What is the history of Baptists? Can they trace their roots back to the 1st century? Many ”fundamentalist” Baptists believe they can. Are they correct?
There is a booklet that is very popular among this fundamentalist crowd. It is entitled “The Trail of Blood”. The booklet claims that Catholics persecuted the true Christians — the Baptists — leaving behind a trail of blood.
I used to believe this premise and now that I have looked more carefully I wrote an article about this booklet and this the idea Baptists are the true Christians that have survived Catholic attempts to destroy them. Here is how my article begins:
“When Baptists attempt to discover the origins of their tradition they are faced with a historical dilemma. The search for Baptists roots hits a dead end in the sixteenth century. Most acknowledge that Baptist tradition is a tributary flowing out of the Protestant Reformation, but others attempt to discover a line of historical continuity, of doctrine and practice, back to Jesus and even John the Baptist. These Baptists are commonly referred to as “Baptist Successionists”. . . “