ORIGIN OF THE BAPTIST CHURCH
"It is not correct to say that the Baptist church is of 17th century origin. We Baptists know that our church dates back to John the Baptist. That is one of the reasons for its name."
The above declaration was made by a gentleman who had been given a copy of The Pilot by his Catholic friend. It was one of the issues in which the attention of Rev. Moses H. Gitlin, the" Jewish (Baptist) Christian" minister, was called to the fact that the first one of the 22 now existing Baptist denominations came into existence about 16 centuries after the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles, and the public work of Christ's Church, the Catholic Church, began.
If what the gentleman said were so, then does his church date back to a man, and not to our Lord, Who is true God as well as true man. His church may go back to John for its method of baptizing by immersion, but not for its origin. John the Baptist was a faithful Jew and not a Christian, though he, by God's grace, recognized Jesus to be the Jewish looked-for Messiah. John's Jewish baptism was infinitely different from the Baptism Christ administered; which Christ instituted as the first of His seven Sacraments (St. Matt. 28:19-20). This was recognized by John, who said, "I have baptized you with water, but He will Baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (St. Mark 1:8).
John did not attempt to establish a Church, for he was a member of the one and only Church of God then existing, the Church of the Children of Israel. That Church functioned with Divine authority until the Veil in the Temple was rent. This was prior to the First Pentecost Day, when the Christ-instituted Catholic Church began to function.
The gentleman's claim, which is entirely unhistoric, ... The declaration that the Baptist church is of John the Baptist origin is refuted by Baptists themselves in the U.S. Report of Religious Bodies. While the unwarranted claim is made therein that the founder, authority and creed of the Baptist churches can be traced "back to the New Testament," it is asserted that the first definitely known group of "persons holding Baptist doctrines" were the Anabaptists (re-baptizers). Their organizer and leader was Thomas Munzer (1521), who revolted against Luther. He opposed infant Baptism, holding that persons Baptized in infancy, should be reBaptized upon becoming adults. Driven by Luther from Germany to the Low countries, some Anabaptists were gathered together by Menno Simons (an unfrocked Catholic priest) into groups known as Mennonites. "To their influence," the Report says, "in all probability, the English Baptists owe their churches, established in Amsterdam in 1608 and London in 1611." The English minister of the first Baptist church was John Smyth, a former Anglican minister. So while the Baptists, if they desire, may trace their Baptism by immersion to the Jewish baptism of John the Baptist, they cannot legitimately trace their origin as a distinct religious denomination further back than 1608 and 1611, even though they claim to have been "influenced, in all probability," by the Anabaptists, as they say in the Report of Religious Bodies.
The Baptists are convicted of error "out of their own mouth" in the Report of Religious Bodies. Therein they prove themselves to have been of the 17th century origin as a distinctive Protestant congregation; whereas the Church that Christ established dates from the Year 33 A. D., which is 1575 years before John Smyth organized the first Baptist church congregation.
Our insistence upon the historic fact of the Apostolic origin of the Catholic Church, and her unbroken record of organic existence throughout the Christian ages, is, and will continue to be resented by the Baptists. They repudiate submission to a living authority in religion; while they declare that their "cardinal principle is implicit obedience to the plain Word of God"; which Word of God evidences the institution by Christ of the authority they repudiate.
What, but an erroneous concept of the Word of God, prompted Dr. Edward Hughes Pruden, pastor of the First Baptist church of Washington, which President Truman attends, to repudiate the suggestion of Pope Pius XII, that all Christians be united in one Church, on the ground that "it seems to me utterly foreign to the spirit of the New Testament?" Surely there are numerous texts in the New Testament that call for a unified belief, and unification of spiritual authority, such as exist in the Catholic Church. In fact, the oneness, doctrinally and authoritatively, in the Catholic Church, is a New Testament credential that proves her to be of Christ.
Here are a few of many such texts. St. John 10:16-17 tells of the readiness of Christ to lay down His life to have all His sheep in "one fold": St. Paul identifies the members of Christ's Church, the "body of Christ," with members of the human body in 1 Cor. 12, and not a hundred kind of bodies, such as make up Protestantism: St. Matthew 16:18 plainly declares that Christ would build a Church, not churches, as He did, against which the "gates of Hell" would endeavor to prevail, as they have against the Catholic Church throughout the Christian ages, but without success. St. Matthew 18:17 contains the command to "hear the Church" and Romans 15:6 calls upon Christians to "glorify God with one mind and one mouth." This last named text alone proves that "it is utterly foreign to the spirit of the New Testament" to assume that the will of Christ can be expressed through the minds and mouths of 22 different kinds of Baptist churches, and a couple of hundred kinds of other Protestant churches.
If Dr. Pruden and his fellow-Baptists were to follow "the spirit of the New Testament" texts named in the above paragraph, they would graduate from their 17th century Baptist churches, into the Church Catholic, that is of first century origin. We hope a copy of the issue of The Pilot, in which this answer to the Baptist gentleman appears, will be passed on to him for consideration.
Wholesale Baptisms at ponds, rivers and seashores are like picnics, in that they disarrange and clutter up the places where they are held. They caused the following advertisement to be inserted in The Cape Cod Guide: "Positively no more baptizing in my pasture. Twice in the last two months my gate has been left open by religious people, and before I chase my heifers all over the country again, all sinners can go to Purgatory."