“In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” Psalm 11
Alexander Solzhenitzyn, a well-known and respected Russian dissident, said “To Destroy a People You Must First Sever Their Roots.”
Bill Clinton put it this way, “We are redefining in practical terms the immutable ideals that have guided us from the beginning.”
The principle of destroying a people’s foundation is well known to those who want to change a people’s values or to bring a people under their domination. It was used by Hitler in the public book burnings. The Communist Chinese changed the written characters of their language so those who were just learning to read could not read the old books, but those who could read were still able to read the new ones.
These same principles have been used to separate true Bible believing Baptists from their roots. When I ask many good Baptists where our name comes from they say it comes from the early seventeenth century. There are three sources they give credit for our origin. In this article I want to take a quick look at all three of them.
The first, and most often used, source is John Smyth. Here are the facts concerning John Smyth and his connection to the Baptists:
- He was a separatist minister in the Church of England
- In 1606 he moved to Holland with a group of dissidents and united with an English church of Brownists (English dissenters who followed Robert Browne) with one Mr. Ainsworth as its pastor
- Because of Smyth’s opposition to infant baptism, he, and a small group left that church and started another church, baptizing one another
- Smyth later repudiated his own baptism and joined a Mennonite church where he was baptized by affusion (pouring)
- In 1610 Smyth died in Holland, never having returned to England
- The church Smyth started united with the Mennonite church in 1615 and ceased to exist as a distinct entity
In light of these facts it is difficult to see how anyone could credit John Smyth as being the founder of the Baptists.
The second source attributed as being the beginning of the Baptist a group of “anabaptists” in Münster. Here are some facts concerning this group:
- It must be remembered that any group which did not accept Catholic or Protestant baptism was called “anabaptist”
- This group followed the Protestant reformers out of the Roman Catholic Church
- This group was originally called Zwickau Prophets, not Anabaptists
- They baptized by sprinkling
- Münzer, head leader of this group as a pedobaptist (baptized infants)
This group held none of the Baptist distinctives and, therefore, cannot be considered the origin of the Baptists.
The third supposed source is Roger Williams. This is probably the most absurd of the three supposed sources. Most of what has been taught about Williams is false. He did not start the first Baptist church in America, John Clarke did. Although Williams did espouse the Baptist doctrines of baptism and civil and religious liberty, he never started a Baptist church, nor was he ever a member of one.
Why are there so many that are seeking to make Baptists a product of the Reformation? It has to do with legitimacy. If the Baptists originated in the first century, with Jesus being their founder, then all of the other denominations lose their legitimacy as scriptural churches.
Baptists have their origin in the New Testament, not by name, but by doctrine and practice. For the first hundred years or so after Christ’s death there were no denominational names. Somewhere between 150 and 200 AD there was a division over the issue of the purpose of baptism. Some changed it from being a testimony of salvation to a requirement for salvation. The doctrine of baptismal regeneration was born at this time. Those churches which remained faithful to the Scriptures refused the baptism of those churches that accepted the change. The faithful churches were called anabaptist (re-baptizers).
The Catholic Church, and all of the churches that come out of her, are not New Testament churches. To give themselves an look of legitimacy, these churches must destroy the foundations of the Baptists. With the destruction of the foundations of Baptists Protestant doctrine has been accepted as legitimate and been introduced into Baptist churches.
If we let our foundations be destroyed what can we do to continue to preserve sound doctrine. If it wasn’t for the Baptists sound doctrine would have been lost during the Dark Ages. If we don’t return to our foundations sound doctrine will be lost in our day. The doctrines that are most at risk are the doctrine of the church, the doctrine of baptism, and the doctrine of separation from false doctrine and practice. When these doctrines are compromised other doctrines will follow.
As in our text, the enemy has their bow strung and their arrow ready to shoot at the heart of the righteous. The Lord tries the righteous to see if they are willing to stand in difficult times. The Lord loves the righteous and they will be rewarded. Remember Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
It is time for Baptists to return to their roots. Historically Baptists were not popular with other groups, why do we want to be popular with them today? We should not seek approval of men, we should seek approval of God with the assurance that He will reward us in the end. A lack of stand for the old paths is causing us to lose our children to other denominations and causing once good churches to renounce those things which once defined Baptists.
Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved