Since When Did Southern Baptists Become Anabaptists?

I am sure that many here and elsewhere are overjoyed with the popularity surge that Anabaptism is receiving of late, especially those that stem from Mennonite origins, since it has given them a means to experience more of the glare of publicity.

Some most likely think that this is a good thing, after all others are becoming familiar with that legendary group. Yet I feel that people need to be concerned, particularly when individuals are using Anabaptism for a denominational agenda?

In a blog-post entitled An Anabaptist Infatuation Amongst Some Southern Baptists by Joshua Breland he writes:

There has been an increase of blogging recently regarding how great and wonderful the Anabaptists were/are and how much we modern day Southern Baptists owe to the so called “radical reformers.” Often the Anabaptist “hoorahs” are joined with condemnatory remarks about the evil and oppressive magisterial Calvinist reformers.

The author adds in his opinion, “The narrative seems to be, “anyone but the Calvinist magisterial reformers.”

As of late the Southern Baptist Convention is in a state of fragmentation with the influx of Reformed theology specifically Calvinism or the self-styled “Doctrines of Grace”. It is apparent that the SBC is seeking some sort of Arminian Reformation era link in the same fashion that the Reformed churches call back to John Calvin as their theological forebear.

I just wonder if once all the contention between the Calvinists and Arminians over in the SBC has concluded will the Anabaptists be as popular and will their reputation remain intact. I am going to look into this matter a little more and make a follow up post later.

Comments (7)

  1. DavidC

    Your concern is based on a false premise, namely, that Southern Baptists will ever stop fighting over Calvinism and Arminianism! In the meantime, I suppose it doesn’t hurt if a little light is shone on Anabaptism. As Paul wrote to the Philippians: “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, . . . But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

  2. AllenG (Post author)


    Oh so it is okay for the world to view Christians/Jesus and Anabaptism as bickering indecisive cliques. Well I guess any publicity is good publicity to some. I wonder what the original Anabaptists would think?

  3. Roger Olson

    The Southern Baptist Convention has never been “Anabaptist,” but there have always been folks within it who think true Baptist “roots” are in the Anabaptist tradition (as opposed to the Puritan tradition). (Of course, the right answer to that is “both/and”–Baptists descend from both Anabaptists and Puritans and that accounts for many of the tensions among Baptists.) I have never been a Southern Baptist (SBC), but I applaud those Southern Baptists who are discovering and valuing the Anabaptist heritage. May their tribe increase.

  4. DavidC

    I trust it’s clear that I was being facetious. That said, I think anyone who pays any attention to the matter would be able to tell the difference between Paige Patterson and, say, John Howard Yoder! Keep us updated on what you discover.

  5. Blake

    As a former Southern Baptist and watcher of some 50+ SBC blogs. The term Anabaptism is growing in popularity among Southern Baptists. The author is correct to note that it is a reaction to percevived growth of Calvinist influence in the denomination. The popularity of Anabaptism exists largely at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Paige Patterson) which is setting itself up as a bastion of anti-Calvinism prepared to fight off Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (Albert Mohler) growing influence.

    It’s important to note that what they are advertising as Anabaptism is nothing close to what any self proclaimed Anabaptist or Mennonite (or Anabaptist related tradition) would recognize as Anabaptist. They admire Balthasar Hubmaier almost exclusively. They certainly have no interest or ambitions towards pacifism, nonviolence or nonresistence (after all there is a culture war to fight). There was a conference at SWBTS in February 2012 on Anabaptism that included a who’s who of SBC personalities including Paige Patterson, Rick Warren, Malcolm Yarnell and Emir Caner. Some Mennonite professors from the Goshen-Elkhart area attended. I heard John Roth give an opinion on it that wasn’t overly positive. I don’t think he would disagree with anything I’ve stated here.

    I attended a conference on “Baptists and War” at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in September 2011. The conference was mostly to examine Baptist interactions with war and primarily the Civil War. The opening plenary by English Baptist historian Anthony Cross was the token presentation on Baptists and peace/pacifism. The only other radical opinions (challenging just war presumptions) were voiced by Robert Linder of Kansas State on a presentation about Australian Baptists and World War 2. I got a brief chance to talk to some of the SBTS students at the conference about the issue of Baptists and war. One of them mentioned they had read several works by Yoder, but when I pressed them on their reactions they acted uninterested and dismissive.

  6. AllenG (Post author)

    My mistake, yeah I will be posting something a little later.

  7. AllenG (Post author)

    @Roger Olson

    Yes it is good that individuals within the SBC is looking at Anabaptism but to claim to be Anabaptist for an agenda is wrong on so many levels. I am not saying that there are none that is genuine in their claim or at least interest but if that was the case then they would not employ the name for a lack of a better means of putting it….politics.

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