is with great joy that I introduce to you this little
booklet by Brother Curtis
Whaley. With Brother Whaley's gracious permission, the
Church of Harrison, Ohio, considers it a privilege to
put it into print
Baptist heritage is a glorious one! We can be proud
and thankful for
our forefathers. Their history from the time Jesus
built their first church
until now is the most interesting history in the
Baptists of today are not aware of 'who the Baptists
are.' This booklet has many of the answers to that
question. It is hoped that the reading of this booklet
will create a sincere desire to study in depth the
need loyalty to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ
today. As one begins
to trace the ancestry of the Baptists back, back, back
to that First
Baptist Church in Jerusalem, shivers will run up the
to God for the perpetuity of the people called
Baptists will produce
a love and loyalty for His church.
God, in His sovereign mercy, use this booklet to stir
up interest, study
and preaching concerning the church Jesus built. The
local church is
God's plan for today. May we realize that
"Unto Him be glory in
the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world
without end" (Eph.
Hisel - Harrison, Ohio-1974
ARE THE BAPTISTS?
have been impressed more than ever during these
changing, and somewhat
unpredictable days, with the importance of knowing
what you are, and
having firm convictions for being what you are.
The words of Peter
are ringing a fresh tone of urgency in my soul as I
observe the appalling
indifference that underlies the reasoning and thinking
trend of our day.
He said, "Be ready always to give an answer to
every man that
asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with
meekness and fear"
(1 Pet. 3:15). Can the slightest trace of
conviction be found in the answers
with which many respond, when they are asked,
"Why Are You A
Baptist?" When I ask a man that question, I
am hardly impressed
with such answers as, "My parents were
Baptists," or, "I believe
once in grace, always in grace," or worse yet,
"The Baptist Church
is the nearest to our home."
you are a Baptist, you should know why you are a
Baptist, and to know
why you are a Baptist, you should know who the
Baptists are. To know
who the Baptists are, you should know where the
Baptists began, what
the Baptists believe and what the Baptists have done.
WHERE DID THE BAPTISTS BEGIN?
modern denominations trace their origin to modern
Baptists have existed through all the centuries of
Christian history. The
Lutherans began with Martin Luther, the Presbyterians
began with John
Calvin, the Methodists began with John Wesley and the
with Alexander Campbell. All the modern cults
began with modern
founders. The Jehovah's Witnesses began with
Charles Taze Russell;
the Mormons began with Joseph Smith, Jr.; the
began with Mary Baker Eddy; the Seventh-Day Adventists
began with William Miller;
Swedenborgianism began with Emanuel Swedenborg,
many Baptist groups sprang up during the Protestant
Reformation, according to
Collier's Encyclopedia, the Baptists have "descended
from some of the evangelical 'sects' of the preceding
age during which
the Roman and Orthodox Churches dominated all of
Europe and suppressed all
dissent." A Catholic, Cardinal Hosius,
President of the Council
of Trent, (1545 - 1563), wrote during the early
years of the Reformation
period, "Were it not that the Baptists have
been grievously tormented
and cut off with the knife during the past twelve
hundred years, they would swarm in greater numbers
than all the
reformers." This should convince anyone,
that the Baptists are not a
by-product of the Reformation, and are not even
Protestants in the popular
sense of the term.
the Baptists did not begin with the Reformation, when
did they begin? We
will let a great American and World historian answer
that question for
you. John Clark Ridpath, (1840 - 1900), a Methodist by
wrote, "I should not readily admit that there
was a Baptist Church as far back as100A.D., although
without doubt there
were Baptist Churches then, as all Christians were
Yes, all Christians were then Baptists, because the
Baptists believe and teach today, are the same as
those taught by the
Lord Jesus Himself, by Peter, John, Paul and all the
Apostles. We have
not always been called "Baptists." The
name is not a self-chosen one.
Following what we believe to be apostolic precept and
Baptists rejected infant baptism for lack of
Scriptural warrant, insisted
on a "regenerate membership," and baptism
by the candidate as a condition for church membership.
