Does It Mean Something To Be A Baptist?

Dr Pierre Coovert

I have been asked to do some follow-up articles on my article “Are We Fighting The Wrong Battles”, especially the part where I mentioned some shocking things I have heard from Baptist pulpits recently. This will be the first of five articles dealing with the five subjects mentioned:

  1. we shouldn’t make a big deal over being a Baptist
  2. We shouldn’t break fellowship over the mode of baptism
  3. Baptism by other denominations is OK as long as it is by immersion
  4. The KJB is just one of several good translations
  5. Fighting over doctrine is wrong

As all of you who read my blog know, I am a Baptist through and through. I make no apology for this. I am not against those who are not Baptists, but it cost me to become one and I am a Baptist because I believe that all first century Christians were Baptist in doctrine and practice.

Let me give a little testimony of my journey from being a Pentecostal to being a Baptist. I was saved at the age of 17 in a Foursquare Gospel church (1958). God called me to preach shortly after my salvation. We moved from Pedley, CA, a small town just out side of Riverside, CA, to Palm Desert, CA. Since I could not find a Bible preaching church there I dropped out of church until I went in the Army in 1958. I tried chapel services and was not fed so I quit trying until after I got out of the Army in 1969. Without going into the details, we started going to a small Baptist church, my wife was saved in this church and we were both baptized. It was in this church that God renewed my call to the ministry.

Even though we were members of a Baptist church, we were not really Baptists at heart. I had some Pentecostal baggage I had to get rid of and I had some real problems with the idea of eternal security. It was because of a discussion with my pastor on this subject that I became a Baptist. My pastor convinced me that if I could show him from the Scriptures that he was wrong he would change. I knew that this was the kind of church I wanted to be part of. The Bible was our final authority, and if someone could show us we were in error using the Scriptures (properly of course), we would change.

Needless to say, the pastor was not wrong and he did not change, I did. It was Isaiah 32:17, which says “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” that convinced me of eternal security. It was the phrase “assurance for ever” that convinced me. You can’t get much closer to eternal security than that.

The first subject on our list is, “should we make a big deal over being a Baptist.” If we are talking about salvation and becoming a Christian, the answer is no. No group has a monopoly on the truth. Anyone who searches the Scriptures can find the truth, both for salvation and for living.

If, on the other hand, we are talking about what any given denomination has given the world, the answer is definitely yes.

In the beginning of this age we had those who followed “the way” and those who were called Christians. In the middle of the second century we see the beginning of the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. This doctrine teaches that baptism is required for salvation and that it washes away original sin. This caused a split among the churches. Those who remained faithful to the Scriptures would not accept the baptism of the churches who taught baptismal regeneration..

With baptismal regeneration worldliness started creeping into the churches since unregenerate people became church members. Those who remained faithful to the Scriptures received two names from those who taught baptismal regeneration. The most familiar of these names was Anabaptist, which means re-baptizers. The second, less known name, was Cathar. Cathar comes from the Greek word katharos and means pure. These faithful churches were called the pure ones.

There is an interesting fact about the Cathares that is worth telling. Of the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3 there are two that do not have anything bad said about them, the church at Smyrna, and the church at Philadelphia. When we plot the historical centers where the Cathares flourished, the furthest east of these cities was the city of Philadelphia. The Cathar movement spread west from there and covered most of Europe.

During what we often call the “Dark Ages” there were some 50 to 60 million Cathares and Anabaptists killed for their faith. That is equivalent of a town of 50 to 60 thousand people being wiped off the map every year for the thousand years of the Dark Ages.

The Dark Ages ended with the Reformation. At that time these people, the Cathares or Anabaptists, popped up with full grown churches all over Europe. Various groups of these people were sometimes known by other names throughout the Dark Ages, but the names Cathar and Anabaptist were attributed to all of them.

John Wycliffe is called “the morning stare of the Reformation” because it was his work in putting the Bible in language that could be read by all. He sowed the seed necessary for the Reformation. Wycliffe was a Lollard, which was one of the names given to the Anabaptists in England before the Reformation.

