301 – Oct. 28 – This Day in Baptist History Past

The “apostle of Baptist church independence”

1856 – Francis Wayland finished the preface to his important book, Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches. He wrote, “Baptists have always believed in the entire and absolute independence of the churches. By this we mean that every church is self governing and recognizes no authority higher than Christ. As he championed this biblical principle, Wayland became known as the “apostle of Baptist independence.” This important doctrine has served as a safeguard through the years and is as essential today as it has ever been. In 1954 the failure of the North Carolina Supreme Court to understand Baptist polity caused it to award church property of the North Rocky Mount Baptist Church to a liberal group that claimed the majority had no right to withdraw from the denomination (i.e., the Southern Baptist Convention). Thankfully the Colorado Supreme Court in 1955 saw the issues more clearly and upheld the ruling of a lower Colorado court in the case of the First Baptist Church of Ft. Collins in which the court said, “From the standpoint of this Court, we hold that this being an independent congregational type of government, having no allegiance to any higher authority than the Church itself, that the church by majority vote, had the right to… withdraw from the Northern Baptist Association. [Francis Wayland, Notes on the Principles of Baptist Churches (New York: Sheldon, Blakeman and Co., 1857), pp. 177-78.This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 589-90.]   Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon

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