Category Archives: Church History

Baptists Are Not Protestants

Did these get your attention? Well, it got mine as I was browsing the church history forums on The Puritan Board. The thread was started after a forum member read a similarly titled paper posted on the “Bibel Baptisten Gemeinde” (Bible Baptist Church) website in Darmstadt, Germany. It is from this German paper that I quote – not from the forum. (just so ya’ll know my sources…) Smile

The main argument against placing the Baptists among the Protestant movement is a historical one:

Protestants date from the sixteenth century. They are the Lutherans, the Reformed and others who were once Roman Catholics and left the Roman Catholic faith to start denominations of their own. The Baptists never left the Roman Catholic Church as did Luther, Calvin and Zwingli. They never left because they were never in. They did not begin their existence at the time of the Reformation but hundreds of years prior to the Reformation.

As you can tell, the author of this paper is defining the term “Protestants” as churches that came from the Roman Catholics during the Reformation. Under that definition, I would have to agree that the majority of the Baptist churches are not “Protestants” as they did not protest anything. [@more@]

This also brings up a good point that tends to get forgotten – mainly that there were other churches around besides the Roman Catholic Church. There was the Eastern Orthodox Church, which most folks remember, as well as the:

  • Coptic Church of Egypt
  • Armenia Church of Armenia
  • Georgian Church of Georgia
  • Church in Persia (Christianity reached India and China within the first two centuries)
  • African church (north-central Africa was home to a huge Christian population for several hundred years before tribal wars and drought destroyed the nations that housed the church)

Note: these churches trace their roots back the first century – some of which where started by members of the 12 Apostles.

In addition, there were several smaller churches that held as similar views as the Baptist (as listed in the German article):

  • Montanists (150 A.D.)
  • Novatians (240 A.D.)
  • Donatists (305 A.D.)
  • Paulicians (650 A.D.)
  • Albigenses (1022 A.D.)
  • Waldensians (1170 A.D.)

The article goes on to state that while Baptists share some common theological grounds with Protestants, there are six big differences:

  1. Baptists believe with all their hearts that God´s Word alone is sufficient for faith and practice. Various Protestant denomination have creeds, catechisms and assorted doctrinal standards. Baptists hold to the Bible alone.
    • [Ardell: I believe the author is talking about high churches as I know soem of them have creeds, catechisms and such. Honestly, I think some of them are good and should be used in the low churches – not has a means to salvation, but as a means to understand the work of the Lord through out the centuries. It is to our disgrace that we have thrown away the traditions and history of Christianity.]

  2. Baptists believe that Christ and only Christ is the head of the Church… There is no man who has the oversight of Baptist Churches. Baptists have no denomination in the sense of an organization that controls local congregations. Each local church is autonomous and accountable only to Christ, who is its Head.
    • [Ardell: Granted this is changing a bit among the lower churches since the beginning of the 1900’s – mostly notably among churches that came out of the Pentecostal, Charismatic and Jesus People movements.]


  3. Baptists believe in their hearts in a free church in a free state… Baptists are vigoriously opposed to union of state and church and believe that a state controlled church is a wretched excuse for Christianity and a plain departure from Scripture. All of the Protestant Reformers fastened state churches upon their followers!
    • [Ardell: The author does have a point… in fact, there are still parts of Europe that hold to state back Protestant churches. Ie. Germany – Lutheran; England – Anglican; Scotland – Presbyterian]


  4. Baptists believe strongly in the individual accountability to God… A priest cannot answer for you, a church cannot answer for you to God. God-parents cannot answer for you…No one is saved because of his identification with any religion….Protestants generally do not hold this Scriptural doctrine.
    • [Ardell: Again I believe the author is thinking mostly of the high churches. Most low churches tend to hold to this view of individual salvation.]


  5. Baptist people furthermore have always held to believer´s baptism. None of the Protestant Reformers held this Bible teaching…This obviously means that there is no infant baptism. since infants are incapable of repenting. No unbelievers are to be baptized. The Reformers followed Rome in their teaching of baptism.
    • [Ardell: It is interesting that most “Protestant” churches today hold to adult baptism….I guess the Anabaptist had a huge impact on the churches in the USA.]


