Thursday, May 17, 2007


When and where did Baptists originate. Where did they come from and are the so gosh-golly-gee great anyway. Well the last part will not be answered but I would like to turn your attention to part of Dr. Phillip R. Bryan’s thesis from 1966. He later did his Ph.D. work at Baylor under. Dr. Ray Summers.

Dr. Bryan is currently the President Emeritus at BMA Theological Seminary and teaches Theology. He will was part of the planning committee for Baptist History Celebration that will take place in Charleston, S.C. and was invited to lecture at this meeting

Successionist Theories

The oldest and most generally accepted theory of Baptist origins has been the successionist theory. Essentially the view is that Baptists have had a continuity of existence since the days of Jesus' ministry. William Wright Barnes has differentiated four variations of tho theory: (1) church succession, (2) apostolic succession, (3) baptismal succession, and (4) spiritual succession. He has maintained that one extreme form of church succession is the same as the Roman Catholic theory of church succession. Although four types are delineated, "the first three theories or emphases are logically related and historically associated." All three maintain that "a valid church must validly authorize a minister in order that a baptism may be valid." Representative Baptist historians who have advocated succession are:(1)Thomas Crosby, (2) G. H, Orchard, (3) J. M. Cramp, (4) William Cathcart, and (5) John T. Christian.
Professor William Morgan Patterson of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was apparently the author of the only extensive critique and analysis of the successionist theories, although other less extensive studies have been made. He has concluded that successionist writers wrote from an apologetical and polemical approach and that their conclusions were based upon a priori reasoning and not scientific methodology.

Anabaptist Spiritual Kinship Theory

A theory "held by those who trace a spiritual relationship of Baptists through the long line of Anabaptist sects, such as German, Dutch and Swiss Anabaptists, the Waldensians and Petrobrusians, the Henricians, the Novatians, and the Donatists," is the Anabaptist spiritual kinship theory. While no direct organic continuity between these various sects is verifiable, the adherents of this interpretation have asserted that throughout history such minority groups have practiced believer's baptism and therefore, have a "spiritual kinship." As related to Baptist practice, such a view precludes the necessity of organic continuity in either baptisms or ordinations for baptism to be valid. Representative historians maintaining the Anabaptist spiritual kinship view have been: (1) David Benedict, (2) Richard B. Cook, (3) Thomas Armitage, (4) Albert H. Newman, and (5) Walter Rauschenbusch. Apparently no critical analysis has been devoted per se to the spiritual kinship theory except for the points questioned by the historians who have advocated the English Separatist descent theory.

English Separatist Descent Theory

Briefly, the chief affirmation of the English Separatist descent theory is that only those to whom the name Baptist was actually applied should be so considered and that "the Baptists originated with certain English Separatists who were congregational in polity and who had come to consider believers' baptism alone as valid according to the Scriptures." This interpretation is compatible with the view that only the proper candidate (professed believer) and proper purpose (public testimony) are necessary for valid baptism. Although numerous articles covering various aspects of this theory have appeared in scholarly journals, apparently no single monograph has been devoted exclusively to a critical analysis of the theory. The present investigation, therefore, is an effort to provide such an analysis. Several variations of the Separatist descent theory have emerged since the 1880's.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Ah, us Baptists. A mystery wrapped in an enigma.

We like it that way.