Why Baptists Are
Not Protestants

By Pastor Vernon Charles Lyons

   In our country, people are put in one
of three religious groups.   If you are not
a Jew or a Roman Catholic, then auto-
matically you are a Protestant.   Con-
sequently, Baptists are usually called
"Protestants."   However, this does not
match the facts.   Baptists never have
been Protestants.
   The Protestant Reformation is usual-
ly dated from October 31, 1517, when
Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to
the door of the Castle Church in Wit-
tenburg, Germany.   However, this was
only one of a series of acts that led
to the open rupture with Rome.
   An event of utmost importance but
often unnoticed is the Second Diet (or
Council) of Speier, April 25, 1529.   This
was a Roman Catholic Council for the
purpose of taking action against the
Turks and checking the progress of Lu-
therans and others who were not co-
operating with the Pope.   Certain Lu-
theran princes appeared before this
Roman Catholic Diet with a formal
written protest against those matters in
which the Diet went contrary to the
Word of God as they understood it.
This protest was signed by Elector John
of Saxony, Margarve George of Brand-
enburg, Dukes Ernest and Francis of
Braunschweig-Luneburg, Landgrave
Philip of Hesse, Prince Wolfgang of
Anhalt and the representatives of four-
teen imperial cities.   The protest was
designed to protect them from the de-
cisions of this Council.   It was a defen-
sive measure.   The celebrated church
historian, Philip Schaaf, makes the
noteworthy statement "From this pro-
test and appeal, the Lutherans were
called Protestants."
  (History of the
Christian Church, Volume VII, p. 692).
The same facts are stated in the Cath-
Encyclopedia (Volume XII, p.

   These Lutheran leaders, and a few
reformed, who made this appeal and
protest at the famous Diet of Speier
were speaking for themselves and not
for Baptists, of whom they themselves
said in their written statement, "All
Anabaptists and rebaptized persons,
male or female, of mature age
, shall be
judged and brought from natural life
to death, by fire, or sword, or other-
wise, as may befit the persons, without
preceding trial by spiritual judges."
Baptists then did not share in this pro-
test and consequently cannot bear the
name "Protestant."   I shall now further
explain why Baptists are not Protes-
tants giving three basic reasons.


   Protestants date from the sixteenth
century.   They are the Lutherans, the
Reformed and others who were once
Roman Catholics and left the Roman
Catholic faith
to start churches or de-
nominations of their own.   The Baptists
never left the Roman Catholic church as
did Luther, Calvin and Zwingli.   They
never left because they were never in.
They did not begin their existence at
the time of the Reformation but hun-
dreds of years prior to the Reforma-
   Baptists [generally] make no effort to trace a
historical succession back to the age
of the Apostles.   Their only claim is that
in every age in church history there
have been groups that have held to the
same doctrines that Baptists hold to-
day.   These groups may or may not
have been connected and they have
been known by various names.   There
were the Montanists (150 A.D.), the
Novatians (240 A.D.), Donatists (305
A.D.), Paulicians (650 A.D.), Albigen-
(1022 A.D.), Waldensians (1170
A.D.), and the name Anabaptists came
into prominence just before the time of
the Protestant Reformation.   Full his-
torical data immediately refutes the

view that there was only one religious
group--the Roman Catholic church un-
til the time of Martin Luther.   Anyone
who claims this simply has not done
his homework.
   At this point I wish to purposely
introduce non-Baptist testimony to the
great antiquity of Baptist people.   Car-
dinal Hosius
(1504-1579) was a Ro-
man Catholic
prelate who had as his
life work the investigation and sup-
pression of non-Catholic groups.   By
Pope Paul IV he was designated one
of the three papal presidents of the
famous Council of Trent.   Hosius car-
ried on vigorously the work of the
counter-reformation.   If anyone in post-
reformation times knew the doctrines
and history of non-Catholic groups, it
was Hosius.   Cardinal Hosius says,
"Were it not that the Baptists have
been grievously tormented and cut off
with the knife during the past 1,200
years, they would swarm in greater
number than all the Reformers"
ters Apud Opera pp. 112, 113).   Note
carefully that this knowledgeable Cath-
scholar has spoken of the vicious
persecution Baptists have endured,
that he clearly distinguishes them from
the Reformers and that he dates them
1,200 years before the Protestant Ref-
   It is also evident that the Baptists
were not Protestants because they
were fiercely persecuted by the Prot-
estant Reformers and their followers.
Uncounted thousands of them lost
their goods, their lands and their lives
in these persecutions.   Konrad Grebel
died in prison in 1526.   Felix Manz was
drowned by the authorities in Zurich
1527.   Noted Baptist leader Balthauser
Hubmaier was burned alive at the
stake in Vienna, March 10, 1528.   Three
days later his wife was drowned by
being thrown over the Danube bridge
with a stone tied to her neck.   The facts
abundantly attest that historically
Baptists are not Protestants.


