The Baptist tradition is embodied in a wide range of churches and associations that reflect historically conditioned differences over such matters as theological beliefs, organizational structures, race, and culture.
Schisms and Sects
The unity that exists within the Baptist tradition is understood to be primarily spiritual, not structural or organizational. Thus, divisions within or from the tradition are not necessarily "schisms" or "sects" as this is often thought of.
Missions and Expansion
From its beginnings in England and the Netherlands, the Baptist tradition soon spread to the colonies of the United States in the mid-17th century. In the 19th and 20th centuries, large numbers of Baptist missionaries went to virtually every region of the world.
Exploration and Conquest
Baptists have been the subjects of persecution and, at times, allowed cultural context to distort their beliefs and practices in ways that are inconsistent with their own standard, the Bible.
The 20th and 21st centuries have witnessed significant controversies, challenges, and advances for the Baptist tradition. Many of these are related, directly or indirectly, to changes in contemporary society, both domestic and global.