A Brief History of Baptists: Its Beliefs and Practices


            Contemporary Baptist Christians mostly do not know about a history of Baptist, its beliefs and practices. The history of the Baptists is eminently worth studying and telling. In one way or another it has been written many times. There are various denominations and it has their own history, beliefs and practices. So varied and so rich is the record of the Baptists history. Baptist celebrated the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Baptist movement in 2009. It has been 411 year that Baptists have been writing their history chronologically, century by century. Baptists are one of the oldest organization in Protestant Christianity. However, we do not even clearly know our weakness and strength as well as our origin, growth, beliefs and practices. Thus, this paper provides the questions such as – What is the origin of Baptists? What is the beginnings of Baptist in historical context? The rise of English General and Particular Baptists? What are Baptists beliefs and practices? How did Baptist arrive and develop in Myanmar? Then, this paper, thus digs a brief history of Baptists,  and its beliefs and practices.

1. The Origin of Baptists

            The people called Baptists have their roots within what may be called, for want of a more precise term, the Free Church Movement,[1] which found variant expression throughout the history of Christianity. Although the term cannot be defined strictly, it is useful to describe the effort of Christians of varying theological beliefs and ecclesiastical backgrounds to restore the New Testament emphasis upon a Spirit-filled community of faith.[2] The origins of the Baptists lie in the maelstrom of the sixteenth century Reformation.[3] There has been accepted four theories regarding the theories concerning the origin of Baptists-Successionist theory, Anabaptist Spiritual Kinship theory, Protestant theory, and English reformation theory.[4] According to successionist theory, Baptists have been in existence ever since the days of John the Baptist’s ministry along the Jordan River. While there are various statements concerning the exact origin of Baptists, either with John the Baptist or with our Lord’s public ministry, or at the Day of Pentecost, the chief emphasis of those who thus trace Baptist history from primitive Christianity is upon the concept of what may be called an apostolic succeession of Baptist churches. However, the Anabaptists spiritual kinship theory is held by those who trace a spiritual relationship of Baptists through the long line of Anabaptist sect, such as German, Dutch, and Swiss Anabaptists, the Waldensians and Petrobrusians, the Henricians, the Novatians, and the Donatists. According to Protestant theory, Baptists originated with certain English Separatists who were congregational in polity and who had come to consider believers’ baptism alone as valid according to the Scriptures. The origin of Baptists should be dated from 1641, when immersion was renewed in England by a few English Separatists who came out of the Jacob Church at Southwark, London, having become convinced that the biblical practice as dipping under water. Baptists established some basic principles at the beginning of their history. Typical affirmations included the authority of Holy Scripture, a regenerate church membership, baptism by immersion as the sign of new life in Christ and membership in the church, the autonomy of the local congregation, the priesthood of all believers, and religious liberty,[5] and human rights advocacy.[6] Baptists origins continued to take place for centuries in one country after another. Mission efforts, emigration, and immigration accounted for most new Baptist activity in other countries, but indigenous developments also assisted in some cases.

2. The Beginnings of Baptist in Historical Context

            Baptists can trace their beginnings of antecedents to the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. One group of reformers, the Anabaptists, some of whom are called Mennonites, taught many of the principles Baptists came to call their own. The leader of the revolution was Martin Luther (1483-1546).[7] To say that the Reformation began with Martin Luther is not to suggest that he was the first to call for changes in Catholic dogma and practice, but to acknowledge Luther’s seminal work as controversialist and churchman, theologian and prophet. Luther built on the work of innumerable reformists who preceded him.

2.1 The Lutheran Reformation

            Luther’s contribution to the Reformation began with his opposition to certain practices of the Catholic church of his day, specifically the selling of indulgences and what he viewed as an attempt to commercialize divine grace.[8] Thus he denounced the system of indulgences in 1517, reputedly by posting a list of ninety-five academic theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg.[9] This theological challenge to papal authority, combined with the German political dissatisfaction toward the pope’s temporal claims, created confrontations that brought about Luther’s excommunication in 1521 and the first of several schisms in the corpus Christianum, that unity of church and state which had dominated European life for centuries.

