A Successionism View of Baptist History *
By James R. Duvall, 2009
When Clarence Walker began publishing The Trail of Blood in 1931, neither he nor J. M. Carroll, the author, could have imagined the impact the booklet would have on Baptists in the United States and around the world. The first thousand copies had been sold quickly by another publisher and sales continued steadily from the Lexington, Kentucky Baptist church until today there have been nearly three million published copies sold. The booklet has been enlarged by the present publisher1 and it has been translated into several other languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian and possibly others. It is now on the Internet in at least three languages. It describes in a brief outline form what successionist historians had written for nearly two centuries. They believed there had been a succession of churches that held the basic doctrines of Baptists, and they were not associated in any way with the Roman Catholic institution. J. M. Carroll had previously written in 1923 A History of Texas Baptists, an extensive look at that state's Baptists. The Trail of Blood does not claim to be a complete history as such, but what might be called a "Baptist Manifesto," a Reader's Digest format or even a Cliff Notes view of Baptist history. It was written in such a way that pastors and teachers could present a thumbnail sketch of their Baptist heritage. Carroll's idea was so successful that several authors have used a similar format,2 while other writers have spent a lot of ink seeking to counter these lessons.3 W. Morgan Patterson, a critic, refers to the title as having "a trace of emotive appeal." He also references a college logic textbook for an analysis of the author's intentions.4 An author's or anyone else's motive is always a difficult topic. The reason so much attention is given to this booklet is because it is successful; it was not intended for academia, as most academicians know, but it's nearly three million copies have drawn many Baptist church members to study history as no other publication has. Some critics focus on this publication to draw attention from their own issues of difficulty concerning Baptist origins.
Not every Baptist historian has held this successionist view: though many historians saw some kind of connection with dissenting groups that existed during the early periods of European history. J.R. Graves and James M. Pendleton, along with A.C. Dayton, began promoting the succession view, as many others had done for a century or more, through their publications in the mid-nineteenth century and the term "landmarkism" was developed to define it. R.B.C. Howell, a contemporary of theirs, who did not claim to be a 'landmarker' wrote,"... the Baptist is the only church which can claim the apostolic origin, and that in its organization and objects it is conformed in all respects to the word of God; that the apostolic church was Baptist, and that through several channels it may be readily and surely traced in a state of comparatively purity down to our times..."5Some historians developed an "Anabaptist Spiritual Kinship" view: that is, there is some kind of relation between present-day Baptists and certain medieval dissenters. Others historians believe Baptists originated with certain English Separatists. It is clear from the responses to The Trail of Blood and various Baptist successionism histories, that the majority of Baptists, especially in the South up through the mid-twentieth century, were Baptist successionists. They acknowledge that the name "Baptist" goes back about four hundred years, but contend their doctrinal beliefs go back to New Testament times. Certainly all successonist historians do not agree on every detail of their history; people who speak the same language, do not always have the same accent.
The issues of Baptist history relate to the question: "What is a Baptist Church?" The issue of diversity in doctrine and polity is often viewed as a primary issue of "being Baptist." The definition of soul-liberty by many contemporary Baptists is: you can believe many different doctrines and still be Baptist. Historically the issue of infant sprinkling leading to involuntary church membership, along with compulsory church membership required by the state led to the emphasis on soul-liberty. Winthrop S. Hudson addressed the issue of the over-emphasis of soul liberty among some Baptists, "The practical effect of the stress upon 'soul competency' as the cardinal doctrine of Baptists was to make very man's hat his church." "Those who improvise in such a way feel free to do so without serious Biblical considerations."6 William Brackney, a progressive historian, sees identity among Baptists today as a difficult issue. He wrote that not only was origins a point of disagreement among Baptists, but Baptists are "equally disagreeable about what constitutes a Baptist."7 Successionists claim there must be some basic principles that Baptists embrace; there must be some kind of conformity in doctrine and practice to really be a Baptist. It seems that the "believe-as-you-choose" view is used differently for different purposes.
Historian / Baptist minister, Wendell H. Rone, had questions concerning identification: How many and what Baptist principles must a people possess in order to entitle them to be called Baptists? How far may a church depart from the New Testament pattern before it ceases to be a New Testament church? The seven churches of the New Testament Book of Revelation were far from perfect, yet the fact that they were churches cannot be denied. The Corinthian church, along with others of New Testament times had serious issues, yet they were addressed and dealt with as churches.8
Continued questions: How does one determine the kind of church that Jesus founded? Is it strictly an autonomous, 'local,' independent body? Or was it a 'universal,' visible, monolithic organization as demonstrated in Roman Catholicism? Those who uphold the Spiritual Kinship or the English Separatist theory of Baptist origin are virtually unanimous in holding to the universal, invisible, spiritual nature of the church as the primary definition; for practical purposes they also hold to the local, visible view. Successionists are virtually unanimous in believing a church is a local, visible body of baptized believers [ecclesia = assembly]. There will probably always be difficultly in determining Baptist origins for some until there is a consensus of definition on these issues. Historical data as well as some theological issues must be a part of the answer.
The New Hampshire Confession of Faith has been extensively used by Baptist churches and is a basis for this essay. Concerning a Gospel Church it states:"We believe that a visible Church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel. . . ."9The entirety of the statement indicates only a local church.
B. H. Carroll, the founder of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, commenting on Matthew 16:18-19 wrote,"We come now to consider perhaps the most remarkable passage in the New Testament. . . . "Carroll did not accept the claims of Romanism that their beginning was with the Apostle Peter. He ties many of his views of Baptist history to this and other passages in the New Testament. He held to what might be called a theological / historical view of Baptist beginnings.10
Rosco Brong, late Dean of Lexington Bapitst College, Lexington, Kentucky, wrote a sermon which he titled "Ten Bible Proofs of Baptist Perpetuity" in which he maintains that Matthew 16:18 is a key verse for holding to successionism. He also sees the promise of the perpetual observance of the Lord's Supper in New Testament churches until Christ returns as an important element to the successionism / pertetuity view. Romanism's historical interlude and sacral view of the Eucharist certainly was not the answer to this passage. Brong also maintains that a New Testament church is the "pillar and ground of the truth" and is promised perpetuity.11
So when did Baptist history begin? Some say 1609, others 1607, and others 1611. There are English and American historians, both early and later, who believe there have always been alternative voices of dissent that continued in various locales and time periods. They stood opposed to the "universal" (catholic) governmental / ecclesiastical monolith that developed and portrayed itself as the "Vicar of Christ" through the medieval period of history.
