|Baptizing a Baptist in Death|
Why is it that we identify Protestants as heroes of the faith? What happened to the Baptists? In the late nineteenth century, an ex-Confederate chaplain and Southern Baptist Seminary professor named William Whitsitt decided that the Baptists came out of the Protestant Reformation. According to him, the Baptists only began to immerse in England in 1641. The seminary threw Whitsitt out, but after he died, they accepted his unorthodox views.
While many Baptists continue to believe Whitsitt's theory, someone forgot to tell the Catholics. They were killing Baptists for immersing believers way before 1641. Catholic historian Stanislaus Hosius said in 1565, “There shall be no faith more certain and true, than is the Anabaptists, seeing there be none now, nor have been before time for the space of these thousand and two hundred years, who have been more cruelly punished, or that have more stoutly, steadfastly, cheerfully, taken their punishment....” (qtd. in Beller, Sacred Betrayal 3). According to our enemies, we have been around since at least 365. There is other evidence that suggests the early Christians immersed their converts. And how about John who baptized in the Jordan River (Matt. 3:6)?
The Catholic Church, to this day, teaches that baptism washes away the sins of infants and that grace is achieved through communion. The Reformers, such as Luther and Calvin, held similar beliefs. All these religions united with the state in order to crush their adversaries. Baptists, however, always held to the Biblical belief of salvation by grace through faith, that the two ordinances (Baptism and the Lord's Supper) were symbolic, and that the church must remain autonomous and avoid alliances with the government. In short, the Baptists have remained doctrinally pure.
Of course it is sometimes difficult to track Baptists through history. The Catholic church was merciless, not only in burning our people, but also burning our books. It is also hard because our name has never stayed the same nor our people in one place. We have been called Anabaptists, Waldenses, Albigenses, Paulicians. And, we were “called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).
It's time that Baptists stop being reformed and start becoming informed about their Bible. Christ said, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). To accept that the true church dissolved for 1400 years and somehow re-appeared is unthinkable.