  6. Baptists on the basis of Scripture have always held to a regenerate church membership, that is a membership that is made up only of people who give a credible profession of faith in Christ. In the Apostolic church only those who became believers, those who received the Word of God and who had repented of their sins, were baptized and received as church members (Acts 2:41). There was no automatic or formalistic membership in apostolic churches nor in Baptist churches today.
    • [Ardell: Vote with your feet. That was the moto of the 1960’s movement as folks rejected the stuffy membership based system in many high churches. This would be why most independent churches and/or movements that came out of the Jesus Movement don’t have formal memberships. Granted that is beginning to change a bit as those pastors find it hard to shepherd an unknown flock…]

All this makes you rethink your definition of Protestant doesn’t it?  Shoot – I used to define it as simply as churches who believed in salvation via faith not works. Yet, it looks like the formal definition is a lot different. Undecided

As such, I checked a few sources to see how they defined the term “Protestant”:

  • Wikipedia – encompasses the forms of Christian faith and practice that originated with the doctrines of the Reformation.
  • Dictionary.com – any Western Christian who is not an adherent of a Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Church; an adherent of any of those Christian bodies that separated from the Church of Rome during the Reformation, or of any group descended from them; (originally) any of the German princes who protested against the decision of the Diet of Speyer in 1529, which had denounced the Reformation.
  • About.com – The term Protestant is used to refer to any Christian group which developed from the Reformation.

It looks like everyone agrees that a true “Protestant” is one that developed out of the Reformation or from churches that developed then. Interesting… I’m going to have to rethink some of the ways I use that word. Shoot, I’m going to have to rethink the terms I use to describe myself!!  Tongue out

By the way, in writing this post, I discovered a thread on the Baptist Board discussing this same question (Are Baptist Protestants or not?). It seems that there is a disagreement about the Baptist as to their roots…  Undecided

Some folks on the forum hold to the view that they are not Protestants; others say they are; and still others say they are a mixture of Protestant and non-Protestant (ie. the Baptist church has mixed roots).

So, what’s your thoughts? Are Baptist Protestants?

How about your church? Is it Protestant or does it have roots from before the Reformation?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

If you're not wearing BLUE, pinch yourself! No – that wasn't a typo – it was an historic fact.  You see, up until the mid-1700s the color most closely associated with Ireland and St. Patrick was blue, not green. In fact, the Irish Presidential Standard (ie. the flag used by the President of Ireland) shows a Gaelic harp on a St. Patrick's Blue background.

A brief history of St. Patrick

Most folks know the legend of St. Patrick – how he was a slave in Ireland before returning as a missionary, how he sued the three-leave clover to explain the Trinity, and how he drove all the snakes from Ireland… However, I want to focus a bit on some of the lesser known, and in my mind, the more import parts of the live of St. Patrick.

St. Patrick lived from late 300's to the mid-400's, dieing in either 461 or 493 – depending on who you talk to.  He was the son of a church deacon and the grandson of a priest – both of whom lived in British Isles.  We don't know if he was on Roman decent or Celtic – most likely a mixture of both.

The Roman Catholic Church likes to call St. Patrick as one of their own – however, this was most likely NOT the case. Christianity came to the British Isle in the mid to late second century (100s AD) by unknown people. In the third and fourth century (200-300 AD), the British church sent bishops to some of the church counsels – showing the world that Gospel of the Kingdom had spread to the further most areas of known world.[@more@]

During this time, the Church in Rome, as well as in other sees around the Mediterranean Sea, where involved in two things: One, surviving as the Emperors of Rome where trying to kill all Christians. Two, they were fighting among each other for power.  It wasn't until 313 AD that Constantine legalized Christianity. Even then, it took another hundred years before Leo I begin to consolidate power in the Church to Rome (ie. mid to late 400 AD).

Add to this the fact that the British Isles where on the edge of the Roman frontier, and you have a Church that developed independent of 'Rome' or another other 'see' (granted the British church did have some contact as evidence by their presence at the Church Counsels).

As a result of this independence, the Celtic Church under St. Patrick developed into an amazing Church with a strong emphasis on the love of God and relationship with Him versus the work based system that was developing round the Mediterranean. This emphasis really begin to show up in the 6th and 7th Centuries (500-600's) under Saint Columba, who founded the monastery on Iona, and Saint Columbanus, who traveled all across the European continent preaching the Word of the Lord.  

In my opinion, the Celtic Church from 400 to 700 AD was closer to true Christianity (ie. saved by faith, not by works; emphasis on the relationship with the Lord versus earning your way to heaven) then Roman Catholicism at the same time. Unfortunately, Roman Catholicism won out through political power… However, God kept His remnant both in the British Isles as well as else where – like in Armenia (Middle East), Nubia (Africa), and Bohemia (Europe).

Celebrations Ideas

If you're in Boise, I would recommend dropping by the Shamrock Coffee Company at Overland and Maple Grove. This Irish themed coffee and tea house is throwing a St. Patrick Days party:

5:00pm-7:00pm: It's Happy Hour!  All Shamrock signature drinks are FREE! [and they have some awesome signature drinks!!!!]

7:00pm-9:00pm: Irish band An Buille will be performing live at Shamrock Coffee Company's Blackeagle Cafe. CDs will be available for purchase.

