History of Baptist Churches

by Dr. Gail Terrell

Throughout history, Baptist churches have taught and baptized believers and organized them into new Baptist churches. In this process, Baptists distributed the Bible in copied and translated forms throughout the world. Baptists translated and spread the Bible to people in their own languages. The Bible has traveled through the centuries on the Royal Highway of the Trail of Blood, the history  of Baptist churches. Baptist churches send missionaries to spread the Word of God.

Acts 13:49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Since Jesus started His first church, Baptists (with various nicknames) have continued throughout the centuries, taking the Word of God wherever they went and establishing churches in the faith. They were called heretics  and  Anabaptists  (Greek,re-immersers) by Roman and Orthodox Catholics, Protestants, and other man-made churches because they refused to accept baptisms of these false churches. Anabaptist churches used the Bible as the standard for life and baptized all believers who had questionable baptisms.

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Acts 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Baptist Names throughout history

Montanist (meaning mountain people) Baptists of Phrygia (2nd century), led by Montanus and Tertullian, spread throughout Asia Minor.

Novatian Baptists (3rd century), named for their pastor, Novatian (Roman philosopher converted in 250 A.D.), spread throughout the Roman Empire from Armenia to Spain, and into the great cities of Constantinople, Alexandria, Carthage, and Rome. They were numerous in Phrygia where Montanists joined them.

Donatist Baptists of North Africa (4th-7th centuries), named for their pastor, Donatus, spread throughout North Africa in an area 2000 miles long (Egypt to the Atlantic) by 300 miles wide (Mediterranean Sea to the desert).

Paulician Baptists of Armenia (7th-12th centuries) were known for their love of Paul’s Epistles.  Their pastor, Silvanus, called his followers Pauline congregations.

Albigense Baptists of Albi, France (11th-13th centuries), in the Pyrenees Mountains were evangelized by the Paulicians of Asia. They spread throughout France and Italy.

Paterine Baptists, also called Cathari (Latin, catharoi meaning pure ones), flourished in Italy, France and more especially in the South of France (11th-13th centuries). They were evangelized by the Paulicians of Asia. Paterine Baptists took in the daughters of indigent noblemen and educated them in the Scriptures.

Petrobrussian Baptists of Southern France (12th century) were named for their pastor, Peter deBruys, who was succeeded by Henry of Lusanne, Italy, and eventually became known as Henricians. These Baptists spread to Switzerland with the Word of God.

Arnoldist Baptists of Italy (12th century) were named for their pastor, Arnold of Brescia, great  teacher of soul-liberty who was martyred for the faith. They evangelized Switzerland.

Waldense or Vaudois (varied spellings from the Latin vallis meaning dwellers in valleys) Baptists of Switzerland and of the Alpine (Alps) of the Piedmont region of Italy (12th-13th centuries) were ledby Peter Waldo. Waldensian Baptists taught that the Holy Scriptures are the highest standard of judgment, the only authoritative rule of faith. Waldense Baptists spread themselves and their teachings all over Europe and England in the 12th century A.D. Their spiritual descendants in the 14th century became teachers of Wickliffe and his followers. Over half the people of England who followed Wickliffe’s teaching became Baptists.

Anabaptists of the Reformation Period in Europe and England (16th-17th centuries) taught that the Scriptures are the only authority in matters of faith and practice.  [Anabaptists] sent forth a multitude of missionaries so that Melancthos could say that they went where no evangelical,  Lutheran and Zwinglian, had penetrated… For a hundred years Switzerland was drained of her sturdy sons, who in great numbers braved the loss of their goods and the long journey through hostile territory and the price set upon their heads by the Bavarian dukes in order to reach Moravia, where they might enjoy some little freedom to worship God. From Moravia, they sent out missionaries in scores to all parts of Germany, Tyrol and Switzerland, to Hungary, Silesia and Poland, who took their lives in their hands that they might preach the word of their Redeemer and raise up churches to his praise… [Anabaptists] were the most determined colporteurs and missionaries throughout Europe. The only reference I have found to any heathen land I have given in Armitage, where the persecuted flocks think of settling in America among “the red Jews Columbus has just discovered.” This was in 1524…(Jarrell’s Baptist Church Perpetuity,p. 189-190).

Welch Baptists of Wales claim continuous existence from apostolic times to the present. They would have order and no confusion the word of God their only rule.

The Olchon Baptists must have been a separate people, maintaining the order of the New Testament in every generation from the year 63 to the present time (Davis’ History of Welsh Baptists, p. 19)

Baptists immigrated to America to spread the missionary Gospel of Christ and organize new Baptist churches, and to teach God’s Word to the people. Baptist churches continue to send missionaries throughout the world giving the Bible to the people in their own languages.

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