Christian Variant: Baptism
The Baptist Church is one of the largest of the Protestant Christian denominations and is a part of the World Council of Churches (WCC). Many of the serious Baptists oppose gambling, alcohol, tobacco, and some prohibit dancing and movies. Historically, Baptists have played a key role in encouraging religious freedom and separation of church and state. In the United States, the two largest Baptist organisations are the Southern Baptist Churches (SBC) and American Baptist Churches (ABC), with the former being the more conservative branch. Baptist churches tend to be biblical in their beliefs and strict in worship. However, Baptist churches do not have a central governing authority, so a wide range of beliefs can be seen between one Baptist church and another.
The Baptist movement dates back to the sixteenth century and post-Reformation period. The demand of conformity from the political and religious forces in England during Queen Elizabeth Tudor from the 1550’s to the 1600’s produced a group known as the "Separatists". The Separatists took the Bible seriously and they were determined to order their lives by its teachings. It was out of this call for purity in the Church, both in worship and everyday practice, that "the Baptist denomination", as it is known today, emerged by way of the English Separatist movement and the Baptists emerged as two separate Groups.
One group came to be known as General Baptists because they believed in a "general" atonement. The General Baptists also had a distinct belief that Christians could face the possibility of "falling from grace"(idiom referring to a loss of status, respect, or prestige). The two primary founders of the General Baptist movement were John Smyth and Thomas Helwys. The earliest General Baptist Church had been thought to be founded in 1609. In 1609, Smyth, along with a group in Holland, came to believe in believer's and they came together to form the first "Baptist" church and the Particular Baptists. Smyth had originally stuck to the Orthodox Church positions, but as time passed he had started changing it up a bit. First, Smyth insisted that true worship was from the heart and that any form of reading from a book in worship was an invention of a sinful person. Second, Smyth introduced a twofold church leadership that of which were Pastors and Deacons.
Tomas Helwys didn’t have a good relationship with Smyth, but after Smyth began moving away from the General Baptist belief, Helwys carried on the Baptist beginnings. Helwys led his small group to England in 1611 and this was considered to be the first Baptist Church on English soil. This group held to believer's baptism, they rejected Calvinism for a free will position, and they allowed each church to elect its officers, both elders and deacons. By 1624, there were five known General Baptist churches and by 1650 they numbered at least 47. Some people might see the modern-day Baptist beliefs in this group, it is to be understood that the beliefs of this group are far from the reformed legacy that shaped modern-day Baptist belief.
These two Baptist groups had three core beliefs that they both believe in. These are:
The Bible, not church tradition or religious creed, was the guide in all matters of faith and practice.
The church should be made up of believers only, not all people born in the local parish.
The church should be governed by those believers, not by hierarchical figures like bishops. However both groups do have different a train of thought. The General Baptists believed that when Christ died on the Cross he died for everybody. But the Particular Baptists believe Christ died for a particular group or elect. These two groups then came together in 1813 to form a General Union, which then became the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland in the late nineteenth century.
Baptist churches first appeared in Australia in the 1830’s, forty years after the original