For these reasons they
were stigmatized as "Anabaptists," "Catabaptists,"
and sometimes as simply
"Baptists;" this was to say, they were
"rebaptizers, perverters of baptism," or, as
unduly emphasizing baptism
and making it a reason for schism, simply
"baptizers." We are proud
of the name, because it distinguishes our doctrinal
position which is
set forth in the New Testament and identifies us with
a host of saints
who believe the same precious truths and were
identified by the same denominator.
premise that first century Christians were Baptists,
runs counter to the
Roman Catholic claim that the first Church was Roman
this we need only point out that the first Church was
organized by Christ
and His apostles, and those apostles became the
nucleus of the Church
at Jerusalem, not Rome, and James was its leader, not
also contend that the bishop of Rome did not win
primacy over other
bishops until the fourth century, and that it wasn't
until Gregory ascended
the episcopal throne in 590 A.D. that the Roman bishop
began to claim his supremacy over other bishops.
Thus, we see that Roman
Catholicism dates back to the fourth century at the
we do not contend that only Baptists are going to
Heaven, we do
contend that the first Church was organized according
to principles historically
maintained by Baptists, and that Baptists have existed
since that day.
First called Christians, then by other names down
through the centuries
until they received the name that has distinguished
them from Protestant and Catholic groups alike.
WHAT DO THE BAPTISTS BELIEVE?
questioned as to his belief, Charles H. Spurgeon used
to say, "First
of all I am a Christian. But as that word has
become somewhat inclusive
in the minds of many, I further define my position by
stating, I am a
Christian who holds the doctrines historically held by
the people called
Baptists believe the great Bible Doctrines that have
Christianity from its inception. They believe:
That The Bible Is The Inerrant, Divinely Inspired Word
the pen used was the pen of man, the words written
were the words of
God, in the original manuscripts (2 Peter1:21).
no divine authority in the traditions of men, their
creeds, or ecclesiastic
decrees. For them, the Bible is the final and
only sufficient authority
in doctrine, church government and life. They
believe that the Bible,
being a revelation of the will of God, sets forth the
state of man, the
way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the
happiness of true believers.
They believe that its doctrines are holy, its precepts
are binding, its
histories are true, and its decisions are immutable,
Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished
unto all good works"
That There Is One Eternal, Living And True God.
that God is sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient and
omnipresent. That He is a personal Being, who
created, preserves and rules the universe.
They believe that God is infinite in holiness and all
and that to Him is due the highest love, reverence and
Baptists are trinitarians in that they believe that
the one great God
is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each
personal attributes, but without division of nature,
essence or being.
we read in Deuteronomy 6:4 "The Lord our God is
one Lord," we
read in Matthew 3:16-17 that at the baptism of Jesus
Christ, the three
distinct personalities were manifested at one and the
same time. While
Baptists recognize a seeming paradox, they accept it,
and humbly wait for
its solution. Baptists do not measure what they
are to believe in
the Bible by what accords with finite reasoning.
It is not possible
for that which is finite to fully comprehend that
which is infinite.
That Man Was Created By The Special Act Of God, as
created in a state of holiness, through the temptation
of Satan, man
transgressed the command of God and fell from his
and righteousness. Through his fall the entire
human race inherited
a corrupt and fallen nature (Romans 5:12), and are so
utterly out of
contact with God in their fallen condition that they
have neither the
desire nor the will to be in subjection to the will of
God. Though man
in his unfallen state had freedom and power to will to
do good or evil,
man by his fall, lost his ability to will any
spiritual good accompanying
salvation and has no strength to convert himself or
make any movement
toward God (Romans3:10 -11).
That In The Matter Of Salvation God Has Taken The
and grace marks His program from beginning to end
(Eph. 2:8 - 9).
