Truth Warrior

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Baptists Before the Reformation

Baptist history portrays a rich heritage of Biblical truth, missionary zeal, interchurch association and religious liberty.*

Baptists Before the Reformation

The church began in the city of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). From 70 AD (the year the temple was destroyed) to about 312AD both persecution and great church growth and development took place. The Bible was completed. The Autographs were being copied into the first Manuscripts. The church went underground. From about 312 to 1517 the Roman Catholic (RC) religious machine grew strong. When Constantine declared the Christianity the state religion, at that time all manner of idolatry and formalism passed for Christianity. Rome continued to add to itself more and more “traditions”. Simultaneously there existed what I will call Free Churches, those groups that remained underground and did not participate with RC. Between 1517 and 1545 the Reformation began to make steady progress.

Fifteen centuries passed between the times of the apostles and the Reformation period. During this time various groups of Christians followed the Bible in greater and lesser degrees. What we can know about these groups is quite unclear since many of them were under severe persecution and their writings (if they had any) destroyed. What we are left with is the records of their persecutors. This is not a lot to determine a clear picture church history. However, there are at least four theories of Baptist origins that have emerged in recent times.

Four Theories of Baptist Origins

Apostolic succession

In his book The Trail of Blood, J.M. Carroll puts forth the view that there has been an unbroken chain of New Testament (Baptist) churches from either John the Baptist or Jesus Christ. Baptists accordingly have had a continuous line of authority through one or more of the following: a succession of ordination going back to the apostles, a succession of baptism going back to the apostles, and a succession of local churches holding the biblical distinctives of Baptists going back to the apostles. Those who hold to this theory have also been called Landmark Baptists.

Could be?

Anabaptist kinship

In denouncing the “baptism” of infants and holding firm that only those old enough to understand and believe the gospel should be baptized, Anabaptists became the scourge of the Reformation. The word Anabaptist means baptized again. Most Christians felt that the “baptism” of infants was a most important sacrament since regeneration precedes faith. It was the sacrament initiating babies into the church-state. Therefore Anabaptists were scorned and persecuted for not conforming to this idea. What luminaries of divine truth persecuted these believers for holding this biblical doctrine and heart felt conviction? Yes, the Roman Catholic Church… and also Martin Luther, John Calvin, but watch out not all Anabaptists tolerated diversity either.

Around 1534 John Matthys, an Anabaptist, became the leader of Munster and if you did not submit to rebaptism you had to flee for your life. After a siege and the death of John Matthys, the Munsterites defense eventually buckled; then came slaughter and torture to those who remained true to their convictions. This event damaged the reputation of the Anabaptists (even the pacifists in their ranks) and persecution increased all the more in fact thousands of Dutch Anabaptists died during the 1500’s.

Historical succession between these Anabaptists and others that held to “Baptist” doctrine cannot be established, but such groups according to the Anabaptist kinship theory have always existed, and (they say) modern Baptists are in this line.

Could be?

Possible baptistic congregations within the Roman Catholic church

The Roman Catholic religious machine reacted to the Reformation with the Council of Trent, which officially codified many tenants and practices that were unofficial practices up to that time. This Counter Reformation was for the purpose of stopping the mouths of Protestants and to declare anathema any teaching but her own.

Before the Council of Trent, it seems that anything short of outright attacks on the authority of the “church” were tolerated… that is as long as you were Roman Catholic. This leniency may have allowed baptistic views to remain within her domain. However when the “church” tightened her damnable controls after the Council of Trent “Baptists" could no longer remain within the religion of Rome, soon they began to appear independently throughout Europe.

Could be?

English Separatist decent

During the latter part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, a small number of people separated themselves from the “impure” national church and formed small gathered churches. Their number was never more than several hundred; even so, they were hunted down and severely punished by the agents of Elizabeth and James I. They were also strongly criticized by Puritan preachers. The Separatists were Puritans who sought to completely “separate” themselves from the state-church, the Church of England. The Puritans only wanted to “purify” the church of Catholic ceremony and doctrine.

