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Spurgeon on Baptists: Always Protestant, Never Reformers

Posted by Joshua Claycamp on with 2 Comments

The following is from Charles Spurgeon. Many respect him, but few truly understood what he believed. To summarize, Spurgeon was of the conviction that Baptist belief and practice are not merely Biblical, but that Baptist belief is both Biblical and historical. He attested, based on his own research, that Baptist belief and practice could be traced down through the centuries as Baptist churches endured persecution for always protesting the errors of other churches, in many cases suffering martyrdom for such protests. He claimed, in a sense, that Baptists have always been Protestant, protesting the mistakes of other churches, but not exactly Reformers in the genuine sense of the word, never needing to reform their faith and practice. Read him for yourself:

"We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel under ground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with Government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men." (From The New Park Street Pulpit, Volume VII, page 225).

"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 were brought up for condemnation. From the days of Henry II to those of Elizabeth we hear of certain unhappy heretics who were hated of all men for the truth’s sake which 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, these 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 men 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 Sabbath to Sabbath. As I think 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 may well say, What hath God wrought! Our history forbids discouragement." (From The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1881, Volume 2, page 249).

I have not spent much time tracing the history of Baptists. But Mr. Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, has inspired me to look into our history more closely for myself. He was of the conviction that our faith is historical with an, "...unbroken line up to the apostles themselves." And I think it is a matter worth consideration, for (1) if it is true that Christ promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against the true church [Matthew 16:18], and (2) we believe that Baptist principles are necessary to a true church, then (logically) we ought to be able to trace our lineage back to the first century church of Jerusalem. Whatever conviction you hold to, this is a matter worth investigating. Perhaps it is time that I look at the history of Baptists alongside the truth which is found within the Scriptures,

Perhaps you should too.

Tags: baptists, persecuted, spurgeon, charles spurgeon, baptist beliefs and practices, baptist church, baptist beliefs, anabaptist, protestantism, reformers


John Mark Paonam Dec 5, 2018 2:05am

Amen. God be praised. I too am a member of the scriptural Church of God, as Christ the head of the Church.

Donald L. Diehl Dec 4, 2023 5:20pm

My conclusion shortly before being ordained and pastoring a 100-year-old SBC church congregation. Baptists should embrace our history and know what we believe!