Seeking more pure and biblically based expressions of Christianity, the earliest Baptists established new, autonomous church congregations, independent from the established churches.
The Baptist tradition of Christianity arose in the 17th century largely in reaction against the state churches in England and the Netherlands. The emergence of a "new world" in and from the American colonies eventually provided a context in which the Baptist tradition could flourish.
While there is no single "founder" of the Baptist tradition who occupies a place such as that of Martin Luther within Lutheran Christianity, there are leaders who are rightly associated with the rise of each of the three sub-traditions within Baptist Christianity, and with the Baptist tradition in America.
The Bible is the authoritative scripture of Baptist Christians, encompassed in the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments.
While some Baptists have attempted to draw a clear line of historical lineage more or less directly back to Jesus Christ and his apostles, most Baptists recognize the tradition as having its origins in dissenting movements in 17th-century England, and less directly in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.