            Luther’s legacy to Baptists and other heirs of the Reformation included the three classic concepts of sola fide, sola scriptura, and sola gratis-faith alone, Scripture alone, and grace alone. His concern for the primary authority of Scripture, the priesthood of all believers, and the evangelical dimension of faith had profound impact on the Baptist understanding of the nature of Christian belief. Luther continued to link infant baptism and citizenship, extending the medieval relationship between church and state-a concept that would be rejected by Anabaptists and Baptists alike. While eschewing transubstantiation, Luther retained the idea of Christ’s real presence in the Lord’s Supper.[10]

2.2 Ulrich Zwingli

            Martin Luther was not the only religious reformer to challenge the theology and practice of the Catholic establishment. Other reformers took the process of change further. In the Swiss city of Zurich during the 1520s, Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) led a movement that turned that canton (city-state) to Protestantism. He repudiated indulgences, transubstantiation, and papal authority. Braking with Luther’s typically moderate teaching that the bread and wine in the eucharist, though still remaining bread and wine, coexist with the actual body and blood of Christ, Zwingli contended that there is no change in the elements whatsoever. Instead, the Lord’s Supper is a way in which the Christian community reaffirms its identity by remembering the sacrifice of Christ that brought it into being.[11] Many Baptists later affirmed Zwingli’s theology of the Lord’s Supper. However, like Luther, Zwingli retained the practice of infant baptism and its relationship to citizenship.[12]

2.3 The Mennonites

            The Swiss Brethren[13] were only one segment of the Radical Reformation. Perhaps the best known and most enduring of the Anabaptist groups are the Mennonites, who took their name from the Dutch preacher Menno Simons (1496-1561). Simons promoted Anabaptist dogmas with particular emphasis on church discipline, discipleship, refusing oaths, and passive resistance. He promulgated a doctrine known as “celestial flesh,” which suggested that Christ did not receive any physical attributes or sinful nature but passed through Mary like water through a tube. The Mennonites divided into numerous subgroups spread throughout the Netherlands and around Europe.[14]

2.4 John Calvin and the Church in Geneva

            In Geneva, another Swiss City, John Calvin (1509-1564) exercised his powerful ministry from 1541, particularly among his fellow Frenchmen, who flocked to what became a model Reformed community.[15] Calvin’s ideas were grounded in the Reformation concepts of sola scriptura and sola fide. He was exiled from Paris in 1535 because of his participation in certain Protestant activities. His training was shaped by Christian humanism and its concern to return to the sources of Scripture, literature, and history. Calvinist orthodoxy included doctrines of the total depravity of all humanity, God’s unconditional election of certain persons for salvation, Christ’s sacrificial atonement for the sins of the elect, the power of grace to bring the elect to salvation, the perseverance of all who receive God’s grace.[16]  Calvin is best known for his doctrine of predestination but it was not the center of his system. Rather, he stressed that salvation came by grace as the underserved gift of God.[17] Calvin retained infant baptism as a sign of the covenant with God and as the Christian equivalent of Jewish circumcision. His approach to the Lord’s Supper stressed the spiritual presence of Christ in the elements as a means of grace. Calvin supported the close connection between the church and the state, without which, he believed, moral and spiritual chaos would prevail.[18]

2.5 Anabaptist Beliefs

            Anabaptists are considered to have begun with the Radical Reformers in the 16th century, but historians classify certain people and groups as their forerunners because of a similar approach to the interpretation and application of the Bible. The most developed historiographical controversy concerning the Baptists surrounds their relationship with the Anabaptists. The Anabaptists, who had existed for much of the sixteenth century, practiced believer’s baptism, their name, given by their opponents, meaning that they upheld “again baptizing” adults who had already been taken to the font as infants.[19] Anabaptist beliefs first sprang up at Zurich among the more extreme disciples of Zwingli. The earliest baptisms of believers were conducted there by Conrad Grebel in 1525.[20] Two years later, the movement had matured sufficiently to issue the Schleitheim Confession.[21]

            There were debates about the impact of the Anabaptist tradition on the people called Baptists. Because of that discussion, it is important to survey certain basic Anabaptist, particularly Mennonite, beliefs. Like Luther, the Anabaptists affirmed the authority of the Bible, the priesthood of all believers, and the importance of faith alone for salvation. They rejected the claims of the Roman Catholic Church regarding councils, popes, and bishops. They suggested that the church is composed only of true believers, those who can testify to an experience of grace through repentance and faith. This profession is followed by baptism-a rite administered to believers only. The church is governed by the authority of Christ passed on to the community of believers. Anabaptists stressed the importance of Christian discipleship-following Christ in daily life and devotion. Discipleship involved commitment to pacifism, resistance to taking oaths, opposition to capital punishment, and refusal to serve as agents of the state. They generally advocated complete religious liberty for heretic and atheist alike.[22]

2.6 John Smyth and Baptist Origins

            Although John Smyth was reared in the Church of England, he “became Puritan, Separatist, and then a Baptist Separatist,” and he ended his days seeking admission to the Mennonites.[23] Smyth (1570-1612) graduated from Cambridge and was ordained as an Anglican, but he was one with Puritan sentiments. Baptists created their first clearly defined churches in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1609, in Spitalfield, England, in 1612, and in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1638-1639. The first leaders were John Smyth, Thomas Helwys, and Roger Williams. They and their congregations ardently affirmed the Lordship of Christ, the authority of the Bible, believer’s baptism, regenerate church membership, disciplined discipleship, free worship, complete liberty, church-state separation, voluntary confessions of faith, congregational church government, and lay leadership in church life.

            English Separatists, who left the formal church structures of Puritan England to form their own congregations, influenced the rise of the first Baptist congregation in Amsterdam. Smyth, Helwys, and a small band of followers moved from England to Amsterdam as English Separatists. There, they became Baptists when they adopted believer’s baptism-by sprinkling or pouring. Baptists did not identify immersion as their preferred mode of baptism until the 1644 London Confession.[24] Around 1609, Smyth moved toward believer’s baptism and the formation of a new religious community. Thus, he proposed that Helwys their social leader should baptize them, but he deferred to his spiritual leader. Therefore, he baptized himself by affusion, then baptized Helwys and the rest of his congregation who so desired, a total of about forty person.[25] According to A.C. Underwood, “The first Baptist church in the world was born with John Smyth’s self-baptism.”[26] Although Smyth was anxious for union with the Mennonites, he did not press the matter when he saw controversy arise. He was destined not to receive the long delayed reply, for he died at the end of August, 1612, a victim of consumption. He was buried in Nieuwekerke at Amsterdam on September 1, 1612.

3. The Rise of General Baptists

            Thomas Helwys and others disagreed with Smyth’s decision to join the Mennonites. Thus, they excommunicated Smyth and declared themselves to be the true church. Returning to London in 1612, they founded the first Baptist church in England at Spitalfield. Their Arminian theology and its emphasis on Christ’s general atonement led to their designation as General Baptists.[27] This was the first and earliest Baptist church on English soil for whose origin there is historical proof. As anti-Calvinists, they preferred a general atonement, meaning that Christ died for all people.[28] In a series of four books written between 1611 and 1612, three in Netherlands and the fourth in England, Helwys set forth his beliefs, which went beyond Smyth’s in several respects. In fact, on points of difference he did not hesitate to attack the main religious groups of his day. He also took issue with their insistence upon apostolic succession of the true church. In addition, he controverted their teaching that Christian should not participate in civil government. He had a grievance against Puritan preachers who, to avoid a break with the Anglican Church over uniformity, sought nonparochial posts as private chaplains or city preachers, in which positions they might be free from administering those rites which they regarded as unbiblical. Finally, he attacked the hierarchy of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Communions alike for robbing human beings of their freedom in Christ.[29]

            After Helwys died in 1616, the leadership of Spitalfield Church was taken over by John Murton. Murton and other General Baptist articulated an Arminian theology that challenged the Calvinism of English Puritanism. They also linked theological diversity to religious liberty for believer and nonbeliever alike. Mere toleration of dissent was not sufficient. By 1615, Baptists in England were attempting to distinguish themselves from the Continental Anabaptist, with whom they often were linked. They also delineated their own identity, distinct from that of other Protestant communions.[30] By the middle of seventeenth century, 1630, many General Baptists had accepted a doctrinal statement based on the “Six Principles” taken from Hebrew 6:1-2.[31] Of special importance to the Six Principle churches was the practice of the laying on of hands, administered to all the newly baptized and also to those set aside for specific ministry in the church. Not all accepted the Six Principle approach, and the General Assembly (a gathering of General Baptist churches) often divided over those issues. During the 1660s, some compromise was reach by utilizing dual confessions: the General Baptist confession of 1660 and the Six Principles taken from the book of Hebrews. That agreement was short-lived, however, and the resulting schism led to the formation of a separate assembly of English Six Principle Baptists in 1690.[32] There were forty-seven General Baptist churches, evangelistic in purpose, and dedicated to religious liberty, even at the price of severe persecution at the hands of Archbishop Laud in the reign of Charles I.

4. The Rise of Particular Baptists

            Particular Baptists had no connection with continental Anabaptists. The origin of Particular Baptist churches in England may be dated from about 1638, preferring a particular atonement, meaning that Christ died only for the elect.[33]Particular Baptists adopted many of their views from the teaching of John Calvin. Henry Jacob (1563-1624) who had emerged from Puritanism after six years as a refugee in Leyden under the influence of John Robinson, he served 9 years as a pastor where he established new church “Jacob Church” before he departed for Virginia. He was succeeded as minister by John Lathrop, or Lathorp, a former curate in Kent.[34] When a member of Lathrop’s church took an infant to the parish church for baptism, John Duppa challenged the legitimacy of recognizing the validity of the Church of England. Lathrop and his thirty members of the congregation fled to New England (American) to escape further persecution by Archbishop Laud. In the summer of 1637, Henry Jessey, a Cambridge graduate, succeeded Lathrop as a pastor; in time, he accepted believer’s baptism and was baptized by Hanserd Knollys.[35] Knollys had migrated to New England in 138, only to find as much persecution there as in England. Returning to London in 1641, he eventually accepted Baptist principles and was ordained in 1645 to serve a Baptist congregation in London. Therefore, Particular Baptists was mostly started from Jacob Church.

5. Baptist in the United States

            The heritage and background of American Baptists is chiefly British. The first behind the scenery is that revolution to British colonial is three facts: political repression, taxes and economic exploitation.[36] Roger Williams founded the first Baptist church in America in 1638-1639. Although he remained a Baptist for only a few months, choosing to become a “Seeker,” he contributed significantly through personal involvements and writings to the foundational concepts of religious liberty and church-state separation in Baptist life in America.[37] In 1636 he founded Rhode Island Colony, with its famous guarantee of religious liberty. This guarantee was written into the royal charter obtained from Charles II in 1663. In 1639 some Baptists, newly arrived in Rhode Island and seeking refuge from religious oppression, influenced Williams to accept briefly their view of the church.[38] In America, the state church of New England drove Roger Williams subsequently founded Providence Plantation as the first center for religious freedom in America. His famous work, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience, appeared in 1644. John Clarke, pastor of the Newport (Rhode Island) Baptist Church, was imprisoned in Massachusetts in 1651 for unauthorized preaching and his opposition infant baptism.[39] In 1652 the Providence church split into two factions: an Arminian Six Principle group led by Wickendon, Brown, ad Dexter; and a Calvinistic group, led by Olney, which rejected the doctrine of the laying on of hands as a requirement after baptism. The Baptists was fortified and maintained until the defeat of the Puritan Theocracy in 1691, when a new charter required the Puritan leaders to bring Massachusetts’ law into conformity with the English Act of Toleration of 1689.[40]

            Nevertheless, the growth of Baptist churches in New England in this period was slow. By the end of the seventeenth century, Baptists were present throughout the American colonies. The Puritan regime with its state church was hostile toward Baptists and Quakers in particular, because their emphasis upon individual liberty threatened the theocratic ideal of the Boston clergy. Such an attitude did not encourage immigrants of these sects to come to New England. For while Baptists, like other dissenters except Catholics, were freed from persecution, they were not exempt from taxation to support a state church.[41]

