Where Baptists Began

They come out of a long tradition of non-establishment Christians through the centuries who were never part of the Catholic tradition, and who did not come out of the Catholic church via the Reformation. The Reformer groups came to be called “Protestants.” Baptist technically are therefore not Protestant! The name came into somewhat general use in the 15 and 16 hundreds, as a convenient label for these enigmatic believers who did not fit the establishment. Many historians are of the opinion that it came into use as a shortened version of “ana-baptist,” or “again-baptizers” as those forebearers were derisively labeled for insisting that believers should be baptized in profession of faith, even if their parents had them baptized or sprinkled as infants in the Reformation or Catholic style of baptism. The movement has no founder. It is in the tradition of what we believe the New Testament churches were, a tradition carried on through the centuries by groups scattered here and there, given a variety of names, some scarcely leaving a trail in the dust of history. Some Baptists are so skittish about appearing to be a monolithic ecclesiastical machine that they just say we are “baptistic” with a small “b”. Today, taken altogether, Baptists are one of the major varieties of Christian belief and practice. They are found in most parts of the world. Their inherently disconnected nature has helped to make them most difficult to eradicate under anti-Christian governmental persecution where such has at times surfaced.

-Ralph Gruenberg, Director of Special Projects at ABWE-

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