Information on Baptists during this period is plentiful. Therefore, this theory holds that since there is no clear documentation prior to this, assumptions about earlier times can’t be substantiated. In light of this, it is still maintained that there is historical evidence which confirms that Baptist beliefs existed in various ways, and by various groups, to greater and lesser extents before the Separatist Movement and way before the Reformation. That is why, According to this theory Baptists, historically, are not Protestant, nor Reformed!

Famous names connected with this movement are:

Robert Browne

John Smyth

John Robinson

Could be?

What do you think? Which theory seems most acceptable to you? Explain why, if you wish.

* Anderson and Gower, Biblical Distinctives of Baptists, p.111

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Results Are In!

I want to thank each one of you who has participated in these surveys. My personal analysis on the results also serves to answer the question why learn about Baptist history?

We know very little about Baptist history.

The importance of learning Baptist history is that when we see how God has worked in the past we gain courage for today and hope for tomorrow. Though we may uncover some failures and excesses along the way, my hope is that this survey of Baptist history will build the confidence of Baptists, and help others to see and understand our rich heritage as well. As we discover the development of Baptist beliefs and practices in church history, we also learn to value more highly the convictions for which faithful men and women have lived and died.

Organizationally those who have been called Baptists can not really be traced to a period before the sixteenth century. However, it is important to note that Bible believing Baptists do have the same spiritual truth that early New Testament churches had. We possess the completed revelation, which is the final authority from God to man, the Bible.

Baptist history differs greatly from the history of major Protestant denominations.

Historians generally agree that reliable Baptist history differs greatly from the history of major Protestant denominations. For example during the Reformation, many Protestant groups sought merely to reform the Roman Catholic (RC) religious machine, thus the name “Reformation.” The attempt to just reform this state-church was viewed by RC leaders as protesting, thus the name “Protestant.” These Reformed or Protestant denominations often have some form of the state-church model and/or denominational hierarchies and/or other RC traditions. This is true to this present hour. That is why this writer eschews the name “Reformed” and “Protestant” especially when applied to Baptists.

Perhaps from this post you have all ready learned something about Baptist history in the posts to follow I hope to present more information to substantiate my personal analysis in the hope that we continue to come along in a better understanding of the biblical distinctives of Baptists.

The Next Survey Question

I am asking you the reader to participate in a little survey. I am not going to embarrass anyone. Treat this as if it were “just for fun”. Give answers “off the top of your head”. Don’t worry about being studious or academic PLEASE!

OK here we go…


Name some important dates, places, people, or, events in Baptist history.

This will conclude our survey so you will want to check back soon for my personal analysis on the results.

Thank you for your participation,
Brother John

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Rose made this for me

Baptist History

We will conclude this lengthy series of the Biblical Distinctives of Baptists with a summary of Baptist history. Whether or not you are a Baptist you may be interested in the rich heritage we Baptists possess. We can all learn about and appreciate early Baptists, who held to their convictions in spite of persecution and even martyrdom. Further we will gain confidence that God’s Word endures forever.

Here is the general outline:

Baptists before the Reformation

Baptists and the Reformation

Baptists since the Reformation

The Survey Question

Before we get started on the outline above, I am asking you, the reader to participate in a little survey. I am not going to embarrass anyone. Treat this as if it were “just for fun”. Give short, but concise answers. I do not want to belabor a point so the sooner I get 200 replies (Greek for a half dozen or so) the sooner we will move on to the next survey point. Don’t worry about being studious or academic PLEASE!

OK here we go…


Name some important dates, places, people, or, events in America’s history (and/or European history for my friend Matthew).

One comment per item please (make as many short comments as you wish this way we’ll reach “200” sooner. Then stay tuned for the next survey question.

Friday, April 21, 2006

What is the Government's Responsibility to the Church?

VI. What is the Government's Responsibility to the Church?

The following is an excerpt from Biblical Basis for Baptists by Dr. L. Duane Brown, Regular Baptist Press 1986 p.43.