            In 1665, the First Baptist Church of Boston prepared the first formal Baptist confession of faith in America. In 1707, Baptists formed the Philadelphia Association, today the oldest continuing association in the United States. In 1814, Baptists in the United States founded their first national convention, the General Missionary Convention, popularly known as the Triennial Convention. In 1821, they created their first Baptist State convention, in South Carolina. In 1845, Baptists in the United States split and formed the Southern Baptist Convention[42] in the South and the American Baptist Missionary Union in the North, which was a continuation of the Triennial Convention’s Baptist Board of Foreign Mission. Norther Baptists consolidated their mission and publication work with the formation of the Northern Baptist Convention (formed in 1907), and which later changed its name to American Baptist Convention (1950), and which later became the American Baptist Churches, USA (1972).[43] Dozens of other kinds of Baptists also arose in the United States, such as the General Six Principle Baptists and the Seventh Day Baptists (1600s), and Freewill Baptists and Separate Baptists (1700s), Primitive Baptists and Landmark Baptists (1800s), and Fundamentalist Baptists and Sovereign Grace Baptists (1900s).

            The missionary impulse provides a key to understanding Baptist history. Although Baptist life has included anti-missions efforts, those efforts represent a minority view. In the early 1780s, George Leile, an African American and former slave, relocated from Savannah, Georgia, to Jamaica. Although not appointed by a board or society, he functioned as one of Baptists’ first missionaries to a foreign field. English Baptists launched formal Baptist foreign mission efforts by creating the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792 and sending William Carey and his wife to India in 1793, was the first domestic missions organization. The American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS) was formed in 1832 as the first national Baptist society in America dedicated to missionary work in the United States and its territories. The ABHMS became the Board of National Ministries of the American Baptist Churches, USA, during that denomination’s reorganization in 1968-1973. The Southern Baptist Convention formed the Foreign Mission Board and the Board of Domestic Missions (later the Home Mission Board) in 1845). These are known today as the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board and are the largest Baptist missionary-sending programs int he world.[44] The Baptist World Alliance (WBA) was formed in London in 1905 and quite early showed an interest in Baptist work on the Continent. The BWA held regional meetings in different places and proved significant leadership in war relief work, the struggle for religious freedom, and the gathering of statistics on European Baptist. It encouraged the formation of Baptist unions in the various countries and fostered a spirit of cooperation at both national and international levels. BWA seemed has been even more important to Europeans than to their fellow Baptists in the Western world.[45]

6. Baptists’ Beliefs and Practices

            For Baptists, then, to understand their beliefs is to recall their distinctive mix of emphases in faith and practice, rather than to claim any beliefs as being absolutely unique. There is no central body, such as the Roman Catholic Vatican, which defines what Baptists believe. As freedom is a fundamental belief for all true Baptists, we will not be surprised to learn that there is considerable diversity among Baptists as to the details of these beliefs and practices. There is remarkable agreement about Baptist distinctives among those bodies which are members of the BWA.

6.1 The Bible

            Baptist tradition places the Bible as the centerpiece of authority in matters of faith and practice for the believer. Baptists have shown a strong commitment to the supremacy of the Bible, greater than that of any creedal formulation or any church leader.[46] Baptists believe that the Bible is both the true record of God’s revelation to our world and the supreme written guide for our faith and practice today. Because it leads us to Jesus Christ the living Word, we speak of the Bible as “the Word of God,” and believe it was inspired by God’s Spirit. Baptists will want to be true to what the Scriptures teach, although differences of interpretation or judgment on issues about which the Scriptures do not seem to speak inevitably lead to some differences among Baptists.

6.2 The Lordship of Jesus Christ

            Baptists insist that the life and structures of the church should affirm the Lordship of Christ. No form of church or state authority should be permitted to distort this truth. Baptists have always sought to uphold the sole and exclusive authority of Jesus Christ. Baptists, too, affirm above all else that Jesus Christ, the living Son of God, known in Scripture and in the experience of God’s people by his Spirit, is the center of our being as a church. He is the supreme authority for our life together.

6.3 The Work of the Holy Spirit

            The same Spirit who inspired the Scriptures guides believers today as they hear and interpret the Word. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and leads us through conversion, working in us to produce a new person conforming to the image of Christ and producing appropriate fruit in our lives. This presence of the Spirit is personal but never individualistic, for the Spirit draws believers together into the community of faith and endows God’s people with spiritual gifts for their worship and mission.

