Today's State of Affairs
Most authors start from the beginning. I prefer to start for the present because it would be best to paint a mental picture in your mind first of what we are facing today and in what I believe will be in the near future. And if you haven't already guessed, this book is written solely to the Baptist people as a whole. Why to the Baptist people? Quite frankly folks, we have forgotten who we are. In forgetting who we are we can easily forget exactly what we stand for or believe for that matter.
I first started noticing our lapse in memory several years ago when I began working on the internet with the infant ministry you know today as The Parsons Corner Internet Ministries. One of the duties I took on as the Parson was to visit websites like the Global Christian Network. GCN for short. There, I met a wonderful variety of Christians. Many there were loving people who displayed the fruit of the Spirit and others so odd turned (strange in their beliefs) as to not displaying anything except their own agenda of how the the Christian life should be lived. Imagine that! This boy from North Georgia & East Tennessee meeting all these fine Christian folks from all over the world. Most of the time it was a wonderful event of fellowship. A few times it was an unpleasant confrontation, and at all times it was a learning experience.
I knew from the upbringing I received from my dad & grandfathers where my Christian roots began and assumed, ignorantly, that all others knew what I represented and where I was coming from. What a surprise and education I received when my eyes actually opened to what was really thought of my beliefs and history of my faith. It stemmed down to two (2) particular verses in the scriptures: Proverbs 22:28 Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. & Proverbs 23:10 Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:
After my experience at GCN, my curiosity then moved to my own church and the Baptist brethren. How much did they know about who we were and where we came from? The answer was that they knew very little. Being very careful not to take these two verses out of context I'll attempt to explain my meaning. First we see in Proverbs 22:28 that there is an ancient landmark (place of origin or signpost) set by our fathers. A signpost not set on tradition or mans changing ways but the landmark of the old pathways. Consider Jeremiah 6:15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. 6:16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
The old pathways are what I'm talking about. Either there is truth or it is a lie. Either it's right or it's wrong. It has to do with darkness or light. Black or white. There is no room for a grey area in the Christian life. Either you are serving God or you are a servant of the devil. Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Many of the things you may read in this publication may seem harsh. Indeed, you may even think that I'm being down right mean spirited. I would hope not, but many times the messenger has been shot because the message delivered wasn't an easy one to receive. Do me a favor though. Try not to shoot the messenger until the message is completely delivered.
Today we are seeing such things as Roman Catholic priests being invited behind the pulpits of Baptist Churches. Now what is wrong with this picture? It's amazing that most people meet you with a blank stare when you mention the Inquisitions and Foxe's Book of Martyrs. So what's happening to our churches today? Well, to start with our base doctrines (teachings) are starting to be abandoned one by one.
Number one on the list of endangered species of teachings is eternal security. Why endangered you ask? Well for starters, our brethren have embraced a new generation of bible versions which are tainted by corrupted Alexandrian (catholic) texts. When I wrote an article called Bible Version Comparisons the main thing that came to light when comparing these versions to the King James and the received texts was the vast differences between these and the manuscripts used to create these new versions. I have included a copy of this article in the ebook for your reference.
To begin with, I want you to look at the base doctrine of Eternal Security as quoted by the various versions. You need to understand that there are various manuscripts, the newer versions use manuscripts that I will plainly call the catholic translations with a mixture of the Greek Septuagint put together in the latter part of the 19th century.
The manuscripts we as Baptists have relied on over these past 1900 plus years were the original manuscripts, (Received Text and the Hebrew Old Testament and even the second century Old Itala or Waldenessian Bible. And in English, the KJV since 1611.) Most all of the new versions seem to keep the meaning of what is being said in the verses and totally change the base doctrines these verses at one time bolstered. My first reference is:
These are but just a couple of the examples of our base doctrines being in danger of being diluted and twisted. To list them in a nutshell: The virgin birth (Acts 2:30, Luke 2:33 & Luke 2:43), The resurrection (Acts 2:30), The shedding of blood (Colossians 1:14-15), The atoning death of the Savior (Matthew 27:35), The Godhead (Romans 1:20, Colossians 2:9, & Acts 17:29), etc. How beit the NIV is the one book that seems to remove the most.
