Luke 3:3, The Rise of the Baptists
And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
//Today’s verse tells of John baptizing people in the river Jordan. This was done, according to Luke’s Gospel, so that they could repent and be forgiven of their sins.
This seems to imply that only a person aware of their sinful nature, and a believer in Christ, could be properly baptized. In other words, not an infant. Yet over the centuries, infant baptism became very popular.
Enter a man named John Smyth. In the year 1609, probably influenced by Anabaptist teaching, Smyth embraced the unpopular idea that only believers’ baptism was valid. He and his followers had experienced only infant baptism, and wanted to be baptized again as a believing adult. But there was a problem: No one among his followers were rightly baptized; none had been baptized as a believer. Could an unbaptized person baptize another person?
John Smyth took a chance, and “cast water on himself,” effectively baptizing himself. He, then, was able to baptize others.
A year later Smyth began to question whether or not he was legitimately baptized. By extension, that would mean his converts also were not legitimately baptized. He tried to join a group of Anabaptists, but he died before they accepted him. But his followers, named the “Brothers of the Separation of the Second English Church in Amsterdam,” remained convinced of their legitimacy as Christians. Near London, they founded England’s first Baptist church … and the Baptist denomination was born.
Thus was born the Baptist church.