In 2009, I was asked to contribute to an online discussion of Baptist origins, published in the Journal of Baptist Studies. My task was to present the English Separatist view of Baptist development. The question is an important one, and deserves careful thought. I sought to write based on the use of a selection of primary sources.From the footnotes, the interested reader will note that the evidence is much more extensive. The article begins
The question of Baptist origins is like a carpet worn thin from more than a century of debate and discussion. Scholars and students alike have anxiously paced across its fabric, tracing their steps into familiar paths contoured upon the threads. In places edges have become frayed and shabby, and sometimes, like sunshine daily beaming through a window onto the textile, the light of examination has been so bright that colors have faded, retaining only a hint of their former glory. This is a sad reality, for the subject is, in itself, important. But its importance has perhaps created the present circumstance—in the absence of consensus, positions harden. Doctrinaire conclusions are reiterated seemingly ad infinitum, so that little or no substantial progress toward consensus is achieved. I do not hope, in this essay, to achieve a meeting of the minds, but perhaps simply to contribute some perspectives which might assist scholars of good-will to step back and see the beauty that remains in the fabric of our history.