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Greenup Baptist Association (KY)
Circular Letter, 1877
The Simplicity of Baptist Doctrine and Church Government

      These are the strong pillars upon which the church has stood more than eighteen hundred years. During the first and second centuries after Christ, there was no confusion about ritualistic rites in the church, for the churches had received in humility from the Apostles and their immediate successors, the simple doctrines of God's word, which bound them in the unity of the Spirit. But in the third century this simplicity was disturbed by the devices of men, who, as Paul had spoken, (2nd Corinthains 11 and 13,) were false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves in the apostles of Christ. They assumed the right to infringe upon the simple ordr of the church and instituted formal rites and ceremonies hitherto unknown to that body. Thus they endeavored to destroy the simple doctrines of God's house. They seemed to to desire to mystify the simple the simple ordinances the simple ordinances, and make them more complicated, so that they would appear before the world with more pomp and show. This brought confusion - a blemish upon the church - and had a tendency to throw a veil over the pure doctrines of God's word and make the work of the church consist in formalities, thus endeavoring to defeat the purposes of God, as explained by Paul, (Ephesians 5:27,) that "He might present to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish."

      The people who held to the simple doctrines of God's word, in purity of faith, withdrew themsleves from those formalities, so as to preserve, pure, those holy principles. This people from whom the church had withdrawn, were led by a man full of cunning devices, so in order to deceive, he prompted them to call themsleves the Catholic Church, (i.e. The true Church.) Thus the conflict began between formalists and the pure doctrine of the Church. Out of this formalism has grown the "Roman Catholic Church." Just here let us say that those people who were worshiping God without ritual, or unnecessary form, were the true Church, or in other words, the Baptist Church, still standing upon that foundation of simplicity, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, and has from that time to the present, in the strength of Israel's God, withstood the vigorous onsets of formalism. This people have at different times been called by different names, such as Novatians, Waldenses, &c., until the sixteenth century, when they were called by their enemies Ana-baptist or Baptist, because they baptized. Now we claim that we as Baptists are the true Church, for we have descended directly from this people, who preserved pure the word of God and its doctrine, through the decades of time to the present, and in accordance with teh word of our Savior, which cannot be false, this Church has always kept a visible existence since it was said to Peter, Matthew 16:18, "And I say unto thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." In his history of the churches, [the Lutheran, Johann Lorenz] Mosheim says of these sects, "We know when and where they originated, except these hated Baptists; we know not who they are, not from whence they came, and further, that they are the only people who have preserved the pure word of God." Brehren we may well ask do we yet stand upon these great pillars of strength, and do we as a Church deserve to take to ourselves the commendations of Paul to his Corinthians Brethren. "I praise you Brethren that ye keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you."
      W. Jayne


[From Greenup Baptist Association Minutes, 1877. This document was transcribed from a microfilm copy from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Lousiville, KY. The punctuation is unchanged; insertions are in brackets [ ]. - Jim Duvall]

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