The influence of Calvinism on colonial Baptists: an ongoing argument emerging in the past decades of Baptist life revolves around the theological origins of early Baptists generally, specifically in America, and the role that Calvinist theology played in Baptist development.
This article surveys the origins of the first Baptist churches in colonial America and the multiple traditions and diverse contexts that aided the development of early Baptists in America. The assumption is that colonial Baptist life began in the 1630s with Roger williams and John Clarke John Clarke may be:
Edwards was born in Trevethin parish, Pontypool, Wales, and attended Bristol College, after which he began preaching in 1738. , and John Leland
John Leland (September 13 1506 – April 18 1552) was an English antiquary. overlapped the colonial period Colonial Period may generally refer to any period in a country's history when it was subject to administration by a colonial power.
The English Baptist Background
The first identifiable English Baptists emerged from a strain of Puritanism and Separatism. As their theology continued to develop and shift, these Baptists under the leadership of John Smyth John Smyth may be:
In the early 17th century, Helwys was principal formulator of that distinctively Baptist request: that the church and the state be kept separate in matters of law, so that moved away from their Puritan roots toward a belief in believer's baptism Believer's baptism (also called credobaptism, from the Latin word credo meaning "I believe") is the Christian ritual of baptism given to adults and children who have made a declaration of their personal faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. and the concept of general atonement. While it may be incorrect to assume that these first English Baptists were full-fledged Arminians, Smyth, Helwys, and their followers certainly held to ideas consistent with Arminian theology. For example, these General Baptists rejected the Augustinian-Calvinistic sense of original sin original sin, in Christian theology, the sin of Adam, by which all humankind fell from divine grace. Saint Augustine was the fundamental theologian in the formulation of this doctrine, which states that the essentially graceless nature of humanity requires redemption , abandoned double predestination predestination, in theology, doctrine that asserts that God predestines from eternity the salvation of certain souls. So-called double predestination, as in Calvinism, is the added assertion that God also foreordains certain souls to damnation. , and defended the concept that believers could fall from grace--all of which placed them in conflict with Calvinism. Most directly, the General Baptists adopted the idea of general atonement, hence their name "General" as opposed to the later developing Calvinistic Baptists labeled "Particular" due to their emphasis upon particular atonement. General Baptists originated in the Netherlands about 1609, and a portion of this first English Baptist church returned to England in 1612 to form the first Baptist church on English soil. Helwys's successor, John Murton, certainly adopted a primarily Arminian theology. Until the 1630s, the General Baptists remained the only form of Baptist church in England and were heavily persecuted by both the Anglican establishment and the Puritans. In the later 1630s and early 1640s, a new type of Baptists, Calvinistic in their theology, emerged out of the Separatist movement. Ultimately, these Particular Baptists became the more numerous and dominant form of Baptists in England. (1)
Early Colonial Baptists
The first Baptists in America originated in Rhode Island Rhode Island, island, United States
Rhode Island, island, 15 mi (24 km) long and 5 mi (8 km) wide, S R.I., at the entrance to Narragansett Bay. It is the largest island in the state, with steep cliffs and excellent beaches. in late 1638 or early 1639 under the leadership:of New England New England, name applied to the region comprising six states of the NE United States—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The region is thought to have been so named by Capt. maverick Roger Williams. Williams, who was technically a Baptist only a few months. Some have suggested that Williams had also already been "infected" with Baptist views due to exposure to General Baptist ideas in England. Certainly, Williams already held Separatist views and quickly ran afoul of a·foul of
1. In or into collision, entanglement, or conflict with.
2. Up against; in trouble with: ran afoul of the law. New England's Puritan authorities. Historians debate whether Williams came to his Baptist ideas independently, whether others who migrated into his Rhode Island colony after its formation influenced him, or whether he had adopted them from his earlier observation of English Baptists. If it was this last source, then Williams was certainly influenced by General Baptists.
While Williams has been generally regarded an orthodox Calvinist, at least one scholar, William Estep, determined that Williams utilized hermeneutics hermeneutics, the theory and practice of interpretation. During the Reformation hermeneutics came into being as a special discipline concerned with biblical criticism. closer to sixteenth-century European Anabaptists and the English General Baptists, indicating that he was much closer to General Baptists than to any other group of his time. Estep also insisted that the Calvinism of Williams was not that of the Synod of Dort The Synod of Dort was a National Synod held in Dordrecht in 1618/19, by the Dutch Reformed Church, in order to settle a serious controversy in the Dutch churches initiated by the rise of Arminianism. or a Genevan Calvinism. On the other hand, James Tull identified Williams as "an orthodox Calvinist" who "agreed with nine-tenths of the doctrines" held by his Calvinist Puritan contemporaries, including the doctrine of reprobation REPROBATION, eccl. law. The propounding exceptions either against facts, persons or things; as, to allege that certain deeds or instruments have not been duly and lawfully executed; or that certain persons are such that they are incompetent as witnesses; or that certain things ought not . Perry Miller
Perry G. Miller (February 25, 1905, Chicago USA - December 9, 1963) was an American intellectual historian and Harvard University professor. wrote that "Williams was as good as Calvinist as any Puritan," including Thomas Hooker Thomas Hooker (July 5 1586 – July 7 1647) was a prominent Puritan religious and colonial leader remembered as one of the founders of the Colony of Connecticut. Born at rural Marefield, Leicestershire, England, the son of a farm manager, Thomas Hooker won a good scholarship and John Cotton. In fact, Williams grouped Arminians with "Papists" and Quakers regarding their views on "the power of nature and free will," "the losing of true saving grace," and "election and reprobation." A more recent scholar, James Byrd, interpreted Williams as "a thoughtful Calvinist" who attempted to reconcile orthodox Calvinism with different hermeneutical approaches than those of New England's Puritans.
Of special interest is Williams's typological approach to the Old Testament in which he challenged typical Puritan and Calvinist hermeneutics to that portion of the biblical text. Williams identified the Old Testament as "preparatory and temporal" and insisted that while the Old Testament could be used as a model for contemporary civil affairs Designated Active and Reserve component forces and units organized, trained, and equipped specifically to conduct civil affairs activities and to support civil-military operations. Also called CA. See also civil affairs activities; civil-military operations. , the examples he offered differed from those used by the Puritans. Williams's variance from Puritan interpretation of the Old Testament placed him outside mainstream Puritan thought. Further, in The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, Williams quoted one section of an English Baptist pamphlet probably written by John Murton, and Williams was intensely conversant CONVERSANT. One who is in the habit of being in a particular place, is said to be conversant there. Barnes, 162. with the theological issues of his day. This familiarity with Murton suggests at least some influence by the General Baptists upon Williams. The church that Williams founded, the First Baptist Church of Providence, often called the First Baptist Church of America, was apparently founded upon Particular Baptist principles but became a General Baptist church in 1652. Prior to that year, it included both General and Particular Baptists and vacillated between General and Particular ideas throughout the eighteenth-century. (2)
While the influences upon Williams's theology have been questioned, influences upon another Baptist founder in America, John Clarke, have not been. Clarke's church in Newport, Rhode Island Newport is a city in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Providence. It is the home of Naval Station Newport, housing the United States Naval War College, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and a major United States Navy training center. , was primarily a Particular Baptist congregation, although for the first two decades it included members who were General Baptists. These General Baptists departed to form their own congregation either in the late 1650s or early 1660s, as did Seventh Day or Sabbatarian Baptists in 1671. For a brief time, Particular, General, and Seventh Day Baptists may have existed in the same congregation, although eventually all separated into their own congregations. Likewise, in Swansea, Massachusetts Swansea is a town in Bristol County in southeastern Massachusetts. It is located at the mouth of the Taunton River, just west of Fall River, 47 miles south of Boston; and 12 miles southeast of Providence, Rhode Island. The population was 15,901 at the 2000 census. , site of the first Baptist church in that colony, both Particular and General Baptists worshipped in the same congregation. For most of these groups, divisions occurred in the 1660s through the 1680s over these doctrinal differences. Seventh Day Baptists continued as a separate denomination through the remainder of the colonial period. (3)
Other groups or "mutations" contributed to colonial Baptist diversity. One divergent group was called Rogerenes. The Rogerenes adopted some Quaker ideas and their leader reputedly re·put·ed
Generally supposed to be such. See Synonyms at supposed.
Adv. 1. claimed the ability to perform miracles. Another group named Keithians held many Baptist ideas including baptism by immersion but merged those ideas with some Quaker beliefs. Both of these varieties of Baptists existed in small numbers. The Rogerenes existed primarily in New England and New Jersey, while the Keithians were extant in Pennsylvania and were identifiable as a separate group for less than two decades. (4)
Baptists in New England were not confined to Rhode Island. Despite persecution and discrimination by the Massachusetts authorities, churches like the one in Swansea and the famous First Baptist Church of Boston persevered. By 1700, ten Baptist churches existed in New England. Particular and General Baptists numbered approximately the same total of churches and members, and one Rogerene church and one Seventh Day Baptist church also existed in the region.
Baptists also briefly spread to the province of Maine The Province of Maine refers to several English colonies of that name that existed in the 17th century along the northeast coast of North America, at times roughly encompassing portions of the present-day U.S. where William Screven founded a Baptist church in Kittery in 1682. Screven and his followers held Calvinist soteriology so·te·ri·ol·o·gy
The theological doctrine of salvation as effected by Jesus.
[Greek st . Fourteen years later after continued Puritan persecution but mainly due to the depletion of shipbuilding timber in the Kittery area, Screven and his entire Baptist congregation relocated to Charleston, South Carolina South Carolina, state of the SE United States. It is bordered by North Carolina (N), the Atlantic Ocean (SE), and Georgia (SW). Facts and Figures
Area, 31,055 sq mi (80,432 sq km). Pop. (2000) 4,012,012, a 15. . In South Carolina, timber resources abounded, danger from hostile Native Americans was less intense, and a few unorganized Baptists already resided. The First Baptist Church of Charleston was primarily a Particular Baptist congregation although it accepted General Baptists into membership for some time and received financial assistance and encouragement from a General Baptist church in England as late as 1702. The Charleston church adopted the Second London Confession of Faith prior to its adoption by the Philadelphia Association The Philadelphia Association is a UK "charity concerned with the understanding and relief of mental suffering." It was founded in 1965 by the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst R. D. Laing along with Clancy Sigal, Aaron Esterson, Joan Cunnold, David Cooper and Sid Briskin. , and its earliest pastors after Screven, including Oliver Hart
Oliver Simon D'Arcy Hart is an economist and the Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics at Harvard University. Biography
Born in Britain, he earned his B.A. , continued its Particular Baptist tradition. (5)
The Philadelphia Baptist Association
As the colonies grew in the early eighteenth century, so did the Baptist denomination Noun 1. Baptist denomination - group of Baptist congregations
Baptist Church, Baptists - any of various evangelical Protestant churches that believe in the baptism of voluntary believers . Rhode Island remained a haven for Baptists and other dissenters dissenters: see nonconformists. , and increasingly the northern portion of the Carolinas colony became a location where persecuted dissenters in the South found some religious freedom. Eventually, Pennsylvania became the stronghold of Baptist work in the colonies. Founded by Quaker William Penn, this colony offered the most religious toleration For the Religioustolerance.org website, see .
Religious toleration is the condition of accepting or permitting others' religious beliefs and practices which disagree with one's own. of all the colonies besides Rhode Island. Baptists immigrated to Pennsylvania almost from the beginning of its colonization in 1681, and some short-lived Baptist churches were founded in the first decade. Elias Keach, son of a prominent English Particular Baptist pastor, Benjamin Keach Benjamin Keach (February 29, 1640 - July 18, 1704) was a Reformed Baptist preacher in London.
Originally from Buckinghamshire, Keach worked as a tailor during his early years. He was baptized at the age of 15 and began preaching at 18. , founded the first permanent Baptist church in Pennsylvania in 1688. Through this church at Pennepek, the work of Keach as an evangelist, and the religious freedom and economic opportunity that existed in Pennsylvania, Baptist work in the middle colonies Middle Colonies were a part of the original Thirteen Colonies that would later become The United States of America. The region was originally called New Netherlands, which was later renamed to the Middle Colonies. thrived. While only twelve Baptist churches existed outside of New England in 1700, in the early part of the eighteenth century, Baptist work in Pennsylvania and the other middle colonies blossomed. By 1750, twenty-six Baptist churches existed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The membership of these churches totaled more than 1,300. These totals far exceeded the figures for all the other colonies in 1700. In 1707, Baptists in the region formed the first association, the Philadelphia Baptist Association, which assisted the expansion of Baptist work, especially in the middle colonies. This association became the most influential Baptist association or organization in colonial America. It was exclusively a Particular, or as it came to be called, Regular, Baptist association. In 1742, the association adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, the first confession of faith issued in America by Baptists. (6)
The Philadelphia Confession of Faith was clearly Calvinist in its soteriology. It was largely based upon the Second London Confession of Faith adopted by English Particular Baptists in 1677. Although the 1644 London Confession had 52 articles and the 1677 confession only 32, the latter confession was twice as long as the former. The 1677 confession also showed considerable doctrinal influence from the Westminster Confession of Faith The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly largely of the Church of England, it became, and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of of 1646-1647 issued by English Presbyterians. English Baptists only slightly modified the Westminster Confession Westminster Confession: see creed (6.)
Confession of faith of English-speaking Presbyterians, representing a theological consensus of international Calvinism. , mainly expanding some sections while contracting others, and in some cases only slightly modifying the language. There were, however, noticeable differences. Some aspects of Calvinism in the Second London Confession were "more pronounced" and sections that related to Presbyterian polity Presbyterian polity is a method of church governance typified by the rule of assemblies of presbyters, or elders. Each local church is governed by a body of elected elders usually called the session. were omitted from the Baptist confession. Likewise, the confession deleted Presbyterian statements regarding infant baptism This article may contain original research or unverified claims.
Please help Wikipedia by adding references. See the for details.
This article has been tagged since March 2007. and added the requirement of a profession of faith along with an emphasis on baptism by immersion. Furthermore, the article entitled "God's Covenant" differed in the language utilized.
