What is a Baptist
Baptists grew out of the religious ferment of the Reformation which swept across Europe at the end of the Middle Ages. Many variations in thought and practice existed among the early Baptists, but all shared a common rejection of any authority on matters of faith and conduct apart from the Holy Scriptures. In their desire to be faithful to the literal teachings of the Word of God, they adopted believer’s baptism which distinguished them from those denominations which maintained the practice of infant baptism. Baptists historically have been known for their evangelistic zeal and their emphasis on religious liberty and toleration.
Baptistic principles were in circulation in the Netherlands during the latter part of the 16th Century chiefly among English Nonconformists who fled there from religious persecution. The first known Baptist churches were established in England in 1612 and in North America by 1638. Baptists experienced significant growth in numbers resulting from the religious awakenings of the mid-18th and 19th centuries. Their missionary fervour has resulted in the establishment of Baptist congregations in almost every country in the world. Today Baptists number in excess of 100 million adherents worldwide making them one of the largest Protestant denominations in the world.