Jump to content

The Protestant Community

Christian and Theologically Protestant? Or, sincerely inquiring about the Protestant faith? Welcome to Christforums the Christian Protestant community. You'll first need to register in order to join our community. Create or respond to threads on your favorite topics and subjects. Registration takes less than a minute, it's simple, fast, and free! Enjoy the fellowship! God bless, Christforums' Staff
Register now

Fenced Community

Christforums is a Protestant Christian forum, open to Bible-believing Christians such as Presbyterians, Lutherans, Reformed, Baptists, Church of Christ members, Pentecostals, Anglicans. Methodists, Charismatics, or any other conservative, Nicene- derived Christian Church. We do not solicit cultists of any kind, including Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Eastern Lightning, Falun Gong, Unification Church, Aum Shinrikyo, Christian Scientists or any other non-Nicene, non-Biblical heresy.
Register now

Christian Fellowship

John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
Sign in to follow this  

Calvinism Is Not New to Baptists

Recommended Posts


Thomas S. Kidd


Professor of History, Baylor University; author, The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America

Calvinists once dominated Baptist church life in America.


In a 1793 survey, early Baptist historian John Asplund estimated that there were 1,032 Baptist churches in America. Out of those, 956 were Calvinist congregations. These were “Particular Baptists,” for they believed in a definite atonement (or “particular redemption”), that Christ had died to save the elect decisively. “General Baptists,” who believed that Christ had died indefinitely for the sins of anyone who would choose him, accounted for a tiny fraction of the whole. Even some of those, Asplund noted, believed in certain Calvinist tenets such as “perseverance in grace.”


How did this preponderance of Baptist Calvinists come about? Both Calvinist and Arminian (General) Baptists had existed in the American colonies since the early 1600s. But the Great Awakening of the 1740s, the most profound religious and cultural upheaval in colonial America, wrecked the General Baptist movement, and birthed a whole new type of Calvinist Baptist — the “Separate Baptists.”


A New Kind of Calvinist


The Separate Baptists of New England were typically people who had been converted during the Great Awakening, often under the itinerant preaching of (Calvinist) George Whitefield or other zealous evangelicals. The Separate Baptists were almost uniformly Calvinist in their convictions, as were the pastors who led America’s Great Awakening (like Jonathan Edwards). The converts often discovered that their own churches and pastors were not supportive of the revivals, so they started meeting in “Separate” churches.


But doing so was illegal. New England’s colonial governments prohibited the creation of unauthorized congregations, and Separates fell under persecution. Some of the Separates — already among the most radical-minded evangelicals — also took a second look at the Congregationalists’ stance on infant baptism, and found it lacking biblical justification.


No Turning Backus


Isaac Backus, the most influential Baptist pastor in eighteenth-century America, perfectly illustrated the journey from Great-Awakening convert to Separate Baptist.


Backus experienced conversion in 1741, writing that “God who caused the light to shine out of darkness, shined into my heart with such a discovery of that glorious righteousness which fully satisfies the law that I had broken . . . . [N]ow my burden (that was so dreadful heavy before) was gone.” But Backus’s Norwich, Connecticut church would not permit evangelical itinerants to preach there, and the pastor refused to require a conversion testimony of prospective church members. So Backus and a dozen others started a Separate small group meeting, apart from the church. In spite of his lack of a college degree, Backus also began serving as a Separate pastor.


Backus also started to have doubts about the proper mode of baptism. He, like virtually all churched colonial Americans, had received baptism as an infant, but in 1751, after a season of prayer, fasting, and Bible study, Backus became convinced that baptism was for adult converts only. A visiting Baptist minister soon baptized Backus by immersion. Thousands of colonial Americans would go through a similar sequence of conversion and acceptance of Baptist principles.


Because the move to Baptist convictions happened under the canopy of the Calvinist-dominated Great Awakening, Backus and most of these new Baptists were Calvinists, too. Only some of the “Particular” or “Regular” Baptists associated with the Philadelphia Association of Baptists (formed decades before the Great Awakening) supported the revivals. The General Baptists of New England, wary of interdenominational cooperation, mostly opposed the new revivalism. Doing so nearly ended the Arminian (free will) Baptist influence in America for about three decades. Their numbers dwindled and some Arminians joined Separate or other Calvinist Baptist congregations.


Mission to the South


The Separate Baptists emerged in New England, but they immediately began sending missionaries to other parts of the colonies, most notably the South. Unlike today’s “Bible Belt,” the colonial South was the least churched part of America.


Connecticut evangelist Shubal Stearns experienced conversion, became involved in a Separate congregation, and received believer’s baptism at almost exactly the same time as Backus. In the mid-1750s, Stearns and his family moved to North Carolina, where they founded the Sandy Creek Baptist Church. It grew like wildfire, from a tiny membership comprised mostly of Stearns’s family, to more than six hundred baptized converts in its early years. It also relentlessly planted new congregations across the region. Both the Sandy Creek and the Philadelphia-affiliated Charleston (S.C.) Baptist associations of churches would affirm eternal election in their respective confessions of faith.


One of the Separate Baptists’ most intriguing converts was the South Carolina slave David George, who went on to pastor the Silver Bluff Church, the first enduring African-American church of any kind (founded around 1773). George evacuated South Carolina with the British army in the early 1780s. He helped to found new Baptist churches in Nova Scotia before ultimately going to Sierra Leone in 1792 and becoming a key defender of Calvinism there. John Asplund’s survey, reflecting racial conventions of the time, had listed the small numbers of Native-American- and African-American-majority Baptist churches under their own separate (and non-theological) category, but most of them were likely Calvinist.


Decline, Then Reinvigoration


How did Calvinism lose its dominant position among Baptists? The American Revolution, with its focus on liberty, gave new life to “free will” theology in traditionally Calvinist denominations. But Calvinism remained ascendant among Baptists well into the nineteenth century. As Baptist churches spread into America’s frontier, they took Calvinist commitments with them. The newly-formed Elkhorn Baptist Association of Kentucky, for example, decided in 1785 to require assent to the Philadelphia Baptist confession of faith, which closely followed the 1689 London Baptist confession.


Among other points, the Elkhorn Association affirmed that “by the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are pre-destinated, or fore-ordinated to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.”


Beginning in the late 1700s, many Baptist churches adopted a tempered (more biblical) form of Calvinism, like that espoused by English Baptist Andrew Fuller. Fuller’s Calvinism affirmed election but steered clear of hyper-Calvinist sentiment that downplayed evangelism and missions. A new controversy over missionary agencies in the 1820s drove a wedge between missionary Baptists and anti-missionary, or “Primitive,” Baptists. Many of the latter were hyper-Calvinist, and attacked leaders of the new parachurch societies as unbiblical interlopers who harmed the interests of the church. An impression grew that the Primitive Baptists, always a smaller presence among Baptists in America, were the true defenders of Calvinism. Missionary Baptists generally adhered to the New Hampshire Confession of Faith (1833), which was less explicitly Calvinist than the Philadelphia confession had been.


By the 1830s, the stage was set for the slow weakening of Calvinism among mainstream Baptists. But Arminian theology would never become as dominant among Baptists as Calvinism once was. When groups such as Desiring God and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary began to reinvigorate Calvinist theology for Baptists and other evangelicals in the late twentieth century, some Arminian Baptists insisted that free will and general atonement were the “traditional” Baptist positions on those issues. A deeper historical look, however, reveals the overwhelmingly Calvinist convictions of early America’s Baptists.


