal to every other church. No church or ecclesiastical organization has authority over a Baptist church. Churches can properly relate to each other under this polity only through voluntary cooperation, never by any sort of coercion. Furthermore, this Baptist polity calls for freedom from governmental control.[10] Exceptions to this local form of local governance include a few churches that submit to the leadership of a body of elders, as well as the Episcopal Baptists that have an Episcopal system.

among individual Baptists) especially on the following issues: • Calvinism/Arminianism • Doctrine of separation • Biblical Eschatology • Hermeneutical method • The translation of Scripture (See KingJames-Only Movement) • The extent to which missionary boards should be used to support missionaries • The extent to which non-members may participate in communion services • The nature of Gospel

The Sabbath Debate
A majority of Baptists worship on Sunday, in contrast with the Old Testament tradition of a Saturday Sabbath, and instead following the New Testament tradition that the disciples met on the first day of the week. As would be expected amongst any people who hold to freedom of conscience, there have historically been a small number of Baptists who have held to some form of Sabbatarian doctrine. There is a small group known as the Seventh Day Baptists. Some trace their origins to earlier Anabaptist or pre-Reformation sects however most acknowledge that the denomination was established in the mid-seventeenth century in England. Seventh Day Baptists may be either General or Particular Baptists but they are united in their observance of their day of worship on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. Although the degree to which they observe the Sabbath varies from person to person, from congregation to congregation, there is a consensus within their circles that none should judge the spirituality of another’s personal practices. In the mid-nineteenth century a Seventh Day Baptist tract eventually led to a large portion of the Adventist movement to adopt Sabbatarian teachings, eventually forming the Seventh Day Adventist Church

Beliefs that vary among Baptists
Because of the importance of the priesthood of every believer, the centrality of the freedom of conscience and thought in Baptist theology, and due to the congregational style of church governance, doctrine varies greatly between one Baptist church and another (and

Theological, cultural and political controversies
As with all major denominational groups, Baptists have not escaped theological, cultural and political controversy. Baptists have historically been sensitive to the introduction of theological error (from their perspective) into their groups.


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• The older Baptist associations of Europe, Canada, Australia and the northern United States have assimilated influences of different schools of thought, but not without major debate and schisms. • Leading up to the American Civil War Baptists became embroiled in the controversy of slavery in the United States. North and South grew further apart in 1845 when the Baptist Church split into Northern and Southern organizations. The Southern Baptist Convention formed on the premise that the Bible sanctions slavery and that it was acceptable for Christians to own slaves. In the 20th century, the Southern Baptist Convention renounced this interpretation. Northern Baptists opposed slavery. In 1844, the Home Mission Society declared that a person could not be a missionary and still keep slaves as property. Currently American Baptist numerical strength is greatest in the former slaveholding states.[11] • In England, Charles Haddon Spurgeon fought against what he saw as challenges to his strongly conservative point of view in the Downgrade Controversy. • As part of the continuing fundamentalist/liberal controversy within the Northern Baptist Convention, two new associations of conservative Baptists were formed—the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches in 1932 and the Conservative Baptist Association of America in 1947. • Landmarkism, with its emphasis on ecclesiastical separation and doctrinal rigidity and its cultural foundation in the South, deterred Southern Baptists from being influenced as strongly by aberrant points of view as were the Baptists in the northern United States and other countries. Old Landmarkism held to the traditional Baptist historical consciousness that traced Baptists through dissenters—Donatists, Cathari—back to Jesus, Jordan(although it is not believed that ALL Donatists, Cathari, etc.were Baptist theologically) and the "First Baptist Church" of Jerusalem. Popular Landmarkism contributed to a historical consciousness implicit in the idea that Baptists were an extension of the New Testament

community, perpetuating the true church in every age.[12] • Beginning in the 1980s, there was a concerted effort among a determined group of theologically orthodox Southern Baptists to purge modernist theological influence from its seminaries. This highly publicized SBC Conservative Resurgence/ Fundamentalist Takeover occasioned two schisms of theologically modernist Baptist churches: the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Alliance of Baptists.

There are two main views about the origins of the Baptists: Baptist origins in the 16th and 17th centuries and Baptist perpetuity.

