across the United States are dropping the name "Baptist" while insisting
that they remain 100% faithful and true to our doctrines and distinctives.
| Numerous pamphlets, magazine
articles, and web sites now address the subject. Sad to say, most
mistakingly state that the origin of the name was due to John the Baptist
relative to our stand on baptism by emersion. Some go on to declare
that Jesus actually organized the first Baptist church. Even others
argue that the apostles fulfilled the offices of a local Baptist church
and that all who claim the name today can trace an unbroken chain all the
way back to the believers of the first century. It is this kind of
misinformation that only further convinces those who drop the name to do
so, thus, distancing themselves from those who find it necessary to fabricate
such a historical connection, lest their faith be in vain.
Historically, the name "Baptist"
first came into existence in England in the early seventeenth century.
The Puritan-Separatist movement in the Church of England formed separate
congregations which accepted only believers into their membership, and
they baptized converts upon their profession of faith. Their opponents
nicknamed them "Baptists," and the name stuck. Therefore, our identification
as Baptists has been with us for not quite 400 years.
Although Baptist churches
generally remained smaller (up to 150 attendees on a given Sunday), the
twentieth century ushered in a time of unprescedented growth. Congregations
in big cities were going from the hundreds to the thousands. By the
late 1960s, Christianity Today Magazine officially pronounced that nine
of the ten largest churches in the world were Baptist. Of those,
six of them were associated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship. This
group of churches were one of the first of the many Baptist groups to use
modern day methodologies to ignite church growth. From large bus
ministries to promoting themselves using television, churches such as Detroit's
Temple Baptist Church, Cincinnati's Landmark Baptist Temple, and Springfield's
High Street Baptist Church (not to mention several others) were running
five figure attendances. In fact, the editor of that magazine, Elmer
Townes, addressed the annual meeting of the BBF in 1970 to further declare
their evangelistic success while warning them that internal negative forces
(e.g. legalism, radicalism, politics) would eventually weaken their effectiveness.
His warning still needs to be heeded today as it was those almost forty
During that same period of
time, it was the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, that first reached
over 100,000 attendees on a single Sunday. Dr. Jack Hyles was the
dynamic pastor of the church. Those were days of great soul winning
effort, tremendous growth in church membership, national influence, and
large church ministries which flourished beyond what any of us ever dreamed
or thought possible.
Since then, the name has
have used the media moreso than any other persuasion of Baptist to set
forth their radicalism, thus, scaring away the lost instead of attracting
them to the Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly, not all Fundamentalists
are so combative but may be guilty by association.
Angry Legalism has
been the primary reason for the loss of respect for the Baptist name.
Instead of encouraging believers to grow in their faith internally, a kind
of external phariseeism is preached with "uncompromising conviction" (their
term). This view labels Christians who do not attend movie theaters,
do not listen to rock 'n roll, do not dance, do not drink, and do not smoke
as being truly saved and spiritual. They struggle with the traditional
Baptist doctrine of Individual Soul Liberty.
The King James Only Movement,
started by Baptist radical Dr. Peter Ruckman, has generally become a name
calling and shouting match. Some of those who are committed
to this view even claim that one cannot be saved if any other version than
the Authorized Version of the Bible is used.
that results in numerous church and associational splits has injured the
godly reputation of Baptists in local communities. Wounded souls
leave congregations where friction occurs. Churches that once flourished
are now greatly diminished due to internal strife and few ever recover
When one considers the above
factors regarding why those who once wore the name as a testimony of their
faith and practice are now discarding it, there is little wonder why it
is being discarded.
This web site truly seeks
to encourage others to identify with the historical and traditional Baptist
doctrine, distinctives, and practice. However, if we are to continue
being a people who adhere to God's Truth, we are compelled to look within
ourselves and admit that our behaviour of late has not been all that it
should be. When a family member retains his or her identity but is
too ashamed to identify with the family name, it might be adviseable to
look in the mirror of God's Word to see if perhaps there is good reason
to do so.