Becker Bible Studies Library
American Baptist Association
The American Baptist Churches in the United States were organized in 1924. The American Baptist Association stems from an independent “New Testament Church” movement known as Landmarkism. Landmarkism started with Roger Williams from Rhode Island in the 17th century. Northern independent and Baptist churches preached what would soon be termed Landmarkism,a historic devotion and obedience to the old apostolic order of church policy, by leaders such as James R. Graves, James M. Pendleton, and Amos C. Dayton. The American Baptist Association came about because of a split from a group of churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and the main body in 1950 based upon this belief.
The American Baptist Association believes that Baptisms conducted outside of the Baptist Churches are unacceptable. Only Baptists are allowed to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Only Baptist ministers can preach in a Baptist Church. There was to be no recognition of any mission groups if they were not sponsored by one of the local Baptist churches.
Founder Roger Williams
Roger Williams was born December 21, 1603 in Long Lane, Middlesex near London, England. He married Mary Barnard on December 15, 1629 in Essex, England and they had six children. They migrated to America in to Boston arriving February 5, 1631.
Roger Williams was baptized by Ezekiel Holliman in March, 1639, and later Williams baptized Ezekiel. This was the establishment of the first Baptist church in America. They taught repentance from dead works and faith toward God, the doctrines of baptism or washing, and the laying on of hands.
Roger Williams was an Anglo-American theologian. He was the founder of the City of Providence, Rhode Island and a co-founder of the state of Rhode Island. He believed in the separation of Church and State and campaigned for the fair treatment of Native Americans. He believed the Native American should have dignity and be treated equally. Roger Williams denounced the Church of England and considered it as apostate. He considered anyone having fellowship with the Church of England as a grievous sinner. He renounced communion with the Church of England and with anyone who joined with it. Williams disapproved of taking any unchristian oaths of any kind.
Roger Williams was given a Decree of Banishment from the Puritan colony on October 9, 1635 because of his aggressive and uncompromising hostility to the charter of the Church of England and the orthodox theocracy of the Puritans. The banishment of Williams was directed by Puritan leaders who felt a compelling need to maintain orthodox belief and keep authority, without challenge, of the community.
Roger Williams arrived at Providence and secured land from the native Indians and became friends and neighbors. Rhode Island passed the very first law in America to make slavery illegal in May 18, 1652. Rhode Island became a safe haven for anyone who was being persecuted for their religious beliefs. The Baptist, Quakers, and even the Jews were allowed to live in Rhode Island and practice their own beliefs. Roger Williams died April 1, 1684 and was buried on his own land.
The American Baptist Association has an individual governmental structure which is different to that of the Southern Baptist church, even though they are similar. They believe in the strict separation of Church and State. The American Baptist Association congregation is focused on their local churches, evangelistic in their ministry, and supportive of the Landmark view of ecclesiology. They are strictly fundamentalist. They stand for the verbal inspiration of the Bible, and hold that Genesis is the account of creation. They believe in the Atonement, the Trinity, and that the Bible is the inspired inerrant Word of God. They believe in the virgin birth and deity of Christ, the suffering and death of Christ, and the bodily Resurrection of Christ and all His saints. They believe in the second coming of Jesus as the crowning event of the Gospel, which will be both physical and personal.
They believe Baptism can only be performed by immersion by a Baptist minister. They hold a closed Communion, meaning only members of that church may participate in the Lord’s Supper. The Bible of choice is the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible for English services and study. They totally reject Calvinism in any form.
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About the Author
Joanne B. Holstein is a Becker Bible Studies teacher and author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She has received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Christian Counseling with honors from Liberty University. She is well-known as a counsleor to Christian faithful who are struggling with tremendous burden in these difficult times. She is a leading authority on the history of development of the Christian churches and the practices and beliefs of world religions and cults.