Baptist origins in the 16th and 17th centuries
Scholars see the Baptists as the descendants of the 16th century Anabaptists, which are viewed as a product of the Protestant Reformation. Johannes Warns states that the first independent Baptist Church was that at Augsburg, Germany, in about 1524.[13] Others see the Baptists as a separation from the Church of England in the early 1600s.[14] Puritan separatists John Smyth and Thomas Helwys are acknowledged by numerous historians as key founders of the modern Baptist denomination. The early Baptists were divided into General Baptists who were Arminian in theology, and Particular Baptists who were Calvinistic in theology.[15][16][17] According to Baptist historian H. Leon McBeth, Baptists, as a distinct denomination, originated in England in a time of intense religious reform. McBeth writes, “Our best historical evidence says that Baptists came into existence in England in the early seventeenth century. They apparently emerged out of the Puritan-Separatist movement in the Church of England.”[14] However there is also documentation saying that Baptists could have been in the England in the 1500’s. Joan Boucher (or Joan of Kent) who was martyred for her beliefs in 1550, is reported to have mentioned that she met with Baptists as a young girl in Eythorne, Kent (more information is found at Eythorne Baptist Church).


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Baptist belief in perpetuity
The Baptist perpetuity view (also known as Baptist succession) holds that the Church founded by Christ in Jerusalem was Baptist in character and that separate, yet similar, churches have had perpetual existence from the days of Christ to the present. This view is theologically based on Matthew 16:18, where Jesus is speaking to Peter, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," as well as Jesus’ commission and promise to be with His followers as they carried on his ministry, "even unto the end of the world."[18] The Baptist perpetuity view sees Baptists as separate from the Catholic Church and the Protestant religious denominations and considers that the Baptist movement predates the Catholic Church and is therefore not part of the Protestant Reformation.[19]. J. M. Carroll’s The Trail of Blood booklet, published in 1931, has been a popular writing presenting the successionist view, pointing to groups such as the Montanists, Novatianists, Donatists, Paulicians, Albigensians, Catharists, Waldenses, and Anabaptists, as predecessors to contemporary Baptists.[20]. Baptist historian John T. Christian writes in the introduction to his History of the Baptists: "I have throughout pursued the scientific method of investigation, and I have let the facts speak for themselves. I have no question in my own mind that there has been a historical succession of Baptists from the days of Christ to the present time."[21] Other Baptist historians holding the perpetuity view are Thomas Armitage, G.H. Orchard, and David Benedict. Those holding the perpetuity view of Baptist history can be basically divided into two categories: those who hold that there is a direct succession from one church to the next (most commonly identified with Landmarkism), and those who hold that while the Baptist practices and churches continued, they may have originated independently of any previously existing church.

Part of the 6th century Madaba Map showing Aenon and Bethabara, places of baptism of St. John (Βεθαβαρά τὸ τοῦ ἁγίου Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτίσματος) dip, immerse"), and the Latin baptista, and is in direct connection to "the baptizer," John the Baptist. As a first name it has been used in Europe from the twelfth century also as Baptiste, Jan-Baptiste, Jean-Baptiste, John-Baptist; and in the Netherlands at least since the seventeenth century, often in combinations like Jan Baptist or Johannes Baptist. As a last name it has been used since the thirteenth century. Other variations also commonly used are Baptiste, Baptista, Battiste, Battista. The Anabaptists in England were called Baptists as early as 1569.[22]

Questions of labeling
Some Baptists object to the application of the labels Protestant, denomination, Evangelical and even Baptist to themselves or their churches, while others accept those labels. Some who reject the label Baptist prefer to be labeled as Christians who attend Baptist churches. Also, a recent trend (most common among megachurches and those embracing the "seeker movement") is to eliminate "Baptist" from the church name, as it is perceived to be a "barrier" to reaching persons who have negative views of Baptists, whether they be of a different church background or none. These churches typically include the word "Community" or other non-religious or denominational terms in their church name. Conversely, others accept the label Baptist because they identify with the distinctives they consider to be uniquely Baptist. They

Etymology of "Baptist"
Baptist comes from the Greek word βαπτιστής (baptistés, "baptist," also used to describe John the Baptist), which is related to the verb βαπτίζω (baptízo, "to baptize, wash,