Historian Leroy Fitts wrote in 1985, "There has been considerable controversy over the origins of Baptists. Church historians of the nineteenth have held the theory that the Baptists' origin evolved from the remote ages of antiquity." . . . "The rise of the scientific approach to the interpretation of biblical and other historical data ushered in a new era in church history." . . . "Those historians began the tendency to identify Baptists as latecomers along with other Protestants of the seventeenth century."12 Do not these statements sound somewhat like the evolutionists who say "we have won the war on origins so let's go on to other issues"? They seem to. However Baptist successionists see problems with other views of Baptist origins.13 This will be dealt with in more detail.
W. Morgan Patterson, near the end of an essay in 1975 wrote, "In the interest of historical accuracy and fairness. . ." [there was] "a view of Baptist succession which had its origin in England; and an isolation bred by the rejection of Baptists by other communions which heightened their sectarian spirit and appearance of exclusiveness."14 Successionists maintain that this view was deep-seeded and long-standing.
Early British Documents
British Civil Activities Toward Anabaptists Before the Seventeenth Century
A criticism of successionists is that they do not use original sources to support their views. Extant British civil records extend back prior to the sixteenth century. These are known as the Calendar of State Papers, Domestic.15 They are official records of various kings and queens who reigned in England; these records are held in the British National Archives. Records written shortly after King Henry VIII separated from the Pope and established his Church of England, emphasized concern regarding dissenters in England who were identified as Anabaptists.
Here are specific records relating to Anabaptists: During the reign of Henry VIII, dated January 25, 1546, London, there is an entry regarding the transportation of German troops into England to assist in their defense against France. The record refers to a fear of also importing Anabaptists into England with these troops: "Nothing fresh has happened in religion. Conrad Pennick is engaged to bring ten standards of infantry provided that they are not High Germans nor infected with the Anabaptist or Sacramentarian sect. It is said that they will be drawn from about Bremen, Hamburg and Lubeck, and that many of them are already assembled."
We know Anabaptists were plentiful in England at that time. Henry had published by royal authority ten articles in 1536 denouncing heretics; "the error of the Anabaptists regarding the baptism of children is singled out for special reprobation."16 Was it only the presence, or was it more likely the influence of Anabaptists that was the reason for Henry's concern about the possibility of more coming there? In 1538, Henry had appointed a commission that began an inquisition resulting in the burning of four Dutch Anabaptists at Paul's Cross and two at Smithfield.17 Did Henry VIII understand enough theology to know who these Anabaptists were? To this last question the answer is definitely "yes." The Pope had recognized Henry as a Defender of the Faith prior to his defection from that institution. Henry had denounced Romanism in 1534 and made himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. He claimed a succession of his own newly established "church" through the Roman Catholic institution with which he formerly aligned. He also claimed to pass on this succession through the Episcopate he appointed. Henry did not consider Anabaptists merely a minor threat to religious life in England; he considered them a significant threat to his newly formed religion..
During the reign of Edward VI, Henry VIII's only son, who was medically fragile and assumed the position of king at the age of nine, there was a continued concern with the presence of Anabaptists in the nation. Edward lived less than seven years beyond his coronation (1547-1553), but records show the government / church's desire to deal with Anabaptist dissenters. "January 1550. - Archbishop of Canterbury, [a list of bishops follows]: to correct and punish all Anabaptists, and such as do not duly minister the sacraments according to the Book of Common Prayer, set forth by the King's Majesty."18 Another entry has the appointment of a Mr. Knox, who is "a confounder of the Anabaptists lately sprung up in Kent" to assist the Archbishop of Canterbury.19 How did these Anabaptists "spring up" as is indicated here? Were they from continental Europe? We are not told here, but we know Anabaptists and other dissenters were despised by the royal government and the appointed leaders of the national church. It is difficult to believe that the English Baptists were not influenced by these Anabaptists groups.
Queen Mary (known more often as "Bloody Mary"), Henry VIII's oldest daughter who followed Edward to the throne, sought to restore Catholicism as the state religion of England. It is a matter of public record that many Anabaptists and other dissenters were killed during her reign. She even silenced Church of England clergy like Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, who was burned at the stake for teaching the denial of the baptism of infants, and the re-baptizing of "those that have been baptized with Christ's baptism already." He "was required to have his mouth stopped, and the passage was omitted" from his writings.20
The British historian, Thomas Crosby says,"That the Baptists were very numerous at this time, is without controversy: and no doubt, many of the Martyrs in Queen Mary's days were such, though historians seem to be silent with respect to the opinion of the Martyrs about baptism; neither can it be imagined, that the Papists would in the least favour any of that denomination which they so much detested and abhorred."21Fortunately Mary's reign was but a few years.
In the Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, 1560,22 during the reign of Elizabeth I (another daughter of Henry VIII) there is a "Proclamation against Anabaptists and others of dangerous and pernicious opinions, coming into England from abroad." We are not told from where they came; no doubt from somewhere inside continental Europe. Note two other entries during Elizabeth's reign, which lasted until 1603. In 1574 (Volume XCIX, page 492): "A small book containing a roll or register of the names of all the Catholics in England in 1574, and also a list of heretics." On 8 April, 1575, the entry states: "Confession of faith and appeal to the Queen's mercy, of five Dutchmen condemned for Anabaptism."23 How many Anabaptist Dutchmen had preceded these who were caught and condemned? We know several were burned to death during Henry VIII's reign. What measures did Elizabeth, who was very secretive in her decisions, use to entrap and condemn these Anabaptists? Again, as is often the case, we do not presently have answers for some questions.
Americian historian, Robert Torbet says, "There are conflicting opinions concerning the number of Anabaptists to be found in England prior to 1550."24 "Some have estimated that fifty thousand Anabaptists were in England by 1573."25 In the period from 1550 to 1573, when there were four different regents on the throne of England and two radical changes in the official religion of the nation, there was continual religious and political turmoil and turbulence. No doubt the term Anabaptist was sometimes used as a broad brush to paint some groups who were true believers, and the same brush used for some who were fanatically unorthodox. However, successionists contend there were Anabaptists in mid-sixteenth century England and possibly sooner. A more thorough search of public documents could reveal more evidence of Anabaptist influence and persecution in the 16th century.
When in the third decade of seventeenth century England, Baptists came into the open and then refused to allow themselves to be labeled Anabaptists, was it because of the so-called "Munster Affair" (a cult26 of the sixteenth century led by Bernard Rothman and others in Germany that claimed to be Anabaptist and deliberately provoked social revolt), or because the easing of repression by the governmental / ecclesiastical religion enforced by earlier kings, queens and their appointed administrators? Many successionists hold to the latter. T.T. Eaton wrote: "Let it be remembered that the persecuting courts of High Commission and Star Chamber27 went out of existence August 1st, 1641, and that then the Baptists, who had been obliged to conceal themselves, came out of their hiding places and preached their doctrine boldly, and broadly, as they could not do before. This, of course, made a stir, and it was all new to many of the people of that day. What wonder, then, that these Baptists should be pronounced "new" and "upstart?". . . . The very fact that they showed themselves so vigorously and preached their doctrines so boldly in 1641, as is conceded on all hands, just so soon as they could do so safely, proves that they did not then invent or adopt these practices. They came from their hiding places and advocated openly what they had been believing and practicing in secret all the time."28
Early Seventeenth Century Baptist Writings
In 1642, two years before the English Particular Baptists published their first Confession of Faith, a twenty-five page booklet titled A Warning for England Especially for London In the Famous History of the Frantic Anabaptists, Their Wild Preachings and Practices in Germany was printed in England. It told in vivid details of the terrible atrocities of the Munster Anabaptists in Germany (who were really hijackers of the name Anabaptist). This publication reminds one that even at that date the term Anabaptist was used to frighten the citizens of England. Fear-mongering had become the trademark technique of the established church. Is it a great wonder that when Baptists published their first Confession of Faith in 1644 they inserted a disclaimer that they were "Anabaptists falsely so-called"? If they were to gain respectability at all they could not be identified with the Munster group whose story had been told again-and-again for a century in a graphic, damaging manner. Baptist acceptance would have been more difficult than it was. There is no author listed in this booklet. From the concluding statement, it is likely that the Church of England was responsible for its publication. It reads: "So let all the factious and seditious enemies of the Church and Hate perish; but upon the Head of King CHARLES let the crowne flourish. AMEN."29
Publications in England from the decade of the 1640s indicate how difficult it was for the name Baptist to become established as writers continued to use the term Anabaptists when referring to those who immersed believers. A summary of two documents demonstrating this follow:
In 1644, a six-page pamphlet was printed in London for R. W. (an unknown paedo-baptist author) titled A Declaration Against Anabaptists: To Stop the Prosecution fo [of] their Errors, falsly pretended to be a Vinidication of the Royall Commision of King Jesus as they call it. The purpose was to answer the "Anabaptisticall Doctrine" which the author claimed was against the honour and glory of God and his church. He further claimed he was writing: "In answer to a book, by Francis Cornwall presented to the house of Commons, on Friday last, for which he is committed." Cornwall was identified as an Anabaptist who opposed infant Baptisme, and believed in "dipping." Cornwall had presented thirteen issues against paedo-baptists; the author answered them: it seems in some instances he answered in an oblique manner. What is important relative to our subject, is that paedo-baptists often still used the term Anabaptist to refer to Baptists in their day. It was a name difficult for Baptists to acknowledge. Thomas Bakewell wrote A Justification of Two Points Now in Controversie with the Anabaptists concerning Baptisime in 1646. The first point of argument in this booklet is "That infants of Christians ought to be baptized." The second point of argument is "That sprinkling the baptized more agreeth with the mind of Christ, than dipping or plunging the baptized in or under the water." Bakewell, showing his contempt for these Anabaptists writes in conclusion:"... so these people, it is to be feared, many of them do commit the unpardonable sin, when they turn Anabaptists, despising and trampling under feet the Spirit of God . . . ."30Early Successionism Writers
An early document, soon after Baptists became open about their views, appeared in England in 1652. A Vindication of the Continued Succession of the Primitive Church of Jesus Christ (Now Scandalously termed Anabaptist) from the Apostles unto this present time was published presenting a successionism view of Baptist churches.31
Another seventeenth century work was by Thieleman van Braght titled The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians first published in 1660 in the Dutch language. Mr. van Braught held that the Anabaptists were of Waldensian origin. He records preserved testimonies related to persecution of dissenters by Romanist religious authorities. The first English edition was published in 1837 and it has gone through many editions. (Herald Press, Scottdale, PA, 1977). This writer has the eleventh edition.
In 1740, Thomas Crosby,32 a Baptist historian wrote, "The English Baptists, tho' they are unhappily disunited, and distinguished by the title of Generals and Particulars; yet it is the only point, I know of, wherein they differ from the primitive churches."33 Crosby, who was the first English Baptist historian noted earlier,"But since my publication of the former Volume, I have had such materials communicated to me, that I could not in justice to the communicators omit them, without incurring the just censure of a partial historian. Besides, it having been objected to me, that a more early account of the English Baptists might be obtained; it gave a new turn to my thoughts, and put me upon considering the state and condition of the Christian Religion, from the first plantation of the Gospel in England. Now in this enquiry, so much has occurred to me, as carries in it more than a probability, that the first English Christians were Baptists. I could not therefore pass by so material a fact in their favour: And because it cannot now be placed where it properly belongs, I have fixed it by way of preface to this second Volume."34Crosby was not a university-trained historian, as there were few at that time; however he was an important preserver of Baptist documents and seems to have had a grasp of Baptist thought, being a deacon in John Gill's church at Horsley-Down [London]. He is considered by many a successionist historian.