The Untied States holds a unique place in the nations of the world today as the only major government which has held to the Scriptural principle of separation of church and state since its beginning. However, a concentrated move has been underway in these past years to destroy this important freedom. Editor E.S. James of Texas states that the chief enemies of these rights are communism, Catholicism and public apathy. Catholicism wants to control the state, communism wants to destroy the state and public apathy covers its eyes and ears to what’s going on.

Separation of church and state means the state guarantees religious freedom for all and any groups. No group is to be favored or restricted (except when common morality or private property and person is violated). However, it dos not mean the state is against religion which unfortunately some have held. Our Constitution does not forbid any religious element within public areas, but forbids any favoritism to any group. This country was founded on the principle of “in God we trust.” Prayer and Bible reading in public schools are not a violation of religious freedom.

In Matthew 22:19-22 the Pharisees were attempting to trap the Lord Jesus into making traitorous statements. Instead, the Lord turned the tables and revealed the basic principle the individual should have toward both the church and the state. Each has its own demands and requirements, both deserve faithfulness.

Baptists still hold this truth and even have died for it. In fact, it was the Baptists who influenced George Washington and the leaders of the infant country to adopt this freedom. It was a major difference from the tradition of the European countries (nearly all of which had state churches). Born-again Christians ought to praise God for this country with its privileges, opportunities and freedoms.
(L. Duane Brown, Biblical Basis for Baptists, p.43)

This concludes our study of Separation of Church and State, a biblical approach. We have covered the following topics,

I. What Is Separation of Church and State?
II. What Does the Bible Say about Separation of Church and State?
III. What about the First Amendment and Separation of Church and State?
IV. How Can Government Control the Churches?
V. What is the Christian's Responsibility to Government?
VI. What is the Government's Responsibility to the Church?

My hope is that it has been an edifying and thought provoking topic for all not just Baptists. Though we are at the end of our acrostic "BAPTISTS" there is yet more to come on the Biblical Distinctives of Baptists. “What more could there be?” you ask. Find out on my next post.

brother John

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What is the Christian's Responsibility to Government?

V. What is the Christian's Responsibility to Government?

The Biblical Christian has several responsibilities to the civil government which God has ordained. Let’s take a moment to consider the following points from the Scriptures.

A. We are to support it (Rom. 13:1-7)
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

B. We are to submit to it (Titus 3:1-2)
Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

C. We are to honor it (1Pet. 2:13-17)
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

D. We are to pray for it (1Tim. 2:1-6)
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Next post: What is the Government's Responsibility to the Church?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

How Can Government Control the Churches?

IV. How Can Government Control the Churches?

Allow me to quote directly from the curriculum that I have been using for this presentation of the biblical distinctives of Baptists by Donald K. Anderson and David M. Gower (I will give more information about this fine material at a later time).

The government can control churches in several ways. Control can be exercised by laws the legislators make, by the decisions of the courts or by the actions of government agencies.

It is interesting that most of the church-state tensions today in the United-States do not come from laws that our legislators have made but from court decisions and government agencies, both of which are staffed by non-elected people. Citizens seem to have very little control over the courts and government agencies.

Some of the areas of concern today include: taxation of churches and church schools, the legitimacy of certain church ministries (such as schools), certification of teachers, zoning for home Bible studies, church buildings, in newer neighborhoods, Bible studies and /or religious displays on public property to name a few.

Writing a letter to a congressman (or a member of parliament) to influence legislation in favor of religious liberty is one way Christians can get involved in defending the First Amendment and religious liberty.

What are some other ways we can peacefully defend the First Amendment and religious liberty?

Next post: What is the Christian's Responsibility to Government?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The First Amendment and Separation of Church and State?

III. What about the First Amendment and Separation of Church and State?

The biblical concept of separation of church and state became part of The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, partly because of the influence of Baptists. It reads in part,
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
This Law governs our nation in matters of church-state relations.