Source: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/calvinism-is-not-new-to-baptists

Share this post

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Topics

    • Calvinism vs Free WIll

      I don't believe in Calvanism, because the verses referring to predestination in the Bible are not referring to salvation, but rather the idea that God can do what he wants, assuming it isn't contradicting his just and loving nature. However, obviously, Calvanism does contradict God's nature.   It makes a literal joke of free will, obedience, and justice. How can one be condemned to hell, knowing his/her own actions did not send him/her there? Normally Calvanists have some weird story to explain the situation. However, common sense can tell you it's wrong.

      in Theological Debate

    • Through the theological lens of Calvinism

      When your understanding of scripture is corrected and you see through the theological lens of Calvinism for the first time:    

      in Lounge

    • Southern Baptists Work to Address Sexual Abuse

      The Story: The Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination, is forming a study group to address sexual abuse. The Background: As one of his first official acts, J. D. Greear, the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), will partner with the denomination’s policy arm, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), to form a study group on sexual abuse. The group will be composed of both Southern Baptist leaders and also outside experts who will advise Greear on a broad range of issues related to sexual abuse, including sexual assault and domestic violence. According to the ERLC, the group’s purpose will be to consider how Southern Baptists at every level can take discernible action to respond swiftly and compassionately to incidents of abuse, as well as to foster safe environments within churches and institutions. This group will also study both how Southern Baptists are currently engaging these issues and also develop recommendations on strategies and resources for ministering to victims and protecting people and churches from predators. Greear, who also serves as pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, says, “How we as a convention of churches care for abuse victims and protect against vile predators says something about what we believe about the gospel of Jesus Christ.” “Our churches should be a refuge for the hurting and a safe haven for the oppressed,” Greear added. “Over the next year, I look forward to hearing from this group and partnering with our churches, state conventions, local associations, seminaries, and national entities to determine what we can do to equip churches to minister effectively and stand guard against any who would seek to prey on the vulnerable.” Why It Matters: At their recent denominational meeting in June, Southern Baptists issued a resolution condemning abuse, which they defined as “any act or conscious failure to act resulting in imminent risk, serious injury, death, physical or emotional or sexual harm, or exploitation of another person.” Sexual abuse is a subset of abuse that involves some form of sexual misconduct, an umbrella term for a range of behavior used to obtain sexual gratification against another’s will or at the expense of another. Sexual abuse of all types is rampant throughout our society. For example, a study conducted by the U.S. Justice Department found that about 20 million out of 112 million women (18 percent) in the United States have been raped. This includes an estimated 18 million women who have been forcibly raped, nearly 3 million women who have experienced drug-facilitated rape, and 3 million women who have experienced incapacitated rape. Approximately 1 in 5 Black (22 percent) and White (18.8 percent) non-Hispanic women, and 1 in 7 Hispanic women (14.6 percent) in the United States have experienced rape at some point. More than one-quarter of women (26.9 percent) who identified as American Indian or as Alaska Native and 1 in 3 women (33.5 percent) who identified as multiracial non-Hispanic reported rape victimization. One out of 59 White non-Hispanic men (1.7 percent) has experienced rape at some point in his life. Nearly one-third of multiracial non-Hispanic men (31.6 percent) and more than one-quarter of Hispanic men (26.2 percent) reported sexual violence other than rape in their lifetimes. (Male rape victims and male victims of non-contact unwanted sexual experiences reported predominantly male perpetrators.) And according to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 women (22.3 percent) has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Between 2002 and 2011, 8 percent of female intimate partner victimizations (i.e., domestic violence) involved some form of sexual violence. As these statistics show, every church in America is likely to have someone in the pews who has been directly affected by sexual abuse. Yet despite it being a common concern, many churches are still unsure about how best to serve both the abused and the abusers. “Sexual assault and sexual abuse are Satanic to the core, and churches should be the ones leading the way when it comes to protecting the vulnerable from predators,” says Russell Moore, president of ERLC and member of The Gospel Coalition Council. “Thankfully, every Southern Baptist pastor I know cares deeply about these issues. We as a denomination, though, owe it to our pastors and churches to come together and provide the very best resources and recommendations possible to address this crisis.” By studying the issue and creating resources that can be shared both with their churches and also with other denomination, Southern Baptists are taking an important step toward confronting abuse and fostering safe environments for the abused. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • Calvinism: What Have We Been Elected For?