John Gill, noted British theologian of the 18th century, read and commented about the early dissenters from Romanism. When he looked at these dissenters for their opposition to infant baptism, he saw"infant baptism as having emerged in the third century, got 'footing and establishment in the fourth and fifth; and so prevailed until the time of the Reformation.' Yet he finds here and there, during the long stretch of time, opposition to the practice, even before the intense debate over the issue in the days of Anabaptist beginnings."35When historian James E. Tull looked at Pre-Reformation dissenters he saw "the differences of these sects from the positions of Baptists are as impressive as their similarities."36 Tull used a catchy phrase and it seems to indicate that he read all the documents relating to this subject and therefore thinks the differences of the early dissenters are equal to their similarities as it relates to Baptists. Does the fact that John Gill was a didact make him less qualified than Tull, or are historians to think that Gill had read less than Tull in this area of research? Gill uses the dissenters of early centuries up to Reformation times to show immersion was practiced by them and therefore ties it to Baptist polity in his day. He does not say that since these groups were basically heretical, their view on baptism doesn't count for anything. These two men seem to look at documents through different eyes. Could it be the Calvinistic view of John Gill's theology caused some researchers not to read his work on other subjects?
English Baptist History Writers
Joseph Angus, early President of Regents Baptist College amd prominent Baptist leader, lists many books that indicate early Baptist beginnings in England.
Andrew Fuller has been greatly respected for his concern and support of missions, especially his support for William Carey, the first modern foreign Baptist missionary. When Fuller first recorded his interest in the origin of English Baptists on July 3, 1781, he wrote in his diary: "I was occupied to-day with Mosheim,37 whose partial account of the English Baptists would lead me to indulge a better opinion of various sects who have been deemed heretics."38 Prior to his death in the second decade of the nineteenth century, Fuller wrote an essay that seems to be a reasonable assessment of his historical views. The essay was written thirty years after his acknowledged interest in early church history and the place of English Baptists in that history. His comments do not appear far from what later became known as successionism."That some who in church history are deemed heretics were really such need not to be questioned; but let any serious Christian read the church history of Mosheim; and, unless he can find a portion of true religion under the article of 'heresies and heretics that disturbed the peace of the church during this century,' it is difficult to say where he is to look for it. After the utmost search through other parts, he may ask, 'Where is wisdom, and where is the place of understanding?'Historian Philip Bryan notes that at least ten Baptist churches in England have traditions which place their origins earlier than either Smyth's or Spilsbury's churches. Included in this number are: Hill Cliffe, Eythorne, Bocking, Canterbury, and the old French churches in London and Spitalfield.40 Charles Spurgeon noted one of these churches when he wrote, "Mr. Kenworthy, the present pastor of the Baptist church at Hill Cliffe, in Cheshire, has stated that if the traditions of the place are to be trusted, the church is five hundred years old. 'A tombstone has been lately dug up in the burial ground belonging to that church, bearing date 1357. The origin of the church is assigned to the year 1523.'"41 A reprint edition of James Kenworthy, the pastor of the Baptist church at Hill Cliffe, in Cheshire, states that the first pastor, of whom anything is known, Mr. Weyerburton, died in 1594.42
"There is little doubt but that all through these dark ages there were many thousands who stood aloof from the corruptions of the times, and bore practical testimony against them; and who, notwithstanding some errors, were much nearer the truth and true religion than those who have reproached them as heretics.
"There is reason to believe that amongst the Novatians, the Paulicians, the Cathari, the Paterines, and others who separated from the catholic church, and were cruelly persecuted by it, there were a great number of faithful witnesses for the truth in those days.
"We should not, like Bishop Newton, confine the witnesses to councils, princes, and eminent men, who in their day bore testimony against error and superstition. They will be found, I doubt not, in great numbers amongst those who were unknown, and consequently unnoticed by historians. God hath chosen the things that are not to bring to naught the things that are. Let a church history of our own times be written on the principles of that of Mosheim, and the great body of the most faithful witnesses would have no place in it.
"The history of the witnesses will be principally found in that of the Waldenses and Albigenses, who for a succession of centuries spread themselves over almost every nation in Europe, and in innumerable instances bore testimony, at the expense of their lives, against the corruptions of the antichristian party.
. . . . .
"From the fourth to the tenth century but little is said of the Waldenses in history: yet as Reynerius, who wrote about the year 1230, speaks of the Vaudois as "a sect of the longest standing," and as the Council of Tours, about seventy years before this, speaks of the same heresy as having "sprung up long ago," we may conclude, even from the acknowledgments of the adversaries, that God was not without his witnesses in those dark ages. . . .
"For 500 years, during the most murderous wars and persecutions, the Paterines, the Petrobrussians, the Waldenses, the Albigenses, the Lollards, the Wickliffites, &c., maintained their ground. Nor were they contented to bear witness to the truth in their own countries, but employed missionaries to almost all the nations of Europe; and this notwithstanding each missionary could expect nothing less than martyrdom for his reward!"39
Charles Spurgeon made an oft-quoted statement that summarizes what is usually defined as successionism,"We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and 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 days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel under ground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents...."43Erroll Hulse, a British Baptist historian contends "through the centuries" . . . "there were not a few voices crying in the wilderness" whom he identified with the apostolic faith. He asserts the "apostles can be said to have been Baptists inasmuch as it was their practice to baptize believers, and none but believers, upon confession of repentance and faith. Thus they established the principle of gathered churches consisting of baptized believers."44 Hulse recognizes the "monolithic, sacral" institution which identified itself as "the church," but he also recognizes the many gathered churches of baptized believers who were like Baptists. This is where the disagreement of identification enters the interpretation: were they Baptists? Or were they just somewhat like Baptists? Hulse ties them to Baptists in that statement, but the book portrays a different beginning.45
It is not unreasonable to think that the opponents of Roman Catholicism during this medieval period lived in "the now" and were not primarily considering the written preservation of their beliefs or activities for future generations. Would we expect some type of exactness in their expressing themselves? No. They were first and foremost concerned for the safety of their families and fellow-believers as they worshiped God. Is there information still to be recovered? Undoubtedly so.
