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Baptists trace their history to Anabaptists. The Anabaptist movement began in Zurich, Switzerland. Anabaptists were rebaptisers. They rejected the idea of infant baptism and refused to have their children christened. It was their belief that faith preceded baptism. By the same contention it followed that they themselves invalidated their infant baptisms and therefore were rebaptised and practiced believers’ baptism. Some Christians felt that the Reformation did not go far enough. The reformation was an attempt to bring reforms in the Roman Catholic Church which was the main church in the West and whose practices were seen to be unbiblical. The Reformation began in the 16th Century with Martin Luther a catholic priest who broke away from the church in protest. His action brought about the Protestant or Reformation movement.

As time went by and as the Reformers searched the scriptures, they felt they must conform more to scripture than state churches together with tradition and reason. Persecution followed those who broke away from the establishment or those who were deemed to be Separatists. The Anabaptists are acknowledged to be more sober, God-fearing and honest than others, and their preachers expounded the scriptures more faithfully. Nevertheless it was believed that such people as these were dangerous and should not be tolerated.

Those who left the establishment were known as Non-conformists. They were non-conformist because they refused to be members of the Church of England. Refusing baptism in the state church was perceived to be an act of political defiance, not just an act of ecclesiastical dissent. If Christ was king of the church, then the church had to be free from state control. Those who did not conform to the demands of the state church were persecuted.

In 1602 a group of non-conformists led by Rev. John Smyth who had been an English clergyman formed a church. He fled to Holland because of persecution and teamed up with Jan Munter and Thomas Helwys. Having understood believers’ baptism as a norm in the New Testament he baptized himself and he together with 36 others formed the first church composed of Englishmen that is known to have stood for baptism of believers only. Thomas Helwys and others returned to England in 1611. The first Baptist church, in a modern sense, gathered in London in 1611.
From about the year 1641, at the latest Baptist doctrine and practice have the same in all essential features that they are today.


To obey the Greatest Commandment and to fulfil the Great Commission.
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