      Can we have an honest conversation.  Most people, including some Calvinists, have a problem accepting the mental image that a good God has elected some to an eternity of life and love and perfect happiness with him, while abandoning everyone else to a fate of eternal torment.  Everything good for a few, and everything bad for the majority.   If you will indulge me on a little Bible study, I would like to take a closer look at this election and what we have been elected for.   First some general things that the elect are called to:   [Ephesians 2:10 NASB] 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.   So the first thing is that we have not been called to nothing.  The elect have been called to do something.  We have been ELECTED from among the population of the Earth to do the specific good works that God has already prepared for us to do.  So, like what?   [Matthew 28:19-20 NASB] 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." [Acts 1:7-8 NASB] 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." [Acts 2:38-39 NASB] 38 Peter [said] to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."   The ELECT are called to be Christ’s witnesses to the world.  When we received the Holy Spirit, we received the commission that went with it to carry word of Him to the world, to make disciples, to teach them to observe all Jesus has commanded.   A word of warning for the Prosperity Gospel crowd, being one of the elect is not like winning a lottery ticket to easy-street.  Being one of the ELECT is a lottery ticket to being hated in this life.  Don’t take my word for it, read what Jesus and the Apostles say about it for yourself:   [John 15:16-20 NASB] 16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and [that] your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 "This I command you, that you love one another. 18 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before [it hated] you. 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. [Acts 5:41 NASB] 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for [His] name. [Acts 9:16 NASB] 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake." [Romans 8:17 NASB] 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with [Him] so that we may also be glorified with [Him.] [1 Corinthians 12:26 NASB] 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if [one] member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. [2 Corinthians 1:6 NASB] 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; [2 Corinthians 7:9 NASB] 9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to [the point of] repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to [the will of] God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. [Galatians 3:4 NASB] 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain? [Phl 1:29 NASB] 29 For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, [1 Thessalonians 3:4 NASB] 4 For indeed when we were with you, we [kept] telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know. [2 Timothy 1:12 NASB] 12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. [2 Timothy 2:3, 9 NASB] 3 Suffer hardship with [me,] as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. ... 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. [1 Peter 2:20 NASB] 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer [for it] you patiently endure it, this [finds] favor with God. [1 Peter 3:14, 17 NASB] 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, ... 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. [1 Peter 4:19 NASB] 19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. [Revelation 2:10 NASB] 10 'Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.   So let’s talk about Calvinistic Election.  The ELECT have won a ‘cosmic lottery’ granting them the ‘honor’ of being selected by the great ‘I AM’ to work for Him as His messengers in a world that will hate us.  This honor will include being mocked, discriminated against, and much worse.  Many will be beaten and many more killed.  This is what God has elected us to.   We have a promise that those who suffer well to the end, will be rewarded.   [Matthew 10:22 NASB] 22 "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. [Matthew 24:13 NASB] 13 "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. [Matthew 28:20 NASB] 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." [Mark 13:13 NASB] 13 "You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.   God has not warned us that the ELECT will be called to endure “health, wealth and happiness” to the end and encouraged us that He will be with us to give us the strength to survive all of the blessings.  We have been elected to be those led at the end of the train of captives.  The slaves.  The beaten and oppressed.  The least in this world.  We have been called to be those who DO for God and who SUFFER for God.   There is a story that describes the life of the ELECT both now and later:   [Luke 16:19-25 NASB] 19 "Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 "And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the [crumbs] which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' 25 "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.   Does it still seem unfair that God does not ELECT everyone to suffer for His name?   [Matthew 16:24 NASB] 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. [Mark 8:34 NASB] 34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. [Luke 9:23 NASB] 23 And He was saying to [them] all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

      in Calvinism

    • TULIP is not Calvinism

      Now that I have your attention let me explain what I mean by my title. The Acrostic TULIP is often used to describe Calvinism, however the Acrostic itself is a fairly recent construction (a little over 100 years old) and it is merely of modern summary of statements made in response to certain historical disagreements within the Church of Jesus Christ (the remonstrants). As such is it a negative polemical tool designed for use in specific area of discussion - it is not a positive a statement of 'Calvinism' or Biblical soteriology.   Properly understood and positively stated (as briefly as possible) Calvinism is the doctrine of God's absolute sovereignty over his creation to order it as he sees fit for his own Glory.

      in Calvinism


Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.