In another significant adaptation, Baptists modified and softened the language concerning reprobation utilized in the Westminster Confession. Finally, in the Second London Confession, English Particular Baptists deleted an important section in the Westminster Confession that stressed the role of the civil magistrate in maintaining peace. This latter deletion reflected the Baptist concern with separation of church and state
The Philadelphia Association's influence was far greater than just that of its confession of faith. Due to Baptist polity that insisted upon the autonomy of the local church, the association held no direct control over either member churches or other Baptist congregations. The association did, however, become a key arbiter as doctrinal and ecclesiological ec·cle·si·ol·o·gy
1. The branch of theology that is concerned with the nature, constitution, and functions of a church.
2. The study of ecclesiastical architecture and ornamentation. disputes arose. Frequently, various congregations turned to the association with questions and sought advice. The association responded with recommendations but insisted that its judgments remain advisory only. As Baptists grew in number in the mid-century, the association supported the creation of Rhode Island College
1. Of or relating to predestination.
2. Believing in or based on the doctrine of predestination.
One who believes in the doctrine of predestination. but admitted that the intricacies of election escaped him. Gano has been classified as a "moderate Calvinist" who served as pastor of New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of City's First Baptist Church for twenty-six years. Together, Edwards and Gano labored to unify Baptists in the colonies. (8)
The work of Philadelphia Association missionaries in leading General Baptist congregations to disband dis·band
v. dis·band·ed, dis·band·ing, dis·bands
To dissolve the organization of (a corporation, for example).
1. and reconstitute re·con·sti·tute
tr.v. re·con·sti·tut·ed, re·con·sti·tut·ing, re·con·sti·tutes
1. To provide with a new structure: The parks commission has been reconstituted.
2. as Particular/Regular Baptist churches should not be underestimated. Their activity was aggressive. For example, in North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures
Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop. , their work led to a transformation that significantly altered Baptist life. Over 70 percent of North Carolina's General Baptist churches made the switch. The Philadelphia Association was also instrumental in evaluating the theology of a new type of Baptists, the Separate Baptists, who sprang up in the aftermath of the Great Awakening. (9)
Colonial Baptists and the Great Awakening
The mid-eighteenth century Great Awakening critically influenced the development of Baptist life in the colonies and subsequent Baptist life in the new republic. The awakening largely began in Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed, and Congregational churches, and Congregationalist con·gre·ga·tion·al·ism
1. A type of church government in which each local congregation is self-governing.
2. Congregationalism pastor Jonathan Edwards and Anglican evangelist George Whitefield were its main protagonists. Yet, no single denomination was more greatly influenced by the awakening's outbreak than were Baptists. While Regular Baptists remained largely reserved in their response to the awakening, "Separate Baptists" emerged as a result of the awakening. Some Separate Baptist churches resulted from church splits regarding differing viewpoints on the revivals, but many originated as "New Light" or "Separate" Congregationalist churches that embraced the awakening. As these churches grew, many adopted Baptist interpretations of scripture regarding believer's baptism. Early Baptist historian David Benedict identified these New Light Congregationalist churches as "nurseries of Baptists," and evangelist George Whitefield supposedly complained that his "chickens have turned to ducks." As a result, many entire New Light Congregationalist churches converted to become Separate Baptist churches. In keeping with their Congregationalist roots, most of these Separate Baptist churches remained Calvinist in their theology but differed in their polity since they considered each church autonomous and separate from any higher governing body. (10)
The Great Awakening and the birth of Separate Baptist congregations dramatically increased the number of Baptists in colonial America. In 1740, approximately 65 Baptist churches had about 3,100 members. In 1790, Baptist churches numbered 986 with almost 70,000 members. From 1750 until 1780, Separate Baptists were generally regarded as distinct from the Regular Baptist churches. By 1790, however, most Separate and Regular Baptist churches regarded themselves as one and the same and were often referred to as "United Baptists," although this designation referred to more of a loose confederation than any substantial merger. The Philadelphia, Charleston, and Warren Associations all contributed to this unification, but the Philadelphia Association probably made the single greatest contribution to this merger. (11)
The Great Awakening also directly influenced the birth of one of the most influential groups in American religious history, that of the Separate Baptists of Sandy Creek, North Carolina Sandy Creek is a town in Brunswick County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 246 at the 2000 census. Geography
Sandy Creek is located at (34.287202, -78.153266)GR1. . The tremendous growth of Baptist churches reflected in the preceding statistics can be largely credited to the work of these Separate Baptists. Two amazing men, Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall, and one incredible woman, Martha Stearns Marshall Martha Stearns Marshall was an eighteenth-century Separate Baptist preacher. She often stood alongside her brother Shubal Stearns and spoke at Baptist meetings. Martha also assisted her husband Daniel Marshall in his churches and preached to his congregations. , led these Separate Baptists. Converted at the height of the Great Awakening, these Baptists moved to the North Carolina frontier and formed the Sandy Creek Baptist Church and subsequently, the Sandy Creek Baptist Association. Sandy Creek has been generally regarded as the "mother congregation" of Southern Baptists due to its aggressive evangelism and church planting. In seventeen years, the church started more than forty churches throughout the South. (12)
Separate Baptists essentially remained Calvinist in their soteriology but were patently aggressive in their evangelism and missiology Missiology, or mission science, is the area of practical theology which investigates the mandate, message and work of the Christian missionary. Missiology is a multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural reflexion on all aspects of the propagation of the Christian faith, embracing . The preamble of the Sandy Creek Church Covenant reflected Calvinistic theology. Stearns could probably be regarded as Calvinistic, but the Sandy Creek Baptists and most other Separates were not systematic theologians. They rejected creeds and sometimes also even eschewed confessions of faith. They typically offered a more prominent role to women in their congregations than did the Regular Baptists. Reflecting this disdain for theological discussion, Daniel and Martha Marshall's son, also a Separate Baptist pastor and acknowledged "low Calvinist," stated that he refused to "wade in such deep water" as the doctrine of predestination. Likewise, some Regular Baptists feared that the Sandy Creek Separatists drank from the Arminian well and thus hastened to send missionaries or leaders like Gano to test their theology. (13)
Isaac Backus and Calvinism
The Great Awakening gave colonial Baptists both tremendous growth and their finest leader, Isaac Backus. Backus had a Congregationalist background and was converted during the awakening. Like many Separate Baptists, he became a New Light Congregationalist but then moved to the Baptist expression of Christianity. More than any other single person, Backus served as the theologian and leader of colonial Baptists.
