Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Baptists are not the Anabaptists

In many forums, websites, and in person, many baptists spread the misinformation that the Baptists were previously know as the anabaptist before and during the Reformation. This claim is SOLELY based on the fact that the anabaptists and the baptists have superficial similarities, eg. both were non Catholic, and rejected paedo baptism. Strictly speaking modern baptists ARE anabaptists, however, mordern day baptists have nothing to do with the historical anabaptist groups of the Reformation and before, and certainly nothing to do with the anabaptists of St Augustine's time called the Donatists.  The Donatists were essentially Catholics with the absurd notion that the priest administering the sacraments was REQUIRED to be in a state of grace in order for the sacrament he is administering to be valid, that is, if a priest were administering baptism, if he was not in a state of grace, his baptism would not be valid and the person would remain in their sins.  In this era, in some places rebaptism was common due to the multiple and severe heresies, however, the offical Catholic position was set in concrete with the ruling of Pope Stephen I (St Stephen) with his correspondences with the African bishops, in which he overruled their conciliar decision that heretics ought to be rebaptized, thus the Catholic Churches policy today of not rebaptizing heretics and schismatics.  The only exception to this rule are those with such a pervert view of God like the Mormons, who seem to think God at one point was not God, among other bizarre doctrines. It is interesting that today among baptists as well as other Protestants they tend to rebaptize people that hop around from one church to the next, some I've talked to on paltalk brag they were baptized 5 times!

Occasionally, you will see Baptists pointing to Martin Luther's rants against the anabaptists of his day (assuming Luther was talking about them!). However, let's see what Luther accused the anabaptists of his day and see if they line up with modern Baptist doctrine! The early Lutherans and the notorious Augsburg Confession of 1530:

They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works.--Article V

My comment: External word here based on the previous paragraph of the confession seems to refer to preaching the Gospel. However, I have never heard a baptist espouse the view that the Holy Ghost comes thru work. In fact, some anabaptists were accused of being Pelagian or Semi Pelagian.

They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism.-Article IX

My Comment: Modern baptists do reject infant baptism and also reject baptismal regeneration.  Some modern baptists state that children are given a free pass to heaven if they die, though they cannot really defend this position, other than to appeal to King David and his son that died at 7 days old where David said he would go to him. However, we see a similar statement between the wicked Saul and the just Samuel in the story of the Witch of Endor. Regardless, not all baptists either will state a child is automatically saved. They certainly will not explain why a child does not have to be "born again," or have "faith" as they see it!

They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost. Also those who contend that some may attain to such perfection in this life that they cannot sin.-Article XII

My comment: This may or may not be consistent with some baptists. This issue maybe the the Calvinist divide that has plagued Baptists for hundreds of years. The Reformed baptists would affirm this state, since they believe salvation cannot be lost, whereas Arminian or Freewill baptists would probably deny it.

Of Civil Affairs they teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it is right for Christians to bear civil office, to sit as judges, to judge matters by the Imperial and other existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to make oath when required by the magistrates, to marry a wife, to be given in marriage......They condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these civil offices to Christians.-Article XVI

My comment: There are lots of Baptist judges, soldiers etc today. These anabaptist spoken of by Luther here are CERTAINLY not the modern baptists of today!

They condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned men and devils.--Article XVII

My Comment: This is perhaps the most clear statement that Luther's anabaptists are NOT today's Baptists.  No modern mainstream baptist church today would deny the eternality of hell, and especially not for demons!

IT should also be remembered that even in the Reformation time there were several different brands of anabaptism, some of them even denied the Deity of Christ, were unitarians, universalist, etc.  For an example of a unitarian anabaptist look up Socinianism.

If Landmark Baptist want to pretend their church descends from the Apostles, rather than simply label all "anabaptists" to be baptists, I recommend they do legitimate research and actually analyze the doctrine of the groups they claim as their spiritual ancestors. 

To be fair, I should futher note baptist theology DOES CHANGE over time! As I noted in a previous article and a youtube video there were Baptists in that taught Jesus is the Archangel Michael! Likewise, before the late 19th century, baptists were permitted to drink alcohol (in general).  Whereas, the Southern Baptist convention forbade what the bible permits around 1890, older baptist sects like the Primitive Baptists permit drinking. Also, slavery divided the baptists in 1844 (among other issues), creating today's Southern Baptists.