Without the Baptists, by what ever name you choose to call them during the Dark Ages, we would have lost the Bible and the Gospel. Not all of these groups were always sound in every area, but they all stood against the Universal (Catholic) Church and for the baptism of scripturally saved people only. They would not submit to the Pope, they would not accept the baptism of unregenerate people (infants or adults), and they would accept only baptism by immersion.

It was their efforts that kept the Received Text, from which the King James Bible was translated, pure through the time when Origen and others were corrupting the Greek text. Most modern Bibles are translated from the text which was first corrupted by Origen because he did not believe in the deity of Christ.

There is another important fact of history which you should know about Baptists. They were fighters for religious freedom (freedom of conscience). Twice in History they were asked to be the state church of a nation, first for America, and secondly for the Netherlands. Both times they turned down the offer because they believed in freedom to worship God according to the dictates of one’s heart.

The Puritans are given credit for freedom of religion in America. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Puritans left England for religious freedom and then persecuted all who differed with them when they got to America. For example they banished men like Roger Williams, John Clarke, and Obadiah Holmes, and when John Clarke and Obadiah Holmes returned to Massachusetts to visit a sick friend and held a service in the friends house, they were imprisoned and fined for this great crime. Obadiah Holmes refused to pay the fine and was beaten severely. The goal of the Puritan magistrates was to beat him to death but God mercifully sustained him.

By the time of the American Revolution Baptists had increased to a great enough number to have much influence in the founding of our nation. Baptist pastors served as chaplains in the continental army. One of them was John Gano, who was chaplain to George Washington. He is reported to have Baptized Washington. If you saw the movie “The Patriot” you will remember the church that was burned with all of the members inside. This was the church where John Gano was pastor, and it was a Baptist church.

John Leland, a Baptist pastor in Virginia, was running against James Madison for the first congress and was almost assured of winning. Madison met with Leland, and after a long discussion, Leland decided to step out of the race when Madison agreed to push for the Bill of Rights.

We need to know that we owe the freedoms we enjoy in America to the Baptists. Had it not been for them we would have had a state church and there would be no Bill of Rights.

I know that most of those who call themselves Baptists today really aren’t Baptists. They have compromised so much doctrine and practice that there is little or no resemblance with the Baptists who stood through the persecution of the Dark Ages and the Reformation.

I believe that we will see persecution before the return of Christ at the Rapture. I also believe that it is important that we be prepared to stand in those difficult times. The Baptists have stood from the time of the Apostles, and there will be a remnant of them who will stand again if persecution comes.

The Bible tells us to remember what our forefathers suffered that we might have the Word of God and the pure Gospel.

Hebrews 10:32-33 “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.”

Let me say a few words about the major non-Baptist groups before I close this out. I think you will find a striking difference between the Protestants and Catholics and the Baptists.

The Catholic Church has corrupted just about every important doctrine that relates to salvation. They teach baptismal regeneration, salvation by grace plus works and sacraments, Mary is co-redemptrix with Christ and assists in salvation, etc. This church has a history of persecuting all who disagree with them. This church has been a camilion throughout history, changing to become whatever is necessary to keep itself in power.

John Calvin and Zwingli put those who disagreed with them in prison or to death. Calvin even had one of his good friends put to death for merely suggesting some changes in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

All of the reformers taught baptismal regeneration and infant baptism. Most of them taught covenant theology, a theology that applies the promises of God to Israel to the “church.”

The Protestants and the Catholics got together and agreed to stop persecuting each other, but only to persecute Baptists. At the Diet of Speirs, a joint Protestant/Catholic assembly,500 then 1,000 special police were commissioned to hunt down and kill Baptists on the spot.

We know that Martin Luther said that salvation was by faith, but most of us don’t know what he placed his faith in. His faith was in his baptism as an infant. All of the reformers taught that there could be no salvation without baptism, therefore proving that their faith was, at least in part, in their baptism. This does not mean that Luther and the others did not trust Christ, but they trusted Christ plus baptism.

Who preserved pure Christianity, the Protestant/Catholics, or the Baptists. Even though we know that one doesn’t need to be a Baptist to get to Heaven, it should be obvious that if it had been left up to the Catholic Church and her children, the Protestants, the Gospel and the Word of God would be so distorted that it would be very difficult for anyone to find the truth.

In light of all of this, and I could write much more just from memory, I ask you if we should make a big deal over being a Baptist?

Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved