So, Where Do Baptists Come From?

Yesterday marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

October 31, 1517, a Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed a set of 95 propositions to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. While he didn’t intend to start the Protestant Reformation, that was the result. You can read more about that day and its effects here. 

The events of October 31, 1517, tell us a great deal about how protestants came to be.

So, where do Baptists come from? That was exactly the question one of our readers asked yesterday.

I am certainly not a historian but even historians do not agree about the origin of Baptists. Some people believe Baptists came out of the Anabaptist tradition. Others think that Baptists came from what is described as the Radical Reformation. You can read about those views here.

The earliest reformers like Luther still did not move completely toward the logical conclusions of people who followed Scripture alone. The best example is those groups who retained infant baptism.

To the contrary Baptists and others moved toward baptism by immersion after faith in Christ. You will find many examples in history of people reading the Scripture in their own language and then submitting to baptism by immersion.

It was Scripture that led them to this conclusion.

Many of you who read this blog are Baptists as I am. Probably more readers are not Baptist. Please indulge me as I describe the group I serve.

Let me give you a simple idea of where Baptists came from.

I subscribe to the view that Baptists came from the Puritan-Separatists in England. These groups were fueled by Scripture. By the way, no one named themselves Baptists. They were called Baptist as a derisive name because of their practice. While the name was often spat out, the name is fitting for people who love and cherish the word of God and seek to follow Scripture. As people more and more were able to read the Scripture for themselves, Baptists and others of like thinking and practice began to multiply.

My mother never taught me that Baptists came from John the Baptist, but she emphasized that we sought to be a New Testament church. While she didn’t have any theological training or church history, she came very close to a very plausible view of the origin of Baptist churches. They came from a desire to follow the teaching of the early church found in the Acts of the Apostles.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. — Psalm 119:18 (NIV)