Did the Baptists Begin in 1641?
The premise of the authors of this devotional, historical volumes has been that history vindicates the succession of Baptist principles from the days of the New Testament. In other words, Baptists did not spring from the Reformation. They preceded it, and the New Testament principles that we call distinctive have long endured. “In the report of the Council of the Archbishop of Cologne about the ‘Anabaptist movement, ‘ to the Emperor Charles V, it is said that the Anabaptists call themselves ‘true Christians,‘ that they desire community of goods, ‘which has been the way of Anabaptists for more than a thousand years, as the old histories and imperial laws testify.‘ At the dissolution of the Parliament at Speyer it was stated [of] the ‘new sect of the Anabaptists‘ . . . ‘It is a fact that for more than twelve centuries baptism in the way taught and described in the New Testament had been made an offense against the law, punishable by death.’” The full report of the Council was presented to Emperor Charles V, and on April 23, 1529, the Decree of the Emperor against the Anabaptists was issued. In the decree one reads language such as the following: “. . . yet do we find daily that, contrary to the promulgated common law and also to our mandate issued, such ancient sect of the Anabaptists condemned and forbidden many hundred of years ago more and more advances and spreads.” The decree called for the following penalty: “ . . .that all and every Anabaptist and re-baptized man or woman of intelligent age shall be sentenced and executed by fire, sword, of the like . . .” When reading this decree, it is apparent that the so-called “anabaptists” did not spring from the Reformation. They long preceded it.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins) p.p. 235 – 236