WHY BAPTISTS ARE NOT PROTESTANTS
by Dr. Vernon C. Lyons
People are usually put in one of three religious groups. If you are not a Jew or a Roman Catholic, then automatically you are a Protestant. Consequently, Baptists are usually called "Protestants." However, this does not match the facts. Baptists never have been Protestants.
The Protestant Reformation is usually dated from October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany. However, this was only one of a series of acts that led to the open rupture with Rome.
An event of utmost importance, but often unnoticed, is the Second Diet (or Council) of Speier, April 25, 1529. This was a Roman Catholic Council for the purpose of taking action against the Turks and checking the progress of Lutherans and others who were not cooperating with the Pope. Certain Lutheran princes appeared before this Roman Catholic Diet with a formal written protest against those matters in which the Diet went contrary to the Christian faith as they understood it. This protest was signed by Elector John of Saxony, Margrave George of Brandenburg, Dukes Ernest and Francis of Braunschweig-Luneburg, Landgrave Philip of Hesse, Prince Wolfgang of Anhalt and the representatives of fourteen imperial cities. The protest was designed to protect them from the decisions of this Council. It was a defensive measure. The celebrated church historian, Philip Schaaf, makes the noteworthy statement "From this protest. and appeal, the Lutherans were called Protestants." (History of the Christian Church, Volume VII, p.692). The same facts are stated in the Catholic Encyclopedia (Volume Xll, p.495).
These Lutheran leaders, and a few Reformed, who made this appeal and
protest at the famous Diet of Speier were speaking for themselves and not
for Baptists, of whom they themselves said in their written statement, "All
Anabaptists and rebaptized persons, male or female, of mature age, shall be
judged and brought from natural life to death, by fire, or sword or
otherwise, as may benefit the persons, without preceding trial by spiritual
judges." The Baptists then did not share in this protest and consequently
cannot bear the name "Protestant." Here are three reasons why Baptists are
Historically Baptists Are Not Protestants
Protestants date from the sixteenth century. They are the Lutherans, the Reformed, and others who were once Roman Catholics and left the Roman Catholic faith to start denominations of their own. The Baptists never left the Roman Catholic church as did Luther, Calvin and Zwingli. They never left because they were never in. They did not begin their existence at the time of the Reformation, but hundreds of years prior to the Reformation.
Baptists make no effort to trace a historical succession back to the age of the Apesties. Their only claim is that at every age in church history there have been groups that have held to the same doctrines that Baptists hold today. These groups may or may not have been connected and they have been known by various names. There were the Montanists (150 A.D.), the Novatians (240 A.D.), Donatists (305 A.D.), Albigenses (1022 A.D.), Waldensians (1170 A.D.), and the name Anabaptists came into prominence just before the time of the Protestant Reformation. Full historical data immediately refutes the view that there was only one religious group -- the Roman Catholic church -until the time of Martin Luther. Anyone who claims this simply has not done his homework.
l wish to purposely introduce non-Baptist testimony to the great antiquity of Baptist people. Cardinal Hosius (1504-1579) was a Roman Catholic prelate who had as his life work the investigation and suppression of non-Catholic groups. By Pope Paul IV he was designated one of the three papal presidents of the famous Council of Trent. Hosius carried on vigorously the work of the counter-reformation. If anyone in post-reformation times knew the doctrines and history of nonCatholic groups, it was Hosius. Cardinal Hosius says, "Were it not that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past 1,200 years, they would swarm in greater number than all the Reformers" (Letters Apud Opera, pp.112, 113). Note carefully that this knowledgeable Catholic scholar has spoken of the vicious persecution Baptists have endured, that he clearly distinguishes them from the Reformers, and that he dates them 1,200 years before the Protestant Reformation.
It is also evident that the Baptists were not Protestants because they
were fiercely persecuted by the Protestant Reformers and their followers.
Uncounted thousands of them lost their goods, their lands, and their lives
in these persecutions. Konred Grebel died in prison in 1526. Felix Manz was
drowned by the authorities at Zurich in 1527. Noted Baptist leader
Baithauser Hubmaier was burned alive at the stake in Vienna March 10, 1528.
Three days later his wife was drowned by being thrown over the Danube bridge
with a stone tied to her neck. The facts abundantly attest that
historically Baptists are not Protestants.
Doctrinally Baptists Are Not Protestants
The viewpoint that Baptists share common doctrinal ground with Protestant groups is not an accurate reporting of the facts. There are six striking differences.
Practically Baptists Are Not Protestants
A few simple observations indicate that the Baptists differ radically from Protestants on a number of points.
The Protestant groups look to some human being as their founder, often even taking their name from a man. The Lutherans hark back to Luther. The Reformed look to John Calvin. The Presbyterians were rounded by John Knox. The Methodists openly acknowledge John Wesley as their founder. Who rounded the Baptist churches? Here is a historical question worthy of serious investigation. It is impossible to find any one man who gave rise to Baptist churches. Rather, if we would name human founders, we must look back to Peter, Paul, James and John.
We differ from Protestants in our birthplace. Lutherans came from Germany, the Reformed from Switzerland and the Netherlands, the Presbyterians from Scotland, Episcopalians from England, but Baptists would have to give Palestine as their place of origin.
Furthermore, the creed of Baptists is not the Augsburg Confession, the Canons of Dort, or the Westminster Confession, but the simple Word of God. So it is impossible to identify Baptists as Protestants.
Baptists have never been linked with Protestants and have never been identified with the Roman Catholic Church. Through the years before and after the Reformation, they have maintained their identity and been faithful to the Scriptures. Real Baptists hold to the plain teaching of Christ and the Apostles. For these God-given doctrines they have been willing to die. Hanz Denk, a sixteenth century Baptist, said, "Faith means obedience to the Word of God, whether it be unto life or unto death." For many it was death.
In Rottenburg in Reformation times there were 900 executions of Baptists in less than ten years. These deaths were often vicious and cruel. The sentence for one Baptist believer, Michael Sateler, read:
"Michael Sateler shall be delivered to the hangman, who shall take him to the place of execution and cut out his tongue; he shall then throw him on a cart and twice tare his flesh with hot tongs; then he shall bring him to the city gate and there torture his flesh in the same manner."
This was the way Sateler died in Rottenburg on May 21, 1527. His wife and other women were drowned and a number of the men were beheaded.
Baptists are not Protestants but hold tenaciously to the original precepts and practices of Christ and the apostles. Baptists believe the pure Word of God to be sufficient authority on all matters. Baptists reject all human religious traditions and practices that have originated since the time of the apostles.
(Adapted from The Biblical Evangelist)
Protestantism is Unbiblical