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Discussion Forum : Revivals And Church History : The John Smyth Dilemma Or Four hundred years since the founding of the Baptist movement

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ArthurRosh
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 The John Smyth Dilemma Or Four hundred years since the founding of the Baptist movement

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The John Smyth Dilemma Or Four hundred years since the founding of the Baptist movement

In 2009 many Baptist organizations celebrated four hundred years since the first Baptist Church was founded

This event was organized by the World Baptist Alliance together with the European Baptist Federation

The following is a short introduction on the history of this event.

Around 1606, John Smyth, an Anglican priest, leaves the traditional church with a group of people and joins the Separatists (dissenters)

In a short time, differences between them and the Separatists appeared on the subject of the proper candidates for baptism, and Smyth and his group fled to Holland.

There, studying the Word of God, they come to believe they need proper baptism.

John Smyth baptized himself and then, thirty six members that shared his ideas asked to be baptized by him. This is how the first Baptist Church was founded in 1609.

After this took place, the Anabaptist influence changed the mind of John Smyth, and he denied his self-baptism and asked the Anabaptists to baptize him.

Some of the members of the church he founded followed him, but a group of 10 persons led by Thomas Helwys opposed him. After long debates, Helwys' group returned to England, in 1612.

Most of the Baptists today believe this was their origin, however, such an origin raises some serious questions due to the beliefs of Smyth.

In order to understand these questions, let us present a hypothetical case.

Let us say that I was baptized as an infant, and now, being an adult, I start studying my Bible with my family and realize that the baptism received in infancy is not valid.

In my town there is only one church that baptizes adults based on their profession of faith, but I do not agree with them in some points of doctrine, therefore, I decide to go to the river and baptize myself and then baptize the rest of my family.

In order to be consistent with the doctrines of the founders, Baptists should accept our baptisms as valid, but most Baptist churches would refuse to accept my self baptism, neither would they accept the baptisms of my family.

Their refusal shows that they believe that self-baptism is not a valid form of baptism.

But rejecting my self baptism and the subsequent baptisms of my family, they reject the baptisms of Smyth and Helwys, whom they claim as their founders.

In addition, if all their baptisms come from this source, they would reject their own baptisms and show that none of them is truly baptized.

The present refusal of Baptist churches to receive self baptisms puts them in a great dilemma.

If they continue to claim their origin in John Smyth, they should begin to recognize self baptisms, for consistency demands it.

This they are unable to do because it would be impossible to find proof in the Bible for such a practice. Maintaining such a position, the Baptists would trespass the principles of the Bible.

If, however, they choose to continue to refuse self baptism, they are forced to admit that John Smyth was not baptized, neither were all those who derive their baptism from him, including themselves.

Maintaining this latter position would put Baptists in an embarrassing situation, that is, an unscriptural one, since this would make them a counterfeit church. They should then dismiss themselves as churches and seek to be baptized and organized into scriptural churches.

Refusing to recognize self baptism as valid is the scriptural choice, but consistency demands its acceptance, and thus the breaking of scriptural principles. What course can the Baptists take?

John Smyth himself, when confronted with the same dilemma, came to reject his self baptism, considering it invalid, and went to the Anabaptists for baptism.

 2021/5/7 13:10Profile





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