Notice if you will the phrase
Congress shall make no law…”
few today understand that the First Amendment was to be applied to the federal government only, that it’s intent was to keep the government from establishing any denomination as officially sanctioned or forbidding any denomination free exercise thereof. (Both of these occurred in England, but that is another story.) A number of of the original thirteen states had their own established religion, a state church. The states did not want to loose their power to establish or prohibit a religion to the newly formed federal government of the United States of America.

Thank God this has changed in the last 200 (+) years. Now neither an individual state nor the federal government can establish or prohibit a religion. Sadly, however, the First Amendment is often interpreted by some to mean that God must be kept out of government all together. This was not at all the intent! “Prove it.” You say. One needs only to visit Washington D.C. (and I hope to some day) to see the inscriptions on many of the public buildings and monuments. God is clearly spoken of in speeches and actions of many of our national leaders (this is true even today).
is even inscribed in our money.

The First Amendment’s intent was unmistakably to keep the government from interfering with religion. However, one may ask, "Should Christians get involved in government?" Allow me to quote brother Joe Scoggins, “Indeed, we should, especially in a democratic republic, be extremely involved in guiding the thoughts of elected officials, voting for or against them and preventing them from instituting a state religion.” Amen!

I encourage my readers to visit a fellow Letter Carrier, and a good friend of mine at maildad for some practical ways to get involved in the communities around us.

What are ways you and I can get involved in government?

What ways can we affect our communities for good?

What can we do to encourage godly politicians?

Next post: How Can Government Control the Churches?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What Does the Bible Say about Separation of Church and State?

II. What Does the Bible Say about Separation of Church and State?

A. Caesar verses God (Matt.22:15-22)

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money.

And they brought unto him a penny.

And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

They say unto him, Caesar's.

Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

In our text we see the Pharisees and the Herodians united (normally in opposition to each other) attempting to corner Jesus in a riddle for the purpose of reducing or eliminating His influence. They probably spent along time conjuring up this question “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” Feeling very smart, they might have said gleefully among themselves, “If Jesus answers, ‘Yes.’, we got him he will certainly anger the Jews and they will no longer accept anything he teaches. If on the other hand He says, ‘No.’, we got him because the loyal Romans will be angered and could and will probably accuse Him of rebellion against the government.” How disappointed they must have felt. Here, they were sure they had come up with the question that only God Himself could answer.

After Jesus was given a penny, and asked whose image is on it, they acknowledged that the image on it was that of Caesar. Then He made this statement, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.” This must have made these professional religionists drop open their mouths because… “When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him, and went their way.”(v.22)

There is so much one could extrapolate from this little passage, yet to stay on topic let me offer this morsel of application lifted from this text. There are two separate spheres for our respect and support, church and state. Christians today, have the duty and privilege to obey God and country!

God has ordained both the state and the church each with distinct and separate purposes. Romans 13:1-7 outlines the purposes of the state, while the church’s purposes are outlined in Matthew 28:19-20. These passages demonstrate the differing God-intended functions of church and state.

B. Earthly kingdom verses Heavenly kingdom (Jn. 18:28-40)

John 18:28-40 is the account of Jesus standing before Pilate preceding His crucifixion. Jesus told Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”(v.36) Jesus was acknowledging His kingship, but also that His kingdom was not of this world, if it were His servants would fight for His deliverance. Since His kingdom had not yet been established in Jerusalem He would not permit them to fight.

God intends church and state to be kept separate until the King of Kings comes back and establishes His earthly kingdom.

C. Man’s authority verses God’s authority

The apostles were jailed for proclaiming the gospel and commanded by the authorities not to teach in His name (see Acts 5:17-29). God delivered them from prison and via His angel, told them to keep preaching. The next morning the apostles were right back at the temple teaching. They were brought before the council for interrogation and asked, “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?” The response, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

The apostles recognize the existence of two spheres of authority, God’s and man’s. We also see the way a believer should respond when faced with conflicting demands. When the human authorities make demands that call for disobedience to God, we must follow the example of the apostles and “…obey God rather than men.”

