Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 13, 1950

Where Did Baptist Churches Begin?

Cleon Lyles, Little Rock, Arkansas

B. L. Bridges, General Secretary of the Baptist organization of Arkansas, has recently written an article in their paper under the above title. He is trying to locate the beginning of the Baptist church. Of course he is fully aware of what the writers of history say about its beginning, but naturally he would like to find some statement in the Bible that would authorize the existence of the Baptist denomination. We do not blame him at all for trying, but, as is true when someone tries to locate an organization in the Bible that the Bible knows nothing about, he found the wrong proof text. Let's notice the verses that he claims mention the Baptist church. "And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach." (Mark 3:13, 14.)

Mr. Bridges reasons like this: "Mark says that Jesus ordained (made) twelve. This verb is the familiar Greek verb "Poiein," which means "to make." If Jesus "made twelve," what did he make? Dr. A. B. Bruce, and many others say that he "made, constituted them as a compact body." The "compact body could not have been a club or lodge. It must have been a church." Now back off and look at that again. Such profound reasoning! He did say why this "compact body" could not have been a club or lodge. It just must have been a church. Why must it have been a church? Suppose it was a church, was it a Baptist church? I suppose he supposes it was. If it is alright to suppose this "compact body" was a church, I suppose it is alright to suppose it was a Baptist church. But who wants to face God with nothing but supposition? The text says nothing about any church. Neither the word Baptist nor church can be found in the proof text offered. But it just must have been a church.

If this group that Jesus ordained and sent forth was a church, as Mr. Bridges supposes it was, and if it was a Baptist church, as he would like to suppose, it still was not the Lord's church. It was a long time after this that Jesus said, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Mt. 16:18). At the time Jesus made this statement His church was yet to be built. Yet he had ordained these twelve a long time before this. We know, therefore, that the Lord made no claim to this group as to being His church. Mr. Bridges, out of his own mouth, has proved that the Baptist church is not the church of Christ. Now look at the reading. "He ordained twelve that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach." Does that sound like he was organizing a church? It seems one would have to be looking for something that is not there in order to find it.

Notice another statement in the article. "This same church was in existence on Pentecost. There were about a hundred and twenty members, and there were added unto them those that were being saved. If the church did not already exist on the day of Pentecost how could any have been added to its membership?" No one denies that there was a church on Pentecost. That was the day the Lord did what he had promised when he said "I will build my church." The second chapter of the Acts definitely proves this. When people were baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) (which Baptists do not believe) the Lord added them to His church. It takes quite an imagination to suppose that this was a Baptist church, when we consider the fact that what they did in obeying the Lord had always been denied by Baptists.

Mr. Bridges says; "Baptist churches began with John the Baptist and with Jesus." Yet John was not in the group that he says was the first organized Baptist church.

Hence by his own reasoning it began without either John or Jesus, because John was not there and Jesus said he would build his later. John said, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, that standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy is made full. He must increase, but I must decrease."