PBS: Where Did Southern Baptists Come From?

January 18, 2008

This week we talked a little about our Southern Baptist roots. As we discussed, our roots are very complex and controversial, but at the same time pretty much uniform but also evolving.

Where Did Southern Baptists Come From?

1. Southern Baptists’ roots are historically complex

a. English Separatists – Some Baptists were influenced from these people who separated entirely from the Church of England. These included the Pilgrims who went from Holland to Mass. In 1620. Most early Baptists came from England where they were persecuted.

b. Puritans – Others were influenced from this group who sought to “purify” the Church of England by those who felt that the Reformation had not yet been completed.” (EDT, 972). Emigrated to Massachusetts in 1630 – this was a less separatistic body. Some advocated Presbyterian rule and others congregational. Before 1776 Baptist pastors were whipped and imprisoned in Virginia, Massachusetts.

c. Anabaptists – Others were influenced by this group of people from the Germanic region of Europe. Anabaptism was “the logical culmination of the reform begun but left unfinished by Luther and Zwingli.” (EDT, 54). They believed in discipleship, Biblicism and pacifism.

2. Southern Baptists roots have always been controversial

a. Charleston Tradition – a misnomer is that the Charleston association was often referred to as “doctrinaire, formal, and educated.” First Baptist Charleston was the first Baptist church in the south founded by pastor William Screven in 1682.

b. Separate Baptists – This influence came from the Sandy Creek Tradition of the Great Awakening revivals. They were also stereotypically considered “uneducated, doctrinally unsophisticated, informal, and fiercely evangelistic.”

c. Triennial Convention – Established in 1814. First Baptist denomination. All Baptist bodies joined this association of churches. They accepted the 1833 New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith.

d. Southern Baptist Convention – started in 1845 in Augusta, GA. The Triennial Convention would not let slave-owners be missionaries. Baptist leaders went back and forth about whether slavery was biblical or not. Therefore, a group of “Southern Baptists” started their own convention. “In May, 1845…310 delegates from the Southern churches met and organized the Southern Baptist Convention. “For eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort for the propagation of the Gospel.”

3. Southern Baptist confessions have historically been uniform but evolving

a. 1689 London Confession of faith – Many of the first Baptist churches held ot this confession of faith which was very Calvinistic

b. New Hampshire Baptist Confession – By the 1800’s many Baptist curches held to this mild Calvinistic confession which was formed in 1833. This was a common Baptist confession in both the North and the South

c. Baptist Faith and Message 1925 – The first Southern Baptist confession of faith. It closely parallels the New Hampshire Confession of faith of 1833. During this time, there was the “fundamentalist/modernist controversy that raged in northern denominations, and a growing climate of antisupernaturalism in the larger culture fueled Southern Baptist concern.” (BFM, 8).

d. BFM 1963 – BFM 1925 was revised. What our fathers, mothers and grandparents grew up with. Considered more of a liberal confession. Formed by the recommendation of Herschel Hobbs over “the nature and authority of Scripture (5).”

f. BFM 2000 – The revised version of 1963. More biblical then the ’63 version. First Baptist Columbia is a 2000 church.

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One Response to “PBS: Where Did Southern Baptists Come From?”


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