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Church History Intro
Saga of the Pilgrims
Calvary Chapel Revival
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Worldwide Church of God
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Baptist History
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OT History
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Baptist History

 

The following link goes to the content section of a pretty comprehensive short history of the Baptists written by Baptists.  This history goes from  apostolic times to the present.  (This content section has hyptertext links going to the various chapters.)  From a study of this and of the content of a similar Sabbatarian Churches of God history going back to the same apostolic times, it is apparent they claim the same origins.  I have known this for awhile, and it bothered me, since I had no apparent answers to this riddle.  Was one group lying, or the other?  I couldn’t believe that.  But the riddle persisted until I started reading into the part of this Short Baptist History that dealt with their history in the 1100s period in France.  Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning.  One clue to the fact that the Baptists were claiming Peter de Waldo, the Henricians, the Albigensians and the Cathari of France and southern France in their church history lineage, which may have indeed been also of Sabbatarian Churches of God extraction is found in one of their quotes (in this Baptist history) of a Catholic history writer being quoted from those same times, saying that those above mentioned groups had synagogues, not churches.  Now anyone at that time who worshipped on Saturday, the Sabbath, would have been labeled as Jewish by their Catholic detractors and persecutors, so the “synagogue” remark alluded to their Sabbath, and perhaps Holy Day observing customs, placing these groups also right within the Sabbatarian domain.   But what would account for these same groups coming under the historic heading of Sunday observers?  Due to the massive first and second Inquisition-persecution of these groups in France, what may have started out as Sabbatarian divided into two groups, one changing over to Sunday observance to try to avoid this ongoing Inquisition and slaughter at the pope’s behest, and the other basically getting wiped out, but with some fleeing to Holland, and then England.  So here is the way it looks.  The Sabbatarian Churches of God migrated from Asia Minor through Yugoslavia, where they were called the Bogomils.  They in turn migrated into southeast Europe.  Elements of them and also Sabbatarian Jewish Christians recently expelled from Rome all migrated into southern France.  The Church line was one Sabbatarian line at this point.  These Sabbath observers strongly believed in baptism by full immersion of adults only.  But in France, as the intense and deadly persecution started to wipe them out, this one single line divided into two lines, two groups, one Sunday observing, calling themselves Baptists and Anabaptists, the other Sabbatarian Churches of God.  That’s my “theory” as to what happened.  It totally explains this “riddle”, or discrepancy in both the church histories of the Sabbatarian Churches of God and that of the Baptists.  So it would appear, by comparing the history at these Baptist links and that of the Sabbatarian Churches of God history, that the Baptists and Sabbatarian Churches of God have traveled down a single time-line of Church history, which divided into two time-lines in the France of the 1100s AD.  Then after the split survivors from the Sabbatarian line in France escaped first to Holland, and then migrated to England as the Lollards in the 1300s.  Later, in England, the Sabbatarian Churches of God would often evangelize their Sunday observing Baptist “friends”, helping to maintain and grow their numbers in England.  This practice continued into America in the 1600s through 1700s.    

 

The link to the Baptist history is at: 

 

http://www.pbministries.org/History/baptist_history.htm

 

http://www.pbministries.org/History/J.%20A.%20Wylie/the_waldenses.htm

 

http://www.pbministries.org/History/John%20T.%20Christian/vol1/history_of_the_baptist_vol1.htm

 

http://www.pbministries.org/History/John%20T.%20Christian/vol2/history_of_the_baptist_vol2.htm

 

http://www.reformedreader.org/history/vedder/contents.htm

 

(For a comparative study of the Sabbatarian Churches of God history, log onto:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals.htm , and for their recent history from 1660 onward in the United States, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/historycog1.htm.  I find this fascinating that the Sunday observing Baptists, and Sabbatarian Churches of God both trace their historic lineage back to Asia Minor of the 300s AD, and at times claim the same history.  But I have come to believe the reason for that goes back to France of the 1200s AD, under the extreme persecutions of the Catholic church’s Inquisitions, which originally started in France at that time.  Also see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm for a study on the early apostolic church, showing how it may have appeared in Asia Minor, as a Judeo-Christian church.  What is also interesting, is that the recent Worldwide Church of God under Joe Tkach Jr. has claimed that we (the Sabbatarian Churches of God) came from the Baptists.  What appears to be the case is that Joe Jr. got it 180 degrees backwards from the real plain truth of history.  The Baptists came from Sabbatarian groups in France, from the ones called by their detractors the Waldensians, Henricians, Cathari and Albigensians.  One outstanding example: The Cottrell family has a long family line, going all the way back to the Albigensians in France.  They ended up within the Sabbatarian Churches of God in England, and then in the Church of God in Newport Rhode Island in the 1600s.  This family never observed Sunday.  Much of this early French history was expunged by those who took part in the French Inquisitions, but little bits of embarrassing evidence keep surfacing (embarrassing to some that is).  Just to give you an idea of what these humble Sabbath keeping folks faced, and what might have inspired whole groups of them to switch to Sunday observance, here are a couple quotes from Ralph Woodrow’s book “Babylon Mystery Religion”.  “One of the documents that ordered such persecutions was the inhuman “Ad exstirpanda” issued by Pope Innocent IV in 1252.  This document stated that heretics were to be “crushed like venomous snakes.”  It formally approved the use of torture.  Civil authorities were ordered to burn heretics.  “The aforesaid Bull, ‘Ad exstirpanda’ remained thenceforth a fundamental document of the Inquisition, renewed or reinforced by several popes, Alexander IV (1254-61), Clement IV (1265-68), Nicholas IV (1288-92), Boniface VIII (1294-1304), and others. The civil authorities, therefore, were enjoined by the popes, under pain of excommunication [which would put their lives under the same danger] to execute the legal sentences that condemned impenitent heretics to the stake…At Lavaur in 1211 the governor was hanged on a gibbet and his wife thrown into a well and crushed with stones.  Four hundred people in this town were burned alive.  The crusaders attended high mass in the morning, then proceeded to take other towns of the area.  In this siege, it is estimated that 100,000 Albigeneses fell in one day.  Their bodies where heaped together and burned.” Pp. 105, 108.)

