The Baptist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination that developed out of the Puritan and Separatist movements in 17th century England. While Baptists are separate from the Anabaptist denomination, the two groups are both "Believer's Baptists" in that they do not believe in the validity of infant baptism and that true baptism can only occur after a person is aware of sin.
Here are six things that led to the development of the Baptist Protestant denomination:
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1. The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, in which the authority and practices of the Roman Catholic Church were significantly challenged, gave rise to numerous Protestant denominations. Two very significant reformers were Martin Luther and John Calvin.
2. The English Reformation also occurred in the 16th century during which time the Church of England separated from the papal authority of the Roman Catholic Church. King Henry VIII asked for a "papal dispensation" from Pope Clement VII to divorce his first wife so that he could marry his pregnant mistress. The request was refused. Against Roman Catholic authority, Henry had the Archbishop of Canterbury grant him a divorce.
In 1534, the Parliament under King Henry VIII passed "The Act of Supremacy" which declared the king to be "the supreme head of the church in England." Henry thus supplanted the power of the Catholic pope.
3. Henry's son, King Edward VI, was the subsequent King and he continued to move the country in a Protestant direction. However, he suffered an early death and after much conflict, his throne was taken by Mary Tudor, a staunch Catholic. Tudor, nicknamed "Bloody Mary" due to the violence she inflicted on Protestants, reigned for five years and was followed by Elizabeth Tudor.
4. Elizabeth drew up a compromise between Catholics and Protestants called the "Elizabethan Settlement"
but the history of conflict led rise to the "Puritans," who sought biblical reforms towards purity and "Separatists," who wanted freedom from state rule by the Church of England. These two groups laid the foundation for the Baptists.
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5. Two Baptist groups emerged, the Particular Baptists and the General Baptists. The Baptist History and Heritage Society
reports on the complicated belief structure of the Baptists that showed "the debt of Baptists to earlier Protestants was indeed great." They identified with:
• Practices of the Anabaptists, such as affirming the authority of the Bible, religious liberty, believer’s baptism, and religious experience.
• Luther’s teaching on the love of God and the priesthood of believers was also important to Baptists.
• John Calvin’s understanding of the sovereignty of God, God’s grace, the atonement of Christ, and the sacraments/ordinances were picked up by many early English and American Baptists.
• Zwingli’s positions on the simplicity of worship and the authority of Scripture were also definitive for early Baptists.
• Thomas Cranmer’s work in the Book of Common Prayer (1549) shaped the worship practices of many, both directly and indirectly.
6. According to Religon Facts
, "The origins of the Baptists are most commonly traced to John Smyth and the Separatists. In 1609, John Smyth, led a group of separatists to the Netherlands to start the General Baptist Church with an Arminian theology. In 1616, Henry Jacob led a group of Puritans in England with a Calvinist theology to form a congregational church that would eventually become the Particular Baptists in 1638 under John Spilsbury. Both Baptist groups had members who sailed to America as pilgrims to avoid religious persecution and they started churches in the early colonies beginning in the mid-17th century."
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