Henry C. Vedder in 1912, wrote of Anabaptist churches in Europe in the sixteenth century,"There were before this time , it is true, here and there churches that might fairly be described as Baptist. Such was the church at Augsburg about 1525, commonly called Anabaptist, but practising the immersion of believers on profession of faith; such were some of the Swiss Anabaptist churches, apparently; such were some of the Anabaptist churches of Poland. But we find such churches only here and there, with no ascertainable connection existing between them. Further research may establish such connection."46Vedder continued, "It is also beyond question that for fully four centuries before the Reformation there were bodies of Christians under various names, who professed nearly - sometimes identically - the faith and practice of modern Baptists."47 Concerning documents of identity, Vedder concluded, "It is possible that with further research such proof may be brought to light: one cannot affirm that there was not a continuity in the outward and visible life of the churches founded by the apostles down to the time of the Reformation. To affirm such a negative would be foolish, and such an affirmation, from the nature of the case, could not be proved. What one may say, with some confidence, is that in the present state of knowledge no such continuity can be shown by evidence that will bear the usual historic tests."48
To illustrate the dilemma of historians in locating and discerning medieval Christian records (or lack thereof), consider the scarcity of records by soldiers involved in the American Revolutionary War. The Memoir of Joseph Plumb Martin, who volunteered to fight in the war at the age of fifteen, (A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier), is considered the most complete preserved account of the life of a Continental Soldier during that war. There are small portions of other soldiers' journals and diaries extant, but none of them is as thorough as this Memoir. He systematically described the living conditions, supplies (or lack of), plans of battles, the officers and other pertinent observations of his unit's daily lives. Does it tell the complete story? No. But it tells us more than any other known document, and historians are grateful for that record.49
When we consider that this war was less than two hundred fifty years ago, it makes us realize how difficult it is for the events of daily life to be preserved. Certainly writing materials were more easily attained during the early days of our nation's history than during the medieval period of European history; yet little information of the lives of common soldiers was preserved from the Revolutionary War. When historians search for materials millenniums past, they are difficult to locate; and in many cases there are no documents.
Historian Leonard Verduin emphasizes, that as in all suppressed political and religious societies, there was always a "Medieval Religious Underground" in defiance of Romanism. He quotes Adolf von Harnack: "In the twelve centuries that went before the Reformation it has never lacked for attempts to get away from the State-Church Priests' Church and to reinstitute the apostolic congregational structurization.' What is this but to say that throughout medieval times there never was a moment in which Constantinianism stood unchallenged."50 This concurs with what successionist Baptist historians were writing.
Verduin also points out what sometimes happens in searching old records: information was deliberately left out when it did not suit the translator or editor's opinion."When Josef Beck set himself to edit a volume of original source materials, Die Geschichts-Bucher der Wiedertaufer in Osterreich-Ungarn (an in-group account of the rise of the Anabaptists of Austria-Hungary) he deftly exscinded 'a piece of Church History extending from the year 344 to 1519' for the reason that 'it has nothing at all, or very little to do with the matter in hand.' Surely this is arbitrary procedure. The people who wrote this early account - their own biography / history - were of the conviction that one must pay considerable attention to the events that lie between 344 and 1519 if one is to understand the origin and history of the people described. Surely it is to beg the question to wave this testimony to one side, just because it does not fit into a preconceived historical construction!"51We know that some 'Reformers' were influenced by these early dissenters. Leonard Verdiun tells us that one who helped shape the theology of John Calvin was a cousin who "at one time was a Waldensian."52 He married Idelette de Bure Storder, the widow of an Anabaptist pastor. Calvin was very decided in his opposition to Baptists, or "Anabaptists," as he contemptuously called them. However he wrote the ". . . word baptize signifies to immerse, and the rite of immersion was practiced by the ancient church."52a
Successionists are criticized for using secondary sources. W. Morgan Patterson accuses them of "an excessive use of and dependence on these sources."53 But successsionists are not the only historians who do this. Historians of all specialties use secondary sources. The work of previous writers may be beneficial or it may not; that is the peril of using others' works.
In the "Introduction" to The Trail of Blood is a statement about Anabaptists by Cardinal Stanislaus Hosius, a medieval Roman Catholic leader, to whom many previous historians had referred. Many non-successionism historians have criticized the use of the references.
Stephen duBarry says, "Cardinal Stanislaus Hosius' distinguished rank and illustrious reputation among Catholics of the Reformation period give his remarks on the Anabaptists, though hostile, particular weight in the consideration of Baptist history. . . . Hosius' Latin work "Verae, christianae catholicaeque doctrinae solida propugnatio," [was] first published in Cologne in 1558. The first section of the book, entitled "De origine haeresium nostri temporis" ("The beginning of heresies in our time"), features his discourse on the Anabaptists. An English translation by Richard Shacklock of "De origine haeresium nostri temporis" was published in 1565 under the title "The Hatchet of Heresies." While some of the quotes given by Baptist authors appear to derive from original translations of Hosius' Latin, many are taken from Shacklock's translation.
"Hosius first describes the Lutherans and the Zwinglians. He then continues:You think peradventure, that these two sects be they only, which in this our miserable world durst challenge unto themselves the name and authority of the Gospel. But you be deceived, if you think so. For beside these, there is another third sect more perilous, the which, because it baptizeth again those which were lawfully baptized of the Catholics, is called the sect of the Anabaptists: of which sort the brotherhood called, Waldenses, seemed to be, who without peradventure of late did rebaptize, although some of them but even the other day, as they declare in their Apology, have given over that manner of twice baptizing: notwithstanding, as sure as God, they agree in many articles with the Anabaptists. . . .Duke K. McCall, a former Southern Baptist seminary president authored a tract titled "I am Proud to be a Baptist," printed and distributed by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, in which he used this reference and some others that successionism historians had used and there was no known criticism of his work. McCall quotes Cardinal Stanislaus Hosius from the Baptist Magazine, 1826.
Although they be thrown into the fire and burnt, though they be torn in pieces with wild beasts, that shall be no crown of faith, but a punishment of infidelity. That shall be no honorable end of religious virtue, but a destruction for desperation. Such an one may be killed, but he cannot be crowned. Therefore they have no right to challenge unto them the glory of Martyrs, which be so far from the cause and quarrel of Martyrs, which have not doubted to suffer death for devilish division. . . . If you behold their cheerfulness in suffering persecutions, the Anabaptists run far before all other heretics."54
Some earlier Baptist historians and writers used Hosius' quotes and it was sometimes slightly altered as it passed through different hands. Conflation (mixing variant texts into one) is a problem many present-day historians have. It happens fairly often; so this is not surprising when it occurred with Cardinal Stanislaus Hosius' quotes, which were written in medieval Latin. Misquoted quotations are not an intellectual crime. They are just a fact of life when using old documents - especially those that go through the hands of many writers. Perhaps an investigation of these older statements needs to be done; but they should not be declared myths or concoctions until they are studied more extensively.