If you have never been to the Shamrock, I would recommend giving it a try today. Laughing

Do I have to LISTEN? A brief looking into a world of history

For those of you who don’t know me (ok – let’s face it, if your reading this, you already know me…and are probably wounding if it’s too late to deny all knowledge of the being named Ardell), I like missions history – especially as it deals with early church history. As such, I have been studying the topic off-and-on for the last eight or nine years. At different times throughout those years I have found folks (I believe the number is six) who actually enjoyed listening/talking about this subject.

Well, to the relief of my wife and all sane beings in Idaho, the Good Lord (who is also probably tired of hearing me talk) allows me to co-teach a class about the subject.

Yelp – I am now teaching a class about Missions History, World Religion and Cross Culture Adaptation to fifteen VCOM (Vineyard College of Mission) students. Seeing that the class is mandatory, they have to show up ever week! (Now if they would only stay awake...)

Now I know you are all dieing to know what I’m teaching this poor blessed students. As such, I have posted part of my outline for last week below for you all to drool over. Lord willing, I will continue to post more information about the class was we work are way through this semester (hold on, stop! Slow down – poking your eyes out won’t solve anything… you don’t have to keep reading if you don’t want too. That’s right; put the folk back on the table. Thank you).

[@more@]

I) Apostolic Period: 33-95 AD

a. The Apostles – forced out of Jerusalem in 70 AD

i. Thomas – India

ii. Simon the Canaanite– Africa and Britain

iii. Simon Peter – Samaria; Roman; other places?

iv. Bartholomew – Armenia and India

v. John – Asia Minor (modern day Turkey)

vi. Andrew – North between the Caspian and Black Seas

vii. Matthew – Ethiopia, Egypt

viii. Philip –Asia Minor (modern day Turkey)

ix. James the son of Alphaeus – Spain?

II) Post Apostolic 95-313 AD

a. J. Herbert Kane, A Concise History of the Christian World Mission (1987)

“Coming to the second and third centuries we find that information regarding the expansion of the Christian church is even more meager. We read of large and influential churches in Alexandria, Carthage, and Edessa; but we do not know when or by whom they were established. Here again there are wide gaps in our knowledge. It would seem that Christianity continued to spread along the main roads and rivers of the empire: eastward by way of Damascus and Edessa into Mesopotamia; southward through Bosra and Petra into Arabia; westward though Alexandria and Carthage into North Africa; and northward through Antioch into Armenia, Pontus, and Bithynia. Later still it reached Spain, Gaul, and Britain before crossing the borders of the empire into more remote parts such as Ireland, Ethiopia, and China.”

b. Pantaens of Alexandria went to India in 180 AD (found a church founded by Bartholomew)

c. Gregory the Illuminator – Missionary to Armenia

i. Converted Armenian’s King, King Tiridates

ii. Still exists – one of the oldest churches in Christendom

iii. New Testament first appeared in the Armenian language in 410 AD

III) Christianity become corrupt: 313-500 AD

a. Key Dates

i. Conversion of Emperor Constantine (323 AD)

1. Christianity when from the tombs to the palace almost overnight

2. People became ‘Christianity’ for political reasons, not because of a personal faith.

ii. Christianity becomes the “official” religion of the Roman Empire

It is Our Will that all the people We rule shall practice that religion which the divine Peter the Apostle transmitted to the Romans. We shall believe in the single Deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, under the concept of equal majesty and of the Holy Trinity. We command that those persons who follow this rule shall embrace the name of Catholic Christians. The rest, however, whom We adjudge demented and insane, shall sustain the infamy of heretical dogmas, their meeting places shall not receive the name of churches, and they shall be smitten first by divine vengeance and secondly by the retribution of Our own initiative, which We shall assume in accordance with divine judgment.

Emperor Theodosius 380 AD

b. Patrick, missionary to Ireland (389? – 461?)

i. Evangelical Celtic believer from Britain (not connected to the Roman Church)

ii. Father was a ‘deacon’; Grandfather was a priest in the Celtic church

iii. Patrick did not become a believer until he was captive by an Irish raiding party and became a slave in Ireland

iv. Escaped after 6 years; went to Gaul to study; in 432 AD went back to Ireland as a missionary

v. Changed Ireland for God

vi. Unlike Roman Catholics, Patrick and the Celtic missionaries that followed placed a lot of emphasis on spiritual growth.

c. Frumentius – missionary to Ethiopia

i. Going to India with his uncle and a friend

ii. Seized by pirates in the Red Seas; sold as slaves to the King of Ethiopia

iii. Became the virtual ruler of Ethiopia upon kings death; ruled on behalf of the kings son, Ezana

iv. When the new king was old enough, Frumentius and his friend was set free; went to Alexandria

v. Commissioned as a bishop and returned as a missionary

vi. Converted Ezana to Christianity

vii. Ethiopian church is the only African church that was not conquered by Islam