I have talked with many brethren who have embraced the NIV, NKJV, & HCSB. Each made it known to me that they had not forsaken these doctrines but when asked to back these with scripture they couldn't sufficiently make a good showing from their versions. I even had one brother say; "Let me borrow your King James Brother and I'll show you where to find these doctrines." Boy, did he miss the point...
And how about remembering exactly who we are and where we came from? Before we start this next part of the chapter I want to quote a popular saying to you. Take it for what it's worth. "If you can't remember where your house is, how can you carry the groceries home?"
The Baptist Peoples History
Dr. J. M. Pendleton, D.D. in 1867 wrote a book called "CHURCH MANUAL DESIGNED FOR THE USE OF BAPTIST CHURCHES" in which, being a church historian and minister, related his findings and research to the church. He related how not only we should conduct ourselves as a church, but also how the Baptist church had conducted itself through the 17 centuries preceding his manual. He wrote of the church:
The greatest misconception of our day is our identity. How many of you, when asked what branch of the Christian Religion you belong to would answer with the dreaded words "We are Protestant". If you believe Baptist people are protestant, then you are totally and unequivocally wrong. This is a dangerous misconception as even saying such opens the door to fellowship and even blending with the Roman Catholic Church.
It is worthy of noting that some of the ones who wanted to silence and even eradicate us are the ones who documented our history so well. While yet others, though not Baptist, wanted to honestly tell of our actual history. Let me quote a few well known names and what they said about who these Baptist people are in reality:
Sir Isaac Newton, ever hear of him? Born in 1643 and died in 1747. The prominent English scientist, philosopher, mathematician, historian, and student of the Scriptures said:
"The modern Baptists formerly called Anabaptists are the only people that never symbolized with the Papacy."
The Roman Catholic Cardinal, Stanislaus Hosius (born in 1504 and died in 1579) was president of the Council of Trent, which sent more Baptists to be burned at the stake than any other evil movement in history said this:
"If the truth of religion were to be judged by the readiness and cheerfulness which a man of any sect shows in suffering, the opinions and persuasions of no sect can be truer or surer than those of the Anabaptists, whence there have been none for these twelve hundred years past that have been more grievously punished, or that have more cheerfully and steadfastly undergone and even offered themselves to the most cruel sorts of punishment than these people."
And in another letter to his superiors in the Vatican he wrote:
"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."
I want you to do the math if you will. Our arch nemesis Hosius takes the Baptist people back to at least 350 A.D. right after Constantine formed the secular government with the apostate church. That places us years before the institution of the Roman Catholic Church that Cardinal Hosius knew in his day.
Ulrich Zwingli, a Swiss Reformer, (born in 1484 and died in 1531) was a contemporary with Martin Luther and John Calvin. At the council meeting of the city of Zurich, Switzerland took action to decree death by drowning as the penalty for all those "who persisted in the heresy of Anabaptism."
It is documented that he said "The institution of Anabaptism is no novelty, but for thirteen hundred years has caused great disturbance in the church, and has acquired such a strength that the attempt in this age to contend with it appears futile for a time."
If you do the math here also, you will see his admission that we were in existence at the beginning or middle of the second century A.D. Thanks Ulrich!!!
(Henry) Heinrich Bullinger, also a Swiss Reformer (born in1504 and died in1575), was one who hated the Baptists with a passion and yet charted our history well in his writings
"Now, I think it not labour lost to speak somewhat of anabaptism. In the time that Decius and Gallus Caesar were Emperors, there arose a question in the parts of Africa of rebaptising heretics; and St. Cyprian, and the rest of the Bishops, being assembled together in the council of Carthage, liked well of anabaptism.
Against the Donatists St. Augustine, with other learned men, disputed. There is also an Imperial Law made by Honorius and Theodosius, that holy Baptism should not be iterated (repeated). Justinian Caesar hath published the same, in Cod. lib. I. Tit. 6, in these words. If any Minister of the Catholic Church be detected to have rebaptised any, let both him which committed the unappeasable offence, if at least by age he be punishable and he, also, that is won and persuaded thereunto, suffer punishment of death.