He bestows salvation upon all, who by faith, receive
His Son, the Lord
Jesus Christ, as their Saviour and Lord (John1:12;
Rom.10:9 - 10). This
made possible through the mediatorial office of the
Son of God, who by
the Holy Spirit was born of the Virgin Mary and took
upon Himself our
nature, yet without sin; honored the law of God by His
personal obedience and
made atonement for our sins by His death on the
cross. As the assurance of God's approval and
satisfied justice, He was
raised from the dead (I Cor. 15:3 - 4), and is now
enthroned in Heaven
as our Advocate. He awaits the day when He shall
visibly and personally
return to earth to receive His people, assert His
Kingly rule over
all the earth and judge the wicked (Acts1:9 - 11; Rev.
20:1 - 15).
believe in sanctification as the divine act of God in
setting us apart
for Himself, and also as a process of spiritual growth
in the believer
that shall culminate in our complete likeness to
Christ when "we
shall see Him as He is" (I John3:2).
believe in the eternal security of the believer in
Jesus Christ (Romans
8:38 - 39).
That A Gospel Church Is A Congregation Of Baptized
Christ as their Head, united in their faith in His
Word, observing the
ordinances He instituted, and covenanting to do what
believe there are two church ordinances, baptism and
the Lord's Supper.
They are not sacraments but symbols of spiritual
truths. Baptism is
the immersion of a believer in water as a picture of
the death, burial
and resurrection of our Lord. It is also a
symbol of the candidate's
death to sin and resurrection to a new life in Christ.
The Lord's Supper
points back to the coming of Christ to die for
sinners, and forward
to the coming of Christ to receive His Bride (I Cor.
addition to two Church ordinances, Baptists recognize
only two Church
officers as being scriptural; pastors and deacons.
Pastors are also
called bishops and elders. They exercise no
authority save that of leadership.
Deacons are servants of the church, chosen by reason
of their fitness to
perform certain duties, and by virtue of their
recognized as leaders in the church. In the
average church other officers
and committees are chosen in the nature of helpers.
That There Will Be A Resurrection Of The Dead (I Cor.
15), that Heaven
is a place prepared for God's people (John14:2 - 3),
and that Hell is
the eternal estate of the lost (Psalm9:17; Matt.13:42;
Rev. 20:13 - 15).
WHAT HAVE THE BAPTISTS DONE?
Baptists have been active in many fields of service,
in addition to establishing
hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the aged.
The Baptists have
made an honorable contribution to the world of
have written a number of our greatest hymns.
have been great leaders in the field of education.
Henry Dunster, the
first president of Harvard University, was a Baptist.
Vassar College was founded
by Matthew Vassar, a Baptist. Robert Baylor,
as a member of the Texas Republic's supreme court, and
founder of Baylor
University, was a Baptist. Brown University,
Rochester were founded by Baptists, though they are no
with the Baptists. A number of senior and junior
schools, and elementary schools are maintained today
by Baptists. John
Clarke, a Baptist, is recognized as the author of the
free school system
Fox, an English Baptist, organized the first Sunday -
School society in
1785. The first Sunday - School paper in
America, The Young Reaper,
was a Baptist paper. The well known Uniform
Sunday School Lessons
were developed by a Chicago Baptist Layman, B.F.
Jacobs, and a
Methodist preacher, J.H. Vincent.
first English overseas missionary, William Carey, was
a Baptist. The
first American overseas missionary, Adoniram Judson,
was a Baptist.
Sailing for India with Luther Rice as Congregational
missionaries the two of
them were converted to the Baptist faith en route.
Judson sailed on to Burma, and Rice returned to
for the mission.
is little doubt that the Baptists have been the
champions of religious
freedom in this and other lands. The
Collier's Encyclopedia says,
"The ideals of the Republic were their own, and
they became the leading
protagonists of separation of Church and State which,
in the Bill of
Rights, became a fundamental principle in the
Constitution of the
United States." Skeats, the English
historian, declared, "It is the singular
and distinguished honor of the Baptists to have
their earliest history all coercive power over the
consciences and actions
of men with reference to religion. They were the
protoevangelists of the
Carlyle asserted, "The history of the world is
but the biography
of great men." And when you study the
history of religious freedom
you will discover that it is largely a biography of
For this they have paid a great price. They were
burned at the stake, their eyes were gouged out,
melted lead was
poured over their bodies and they were publicly
whipped. Collier's Encyclopedia
says, "They were the victims of determined
persecution on all
sides, and this persecution was carried on with more
violence by Protestants
than by Roman Catholics." Though this may
be disputable, the
fact remains, in Protestant as well as Catholic
countries, the Baptists
paid the price of freedom with their blood.
