Historical Statements
Concerning Baptists and their Origins

Edited by B. Myron Cedarholm

Although we at PreservedWords.com  are not ones to "beat a denominational drum," we are Independent Baptists by choice and believe fundamental Baptist doctrines. However, we do not contend as some the name "Baptist" can be directly traced to the time of Christ as the following quotes testify.

Historians testify that local churches; which hold the doctrines, beliefs, and practices of today's Bible-believing, separatist Baptists; have had continuous existence since the days of Christ. This cannot be said of any other church, churches, or religious organization. Here are a few statements by historians and religious leaders (only one of them a Baptist) regarding the history of the Baptists:

Sir Isaac Newton said,

"The Baptists are the only body of known Christians that have never symbolized with Rome."


Ypeij and Dermout, eminent historians of the Dutch Reformed Church said,

"The Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community that has stood since the days of the apostles, and as a Christian society has preserved pure the doctrine of the Gospel through all the ages."

Alexander Campbell, founder of the Campbellites (Christian Church or Disciples of Christ) who rigorously opposed Baptists during the 19th century, wrote,

"The sentiments of Baptists and their practice of baptism from the apostolic age to the present, have had a continued chain of advocates, and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced."

Robert Barclay, a Quaker historian, says of Baptists,

"We shall afterward show that the rise of the Anabaptists took place prior to the Reformation of the Church of England, and there are also reasons for believing that on the continent of Europe, small hidden Christian societies, who have held many of the opinions of the Anabaptists, have existed from the times of the apostles. In the sense of the direct transmission of divine truth, and the true nature of spiritual religion, it seems probable that these churches have a lineage or succession more ancient than that of the Roman Church."

John Clark Ridpath, doubtlessly the greatest historian the world has ever produced and a Methodist by denomination, said,

"I should not readily admit that there was a Baptist church as far back as 100 A.D., although without doubt there were Baptist churches then, as all Christians were then Baptists."

Mosheim, an outstanding Lutheran historian, said,

"Before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay secreted in almost all the countries of Europe, persons who adhered tenaciously to the principles of the modem Dutch Baptists... the origin of Baptists is lost in the remote depths of antiquity... the first century was a history of Baptists."

Zwingli, a Presbyterian co-laborer with John Calvin, said,

"The institution of the Anabaptists is no novelty, but for 1300 years has caused great trouble in the church." 

Catholic Cardinal Hosius, President of the Council of Trent from 1545 to 1564, said, 

"Were it not for the fact that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past 1200 years, they would swarm greater than all the reformers If the truth of religion were to be judged by the readiness and boldness of which a man or any sect shows in suffering, then the opinions and persuasions of no sect can be truer and surer than those of the Anabaptist, since there have been none for the 1200 years past that have been more generally punished or that have been more cheerfully and steadfastly undergone, and have offered themselves to the most cruel sort of punishment than these people:'

"Crossing the Centuries" edited by William C. King, says,

"Of the Baptists it may be said that they are not reformers. These people. comprising bodies of Christian believers known under various names in different countries, are entirely distinct and independent of the Roman and Greek churches, and have an unbroken continuity of existence from apostolic days down through the centuries Throughout this long perio they were bitterly persecuted for heresy, driven from country to country. disfranchised, deprived of their property, imprisoned, tortured and slain by the thousands; and yet they swerved not from their New Testament faith, doctrine, and adherence."

Spurgeon said,

"History has hitherto been written by our enemies, who never would have kept a single fact about us upon the record if they could have helped it, and yet it leaks out every now and then that certain poor people called Anabaptists (Anabaptist was the name given to Baptists before the 16th century. "Ana" means "again," but the entire name, Anabaptist, was applied to those who believed and practiced what Bible-believing, separatist Baptists do today) were brought up for condemnation. From the days of Henry VIII to those of Elizabeth, we hear of certain unhappy heretics who were hated of all men for the truth's sake that was in them. We read of poor men and women, with their garments cut short, turned out into the fields to perish in the cold, and anon of others who were burnt at Newington for the crime of Anabaptism. Long before your Protestants were known of, those horrible Anabaptists, as they were unjustly called, were protesting for the 'one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.' No sooner did the visible church begin to depart from the Gospel than these m e n arose to keep fast by the good old way The priests and monks wished for peace and slumber, but there was always a Baptist or a Lollard tickling men's ears with Holy Scriptures, and calling their attention to the errors of the times. They were a poor persecuted tribe. The halter was thought to be too good for them. At times, ill-written history would have us think that they died out, so well had the wolf done his work on the sheep. Yet here we are, blessed and multiplied, and Newington sees other scenes from Sunday to Sunday As I think of the multitudes of your numbers and efforts, I can only say in wonder, 'What a growth!' As I think of the multitudes of our brethren in America, I can only say, 'What hath God wrought!' Our history forbids discouragements."