6.4 The Fellowship of Believers

            Baptists understand that the church consists only believers, those who have been born anew by God’s Spirit and are committed in covenant to God and each other. This is a gathered church or believers’ church, whose members have freely responded to the call of God to live and serve together. Baptists hold that each local church has the freedom and the responsibility to conduct its own life and mission. Each church should be independent. Leaders will undoubtedly offer guidance, but in a Baptist church the congregation has the final authority, under Christ, for the life and mission of the church. Baptists do not admit babies or very young children into church membership because they believe that baptism is intended only for repenting and confessing believers. Yet, they are not careless about children. They do not think that the salvation of anyone, including babies, is dependent upon baptism. They welcome children into the worshiping, instructional, and caring life of the church, often with a simple service of thanksgiving or dedication. They give themselves to guiding and teaching the gospel to children within their community with the hope and prayer that at a suitable time they will come to personal faith, baptism, and responsible church membership.[47]

6.5 Believer’s Baptism by Immersion

              Baptism has historically been one of the most controversial aspects of Baptist doctrine, and two distinctives-who should be baptized and how. The earliest Baptist did not immerse but poured water over the recipient’s head. By the 1640s, however, most had adopted immersion as the correct method of baptism.[48] Baptists affirm that baptism is for believers only. Baptist preachers and theologians have expended much effort to demonstrate the truth of baptism is by immersion and is only for believers. Baptism is both a human act and a moment for divine activity. Baptism is to be seen as one part of the total experience of conversion-baptism-church membership.[49]

6.6 The Priesthood of All Believers

            The foundation of Baptist community is located in the belief that Jesus Christ is head of the church and of each member. The church is a fellowship of believers. Each member is in a personal relationship with the Head of the church. Accordingly, there are no degrees of status among Christians. Every Christian is called upon to fulfill the ministry of the church.[50] Baptists have made much of  the phrase, “The Priesthood of All Believers,” although this has sometimes been misunderstood and misapplied to mean that every believer is a church unto herself or himself, and that no one else can tell her or him what to believe or do. The priesthood of all believers calls for each Christian to augment his or her skills in understanding and deciphering the teaching of the Bible for committed and communal Christian living.[51]

6.7 The Lord’s Supper

            Traditionally, most Baptists have understood the Lord’s Supper as being a memorial meal, celebrated as a reminder of the abiding need to remember and reflect on the reconciling work that Christ accomplished on behalf of the believer.[52] This act of worship has generated tension at two points-who should be included and how often should it be celebrated. Since the seventeenth century, some Baptists have insisted that the Lord’s Supper should be shared only among those persons who have received believer’s baptism by immersion. Today, the frequency of observance varies widely. Many Baptists celebrate communion monthly, some only every three months (quarterly), and a very few only annually. It is an act of hope, as they continue this celebration “until he comes.”[53]

6.8 Religious Freedom

            The passion of Baptists for complete religious freedom is central to their identity. On the basis of the sovereignty of God, which no human being can assume, Baptists have always pleaded for full religious freedom not only for themselves but for others, whatever their religion. The principle of religious liberty in indeed the cornerstone of all human rights. Religious freedom must be differentiated from other freedoms. Religious freedom is a civil freedom, a freedom from any compulsion and coercion by the state or national church in matters of religious faith and practice. True Christian freedom must be coupled with responsibility.[54]

7. Baptist in Myanmar

            The history of arrival of Baptist in Myanmar is started after Adoniram Judsons, the first Americans ever to leave their own country as missionaries of Protestant Christian churches. However, before Judsons arrived to Myanmar, the Bible Society building had been built by Felix Carey and Charter, the son of William Carey. Even, before Felix and Charter arrival, Roman Catholic missionaries had started mission in Myanmar.[55] Adoniram Judson and his wife Ann Judson though dissuaded by all their Christian friends in Madras, India, they embarked June 22, 1813, on the Georgiana. They had arrived in the country where they were to spend the rest of their lives on July 13, 1813.[56] On June 6th Maung Naw wrote a letter asking for baptism to Judson after he believed that the divine Son of God. Thus, Judson baptized Maung Naw on June 1819. After Maung Naw, Maung Ing, Maung Tha Hla and Maung Pye accepted Christ as their savior. In 1823 there were 18 people who followed Christ. Adoniram Judson, finally on April 3, 1850, leaving hebhind his critically ill wife (Emily), he was carried aboard a ship, accompanied by Mr. Ranney of the Press, to see if an extended sea voyage might save him, but he never rallied, dying on April 12, 1850. He was buried at sea not far from the Andaman Islands.

