Academic journal article Baptist History and Heritage

Seventh Day Baptists: A Microcosm of Baptist History: Some People like to Stand on the Shore of an Ocean and See the Magnitude of God's Creation. Some Prefer to Use the Same Ocean to Travel beyond That Which Is Known to Them. Still Others like to Play in the Surf, Even Swimming against the Tide or Trusting in Its Buoyancy to Carry Their Bodies to the Safety of the Shore

Academic journal article Baptist History and Heritage

Seventh Day Baptists: A Microcosm of Baptist History: Some People like to Stand on the Shore of an Ocean and See the Magnitude of God's Creation. Some Prefer to Use the Same Ocean to Travel beyond That Which Is Known to Them. Still Others like to Play in the Surf, Even Swimming against the Tide or Trusting in Its Buoyancy to Carry Their Bodies to the Safety of the Shore

Article excerpt

The Christian church may be viewed in similar fashion, a means to get from place to place, either in the known or the unknown, or as a ace where one may find enjoyment or challenge.

Others with probing minds want to know more about this sea of God's grace. They want to analyze its content, discover its sources, or observe the process by which the rain falls on the land or springs up from the depths of the earth and makes its way to the shore. Some find great fascination with the effect that these streams have had upon the lives of those influenced by them. Some may use these streams as a source of power or of nourishment.

To observe this process or tap its resources, one does not have to bring the whole ocean into the laboratory of life, or put a complete harbor into the crucible of experience. Individuals can take samples from various parts of the ocean to find much of the information and inspiration that they are seeking. As a part of that stream which has been flowing through history for three and a half centuries, Seventh Day Baptists have provided for the historian a natural sample, or a "microcosm." Their history can be analyzed and studied to reveal much about the larger body of which it is a part.

Struggle for Identity and Freedom

In 1992, the Southern Baptist Historical Commission produced a series of videotapes entitled "Baptists in America." (1) The first tape, "Struggle for Identity and Freedom," covered the years 1650 to 1750. According to the video, there were sixty Baptist churches in America in 1750, including twenty-three General Baptist churches, twenty-three Particular Baptist churches, eight Seventh Day Baptist churches, two German Seventh Day Baptist churches, three Rogerene churches, and one Indian Baptist church. With the exception of the German and Indian Baptist churches, these churches all had their direct roots in the seventeenth-century English Reformation.

Although most Baptists have agreed on certain principles, such as the Bible as the supreme source for doctrinal belief, baptism of believers by immersion, and congregational polity, Baptists have applied these principles in significantly different ways. The videotape, "Struggle for Identity and Freedom," listed four significant differences: (1) different interpretations of the atonement (General Baptists vs. Particular Baptists); (2) different practices in singing (the singing of hymns vs. the singing of the Psalms); (3) different understanding about the need to practice the laying on of hands; and (4) different views on the proper day on which to worship. In varying degree, the Seventh Day Baptists have dealt with each of these differences over the course of their 350 years of history. The videotape ended with the three tensions that exist among Baptists today: (a) cooperation vs. independence; Co) scripture vs. tradition; and (c) individual conscience vs. group authority.

General vs. Particular Baptists

The Protestant Reformation brought a release from the authoritarianism of the Roman Catholic Church and elevated the Bible as the supreme source of theological thought and practice. Individual interpretation, however, led to many differences in both belief and practice. Someone once said, "We are all literalists in spots; we choose our spots; some are more spotted than others." The interpretation of scripture was polarized between the selective literalism of Calvinism and the more liberal application found within the teachings of Arminius. The question of baptism or re-baptism was one of the issues debated in the early seventeenth-century Baptist churches in London and contributed to the development of General Baptists and Particular Baptists.

The first Seventh Day Baptist church in England was founded about 1650. Its records carry the name Mill Yard Seventh Day General Baptist Church. Although the first record book is missing, the second book which begins with 1673 is in the archives of the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society and reveals some of the relationships between that General Baptist church and its near contemporaries: Pinners' Hall and the Bell Lane Seventh Day Baptist Churches, which were Particular in doctrine. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.