After several years as New Light Congregationalist, Backus and a handful of others became the nucleus of a Separate Baptist congregation at Middleboro; in the years that followed, Backus quickly became a prominent Baptist leader. After the formation of the Warren Baptist Association in 1767, the association enlisted Backus as its agent and essentially its lobbyist to the Continental Congress after its constitution in 1774. While most of Backus's work dealt with the key issue of religious liberty, toward the end of the colonial period and into the early history of the nation, Backus sought to steer Separate Baptists on a middle course theologically. On one extreme, Backus opposed the Arminianism of the Free Will Baptists. On the other extreme, he rejected the "New Divinity" or "Neo-Edwardsians" that he feared as a form of hyper-Calvinism that rejected the warm evangelism of the Great Awakening. Backus also feared the growing Universalism Universalism
Belief in the salvation of all souls. Arising as early as the time of Origen and at various points in Christian history, the concept became an organized movement in North America in the mid-18th century. and Unitarianism that were becoming more common in New England in the latter colonial period. At the same time, he defended the autonomy of the local church and, especially early in his ministry, resisted the Philadelphia Association's tendency towards connectionalism. In all, Backus used many of his tracts and sermons to refute Arminianism either in its Free Will Baptist form or after 1789, in its Wesleyan form. He also devoted some of his writing and preaching to responding to the remaining older General Baptists, the dangers of the hyper-Calvinists, and to the Universalists and Unitarians. (14)
Backus defended evangelical Calvinism against the hyper-Calvinists in a pamphlet entitled True Faith Will Produce Good Works. In this tract, Backus referred to Jonathan Edwards's The Freedom of the Will. Backus's reliance upon Edwards, whom he called "our excellent Edwards," was manifest. In response to the critics of Edwards's work, Backus answered that he was "much better acquainted than they are" and claimed that he was most "heartily one" of "the friends of Edwards's writings." Backus's work, The Sovereign Decrees of God, sought to demonstrate that the conclusions reached by Neo-Edwardsians did not truly represent the real doctrines of Calvinism, and that Deists deists (dē`ĭsts), term commonly applied to those thinkers in the 17th and 18th cent. who held that the course of nature sufficiently demonstrates the existence of God. and others who criticized the harshness of Calvinism's teaching on the God's immutable IMMUTABLE. What cannot be removed, what is unchangeable. The laws of God being perfect, are immutable, but no human law can be so considered. decrees were "slanderers." Consistently, Backus rejected the use of words like "inevitable" and "irresistible" regarding "the reprobate rep·ro·bate
1. A morally unprincipled person.
2. One who is predestined to damnation.
1. Morally unprincipled; shameless.
2. Rejected by God and without hope of salvation. ." Believing that Edwards's God was a loving and forgiving father rather than a wrathful wrath·ful
1. Full of wrath; fiercely angry.
2. Proceeding from or expressing wrath: wrathful vengeance. See Synonyms at angry. God, he wrote, "The means of grace The Means of Grace in Christian theology are those things (the means) through which God gives grace. Just what this grace entails is interpreted in various ways: generally speaking, some see it as God blessing humankind so as to sustain and empower the Christian life; are calculated in infinite wisdom to open the eyes of men." In another passage, he added, "God's purposes and promises were thereby exactly accomplished in bestowing infinite and eternal mercies upon guilty and miserable men." Such mercies occurred even when depraved de·praved
Morally corrupt; perverted.