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believe those who are removing the name "Baptist" from their churches are "compromising with the world" to attract more members. However, there are other church groups that hold to the beliefs listed above, that have never been known by the label Baptist, and also believe that these beliefs are not exclusive to the Baptist denomination. The label Protestant is rejected by some Baptists (primarily those in the Landmark movement) because in their view Baptists have existed separately since the early days of the Catholic Church. Those holding this view maintain that Baptists have never been a part of the Catholic Church, and as such, Baptists are not "protesting" against Catholicism. Further, they claim that Baptists have no direct connection to any of the Reformationists like Luther, Calvin, or Zwingli. Other Baptists accept the Protestant label as a demographic concept that describes churches who share similar theologies of sola scriptura, sola fide, the priesthood of all believers and other positions that Luther, Calvin and other traditional reformers held in contrast to the Catholic Church in the 1500s. The label denomination is rejected by some because of the local autonomous governance system used by Baptist churches. Being a denomination is viewed by them as having a hierarchy that substitutes for the Catholic Church. Another reason for the rejection of the label is the influence of the Restoration period on Baptist churches, which emphasized a tearing down of denominational barriers. Other Baptists accept the label, feeling that it does not carry a negative connotation but rather is merely a synonym for a Christian or religious group with common beliefs, organized in a cooperative manner to spread its beliefs worldwide. The label Evangelical is rejected by some fundamentalist Baptists who consider the term to describe a theological position that in their view is not fundamentalist enough, and conversely is also rejected by some liberal Baptists who consider the term to describe a theological position that in their view is too conservative. It is accepted by moderate Baptists who identify with the revival in the United States in the 1700s known as the First Great Awakening. Conversely, some Evangelicals reject the label fundamentalist, believing it to describe a theological position that they consider too extreme and legalistic.

However some Baptists, such as the Independent Fundamental Baptists, embrace it.

[1] Newman, Albert Henry (1894). A History of the Baptist Churches in the United States. Christian Literature. books?id=wCrmT5eki7YC. "This rejection of infant baptism and this insistence on believers’ baptism were so distinctive of these Christians that they were stigmatized as Anabaptists, Catabaptists, and sometimes as simply Baptists; that is to say, they were declared to be "rebaptizers", "perverters of baptism", or, as unduly magnifying baptism and making it the occasion of schism, simply "baptizers". These party names they earnestly repudiated, preferring to call themselves Brethren, Christians, Disciples of Christ, Believers, etc." [2] Newport Notables [3] Brackney, William H. (Baylor University, Texas). Baptists in North America: an historical perspective. Blackwell Publishing, 2006, p. 23. ISBN 1405118652 [4] Baptist World Alliance Official Statistics [5] Baptist World Alliance statistics [6] Albert W. Wardin, Baptists Around the World (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1995) p. 367 [7] Words about Baptist church,Southern Baptist church [8] Articles on Baptists beliefs, polity, ministries, practices, organizations, and heritage. The information is intended to be useful for Baptists and non-Baptists alike. [9] Shurden, Walter B. The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms. Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 1993. [10] Pinson, William M., Jr. "Trends in Baptist Polity." Baptist History and Heritage Society. Available online: pinson.htm [11] Department of Geography and Meteorology, "Baptists as a Percentage of all Residents, 2000" Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana.


