PROTESTANTS COMMEMORATE 500th ANNIVERSARY (1517-2017)
In 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenburg Church door, an action that ultimately began the Protestant Reformation. The Protestant Reformers three-fold rallying cry became (a) Sola Scriptura—solely by the Scriptures, (b) Sola Gratia—solely by grace and (c) Sola Fide—solely by faith. These were/are a legitimate triangle upon which to base genuine Christian truth.
Unfortunately, Protestant leaders could not wholeheartedly concur with each other on N.T. precepts (doctrine) and polity (practice) and separate Protestant denominations developed. The Lutheran denomination became associated with its founder, Martin Luther, the Methodist denomination with its founders, John and Charles Wesley, the Presbyterian denomination with John Calvin, its founder, etc.
While some church historians trace Baptists to John Smyth, as the Baptists founder, this is a mistaken and invalid theory. While it is true, that modern Baptists generally trace their formal name-“Baptist”-to 16th/17th century origins, N. T. Baptists go all the way back doctrinally and historically to the New Testament.
BAPTISM IN THE N. T. RECORD
The book of Acts is a record of N. T. POLITY (practice). Acts 2:41 states that “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized [immersion!] and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Those 5,000 individuals were actually IMMERSED and ADDED to the unnumbered believers who were already a part of the N.T. local church that existed at Jerusalem! Genuine baptism involves both the testimony of spiritual death (submersion in water) and resurrection (a physical raising up out of the water).
How do we know they were immersed and NOT sprinkled or poured? Well, Rom. 6: 1-10 plainly states that baptism involves BOTH an immersion—representing Christ’s physical death, and our death to sin-- and a physical raising up—of Christ, and our bodies--representing Christ’s resurrection and our newness of life. This is what Rom. 6:3-5 says:
“Know ye not, that so many of us, as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like a Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." Read Rom 6:6-11 for further confirmation.
We know that baptism involved submersion in water, NOT pouring or sprinkling, based on Acts 8:36-38. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, if thou believest with all thine her, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch and he baptized him. And when they WERE COME UP OUT OF THE WATER, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip…”
TESTIMONIES OF NON-BAPTISTS ABOUT BAPTIST ANTIQUITY
Dutch Reformed Scholars: Anne Ypeij and Isaac Johannes Dermout
“The Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the Apostles…”
George B. Adams: Yale University scholar
“Of the Baptists it may be said, they are NOT reformers. These people, comprising bodies of Christian believers known under various names in different countries, are entirely distinct and independent of the Roman and Greek churches, and have unbroken continuity of existence from apostolic days down through the centuries.”
Robert Barclay: Quaker Historian
“In the sense of the direct transmission of divine truth, and the true nature of spiritual religion, it seems probable that these churches have a lineage of succession more ancient than that of the Roman Church.”
"The institution of Anabaptists is no novelty, but for 1300 years has caused great trouble in the church.”
John Clark Ridpath: Methodist
“I should not readily admit that there was a Baptist church as far back as 100 A.D., although without doubt, there were Baptist churches then, as ALL CHRISTIANS WERE THEN BAPTISTS.”
Cardinal Hosius: Roman Catholic
“Were it not for the fact that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past 1200 years, they would swarm greater than all the reformers.”
TESTIMONIES OF EMINENT BAPTISTS
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“We did NOT commence our existence at the Reformation. We were reformers before Luther or Calvin were ever born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it…We have always existed from the very days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten…have always had honest and holy adherents.”
“The Baptists claimed to have descended from the apostles. It is true, that the line of descent cannot always be traced. Like a river, that now and then in its course is lost under the surface of the ground, and then makes its appearance again, the Baptists claim that, from the days of the Apostles until the present times, there have not been wanting those persons, either separately or collected into churches and known under different names, who, if now living, would universally be recognized as Baptists.”
THREE VIEWS OF BAPTIST HISTORY
(a) Successionism: A supposed unbroken line of successive churches, commonly known as “Baptist Bride.”
*(b) Spiritual Kinship: Churches known by different names throughout the centuries who maintained same basic N.T. principles that Fundamental Baptists do today; Prime Example: The ancient Waldensians
(c) Separatist: Baptists were originally Protestants who separated from other Protestants during 16th-18th centuries. *The F.D. editor adheres to view (b) above
|JUNE-JULY 2017 The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given. The above item is a sample of the numerous timely articles that are contained in the bi-monthly issues of The Fundamentalist Digest.|