Were "Early Baptist Founders" Anglicans?
I recently received the following quote on my post entitled Are Baptists Protestant? I felt that it deserved an entire post dedicated to its rebuttal.
“As John Smythe and the early Baptist founders were Anglican Separatists and the Anglican Church is very much a protestant church, I would argue that, yes, Baptists are protestants.”This premise is false on three fronts.
- Baptists predate the Anglican Church.
- Baptists are doctrinally opposed to the Anglican Church.
- Neither John Smith nor “early Baptist founders” claimed to be a part of the Anglican church, in fact the Baptists were persecuted by the Anglicans.
The Anglican church was not founded until 1534 A.D. (17 years after the spark of the reformation). In fact, the very founding of this denomination came as the result of a conflict between Henry VIII and the Catholic Pope. Henry wanted a divorce from Queen Catherine of Aragon and the pope would not allow it. In retaliation, Henry declared himself as the supreme potentate of the Church of England and the Anglican Church was officially born.
Baptists, however, were alive and well long before the advent of this new religion. Pay special attention to the following quotes.
“We shall afterwards show the rise of the Anabaptist 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.” ~ Robert Barclay (The Inner Life of the Societies of the Commonwealth, 11, 12. London, 1876)Even Catholic scholars from that era recognize that Baptists can trace their roots back over 1200 years into the past (i.e. 360 A.D.):
“If the truth of religion were to be judged by the readiness and boldness of which a man of any sect shows in suffering, then the opinion and persuasion of no sect can be truer and surer than that of the Anabaptist since there have been none for these twelve hundred years past, that have been more generally punished or that have more cheerfully and steadfastly undergone, and even offered themselves to the most cruel sorts of punishment than these people.” ~ Cardinal Hosius (Member of the Council of Trent, A.D. 1560)
One of the distinguishing doctrinal marks of the Baptist belief system is that an individual is to be fully immersed in the baptismal waters only after having consciously decided to place Christ as his or her personal savior. Baptists believe that sprinkling a child with baptismal waters does not constitute a person’s ability to make that decision for himself and cannot, therefore be considered Baptism. The Anglican church, of course, practices and did practice the doctrine of child baptism.
This doctrine is so important that Baptists were persecuted and actually received their name from those who opposed them on this issue. In fact the word Anabaptist is derived from Greek (Greek ανα (again) +βαπτιζω (baptize), thus, Re-baptizers). As Baptists would gain converts from the Catholic and Anglican Churches they would encourage their followers to become baptized following their conscious decision to follow Christ. This being their second baptism led to them being called Anabaptists and later being called Baptists.
This doctrine is what distinguishes a Baptist from any other Christian denomination and logic teaches us that things that are not and cannot be the same are different.
The very year that Henry VIII claimed himself as the head of the Church in England, he issued two proclamations. The first proclamation gave all those not adhering to Anglicanism ten days to leave the country. The second proclamation was a signed death warrant for any persons who decided to be re-baptized. A protestant inquisition ensued.