It is clear from the Bible that there are two yet separate spheres of authority God’s and man’s. The Christian today has an obligation to both. We should do our best to obey both, however, when faced with conflict we should always obey God over man. This goes back to our statement that, the church will not control the government and that the government will not control the church.

What are some ways you have obeyed both?

What are ways you have had to obey God rather than man?

Next post: What about the First Amendment and Separation of Church and State?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What Is Separation of Church and State?

I What Is Separation of Church and State?

Separation of church and state means that the church will not control the government and that the government will not control the church.

a) There should be no union between the church and the state.

b) The state should not control religious affairs.

c) No religion should control governmental affairs.

This does not mean that Christian’s should not respect, sustain, and obey civil government as long as it does not violate the conscience or biblical convictions. It does not mean Christians should not get involved in government. Christian reader, we should at least pray and vote.

God has ordained three institutions: Family, in Genesis 2:20-25, God planned and blessed marriage/the home. The church, in Matthew 16:18, Jesus states He will build the church. God also established civil government.

Dr. L. Duane Brown, recognized as an authority on church trends and movements, articulates the establishment of civil government,

After Adam disobeyed the commandment of god and was cast out of the Garden of Eden, children were born to Adam and Eve (Gen. 4, 5). There were no social rules to follow and much wickedness developed because every man followed his own conscience. Soon the human race was completely corrupted except for Noah and his family (Gen. 6:5-8). Following the flood, God established a covenant with Noah (Gen.9) which included civil government. Its basis was the ultimate human retribution of capital punishment (Gen.9:5, 6). Nowhere in Scripture has God rescinded this principle. (Biblical Basis For Baptists pp. 41, 42)

This means that churches should submit to governmental regulations intended to protect the health and safety of the public, but the government must not interfere with the beliefs and practices of a church or its ministries.

Separation of church and state, once again, means that the church will not control the government, and the government will not control the church.

Next post: What Does the Bible Say about Separation of Church and State?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Separation of Church and State

Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. (Matthew 22:21)

We have been working down our acrostic of the biblical distinctives of Baptists. We have seen the importance of each one of these biblical distinctives:


We now come to S for Separation of Church and State. How do I feel about this issue? Well let me put it this way; I wear my feelings on my shirt.

Separation of church and state is perhaps one of the most readily accepted distinctives of biblical Baptists both within and without Christendom. We enjoy our religious freedom in the United States of America. We have been blessed in this nation with religious liberty because some have felt that it was and is important enough to live and die for, work and fight for. Indeed it is! The U.S. armed forces defend our freedom and for this reason our present troop’s and the veterans of every era deserve our respect and honor. They are the defenders of our liberty NOT the ACLU!

We should not forget, however, that this idea did not just come up one afternoon in some congressional think tank. It was not a mere proposal drafted by a political party and voted on because no one had anything better to do one day. This is the doing of an almighty God. All freedom loving nations owe their allegiance to Him. Just how did God accomplish this providential feat?

My temptation here is to give details about men of God, such as Roger Williams: The “Windmill in the Low Countries”, John Clarke: “A Lively Experiment… With Full Liberty in Religious Concernments”, Isaac Backus: “A Door Opened for Equal Christian Liberty”, and John Leland: “The Liberty I Contend for Is More than Toleration”* All of whom were (at least for some time) Baptists. Since others have done that work I will restrain my self and express the biblical distinctives of Baptists on the separation of church and state. This will be a biblical approach not a political approach. Here's an outline to get you thinking

I. What Is Separation of Church and State?

II. What Does the Bible Say about Separation of Church and State?

III. What about the First Amendment and Separation of Church and State?

IV. How Can Government Control the Churches?

V. What is the Christian's Responsibility to Government?

VI. What is the Government's Responsibility to the Church?

My hope is that this will be an edifying and thought provoking topic for all not just Baptists.

Next post: What does the Bible Say about Separation of Church and State?

*I recommend the book “Baptists and the American Tradition” by Robert C. Newman.


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