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[12] Leonard, Bill J. "Historical Consciousness Protestantism and Baptists in the South: Owning and Disowning a Tradition." Proceedings of The Reformation American Academy of Religion 2002 History Annual Meeting. Pre-Reformation movements [13] Warns, Johannes. "Baptism", tr. by G. H. Hussites · Lollards · Waldensians Reformation era movements Lang, The Paternoster Press, London, Anabaptism · Anglicanism · Calvinism · Counter1957 Reformation · Lutheranism · Polish Brethren · [14] ^ McBeth, Leon. “Baptist Beginnings.” Zwinglianism Baptist History and Heritage Society. Post-Reformation movements Available online: Baptists · Congregationalists · Pietism · Puritanism · Methodism · Universalism · Mennonites · Amish · Free Presbyterianism baptistbeginnings.htm (Accessed 10/19/ Pentecostalism · Revivalism · Evangelicalism · 2007) House Church Movement [15] "Baptist Christianity: Origins & Development of Baptist, Southern Baptist Beliefs". • Gavins; Raymond. The Perils and baptistssouthernbaptists/a/ Prospects of Southern Black Leadership: baptisthistory.htm. Gordon Blaine Hancock, 1884–1970 Duke [16] "Baptists". Catholic Encyclopedia. University Press, 1977. • Harrison, Paul M. Authority and Power in 02278a.htm. the Free Church Tradition: A Social Case [17] "Baptist Origins". Baptist History and Study of the American Baptist Convention Heritage Society. Princeton University Press, 1959. • Harvey, Paul. Redeeming the South: briggs.htm. Religious Cultures and Racial Identities [18] Duncan, William Cecil (1855). A Brief among Southern Baptists, 1865–1925 History of the Baptists and Their University of North Carolina Press, 1997. Distinctive Principles and Practices, from • Heyrman, Christine Leigh. Southern the "Beginning of the Gospel" to the Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt Present Time. New York: Edward H. (1997). Fletcher. • Isaac, Rhy. "Evangelical Revolt: The books?id=KLljCC9KXn8C. Retrieved on Nature of the Baptists’ Challenge to the 2007-10-19. Traditional Order in Virginia, 1765 to [19] Brong, Rosco. "Ten Bible Proofs of 1775," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Baptist Perpetuity". Word of Truth. ser., XXXI (July 1974), 345–68. • Leonard, Bill J. Baptist Ways: A History articles_view.asp?columnid=527&articleid=4440. (2003), comprehensive international Retrieved on 2007-10-19. history [20] Carroll, J.M.. "The Trail of Blood" (PDF). • McBeth, H. Leon, (ed.) A Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage (1990), primary sources 60657/TrailofBlood.pdf. Retrieved on for Baptist history. 2007-10-19. • McGlothlin, W. J. (ed.) Baptist Confessions [21] Christian, John T (vol.1, 1922; vol.2, of Faith. Philadelphia: The American 1926). A History of the Baptists. Baptist Publication Society, 1911. Broadman Press. • Pitts, Walter F. Old Ship of Zion: The Afro Baptist Ritual in the African Diaspora christian/ahob1/ahobp.htm. Oxford University Press, 1996. [22] See volume one, chapter 15, pages • Rawlyk, George. Champions of the Truth: 205-206 of John T. Christian’s "History of Fundamentalism, Modernism, and the the Baptists" published by Broadman Maritime Baptists (1990), Canada. Press. Available online: • Spangler, Jewel L. "Becoming Baptists: Conversion in Colonial and Early National christian/ahob1/ahobp.htm



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Virginia" Journal of Southern History. Volume: 67. Issue: 2. 2001. pp 243+ Stringer, Phil. The Faithful Baptist Witness, Landmark Baptist Press, 1998. Torbet, Robert G. A History of the Baptists, Judson Press, 1950. Underhill, Edward B. (ed.). Confessions of Faith and Other Documents of the Baptist Churches of England in the 17th century. London: The Hanserd Knollys Society, 1854. Underwood, A. C. A History of the English Baptists. London: Kingsgate Press, 1947. Wills, Gregory A. Democratic Religion: Freedom, Authority, and Church Discipline in the Baptist South, 1785–1900, Oxford. Life & Practice in the Early Church: A Documentary Reader, New York University press. 2001. pp.5–7. ISBN 9780814756485. • Baptists and bootleggers counterproductive regulation • Bible Belt • Christian Right • List of famous Baptists • Baptist World Alliance • Independent Fundamental Baptist • Church covenant


• • •

External links
• • • • • • • • • Associated Baptist Press Baptist History and Heritage Society Baptist Messenger Baptist Press Center for Baptist Studies Doctrinal and Historical Information on Baptists Map of USA showing Percentage of Baptist Population in each county Seventh Day Baptist Churches - United States and Canada Various resources and services, including The Journal of Baptist Studies, a peerreviewed, electronic journal Information about the Enterprise Association of Regular Baptist Churches of Jesus Christ

• •


See also
• List of Baptist Associations, Conventions and sub-groupings • Bapticostal movement • Baptist beliefs


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