de·praved·ly adv. individuals did not recognize them. In this, as in all of his writing, Backus emphasized God's sovereignty but reflected what he believed to be the correct understanding of Edwards and Calvin. (15)
In addition to the fact that Backus readily identified himself with Calvinism and aligned himself theologically with Edwards, he also accepted some aspects of the Enlightenment, and especially concepts drawn from John Locke. For instance, his anthropology combined both Edwards's viewpoints and those of Locke. He stressed the importance of the individual, building upon concepts from the Enlightenment, the Great Awakening, and the emerging American independence movement. He did not follow Locke blindly, however, insisting upon the necessity of "divine influence" upon humans in salvation. Nor did he follow Edwards blindly in his ecclesiology ec·cle·si·ol·o·gy
1. The branch of theology that is concerned with the nature, constitution, and functions of a church.
2. The study of ecclesiastical architecture and ornamentation. . Differing from the New England divine and his own Congregationalist roots, he accented the importance of a voluntary relationship with the church. In his anthropology at this point, he drew more from Locke than from Edwards. Central to his arguments regarding the separation of church and state was this voluntary association that differed from that of Edwards and others in the Puritan heritage. This differing ecclesiology inherently influenced Backus on church-state issues. Backus "rediscovered" Roger Williams and his writing in the 1770s and applied Williams's arguments in his defense of religious liberty. Backus also reflected earlier Baptist thought in the relationship of the individual to both the church and the state. (16) Thus, an underlying contribution of Backus to colonial Baptist life was to steer most Baptists on a middle way between dangers of the more extreme forms of Calvinism on one side and the various expressions of Arminianism on the other.
Not all Baptists embraced the modified Calvinism of Backus or accepted the conversion efforts of the Philadelphia Association. On one end of the spectrum, some Arminian Baptists emerged in the later part of the colonial era as Free Will Baptists, and two types of General Baptists continued to distinguish themselves from the "United Baptists" resulting from the loose merger of Regular and Separate Baptists. Even some Baptists identified with the Separates found themselves at odds with some key tenets of Calvinism. John Leland, controversial leader among the Separate Baptists of Virginia, reputedly jokingly challenged arrogant eiders about their Calvinism at his required second ordination service. Virginia Baptist pastor Jeremiah Walker openly refuted Calvinism in a published sermon, "The Fourfold Foundation of Calvinism Examined and Shaken." At the other end of the spectrum, some of the more Calvinistic Baptists moved into the realm of hyper-Calvinism as represented by the Kehuckee Association and formed the roots of the anti-Missions Primitive Baptist movement. (17)
The earliest colonial Baptists were a diverse lot comprised of General or Six Principle Baptists, Particular or Regular Baptists, Seventh-Day or Sabbatarian Baptists, and even smaller and short-lived groups such as Rogerene and Keithian Baptists. This diversity continued throughout the colonial period to include New Light or Separate Baptists beginning in the Great Awakening and Free will Baptists after it. As they grew more numerous or as they developed in tolerant colonies or a location where religious liberty existed, they tended to divide over doctrinal differences. Even the earliest Particular Baptists in America differed from Puritan and established church interpretations of the Old Testament, especially with regard to Americanized Covenant theology and the Puritan theocracy theocracy
Government by divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. In many theocracies, government leaders are members of the clergy, and the state's legal system is based on religious law. Theocratic rule was typical of early civilizations. .
Throughout the colonial experience, significant exchange of ideas between Baptists in England and America occurred as did debate between General and Particular Baptists. While by the mid-eighteenth century a majority of colonial Baptists were Calvinistic due to the influence of the Philadelphia Association and the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, significant numbers of non-Calvinistic Baptists remained. Overall, most colonial Baptists identified as Calvinists largely rejected hyper-Calvinism and adopted the New Light Calvinism of Jonathan Edwards and, subsequently, the modified Calvinism of English Baptist leader Andrew Fuller. Virtually all major eighteenth-century colonial Baptist leaders were modified Calvinists. As Baptists grew rapidly in the eighteenth century and merged around core values of missions and evangelism, Separates became more orderly while Regulars lost the edge of some of their Calvinism, especially regarding reprobation.
The Great Awakening was a major turning point for Baptists. Their numbers increased as a result of the revivals and they began to clarify their doctrines. The New Light Calvinism of Jonathan Edwards influenced Isaac Backus considerably; but prizing the autonomy of the local church and stressing the separation of church and state, Backus and others strove to modify Edwards's viewpoints even further. They held to a Calvinist soteriology while rejecting both all forms of hyper-Calvinism on one hand and Arminianism on the other. These modified Calvinists rejected significant segments of Calvinist ecclesiology and a Calvinist understanding of church-state relations. Baptists also rejected the more theocratic the·o·crat
1. A ruler of a theocracy.
2. A believer in theocracy.
the systems of government suggested by the Puritan establishment and the Puritan interpretation of covenant theology. To a certain extent, even their soteriology was softened. As Fisher Humphreys and Paul Robertson suggested, the practices of revivalism revivalism
Reawakening of Christian values and commitment. The spiritual fervour of revival-style preaching, typically performed by itinerant, charismatic preachers before large gatherings, is thought to have a restorative effect on those who have been led away from the gradually influenced their theology. (18)
Certainly Baptists, like all denominations, were affected by the democratizing influence of the frontier and indirectly by the more individualistic aspects of the Enlightenment. (19) It would be incorrect to say that colonial Baptists were all Calvinist and equally incorrect to say that they were "lapsing" into Arminianism by 1790. From the beginning, while being influenced by Calvinism, Baptists were also influenced by the diversity of the American experience. Rather than overreact o·ver·re·act
To react with unnecessary or inappropriate force, emotional display, or violence. to Arminianism by becoming hyper-Calvinist, American Baptists modified their Calvinism to emphasize the freedom of believers and Baptist viewpoints on ecclesiology and church-state issues.
