History of the Baptists Pt. 2

In History of the Baptists Pt. 1, I left off with the churches being established in the South. The first Baptist church in the south was founded in 1639 in Charleston, SC. They would become a large church and eventually also becoming the Charleston Baptist Association. This would be the second association established while Philadelphia was the first.

In the 1700s, the Baptist churches received an immense amount of persecution from the anglican and congregationalist churches. However, this would not stop their influence on the maturing nation. When the Revolutionary war began, the English believed that those in the south would sympathize with their side. While the congregationalist persecuted the Baptists, they would agree that we needed to go war against the English. They had a voice in positivity towards separating from the English.

In 1740, the Great Awakening began. George Whitefield would begin a tour in Savannah, GA and would make his way up to North Carolina. His preaching was embellished with emotion which was uncommon for the day and some witnesses say that his voice could be heard in the very back of the 20,000 member audience. He was extremely influential and many other preachers would follow in his wake. This caused a tremendous growth for the Baptists. His publisher was Benjamin Franklin and the two were good friends. While Whitefield would often try to draw Franklin to Christ, there is no evidence suggesting that Franklin came to repentance.

Many in the north who converted because of the Great Awakening had been congregationalists with the Church of England. Because of their converting, they would be known as Separatists. They would eventually identify with the Baptists. A group would go down to the South and there they would be known as Separate Baptists while the others were called Regular Baptists.

An influential Separate Baptist was Isaac Backus who would go before congress to be a voice for the persecuted Baptists. Baptists also had the sympathy of deist, Thomas Jefferson, as well as James Madison. Madison, knowing the growing influence of the Baptists, stated that if they voted for the new federal constitution then he would be sure to place the first amendments to include religious liberty. They voted and he kept his promise. We, of course, know it now as the first amendments of the constitution.

Separate and regular Baptists would eventually realize that they were the same. While there were a few Separate Baptists that would follow Arminian theology, those would eventually fizzle and all would come under Calvinism. This was a significant union and the rise of the Southern Baptist Conference would eventually be born.

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