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Religion Library: Baptist

Early Developments

Written by: David Buschart

Clearly, it was divisions over the slavery of African Americans and the Civil War that led to the largest number of ethnically-identified Baptist churches and associations, namely African American churches.However, there have also been ethnically-identified Baptist churches among Germans, Swedes, Japanese, Latinos, Koreans, and other people-groups in North America.

In addition to the diversity described above, there are other variations, many of them with smaller constituencies, within the Baptist tradition.One sub-tradition includes an emphasis on Sabbath observance, Seventh Day Baptists.Primitive Baptist churches arose in the early 19th century.They draw upon the theology of the Particular Baptist sub-tradition, but hold to a more rigid and extreme form of Calvinism, especially with regard to predestination.In the mid-19th-century a movement known as Landmarkism arose, and continues in some measure today, with a radical view of the autonomy and independence of local congregations and of the local character of baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Study Questions:
     1.    How did Calvin’s work influence some Baptist traditions?
     2.    Describe Arminian theology. How did it lead to the denomination of “Free-Will Baptists”?
     3.    How do Particular Baptists differ in their understanding of the atonement?
     4.    How did slavery influence the demographics of the Baptist Church?


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