J. Cardinal Gibbons, Primate of the Roman Catholic Church in America, Patrick J. Healy, D.D., Catholic University of America; Theodore Roosevelt, LL.D., Associate Editor of, "The Outlook" and a former President of the United States of America; and several other distinguished scholars served as contributors to the book entitled Crossing the Centuries, copyrighted in 1912. This highly educated group of scholars gave the histories of various religious denominations in North America at that time. About the Baptists this book states:
"Of the Baptists it may be said that 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, have had an unbroken continuity of existence from Apostolic days down through the centuries. Throughout this long period they were bitterly persecuted for heresy, driven from country to country, disfranchised, deprived of their property, imprisoned, tortured and slain by the thousands, yet they swerved not from their New Testament Faith, Doctrine and Adherence."
"The extreme conditions of the Reformation served to develop an organized denominational unity among the Baptists in Switzerland in 1523, which extended into Germany, then spread to Holland and other countries of Europe, also to England and Wales. The Baptist church of modern times may properly claim its "organized" denominational activities as beginning with the Switzerland movement."
We also have had our own historians who boldly kept our history alive. Do you remember the name Charles Haddon Spurgeon? (born in 1834 and died in 1892) Some called him the "Prince of Preachers". Its also said that he was one of the most authoritative preachers in history because of his extensive studies since the days of the Apostles. Everywhere you look in Christian circles his books and sermons have been reprinted numerous times both as collections and as individual pieces of reference.
In 1860 Spurgeon was quoted in a sermon as saying: "I am not ashamed of the denomination to which I belong, sprung as we are, direct from the loins of Christ, having never passed through the turbid stream of Romanism, and having an origin apart from all dissent or Protestantism, because we have existed before all other sects."
The next year in 1861, Spurgeon said: "We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never came from the church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the very days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel underground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents."
Again, that same year Spurgeon boldly proceeded to tell the world: "And now it seems to me, at this day, when any say to us, 'You, as a denomination, what great names can you mention? What fathers can you speak of?' We may reply, 'More than any other under heaven, for we are the old apostolic Church that have never bowed to the yoke of princes yet; we, known among men, in all ages, by various names, such as Donatists, Novatians, [sic] Paulicians, Petrobrussians, Cathari, Arnoldists, Hussites, Waldenses, Lollards, and Anabaptists, have always contended for the purity of the Church, and her distinctness and separation from human government. Our fathers were men indured to hardships, and unused to ease. They present to us, their children, an unbroken line which comes legitimately from the apostles, not through the filth of Rome, not by the manipulations of prelates, but by the Divine life, the Spirit's anointing, the fellowship of the Son in suffering and of the Father in truth."
In 1881, 20 years later, Spurgeon was still preaching the same things about the origin of Baptists. It's interesting to note that after twenty years more of study his belief had not changed one bit: "History has hitherto been written by our enemies, who never would have kept a single fact about us upon the record if they could have helped it, and yet it leaks out every now and then that certain poor people called Anabaptists were brought up for condemnation. From the days of Henry II (A.D. 1154-1189) to those of Elizabeth (1558-1603) we hear of certain unhappy heretics who were hated of all men for the truth's sake which was in them. We read of poor men and women, with their garments cut short, turned out into the fields to perish in the cold, and anon of others who were burnt at Newington for the crime of Anabaptism. Long before your Protestants were known of, these horrible Anabaptists, as they were unjustly called, were protesting for the 'one Lord, one faith, and one baptism."
Convinced yet? Hey, I could go on and on with names like: John Smith, B.H. Carroll, Jesse Mercer, J.R. Graves, J. Newton Brown, John A. Broadus, William Williams, R.B.C. Howell, J.M. Pendleton, George C. Lorrimer, A.C. Dayton, & T.T. Eaton. All of these knew how ancient we are. Historical testimonies are near endless and yet we have men today who are denying our very antiquity from Baptist pulpits around the world. The question is why. Is it ignorance of the facts or a want to meld in with the world religious community? Your guess is as good as mine.
My own personal observation and understanding of the history of the church is well rooted in historical fact. That fact is that we did not spring from John the Baptist. He was the last of the Old Testament Prophets and was martyred before the church (ecclesia) was established. The first church without a doubt was the Messianic Church and the Baptist churches sprang from the evangelism of the Apostles missionary efforts.
Copyright © Tim Davis Sr., 2008