7.1 Baptist in Chin State

            The first missionaries who brought the Word of God to Chinland and its people were Arthur E. and Laura H. Carson, who arrived in Hakha on March 15, 1899. As long as Baptist Churches endure in the Chin Hills, the names of Arthur and Laura Carson will be remembered.[57] They arrive at Hakha on March 15, 1899.[58] After six years of missionary toil and trial, the first four Chin believers from Khuasak, Pu Thuam Hang and his wife Pi Dim Khawh Cing, and Pu Pau Suan and his wife Pi Kham Ciang got baptized on February 1, 1906[59] The first person to embrace the Good-news of Christ from Hakha was Pu Shia Khaw who was baptized by the Rev. A. E. Carson on the January 1, 1906. Carson, after serving for the Gospel and the goodness of Chin people, including Chin Hills and Asho tribe for twenty-one years, died of appendicitis on April 1,1908 among his beloved people in Hakha. He had lived to see one hundred converts baptized, two well organized churches, formed a new station and established a hospital. Before he died, the Hakha language was reduced to writing, and literary work was begun.[60] Christianity in Chinland is a fruit of the work of the American Baptist Mission.


            Baptists movement have been now 411 year, we are reminded that we hold in common a long, diverse, and complicated history. Our history is often inspiring, sometimes discouraging, but never boring. My hope as we move into the unknown and sometimes intimidating Baptist future that we can look back together and learn from our shared past. Knowledge of our history helps us to know where we are coming from, where we are standing now in the scheme of things, and where we are going from here. Knowledge of our beliefs also helps us, because we are able to understand and appreciate the things which have shaped our identify in history as a people and the justification for our tenacious adherence to such beliefs. It is therefore a useful exercise for our churches generally to learn these things, to be informed, educated, challenged and motivated, for greater and deeper commitment of our members. The Baptist genius will not go away. Its ideals withstand all opposition. Its principles surround and support Baptists with positive, creative, and forward-moving dynamics.


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Chin Church History, Hau Go Book Series (No. 1). Falam: Zomi Theological College, 2012.
Deweese, Charles W. An Introduction to Baptists, The Baptist Heritage Library. Brentwood: Baptist History and Heritage Society, 2005.
Johnson, Robert E. A Global Introduction to Baptist Churches. Cambridge: Cambridge                University Press 2010.
Johnson, Robert G. “The Church in the Chin Hills.” In Burma Baptist Chronicle, ed. Maung        Shwe Wa, Genevieve and Erville Sowards. Rangoon: Myanmar Baptist Convention        Publication, 1963.
Leonard, Bill J. Baptist Ways: A History. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2003.
Maring, Norman H. and Winthrop S. Hudson. A Baptist Manual of Polity and Practice. Edited    by David Gregg. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2012.
Maung Shwe Wa and Sowards. Burma Baptist Chronicle. Rangoon: Myanmar Baptist                  Convention Publication, 1963.
McBeth, H. Leon. The Baptist Heritage. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1987.
Sang Awr, Baptist Tuanbia le Zumhnak (Baptists History and Beliefs). Yangon: Lai Khrihfa Caṭialtu Phu, 2009.
Thlaawr Bawihrin. “The Impact of Missionary Christianity on the Chins.” D. Min. Diss.,              Ashland Theological Seminary, 2002.
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Underwood, Alfred C. A History of the English Baptists. London: Baptist Union Publishing         Department, 1947.