   The viewpoint that Baptists share
common doctrinal ground with Protes-
tant groups is not an accurate report-
ing of the facts.   There are six striking
differences.   We will list six.
   (1) Baptists believe with all their
hearts that God's Word alone is suffi-
cient for faith and practice.   We read
"All scripture is given by inspiration
of God, and is profitable for doctrine
(II Tim. 3:16).   Various Protes-
tant denominations have creeds and
catechisms and assorted doctrinal
standards.   Baptists hold to the Bible
   (2) Baptists believe that Christ and
only Christ is the Head of the [local] Church
even as the Scripture says, "Christ is
the head of the church"
(Eph. 5:23).
There is no man who has the over-
sight of Baptist churches.   Baptists
have no denomination in the sense of
an organization that controls local
congregations.   Each local church is
autonomous and accountable only to
Christ, who is its Head.
   (3) Baptists believe from their
hearts in a free church in a free state.
Christ plainly taught that the state and
the church each had their own realm
when He said, "Render therefore unto
Caesar the things which are Caesar's;
and unto God the things that are
  (Matt. 22:21)   Baptists are
vigorously opposed to union of state
and church and believe that a state
controlled church is a wretched excuse
for Christianity and a plain departure
from Scripture.   All of the Protestant
Reformers fastened state churches up-
on their followers!   Today Americans
enjoy separation of church and state
because of the vigor and vigilance of
Baptists in the early days of our na-
tional history.
   (4) Baptists believe strongly in in-
dividual accountability to God because
the Scriptures clearly teach that "ev-

ery one of us shall give account of him-
self to God."
  (Rom. 14:12)   A priest
cannot answer for you, a church can-
not answer for you to God.   God-par-
ents cannot answer for you.   No one is
saved because of what his parents
believe.   No one is saved because of
his identification with any religion.   He
will account for himself to God.   Prot-
estants generally do not hold this
Scriptural doctrine.
   (5) Baptist people furthermore have
always held to believers' baptism.   None
of the Protestant Reformers held this
Bible teaching.   In the Scriptures faith
and repentance always preceded bap-
tism.   On the day of Pentecost Peter
plainly told the people "Repent, and
be baptized"
(Acts 2:38).   This obvi-
ously means that there is no infant
since infants are incapable of
repenting.   No unbelievers are to be
baptized.   The Reformers followed
Rome in their teaching on baptism.
Baptists have held stedfastly to the
doctrine of Christ and His Apostles
on this point.
   (6) Baptists, on the basis of Scrip-
ture, have always held to a regenerate
church membership, that is a mem-
bership that is made up only of peo-
ple who give a credible profession of
faith in Christ.   In the Apostolic church
only those who became believers,
those who received the Word of God
and who had repented of their sins,
were baptized and received as church
members (Acts 2:41).   There was no
automatic or formalistic membership
in apostolic churches nor in Baptist
churches today.
   From the review of these simple
points it is more than clear that doc-
trinally Baptists are not Protestants.


   A few simple observations indicate
that the Baptists differ radically from
Protestants on a number of points.   The

Protestant groups look to some human
being as their founder, often even tak-
ing their name from a man.   The Lu-
therans hark back to Luther.   The Re-
formed look to John Calvin.   The Pres-
byterians were founded by John Knox.
The Methodists openly acknowledge
John Wesley as their founder.   Who
founded the Baptist churches?   Here is
a historical question worthy of serious
investigation.   It is impossible to find
any one man who gave rise to Baptist
churches.   Rather if we would name
human founders, we must look back
to Peter, Paul, James and John.
   We differ from Protestants in our
birthplace.   Lutherans came from Ger-
many, the Reformed from Switzerland
and the Netherlands, the Presbyterians
from Scotland, Episcopalians from
England, but Baptists would have to
give Palestine [Israel] as their place of origin.
   Furthermore the creed of Baptists
is not the Augsburg Confession, The
Canons of Dort or the Westminster
Confession but the simple Word of
God.   So it is impossible to identify
Baptists as Protestants.
   Baptists have never been linked with
Protestants and have never been iden-
tified with the Roman Catholic church.
Through the years before and after
the Reformation, they have maintained
their identity and been faithful to the
Scriptures.   Real Baptists hold to the
plain teaching of Christ and the Apos-
tles.   For these God-given doctrines
they have been willing to die.   Hanz
Denk, a sixteenth century Baptist, said,
"Faith means obedience to the Word
of God, whether it be unto life or unto
  For many it was death.
   In Rottenburg in Reformation times
there were 900 executions of Baptists
in less than ten years.   These deaths
were often vicious and cruel.   The sen-
tence for one Baptist believer, Mi-
chael Sateler, read, "Michael Sateler
shall be delivered to the hangmen, who
shall take him to the place of execu-
tion and cut out his tongue; he shall
then throw him on a cart and twice
tare his flesh with hot tongs; then
he shall bring him to the city gate
and there torture his flesh in the same
  This was the way Sateler
died in Rottenburg on May 21, 1527.
His wife and other women were
drowned and a number of the men
were beheaded.
   Baptists are not Protestants but hold
tenaciously to the original precepts
and practices of Christ and the Apos-
tles.   Baptists believe the pure Word(1)
of God to be sufficient authority in all
matters.   Baptists reject all human re-
ligious traditions and practices that
have originated since the time of the

[(1) = KJV 1769]













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