Baptists are not Protestants. The name Protestant was given to those churches which came out of Roman Catholicism during the Reformation which began in the 1500s. It originally applied in the 1700s to Lutherans in Germany, the Presbyterians in Switzerland, and Anglicans or Church of England. Later such groups as Congregationalists, Episcopalians and Methodists were added to the lists of Protestants denominations. Though many people, including Webster’s Dictionary, refer to Baptists as being Protestants, it is not historically correct to refer to them as such or to lump all non-Catholic denominations in one group and label them Protestant. Historically, Baptists were never a part of the Roman Catholic Church or the Protestant Reformation. They cannot be correctly called “protesters” or Protestants who left the Roman Church.
It is true that many who became Baptists left the ranks of apostate and doctrinally unsound Protestant churches. They left these churches because of their strong conviction that the Word of God should not be compromised. Some formed new churches and called themselves Baptists to make it clear that they believed and followed the New Testament. They used the name Baptists because they followed the New Testament teaching of immersion as the correct mode of baptism. A good example of this was reported by Benedict, in which an elder named Cornell, in the early 1800s, was establishing a former Protestant church on Baptist principles. He left for a short time on a trip to his farm and when he returned found the church had put in a new minister who baptized infants. He, along with the others in the church that rejected pedobaptism, left and formed a new congregation of Baptists on Pine Street, in Providence, RI.
The Protestant churches which followed the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church practiced infant baptism, sprinkling instead of immersion and they baptized people into their church who had not made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Although these issues were in the forefront, there were many other matters that caused true believers to separate themselves from these unscriptural churches.
In recorded church history there is not one incident of a Baptist church being founded out of Roman Catholicism. Protestants, for centuries, saw the Baptists as their “enemies” and murdered them by the thousands in the name of Protestantism. It is surely an affront to any historically informed Baptist identify to himself by the name of a group that has so hated and persecuted Baptists down throughout history. It is revealing that the reason the Protestants hated the Baptists was because the Baptists would not compromise God’s word or accept the Protestant false teachings and traditions.
There have always existed congregations, from the time of Christ, that were not a part of the Roman Church. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church can only historically trace its history back to 313 AD, when the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity a legal religion. In 395 AD, Emperor Constantine “Christianized” Rome and made the worship of idols punishable by death. By 400 AD, the Emperor Theodosius had declared Christianity the only state religion of the Roman Empire. There was no Roman Catholic Church prior to that time in history.
Many churches gradually began to accept the authority one of one bishop in the larger cities. Some even appealed to Rome for finances coming under the domination of the Roman government. In doing so they ceased from being New Testament churches. When the Roman Emperor declared Christianity the religion of Rome, he “converted” hordes of pagans that made up the Empire. Pagan temples became the meeting houses for “Christians.” Rome then hired unregenerate pagan priests to minister in “Christian” ministers. The influx of these falsely converted pagans is one reason Roman Catholicism came to have so many idolatrous and pagan beliefs.
However, amid all this apostasy associated with the Roman Catholic Church, there were groups of Christians who were never a part of the “Christianization” of the Roman Empire. These New Testament believers rejected every attempt to include them with the other churches that compromised and accepted the Roman government’s money, rule and authority. Over the years the growth of so many false and idolatrous practices caused some within the Catholic Church, such as Martin Luther, to rebel and to try to “reform” the Roman Church. This was the birth of Protestant Reformation.
Protestants have never accepted the principle of separation of church and state. In Europe, Protestant churches are “state” churches and supported to some degree by government imposed taxes. For example, in Germany, the state church is Lutheran. In England, the Anglican or Church of England is the state church. France, Spain, and Italy, all have the Roman Catholic Church is their state church.
Although many Protestants returned in part to a belief in the Bible as their authority for their faith and practice, yet not one of them EVER completely left all the doctrinal errors and false teachings of the apostate Roman Catholic Church. There has never been even one Protestant church that is doctrinally pure following the example and polity of the New Testament. Protestant churches continue the unbiblical practice of infant baptism and grace plus works salvation. Protestants have never accepted the principle of separation of church and state. In Europe, Protestant churches have always been “state” churches and supported to some degree by government imposed taxes. For example, in Germany, the state church is Lutheran. In England, the Anglican or Church of England is the state church. France, Spain, Italy, all have the Roman Catholic Church is their state church. In Switzerland there is not a state religion. However, the state officially recognizes the Roman Catholic and the Swiss Reformed Church and these churches are financed officially by government taxation of their members.
The idea that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrament and the bread and wine (biblically grape juice) literally becomes the physical body of Christ, when it is taken is a false Roman Catholic teaching. Protestants, although becoming separate from the Roman Church, only slightly changed this false practice. Martin Luther until his death held to this false sentiment and disputed with the Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), over the matter. Still today, many Protestants see the Lord’s Supper as a sacrament, having to some degree saving properties which takes away sin or giving some spiritual benefit. True New Testament Christians have always rejected such unbiblical ideas. New Testament churches follow the teaching of the New Testament that the Lord’s Supper is a memorial or ordinance given to the local church to remember and show the Lord’s death till he returns.(1 Cor. 11:23-26)
Protestants still practice some form of infant or pedobaptism. Protestant denominations also hold to the writings of their church fathers and their traditions as their source of church doctrine and polity. Following their Roman Catholic roots, and have never accepted the Bible as their sole source of teachings for their faith and practice, which is a foundational teaching of a New Testament congregation. All Protestants hold to a system of hierarchy in church government and do not accept the autonomy the local church. The New Testament teaches the absolute autonomy of each individual local church and Baptists have never established a church hierarchy. True Baptists follow the New Testament example that each church is to govern itself as the Word of God teaches free from outside authority and control.
Baptists, basing their beliefs solely on the Bible, and the New Testament, have never held to these teachings and correctly identify them as false doctrine. Thus, history and the doctrines of Protestantism clearly show that Baptists are not Protestants. The Baptist churches which identify themselves as Protestants are sadly misinformed. Both the Roman Catholic and Protestants churches, for centuries, persecuted individuals and congregations that held to Baptist principles. Although the Baptists have never persecuted anyone, they were fair game for other unscriptural churches.