McCall additionally wrote in his tract:"I am proud of our Baptist heritage. I am grateful for men like [Michael] Stat[t]ler, who, before his tongue was torn out and his body burned, wrote his confessions in which he demanded for himself and for all others the right of a free conscience. Then there was Felix Mantz, who, in 1527, for the crime of believer's baptism, was sentenced to be drowned. Led through the streets of Zurich, he preached to the people as he went. His old mother and brother, brushing away their tears, walked by his side exhorting him to suffer bravely for Jesus' sake."McCall tied these men to present-day Baptists. He wrote it in the late twentieth century when there were many "anti-Hosius quote" and "anti-Anabaptist as Baptist" opponents at work; and the Sunday School Board published his essay.
It seems the question should be asked: Can only professionals (academia) "do" history? Most of the readers are "average Baptists;" those who know basically what they believe, but do not know the technical nomenclature to express it in theological terms or as historical issues. McCall wasn't a historian and his work wasn't a complete history and that is recognized by all; he was writing for the average Baptists; that's where most successionism historians were aiming when they wrote.
When Sir Issac Newton is mentioned by some successionist historians as one who tied the early dissenters to the Baptists, this claim is questioned as to its validity. William Whiston, who followed Newton in his Chair at Trinity College, England, relates in his Memoirs that he made an extensive examination into the question of infant baptism, and discovered that the words translated "infant" from the Greek had quite different meanings in that language, and that only people who were capable of instruction were ever baptized in the first and second centuries. He wrote a paper on the subject, and via a friend sent a copy to Sir Isaac Newton, and received the reply that Newton had already discovered this for himself. Newton indicated to Whiston that he considered the Baptists and the Arians to be ancient witnesses to the truth of Christianity. Newton's orthodoxy certainly is questonable, but his research skills are without question. He identified English Baptists with early dissenters from Roman Catholicism.55
J. Davis wrote of very early churches and Baptist doctrine in Wales. He said, "It is not the history of a name, but the prevalence of a principle, of which we are in search."56
American Baptist Successionism
This long-held view by many British Baptists was adopted by American Baptists. As stated previously, many successionists consider the story of Baptists more than an academic issue; there is theology involved as well. The doctrine of the church determines to a great degree the position one holds concerning Baptist history. Both Wendell Rone and Philip Bryan emphasize this in their writing on the subject and it is demonstrated in multiple cases.
Jesse Mercer, an early Georgia Baptist, gave the reason for their churches not receiving immersion as baptism from other religious groups who were not Baptists: because it would cause disorder in the churches, and it related to successionism. His first point in the 1811 Associational Circular Letter, which had been requested to be written the previous year by the Georgia Baptist Association, is, "The Apostolic Church, continued through all ages to the end of the world, is the only True Gospel Church." He further states, "Christ affirms nothing shall prevail against His church, no, not the gates of hell, Matthew xiv.18. . . ." Mercer then adds three additional points to his argument and concludes with,"From these propositions, thus established, we draw the following inferences, as clear and certain truths.The Georgia Baptist Association stated in their Constitution, "We believe that water baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of the Lord, and are to be continued till His second coming." These statements indicate a successionism historical view.58
"That all churches and ministers, who originated since the apostles, and not successively to them, are not in Gospel order; and therefore cannot be acknowledged as such."
Mercer finished the Circular with the following statement, "The Pedobaptists, by their own histories, admit they are not in it; but we do not, and shall think ourselves entitled to the claim until the reverse be clearly shown." The Circular Letter was adopted by the association as their statement on the issue.57
Historian LeRoy Hogue says Jesse Mercer's, "writings represent the clearest enunciation before [J. R.] Graves of those principles which characterized the Landmark movement." [p. 255] He further states, Mercer "often spoke the mind of the denomination" [p. 255] in his day. Hogue again, "Jesse Mercer 'was a strong successionist and clearly stated that only the Baptist churches were, in his thinking, in the line of succession from the apostles.'" [p. 255].59
Patrick H. Mell, though not a trained historian, was a professor at Mercer University and later Chancellor at the University of Georgia. He wrote Baptism In Its Mode and Subjects that was published in 1853. He said,"Those who had the peculiar sentiments of the Baptists of the present day, have existed in all ages of the world, from apostolic times to the present, our opponents themselves being judges. Under various names of Disciples, Christians, Montanists, Novatianists, Paulicians, Paterines, Waldenses and Albigenes, Mennonites or German Anabaptists, Petrobrussians, Henricians, Arnoldists, Leonists, Cathari, Hussites, Picards, Lollards, and Wickliffites, and Baptists, they have existed in all ages, from the Saviour unto the present time."Mell served as a pastor and as President of the SBC for seventeen years. Critics might question some of the groups he named as being associated with the fore-runners of present-day Baptists. Unless he deliberately sought to deceive his readers, it is undeniable that Mell tied these groups to Baptists and he held to some view of successionism.60
B. H. Carroll, commenting on Ephesians 3:21 wrote, "I never could understand why some Baptists rejoice to say there is no church succession". . . . "Whenever church works stops, then the glory stops. Did God intend for it to stop? If he did, why did he say, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world"? . . . . "I believe that God not only has had people in all ages, but that he has had an organized people."61 Carroll was noted as a theologian and founder of a large Baptist seminary; he linked medieval anti-pedobaptist groups to Baptists.
