Baptists since the Reformation
Both the General (Arminian) Baptists and the Particular (Calvinistic) Baptists drifted into doctinal errors. The General Baptists drifted into the error of unitaianism, the teaching that God is absolute in one person, rejecting the Trinitarian view of Three Persons in One Godhead. In the meantime, the Particular Baptists drifted into the error of hyper-Calvinism, over-emphasizing divine election to the neglect of evangelism, and antinomianism, supposed freedom from any moral law. England sliped into moral decline in the first half of the 1700’s and the Baptists went right down with her. But thank God revival was sparked through the minstries of John Wesley, George Whitefield, and others. This revival became known as the Second Reformation of England. This revival lasted well into the 1800’s! The results were church growth and missionary effort.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, an outstanding Baptist preacher, and William Carey, a leader in Baptist missions were two promenent figures of this peiod in England.
It is reported that during an appeal to a church to raise money to reach the heathen a Dr. Ryland shouted at Carey to “Sit down young man; when the Lord gets ready to convert the heathen, He will do it without your help or mine!” Carey went right on in his zeal for the Lord and wrote a little pamphlet titled, “An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen” and he preached his famous sermon, “Expect Great Things from God; Attempt Great Things for God.” He went on to become known as the Father of Modern Missions.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was saved in 1850, and was called to the New Park Street Church in Southwark, London. Under his diligent service to the Lord the congregation grew and relocated several times and finally became the 6,ooo seat Metropolitan Tabernacle, built in1861. Spurgeon established a pastors’ college, an orphanage, and wrote volumes. He died in 1892 and is still known as the “Prince of Preachers.”
In the U.S.A.
Religious liberty was being contested for. It was 1636, when a man was banished from Massachusetts. This man, Roger Williams with God’s help, was then sucsessful at establishing the colony of Rhode Island in 1639, he is also responsible for founding the first Baptist church in America at that time. Rhode Island was the first colony to grant full religious freedom. William’s biblical concept of separation of church and state was ultimately adopted by congress and the United States of America was the first western civilization to guarantee complete religious liberty on a national level.
William Carey of England and Adoniram Judson of the United States were both Baptists and pioneers in the modern missionary movement. Many conventions, associations, and societies were formed for the purpose of sending missionaries to the field at home and abroad. Baptist churches to this present time are still calling and sending missionaries out in the fulfillment of the Great Commision of our Lord.
Before the Great Awakening, there were eight Baptist churches in Masschusetts; but between 1740 and 1775, 27 more were started. By 1787 there were 151 Baptist churches in all of New England. The American Revolution interrupted church growth, but shortly afterward growth resumed and religious liberty was granted by all of the states. As the pioneers forged westward Baptist did too. Often Baptist preachers called itenerate preachers would make a circuit shepherding several churches.
Individual Baptist churches cooperated in specific projects like missions and education the mid 1800’s. Finally, there was the formation of the General Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States for Foreign Missions. It was agreed, at the start, that a missionary canidate’s position on slavery would not be a factor in his or her aceptance. Then they decided that they would not accept any missionary who owned slaves. Shotly after this, in May of 1845, 310 deligates from southern churches decided to withdraw from the General Convention and formed the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The SBC, however, was more than a missionary society, it was an organization of cooperative churches. This marked the first organizational division of Baptist churches in America.
After the withdraw of the SBC, the General Convention Changed its name to the American Baptist Missionary Union. There was still no organization of Baptist churches in the North until 1907, when the Northern Baptist Convention (NBC) was formed. Later they changed the name to American Baptist Convention, and today it is known as the American Baptist Church in the U.S.A.
In the late 1800s religious liberalism began to make it’s inroads into every protestant church in America through European literary criticism. Baptist churches were not left unscathed by this “modern” way of “thinking”. It became evident that there were some things more precious to many Baptists than loyalty to their distinctives (see this) the fudamentals of the faith! The 1900s in the U.S.A. started with a raging conflict between these “modernests” and “fundamentalists”. In the NBC some fundamentalists tried to oust the liberals. They were faced with defeat again and again.
Feeling the need to stand for historical Christianity the Baptist Bible Union (BBU) was formed in 1923.The BBU reached its summit in 1926 and then declined. Seeing the failure of the BBU, some fundamentalists hoped to “purge” the liberals from within the NBC. Others decided to obey the Scriptures and “separate” from the apostassy. In 1932 at the Belden Avenue Baptist Church in Chicago, 32 men met from eight states and organized the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC). One of the leading figures in this movement was Robert T. Ketcham.Another group known as the Conservative Baptist Assocition pulled out of the NBC in 1947.
With a growing dissatifaction among its strong fundamentalists during the 1950s and 1960s, certain members desired that the CBA represent a more Baptistic and separatist viewpoint, as well as be clearly premillennial and pretribulational in its eschatology. Formal organization was concluded June 10, 1965 at Eagledale Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, with 27 churches participating. A Constitution and a Confession of Faith were adopted, and the New Testament Association of Independent Baptist Churches (NTAIBC) began as a national fellowship of fundamental independent Baptist churches. The leader in the movement was Richard V. Clearwaters, a pastor for 42 years in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and founder of the Central Baptist Theological Seminary in 1954.