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Early Seperatist

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Douglas Pohlman

GHI 608 B1 OL – Baptist History

Dr. Larry R. Oates

August 12, 2018

Early Separatist

To define whom the Early Separatist were they were Puritans who in the late 16th century promoted a comprehensive reform of the Church of England. These groups were disappointed with the pace at which the official reform was happening and they set up churches outside the established order. The Anglican Church (Church of England) had broken ties with the Catholic Church and became a Protestant institution. But quite a few English Christians still felt the Anglican Church had a lot of similarities to the Catholic Church and they could not continue their membership or be associated with the Anglican Church. So they decided to separate from the Anglican Church in the 16th and 17th centuries. According to McBeth the Separatist presented their views by way of the “Millenary Petition,” so-called because it was said to have been signed by over a thousand persons calling for freedom from the state church.[1] The separatists believed that rather than one church - such as the Church of England - claiming authority over believers; there should be a congregated church, where believers in a certain area attended a local church. The Separatists strove to develop independent local churches, free of being governed by the Church of England. Separatists stressed that each congregation had a responsibility to exercise their right to determine its own business and not have to present those decisions to the ruling of any higher human power.[2] The Separatist movements suffered much persecution and were often labeled as traitors; many Separatists fled England for more accepting locations such as Holland.

Throughout my reading about the Early Separatist there were several biblical distinctives (both doctrinally and practically) of which I will discuss them all individually. The Montanists accepted all the books of the Bible and were “strictly scriptural.” They believed in continuing revelation and prophetic gifts. As stated in the notes this movement went astray in adopting the view that God was giving prophetic messages. Fanaticism set in with the acceptance of this view and was apparently the downfall of this movement.”[3] Even though there were flaws identified this movement was a earnest attempt at New Testament Christianity.  The Novatians re-baptized all who came to them from the Catholic Church. They strove for “ecclesiastical purity, perverted by the Montanistic legalism.” They were widely accepted as orthodox in their theology. Vedder called the Novatians the “earliest Anabaptists.”[4] The Donatists believed Scripture teaches that the church comprises only regenerated believers who have professed their faith in Christ by immersion in water in the name of the Trinity. They also believed in absolute authority of Scripture, church is comprised of saved people—regenerate membership, only believers should be baptized by immersion as a testimony of their faith in Christ—believer’s baptism, union between the church and the secular state is compromise and apostasy, and the precious biblical truths that today we call the Baptist Distinctives. It was an early distinctive of New Testament Christians. Patrick of Ireland’s believed in believer’s baptism only, the church was independent of Rome and the organized church, and the supreme authority of Scripture. The Paulicians taught believer’s baptism only, and rejected monasticism, prayers to the saints, or the veneration of Mary. They did not use images, crosses, relics, incense, and candles.  The Bogomil’s of Bulgaria held that the worship of images, infant baptism, and the worship of saints was all false. The Petrobrusian’s believed in believer’s baptism only, the uselessness of church edifices and consecrated altars, the necessity of breaking up crosses and burning them, the meaninglessness of the Mass, and the powerlessness of prayers, alms, and other good works to help the dead. The Arnoldist’s strong advocate of the complete separation of church and state. The Albigense’s “believed that the Holy Spirit was in their church and in every member of the church.  Thus every local church possessed the authority given to all the Albigensian’s to elect its own confessors.  The authority given was not restricted in its use to one local church but could be exercised in any Albigensian Church.” They believed the Lord’s Supper was a symbol, not a sacrament. The Waldensian’s believed “No other prayer is to be said except the Lord’s Prayer, Holy Scriptures alone are sufficient to guide men to salvation, blessings and consecrations practiced in the Church do not confer any particular sanctity upon the things or persons blessed or consecrated, every honor given in the Church to the holy images or paintings, and to the relics of saints is to be abolished, there is no obligation to fast, nor to keep holy any day, Sunday excepted.[5] The Lollard’s renounced ecclesiastical hierarchy, both the church and the priesthood, renounced transubstantiation, renounced clerical celibacy, renounced exorcisms, rejected such Catholic practices as prayers for the dead, pilgrimages, and images, and secular offices.

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