[1] Free Church movement is used here in a general sense to encompass those churches which are opposed to the “territorial church” concept, which stress in essence the “gathered church” point of view, and which usually are congregational in polity and more fluid in patterns of church life than the more formal churches.
[2] Robert G. Torbet, A History of the Baptists (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1978), 17.
[3] David W. Bebbington, Baptists Through the Centuries: A History of a Global People, 2nd ed. (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2018), 7.
[4] Torbet, A History of the Baptists, 18-21.
[5] Bill J. Leonard, Baptist Ways: A History (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2003), 3.
[6] Charles W. Deweese, An Introduction to Baptists, The Baptist Heritage Library (Brentwood: Baptist History and Heritage Society, 2005), 5.
[7] Bebbington, Baptists Through the Centuries: A History of a Global People, 10.
[8] Leonard, Baptist Ways: A History, 18.
[9] Bebbington, 10.
[10] Leonard, 18.
[11] Bebbington, 11.
[12] Leonard, 19.
[13] They studied with Zwingli and agreed with his renunciation of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet they differed with him on infant baptism, and they insisted that the New Testament knew only a believers’ church. Baptism was to be given only to those who had repented and professed faith in Christ-an action impossible for infants. They rejected the unity of baptism and citizenship-a belief that their critics saw as both heresy and treason.
[14] Leonard, 20.
[15] Bebbington, 11.
[16] Leonard, 21.
[17] Bebbington, 11.
[18] Leonard, 21.
[19] Bebbington, 26.
[20] Bebbington, 27.
[21] The Schleitheim Confession was the most representative statement of Anabaptist principles, by a group of Swiss Anabaptists in 1527 in Schleitheim (Switzerland).
[22] Leonard, 20.
[23] Alfred C. Underwood, A History of the English Baptists (London: Baptist Union Publishing Department, 1947), 33.
[24] Leonard, 24.
[25] Torbet, 35.
[26] Underwood, A History of the English Baptists, 37-38.
[27] Leonard, 26.
[28] Deweese, 7.
[29] Torbet, 37-38.
[30] Leonard, 28.
[31] Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, with instruction about ablutions, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment (RSV).
[32] Leonard, 28
[33] Deweese, 7.
[34] Bebbington, 46.
[35] Torbet, 41.
[36] H. Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1987), 123.
[37] Deweese, 19.
[38] Torbet, 202-204.
[39] Deweese, 8.
[40] Torbet, 202-208.
[41] Torbet, 208.
[42] The main point of split of North and South Baptist was the matter of slavery.
[43] Deweese, 9.
[44] Deweese, 10.
[45] H. Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 795.
[46] Robert E. Johnson, A Global Introduction to Baptist Churches (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2010), 388.
[47] Baptist World Alliance, We Baptists, Study and Research Division (Franklin: Providence House Publishers, 1999), 21-26.
[48] Robert E. Johnson, A Global Introduction to Baptist Churches, 392-395.
[49] Baptist World Alliance, We Baptists, 26-27.
[50] Baptist World Alliance, 29.
[51] Johnson, 416-417.
[52] Norman H. Maring and Winthrop S. Hudson, A Baptist Manual of Polity and Practice, ed. David Gregg (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2012), 186.
[53] Johnson, 396-397.
[54] Baptist World Alliance, We Baptists, 31-32.
[55] Sang Awr, Baptist Tuanbia le Zumhnak (Baptists History and Beliefs) (Yangon: Lai Khrihfa Caṭialtu Phu, 2009), 272.
[56] Maung Shwe Wa and Sowards, Burma Baptist Chronicle (Rangoon: Myanmar Baptist Convention Publication, 1963), 1-4.
[57] Arthur and Laura Carson were the first regular appointed missionaries to the Chin Hills by the American Baptist Mission Society. American Baptist Missionaries who came to Chin State were Rev. A.E. Carson and Laura, Dr. E.H. East and Emily, Dr. H.H. Tilbe and Clara, Dr. J.H. Cope and Elizabeth, Dr. Woodin, Chester Strait and Florence, F. O. Nelson and Phileda, and Dr. Robert G. Johnson and Elizabeth.
[58] Robert G. Johnson, “The Church in the Chin Hills,” in Burma Baptist Chronicle, ed. Maung Shwe Wa, Genevieve and Erville Sowards (Rangoon: Myanmar Baptist Convention Publication, 1963), 385.
[59] Chin Church History, Hau Go Book Series (No. 1) Second Printing (Falam: Zomi Theological College, 2012), 57.
[60] Thlaawr Bawihrin, “The Impact of Missionary Christianity on the Chins” (D. Min. Diss., Ashland Theological Seminary, 2002), 109.

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