John T. Christian wrote:
The Baptists of the Reformation claimed that they had an ancient origin and went so far as to suggest a "succession of churches". This claim was put forth by them at the very beginning of the Reformation A. D. 1521. An old letter is in existence founding: "Successio Ana-baptistica." The letter bears its own date as "that of the Swiss brethren, written to the Netherland Anabaptists, respecting their origin, a year before, Anno 1522" (Suptibus Bernardi Gaultheri. Coloniae, 1603 and 1612). The letter is particularly important since it shows that the Baptists as early as 1521 claimed a succession. Van Gent, a Roman Catholic, quotes the letter and calls the Anabaptists "locusts," "which last, as apes of the Catholics, boasted as having an apostolic succession" (Van Gent, Grundliche Historie, 85. Moded, Grondich bericht von de erste beghinselen der Wederdoopsche Sekten).62Men of such stature as Mercer, Mell, B. H. Carroll and John T. Christian silence the argument that the socially disadvantaged and uneducated held to the view of a Baptist succession prior to Reformation times: a position sometimes emphasized by non-successionists.
Do successionism historians have some difficulties in their historical view? Yes, that must be acknowledged. Historians have pointed out some of the issues of those who hold to a different view of Baptist history.
Dr. Philip Bryan, after a study of the methodology of many English Separatists historians' views of Baptist origins, concluded with a three-part appraisal:"...while English separatist descent historians have generally followed their goal of objectivity and scientific methodology and are due commendation for it, they have occasionally committed errors of the same type as earlier historians. Errors are to be found in: (1) their use or sources - by using doubtful sources, by showing unfamiliarity with the views of men cited as authorities, by omitting material seemingly contrary to their hypothesis, and by depending heavily upon the research or others without accepting their ultimate appraisals; (2) documentation - by failing to document references or give bibliographies, by failing to give due credit to their sources, and by misquoting and misinterpreting documents; and (3) terminology."63Wendell Rone64 points out some weaknesses of the Spiritual Kinship view of Baptist history: Proponents of this view are unable to see how that Baptist principles and practices could be preserved and propagated without it being known as Baptists. The view seems to exaggerate the faults of the dissenting sects by taking the biased testimony presented by their enemies rather than the statements of the extant writings of these Christians themselves. The spiritual kinship position seems to be an effort at holding to the succession view and not holding to it at the same time.
The late Kenneth Scott Latourette of Yale University, wrote:"[The Baptists'] record speaks for itself. That record is far from perfect. Indeed, no achievement in which we human beings share is free from defect. Every faithful account of Baptists has pages which we must view with sorrow and regret. Yet we who are its beneficiaries have reason for profound gratitude for the Baptist heritage. . . . Most of them were humble in the sight of the world and usually found no place in enduring human memory. . . .John T. Christian said at the conclusion of his essay on the Anabaptists:
"It has been a special privilege given to the Baptists, more than to any other body of Christians of comparable size, to preach the gospel to the poor. For the most part the poor leave no written traces of their lives. The historian is often baffled when he seeks to reconstruct what they have said and done. For this reason no history of the Baptists can ever be complete. . . ."65The claims here considered in regard to the Baptists are of the highest consideration. The best historical study and scientific scholarship all lean toward the continuous history of the Baptists. In the last twenty years there has been much patient investigation of the history of the Baptists, especially in Germany and Switzerland. Likewise many of the sources have been published, and the trend of scholarship favors the idea of the continuity of Baptists from very early and some say from apostolic times.66There is an identity problem among Baptists in our day and the gulf seems to widen rather than get more narrow. As some so-called Baptist churches are being constituted in our day under different names (often without the term "church" or "Baptist" in their name), it makes identity more difficult and it will be a great burden for future historians to tell today's Baptist story. As an example: a new group sponsored by the State Baptist Convention (SBC), began services in the area of the county where I live; they sent out many colorful, greeting-card size, slick-finish mailers to tell of their meetings. Not one of the advertisements had the words Baptist, Jesus Christ, church or salvation mentioned - nothing to identify with the name "Baptist." Will this lack of identity be a future historical researcher dilemma? No doubt. Medieval believers often hid their identity for safety reasons; today it is without doubt a lack of belief of certain Biblical doctrines among some that leads them to disguise their identity.
There is no way to calculate how many Anabaptists and dissenters by other names have been martyred during the medieval period of history by those who despised their doctrine and practice. Successonists believe there is evidence of a continuum of dissent from paedobaptist government-controlled religionists that substantiates their view of Baptist origins.
Endnotes for Successionism History
* Thanks to my son, James Kenneth, for assistance in research and preparation of this essay.
1 Bryan Station Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucky.
2 A. A. Davis, Ten Sermons on the Trail of Blood (now published as The Baptist Story); H. Boyce Taylor, Why be a Baptist; R. Charles Blair, Our Baptist Heritage; and others.]
3 See Rodney Harrison, Midwestern Journal of Theology, "The Dead-End Trail: J. M. Carroll and The Trail of Blood and Its Impact upon Church Planting in the 21st Century," (Spring, 2007), 54-66; James Edward McGoldrick, Baptist Successionism: A Crucial Question in Baptist History, Metuchen, NJ: The American Theological Library Association and The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 1994. [Since writing this book, McGoldrick has joined a Presbyterian seminary faculty.]
4 W. Morgan Patterson, Baptist Successionism: A Critical View (Valley Forge, PA: The Judson Press, 1969), 52, 48.
5 R. B. C. Howell, The Terms of Communion at the Lord's Table, (Philadelphia:The American Baptist Publication Society), 1846; republished in 1987, pb, pp. 261-2.
6 Winthrop S.Hudson, editor, Baptist Concepts of the Church, Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1958, 216.
7 William Brackney, The Baptists (Westport, CT: Praeger Press, 1994), ix; cited in Tom Nettles, The Baptists (Fearne, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005), 11.
8 Wendell H. Rone, "The Problem of Baptist Succession," (an unpublished essay), 13, 14. Available @ http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/rone.w.h.successionism.html
9 J. Newton Brown, New Hampshire Confession of Faith, Article XIII. "Of a Gospel Church", 1833, revised 1848.
10 B. H. Carroll, An Interpretation of the English Bible, 1913; reprint: Broadman Press, 1942, "The Four Gospels - Volume 2", 15-32.
11 Rosco Brong, Christ's Church and Baptism, (Lexington: Bryan Station Baptist Church, 1977), 10-17.
12 Leroy Fitts, A History of Black Baptists (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1985), pp. 19-20; cited in I. K. Cross, The Battle for Baptist History, (Columbus, GA: Brentwood Christian Press,1990), 118.
