|Doctrines|| ||Baptists do not have any
creeds or confessions of faith which have binding authority. However,
there are six underlying principles which govern Baptist belief. |
|History|| ||During the final years of
the 16th century radical groups emerged in the Anglican church impatient
with the church's slow pace of reform. Many of these broke away from the
established church and became known as Separatists. One such group was
established in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire under the leadership of Thomas
Helwys and John Smith, a former Anglican preacher. In 1608 this group
moved to Amsterdam in order to escape persecution in England. In
Amsterdam Smith became convinced that baptism should be available only to
those who are convinced believers. Smith baptised himself and his
followers, thus forming the first Baptist church. In 1611 Thomas Helwys
and some of his followers returned to London and established the first
Baptist church in England. These came to be known as General Baptists
because they believed that Christ died for everyone, and not an elect few.
In 1638 a Baptist church was formed in Southwark, London whose theology
was Calvinistic. Those churches that followed this theology came to be
known as Particular Baptists because they believed that only a particular
elect group would be saved. |
The Baptist church grew steadily during the first half of the17th century. However, the restoration of the British monarchy in 1660 led to renewed persecution of dissenting churches. During this time the Baptist preacher John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress, spent 12 years in prison.
The 18th century saw renewed growth in the church. In 1792 the English Baptist Missionary Society was organised under the leadership of William Carey, planting Baptist churches in India and other parts of Asia.
Church membership continued to grow throughout the 19th century. Concomitant with this growth was the quest to establish cooperation among different Baptist churches. In 1891 the General and Particular Baptists were united in the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland. Baptist churches were also set up throughout central and eastern Europe.
The twentieth century has witnessed a growth in international cooperation among Baptist churches. In 1905 the World Baptist Alliance was set up in London. Since then meetings have occurred in different cities roughly every five years. Today there are Baptists in all continents of the world.
|Symbols|| || Baptist churches are
simple in design and rarely use symbols. Many churches contain
baptistries which provide for baptism through full immersion. Bread and
non-alcoholic wine are used to commemorate the last supper.|
|Adherents|| ||There are about 40
million Baptists world wide. By far the largest Baptist community is in
the United States, where there are 36.7 million in 16 bodies. (Europa
Publications Ltd. Vol. 2 1998, 3618) |
| ||Baptist Union of Great Britain, Baptist House, POB
44, 129 Broadway, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX1 8RT, Great Britain.|