Luther, Zwingli and Calvin appealed to the Scriptures
as the final and
supreme authority in matters of religion, not one of
them advocated the
freedom of the church from secular control.
While Calvin believed
in punishing dissenters with death and exile, Luther
said of the
Anabaptists, "Let the sword exercise its rights
over them." The champions
of liberty in Germany were not the Lutherans, but
Baptists such as
Balthasar Hubmaier, a learned man with a doctor of
from the University of Ingolstadt. This great
Baptist was hounded
from city to city, until he was banished to Moravia
where he became the
leader of thousands who fled from the Zwinglian
persecution and thousands
of Moravian converts to Anabaptist views.
He was burned at the stake
by order of the Emperor in 1528, and three days
later his wife, with a stone tied to her neck was
thrown into the Danube
by the Roman Catholic authorities. Throughout
his career as a Anabaptist
leader, Hubmaier insisted upon the separation of the
Church and State, the
authority of the Bible and the baptism of believers.
1535 Charles V issued an edict ordering all
rebaptizers in the Netherlands
to be put to death by fire. During the next
eleven years 30,000
Baptists were put to death.
freedom in England did not originate with the
Presbyterians but with Baptists, such as, Thomas
Helwys, John Murton and
their followers who organized the first English
Baptist Church in 1612 and began to spread from there
the principles of
own country is not exempt from the guilt of
persecuting the Baptists.
When nine of the thirteen colonies had state-supported
churches, hundreds of
Baptists were jailed or beaten in the streets.
June 4, 1768, the sheriff of Spotsylvania County,
Lewis Craig, John Waller, James Childs, James Reed and
William Mash. The
prosecutor charged them with being disturbers of
the peace, alleging,
"They cannot meet a man upon the road, but they
must ram a text of
Scripture down his throat." They were kept
in prison in
Fredericksburg forty-three days for quoting the Word
1773, Jeremiah Moore was arrested for preaching and
was told by the
judge, "You shall lie in jail until you
rot." Patrick Henry was brought
to Alexandria to defend Moore, and in a great
said, "Great God, gentlemen, a man in prison for
preaching the Gospel
of the Son of God." Moore was later
others like Obadiah Holmes were stripped to the waist
and beaten, it is
said, "Until the blood ran down his body and then
his legs until his
shoes overflowed." For days Holmes could
not rest except upon
his knees and elbows, not able to let his body touch
Williams, under the Baptist banner, was banished from
Plymouth Colony in 1638.
He fled into the wilderness where he purchased
land from the Indians and together with a band of
Massachusetts, they established the first government
on earth where there was absolute political and
religious freedom. They
called the place Providence.
John Leland became a friend of Thomas Jefferson and
enlistjng their support in his fight for religious
freedom, and strengthened
their own convictions. Leland determined to
become a member of
the Virginia convention called to ratify the United
to force Baptist views of freedom into the document.
He was opposed in
the Orange County election by James Madison. He
knew he had the election
won, but recognized in Madison a more persuasive
political voice. So the two met at a place that
is now known as the
Leland-Madison State Park. There, Madison agreed
to introduce an
Amendment to the Constitution assuring separation of
Church and State,
if Leland would withdraw. Leland withdrew.
Today, the First Amendment
in the Bill of Rights guarantees the citizens of the
freedom of religion.
you know why I am proud to be a Baptist. You
should be proud to
be a Baptist, and we must earnestly guard our
principles which have been
purchased by the blood of martyrs. Evil efforts
are being made to violate
some of the principles today. You should have
firm convictions concerning
the things that have made Baptists great, and stand
for those things,
whatever the cost may be.