13 Philip Bryan wrote a Baylor University MA thesis examining the English Separatist Theory of Baptist Origins in 1966. He raises some of the issues of this view. It is available @ http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/8297/th-note.htm (Accessed 8.31.09). Wendell Rone wrote an extensive essay titled "The Problem with Baptist Successionism" in 1952 that examines three views of Baptist origins and points out some issues with all views. See fn # 8.
14 W. Morgan Patterson, "The Influence of Landmarkism" in Baptist History and Heritage, January, 1975, 54.
15 These Calendar of State Papers, Domestic can be located on "Google Books" under the years given.
16 H. C. Vedder, A Short History of the Baptists (Philadelphia: The American Baptist Publication Society), 1907; twelfth edition, 1954), 193.
18 Calendar of State Papers.
19 Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, October 28, 1552, (Volume XV, 46).
20 The British Critic, and Quarterly Theological Review, Volume XXXI, 1842, 515. Available on Google Books.
21 Thomas Crosby, History of the English Baptists (London: Printed and Sold by the Editor), 1738 volume I, 63; Reprint, Lafayette, TN: Church History Research & Archives [in two vols.], 1978. Available on Google Books.
22 Volume XIII, page 158.
23 Volume CIII, page 496.
24 Robert G. Torbet, A History of the Baptists (Philadelphia: The American Baptist Publication Society), 1950; revised 1952, 51.
25 Ibid., 52.
26 Melchoir Hoffman, Jan Mathis and John of Leyden were also prominent leaders in this fanatic cult which practiced polygamy and eagerly killed their defectors - among other errors.
27 The Star Chamber were judicial groups appointed by and completely responsible only to those who appointed them.
28 John T. Christian, Baptist History Vindicated, "Introduction," (Louisville, KY: Baptist Book Concern), 1899, vii.
29 A Warning for England Especially for London In the Famous History of the Frantic Anabaptists, Their Wild Preachings and Practices in Germany, Printed in the yeare 1642. Available On-Line @ http://baptistcenter.com/digitaldocuments.html
30 R. W. (unknown), A Declaration Against Anabaptists: To Stop the Prosecution fo [of] their Errors, falsly pretended to be a Vinidication of the Royall Commision of King Jesus as they call it, (London, 1644). Available On-Line @ http://baptistcenter.com/digitaldocuments.html
31 Available On-Line @ http://baptistcenter.com/digitaldocuments.html
32 Available @ http://www.reformedreader.org/history/continuedsuccession.htm
33 Philip Bryan gives the following information about Crosby's History: "Thomas Crosby, in writing his history, relied on materials gathered earlier by Benjamin Stinton, his brother-in-law. Some of the material had been copied by Stinton from certain papers lent to him by Richard Adams, an elderly Particular Baptist preacher. . . ."
34 Thomas Crosby, History of the English Baptists, 1740 volume IV, 407.
35 Thomas Crosby, H of E B, 1739, vol. II, Preface; reprint edition. Note: An f was used as s in words with a double s; these are transcribed as s for easier reading.
36 John W. Brush, in Baptist Concepts of the Church , 1959, 68.
37 Baptist History and Heritage , James E. Tull, "The Landmark Movement: An Historical and Theological Appraisal", Volume X, January, 1975, 9.
38 This was Johann Lorenz Mosheim, author of An Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern, 1768.
39 Joseph Belcher, The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, Volume I, 28; reprint, 1988.
40 Complete Works. Volume III, "Expository Discourses on the Apocalypse," 1845, 245-7, 249.
41 Philip Bryan, see fn # 12.
42 Charles H. Spurgeon in a review of J. M. Cramp's A History of the Baptists in "The Sword and Trowel", August, 1868, 95.
43 Abraham Kenworthy, revised by James Kenworthy, History of the Baptist Church at Hill Cliffe, Warrington, England, [n.d.] revised 1882; reprint (Gallatin, TN: Church History Research & Archives, 1987), 39.
44 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1861, 225.
45 Erroll Hulse, An Introduction to the Baptists (Haywards Heath, Sussex: Carey Publications Limited, Second Edition, 1976, back cover.
47 Henry C. Vedder, A Short History of the Baptists, (Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1912), 4.
48 Ibid., 8.
49 Ibid., 9.
50 Joseph Plumb Martin, A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1830). It was later edited and published in 1962 as Private Yankee Doodle. Later it was again edited and published as Ordinary Citizen.
51 Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), 35.
52 Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and their Stepchildren, 14 fn.
52a Quoted in J. M. Pendleton, Three Reasons I Am A Baptist, 1853, p. 92.
53 Leonard Verduin, Anatomy of a Hybrid, 199.
54 Baptist Successionism: A Critical View (Valley Forge, PA: The Judson Press, 1969, 30.
55 See www.baptist historyhomepage/hosius.anabaptist.duBarry.html for the entire essay.
56 William Whiston, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Mr. William Whiston, ed. 2. (London, 1753), p. 178. Whiston's citation is "Authent. Rec."
57 J. Davis, The History of the Welsh Baptists, (Pittsburgh, 1835), 19.
58 Jesse Mercer, The History of the Georgia Baptist Association, 1838, "Circular Letter, 1811", 196-201.
59 Jesse Mercer, The History of the Georgia Baptist Association, Article 3 under "Gospel Order", 31.
60 Jesse Mercer, "A Dissertation on the Resemblances and Differences between Church Authority and That of an Association," Christian Index, I No. 22 (December 10, 1833), 86; cited in LeRoy Hogue, "A Study of the Antecedents of Landmarkism," Unpublished Th.D. thesis, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1966, chapter 4.
61 Patrick H. Mell, Baptism In Its Mode and Subjects (Charleston, S.C.: Southern Baptist Publication Society, 1853), 180.
62 B. H. Carroll, An Interpretation of the English Bible, (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1947), New and Complete Edition, Volume XV, 130-1.
63 John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists, (Bogard Press, Texarkana, AR-TX, 1922) 92.
64 Philip Bryan, op. cit., chapter 5.
65 Robert G. Torbet, A History of the Baptists, (Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1950), from the Forward, 8.
66 John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists, (Bogard Press, Texarkana, AR-TX, 1922), Volume I, 96.
[An abbreviated edition of this essay appeared in The Journal of Baptist Studies, 2009.]
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