 

The Anabaptists

 

That the Anabaptists (and from them the Baptists) came out of the Waldensian and Albigencian Sabbatarians can also be seen by taking a close look at their beliefs and Christian way of life.  David Bercot, in his book “Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up” gives us that close look.  “The word radical means “of or from the roots.”  The Anabaptists wanted to return to the primitive roots of Christianity, even if it meant going against the tide of sixteenth century European society.  Like the early church, the Anabaptists took Jesus’ teaching quite literally and quite seriously.  They maintained that Christians must live by the Sermon on the Mount.

          For example, they generously shared their material goods with one another, providing for any needy persons among them.  Although today most churches care for the needy, that wasn’t the case at the time of the Reformation.  Rather, at the time of the Reformation, the brotherly care extended by Anabaptists stood in stark contrast to the Lutheran, Reformed, and Roman churches around them.  One Anabaptist declared to these other churches:

  We teach and practice this mercy, love, and community, and we have taught and practiced it for seventeen years.  God be thanked forever that although our property has to a great extent been taken away from us and is still daily taken, and many a righteous father and mother are put to the sword or fire, and although we are not allowed the free enjoyment of our homes as is manifest…Yet none of those who have joined us nor any of their orphaned children have been forced to beg.  If this is not Christian practice, then we might as well abandon the whole Gospel of our Lord.

 Is it not sad and intolerable hypocrisy that these poor people [the Lutherans] boast of having the Word of God, of being the true Christian church, never remembering that they have entirely lost their sign of true Christianity?  Although many of them have plenty of everything, go about in silk and velvet, gold and silver, and in all manner of pomp and splendor,…they allow many of their own poor and afflicted members to ask for alms.  [They force] the poor, the hungry, the suffering, the elderly, the lame, the blind, and the sick to beg for bread at their doors.

  Oh preachers, dear preachers, where is the power of the Gospel you preach?...Where are the fruits of the Spirit you have received?

  Like the early Christians, the Anabaptists also preached the message of the cross.  “If the Head has to suffer such torture, anguish, misery, and pain, how shall His servants, children, and members expect peace and freedom as to their flesh?” they asked.  At the same time, although they were cruelly hunted down, tortured and executed, they refused to fight back or retaliate against their persecutors.

  One of the most touching examples of their unselfish love for others is that of Dirck Willems.  Fleeing from the Catholic authorities who had come to arrest him, Willems dashed across a frozen lake and made it safely to the other side.  Glancing back as he ran up the banks of the shore, Willems noticed that the deputy pursuing him had fallen through the ice and was about to drown.  Although he could have escaped with ease, Willems turned back and pulled the drowning deputy to safety.  Unmoved by this unselfish act of love, the officer in charge ordered the deputy to arrest Willems.  As a result, Willems was apprehended, imprisoned, and eventually burned alive.

  Again, like the early Christians [and I would say like the Waldensians and Albigencians they more than likely came from during the 1200s to 1300s AD], the Anabaptists refused to use the sword against their enemies.  Rather than preaching a gospel of health and wealth, they stressed simplicity of living.  In fact, because of persecution, most of them lived in dire poverty.

  In some respects, their theology was closer to that of the early Christians than Luther’s.  For example, although “salvation by grace alone” was the slogan of the Reformation, the Anabaptists taught that obedience was also essential for salvation.  However, they didn’t teach that salvation is earned by accumulating good works, and they rejected all of the ritual works of self-justification taught by Catholics. They stressed the fact that salvation is a gift from God.

  Essentially, their doctrine of salvation was identical to that of the early church.  Yet because they taught obedience is necessary for salvation, the Lutherans and Reformed Christians called them “heaven-stormers.”  At a time when both Luther and Calvin were stressing Augustine’s teachings, the Anabaptists completely rejected the doctrine of predestination.  They taught instead that salvation was open to everyone, and that everyone can choose for himself either to accept or to reject God’s gracious provisions for salvation.

  …Also in their quest for holiness and separation from the world, they left no room for any unclean fish in the kingdom dragnet.  They desired a dragnet with only clean fish in it.  The tragic result is that they not only separated themselves from the rest of the church, but have since separated from each other.  Today, the Anabaptists are fragmented into a hundred or more separate groups, most of which do not hold communion with one anther.

  Yet, despite their shortcomings in some areas, the Anabaptist reformation was one of the most significant movements in the history of western Christianity.  Through their lives, the Anabaptists demonstrated that holiness is not something just for celibate monks and nuns.  Rather, it should be the normal way of life of all Christians.  They showed that, with God’s help, whole families can live by the Sermon on the Mount.  Although the Lutheran, Reformed, and Roman Catholic churches alike cruelly persecuted the Anabaptists, God has preserved them down to this day.  They [and I’d also have to say, the Sabbatarian Churches of God they came from, which have also survived] stand as a powerful witness that the Sermon on the Mount is not simply some idealistic teaching that we can’t take seriously.  It’s not something for a future dispensation, nor is it something that was only for the early church.  No, it still is the way of life prescribed by Jesus for those who want to build their house on the rock.”  [pp. 140-143, “Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up” by David Bercot.]

 

 

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Content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
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