The Baptist theology that was emerging by 1790 was a theological blend much in the same way that the United States was becoming somewhat of a social "melting pot." By moving away from the Puritan way and a Calvinistic interpretation of church and state, Williams, Backus, and others in between were also moving toward a worldview world·view
n. In both senses also called Weltanschauung.
1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group. that led to a modification of Calvinism. Some of the colonial Baptists who emerged by 1790 could even be typified as "Calminians" due to their unique blend of a softened form of Calvinism. This moderation of the predominant Calvinism of the era leads to two related questions that must remain unanswered. How much of Calvinism must one accept to be truly a Calvinist? And can one completely accept Calvinist soteriology--the "TULIP" of the Synod of Dort--and reject other aspects of Calvinism such as ecclesiology, theocratic systems of government, and Calvinistic forms of Covenant Theology?
(1.) H. Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1987), 35-36, 73-74; Bill J. Leonard, Baptist Ways: A History (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2003), 23-27; and William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1959, 1969), 127, 128.
(2.) William R. Estep, Revolution within the Revolution: The First Amendment in Historical Context, 1612-1789 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdrnans Publishing Co., 1990), 80, 81, 85; James E. Tull, Shapers of Baptist Thought Reprint ed. (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press Mercer University Press, established in 1979, is a publisher that is part of Mercer University. External link
(3.) McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 136-41; Leonard, Baptist Ways, 75-76; and Backus, History of the Baptists, 1: 348. Seventh Day Baptists continuef through the colonial period to the present day. For more information on the history of the Seventh-Day Baptists, see C. F. Randolph, ed., Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America (Plainfield, NJ: American Sabbath Tract Society, 1910.)
(4.) McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 136-41, 211; Leonard, Baptist Ways, 75-76, 84-86; and Robert G. Gardner, Baptists of Early America (Atlanta: Georgia Baptist Historical Society, 1983), 48, 51, 62, 63.
(5.) McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 143, 144, 147, 219, 220; Gardner, Baptists of Early America, 18, 34, 37, 45, 49; Robert A. Baker, Adventure in Faith: The First 300 Years of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1982), 26, 27, 40, 41, 50, 51ff., 65-95.
(6.) McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 146, 211, and Gardner, Baptists of Early America, 20-21.
(7.) Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, 237, "Second London Confession," 259, 260, 278, 279-80, 283-84, 290-91; Estep, Revolution within the Revolution, 62-65; and "Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647," 7, 8, 23, 27, 30 at http://www.freepres.org/westminster.htm.
(8.) Abram D. Gillette, ed., Minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, 1707-1807 (Springfield, MO: Particular Baptist Press, 2002), 43-44, 50-54, 58, 60; Harold R. Stewart, A Dazzling Enigma: The Story of Morgan Edwards (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1995),77-78; Thomas R. McKibbens, Jr., and Kenneth L. Smith, The Life and Works of Morgan Edwards (Dayton, OH: Church History Research and Archives, Arno Press 1980 ed.), 101-102, 104, 114-15; McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 211, 212, 213, 219; and Richard Furman, "An Account of John Gano," in The Life and Ministry of John Gano, 1727-1804, ed. Terry Wolever (Springfield, MO: Particular Baptist Press, 1988), 126.
(9.) Gardner, Baptists of Early America, 108, 38; George Washington Paschal, History of the North Carolina Baptists (Raleigh: North Carolina Baptist State Convention, 1930), 1: 204-22; McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 223, and Robert G. Torbet, A History of the Baptists, rev. ed. (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press), 229ff.
(10.) McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 201-05; R. T. Kendall Dr R T Kendall was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, England, for twenty-five years. Born in Ashland, Kentucky on July 13, 1935, he was educated at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) at Regent's Park College, a hall of the , "The Rise and Demise of Calvinism in the SBC (1) (SBC Communications Inc., San Antonio, TX, www.sbc.com) A large, national telecommunications company that grew from a multitude of local and regional companies, including Southwestern Bell, Pacific Bell and Nevada Bell, into a single, unified brand by 2002. " (Master's Thesis, University of Louisville See also
1. ^ 
2. ^  URL accessed on June 8 2006
3. , 1973), 51-52; William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations in the South: Tracing through the Separates the Influence of the Great Awakening, 1754-1787 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1961), 20; and David Benedict, A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America and Other Parts of the World (New York: Lewis Colby and Company, 1848), 549. See also C. C. Goen, Revivalism and Separatism in New England, 1740-1800: Strict Congregationalists and Separate Baptists in the Great Awakening (Middletown, CN: Wesleyan University Press Wesleyan University Press, founded (in present form) in 1959, is a university press that is part of Wesleyan University (Connecticut). External link
(11.) Gardner, Baptists of Early America, 63; Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations, 140-41; and McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 211.
