A Bit Of Baptist History
Historically, Baptists have links with a group that arose during the
Protestant Reformation in Switzerland in about 1525 – this group was known as the Anabaptists, [meaning twice baptized] because they rejected infant baptism, maintaining that only those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ should be baptized.
In the beginning Anabaptists spread rapidly, but due to the fanatical extremism of a small minority, which discredited the movement, and as result of severe persecution for their views on the church and baptism, the movement soon died out except in the form of the Mennonites in Netherlands. The movement spread to England in 1612, a date that historians consider to mark the beginning of the modern day Baptists. These Baptists, along with the Anabaptists stood for the sole authority of the Bible, a regenerate membership [members must be born again], believers’ baptism, liberty of conscience and the separation of church and state.
Today Baptists constitute one of the largest Protestant groups with a world membership of well over 60 million members. Strictly speaking, Baptists cannot be called a ‘denomination’ for it has no central leadership structure. Each congregation [called a local church] is autonomous. However, local Baptist churches join together in voluntary associations called ‘Unions’ of churches who seek to work together. George Baptist church is a member of the Baptist Union of South Africa which consists of some 490 fully constituted churches and 171 fellowships and extension works with a combined membership of some 52000.
Baptist work began in George in 1953. At first they met in Meade Street, in the old Salvation Army hall. The first full time pastor [minister] was appointed in 1974. It was in 1982 that the present building was erected in Loerie Park in Fifth Avenue.
George Baptist Church being Protestant and Evangelical is committed to Scripture as our sole, trustworthy and sufficient authority under Jesus Christ for faith and conduct.
As Evangelicals we believe in the absolute necessity of the new birth [born again or spiritual birth] and conversion, leading to a life of holiness.
As Baptists we believe
- that the local church consists only of those who have personally repented of their sin and professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,
- that each local church is autonomous and thus administers its own affairs under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ who rules and directs his church directly through the Word and the Spirit,
- that individual believers are priests and are individually responsible to God, free to approach God through the Lord Jesus Christ, free to interpret the Bible and free to serve God,
- that the Lord Jesus Christ instituted two ordinances, namely baptism administered to those who have professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Lord’s Supper as a perpetual reminder of his saving work for us.
Doctrinally we share those beliefs that are common to the historic Christian faith and merely affirm what thousands before us have believed. With Charles Spurgeon we profess that we are ‘preaching no new doctrine’, but merely those great doctrines of the Bible that have stood the test of time, and that were restored to their rightful place during the time of the Protestant Reformation.
- In one God, eternally existing in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and creator and sustainer of all things.
- That God has revealed all that is necessary to life and salvation in the Holy Scriptures, which is the Word of God.
- That God created our first father, Adam in his own image, perfect and holy and that he fell from his original righteousness into sin and thus brought upon himself and all his offspring death, condemnation and also bondage to sin.
- That God sent his Son into the world, conceived of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, both God and man, sinless and perfect, to live a perfect life of righteousness and to die at Calvary for our sin and that he rose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven where he intercedes on behalf of his people and rules over all things for their sakes.
- That all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, repenting of their sin, are forgiven, freed from condemnation, given spiritual life, adopted into God’s family and given the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- That the Lord Jesus Christ shall come again to judge the world and to establish his perfect reign in a new heaven and a new earth for those who have believed in him.