Major World Religions Christianity Baptists

About the Baptist denomination of Christianity, some of the history of the church, beliefs and meanings behind the Christian religious tradition.


The largest non-Catholic Christian group in the U.S., the Baptists hold that only believers (not infants) may be baptized and that baptism must be administered by immersion (rather than by sprinkling).

The Baptist Church has no recognized founder. Some Baptists trace its development directly from John the Baptist, others from the Anabaptists of 16th-century Europe. Early Baptists were split into 2 groups: the General Baptists, who believed that Christ died for all people, and the Particular Baptists, who held the Calvinist doctrine that Christ died only for the elect. In 1608 a group of English Puritans, seeking to escape persecution, settled in Amsterdam and founded the 1st Baptist church. In 1611 members of this congregation returned to England and established the 1st Baptist church there. In the U.S. the 1st Baptist church was established by Roger Williams at Providence, R.I., in 1639, after he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Baptists hold that the Bible is the supreme authority in every matter of faith. Many Baptists are fundamentalists: They accept the Bible as literal truth. Many believe that heaven and hell are real places and that there will be a physical resurrection of the dead on the Day of Judgment. In general, they believe in the Trinity and the virgin birth of Christ and hold that one is saved by faith in Christ and by the grace of God.

About 4/5 of the 35 million Baptists in the world live in the U.S.

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