(12.) McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 227-28; Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations, 46ff. and George W. Purefoy, A History of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association, from Its Organization in A. D. 1758, to A. D. 1858 (Dayton, OH: Church History Research & Archives, Arno Press 1980 ed.), 47.
(13.) Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations, 62.
(14.) Stanley Grenz, "Isaac Backus," in Baptist Theologians, eds. David Dockery and Timothy George (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1990), 102-05; William G. McGloughlin, Isaac Backus and the American Pietistic pi·e·tism
1. Stress on the emotional and personal aspects of religion.
2. Affected or exaggerated piety.
3. Tradition (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1967), 170, 183, 184; and Tull, Shapers of Baptist Thought, 73-74.
(15.) Isaac Backus, A History of New England with Particular Reference to the People Called Baptists, vol. 2 (Newton: Backus Historical Society, 1871), 238, 252; William G. McLoughlin, ed., The Diary of Isaac Backus (Providence: Brown University Press, 1979), II:1166; Isaac Backus, "The Sovereign Decrees of God," 296, 297, 299, 301 and "Truth Is Great and Will Prevail," 402, in Isaac Backus on Church, State, and Calvinism, ed. William G. McLoughlin (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press The Harvard University Press is a publishing house, a division of Harvard University, that is highly respected in academic publishing. It was established on January 13, 1913. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. , 1968). See also editor's introduction in McLoughlin, Isaac Backus on Church, State, and Calvinism, 290, 291.
(16.) Backus, "The Sovereign Decree of God," in McLouglin, Isaac Backus on Church, State, and Calvinism, 297; Isaac Backus, "The Doctrine of Sovereign Grace," as cited in Grenz, "Isaac Backus," 109-10; Stanley Grenz, Isaac Backus--Puritan and Baptist: His place in History, His Thought and His Implications for Modern Baptist Theology (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1983), 328. For more information on Isaac Backus as "Defender of the Baptist Faith," see McLoughlin, Backus and the American Pietistic Tradition, 167-92. A different perspective on the background of Backus's thought from that of Grenz is offered by Tom J. Nettles net·tle
1. Any of numerous plants of the genus Urtica, having toothed leaves, unisexual apetalous flowers, and stinging hairs that cause skin irritation on contact.
2. Any of various hairy, stinging, or prickly plants. in "Edwards and His Impact on Baptists" in Founders Journal (Summer 2003), 1-18. Nettles offers that even Backus's beliefs regarding separation of church and state were drawn from Edwards's Freedom of the Will and Edwards's other doctrinal writing.
(17.) Gardner, Baptists of Early America, 20-21; J. Bradley Creed, "John Leland: American Prophet of Religious Individualism" (Ph.D. diss diss
Variant of dis.
Slang, chiefly US to treat (a person) with contempt [from disrespect]
Verb 1. ., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, is a private, non-profit institution of higher education, associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, whose stated mission is "to provide theological education for individuals engaging in Christian , 1986), 13; Jeremiah Walker, The Fourfold Foundation of Calvinism Examined and Shaken (Richmond: John Dixon, 1791), photocopy from SBC Historical Commission provided to the author by Michael Dain; and McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 223-24. For a more complete understanding of the origins of the Primitive Baptist movement, see Michael Dain, "The Development of the Primitive Impulse in American Baptist Life, 1707-1842" (Ph.D. diss., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2001).
(18.) Fisher Humphreys and Paul E. Robertson, God So Loved the World. Traditional Baptists and Calvinism (Insight Publishers, 2000), 37.
(19.) For the democratizing influence of the American experience upon Christianity, see Nathan O. Hatch Nathan O. Hatch is president of Wake Forest University, USA, having been officially installed on 2005-10-20.
Born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, Hatch graduated summa cum laude graduate of Wheaton College (1968), Hatch earned his master's (1972) and doctoral (1974) , The Democratization de·moc·ra·tize
tr.v. de·moc·ra·tized, de·moc·ra·tiz·ing, de·moc·ra·tiz·es
To make democratic.
de·moc of American Christianity (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989).
Michael E. williams, Sr,. is dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of history, Dallas Baptist University Dallas Baptist University (DBU), formerly known as Dallas Baptist College, is a Christian liberal arts university located in Dallas, Texas, USA. History
DBU began as Decatur Baptist College in Decatur, Texas, in 1898. , Dallas, Texas.