Friday, October 26, 2007
Vatican's claim of link to apostles has parallels in Baptist successionism: "ICHMOND, Va. (ABP) � The Vatican's recent reaffirmation that the �true church� lies in an unbroken line of succession all the way back to Christ and his apostles might resonate in an unlikely place � among conservative Baptists who trace the roots of their denomination back to Jesus and sometimes beyond, to John the Baptist. Baptist successionism � a theory which emerged on the 19th-century American frontier -- claims to find a line of historical continuity in doctrine and practice from Jesus himself to today�s Baptist churches. True Christian churches, so goes the theory, are marked by distinctive baptistic characteristics, such as autonomous government, closed (members-only) communion and baptism by immersion. Such churches have existed since New Testament times and can be traced through history in dissenting groups such as the Donatists, Albigenses, Cathari, Waldenses and Anabaptists. Though generally discredited by church historians, the theory still holds sway among some fundamentalist and conservative Baptists, including some affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. �Baptist Landmarkists � who were fighting Catholics, Cambellites and other denominations in the mid-19th century -- concocted the theory of a succession of churches from the New Testament that were Baptist in everything but name and"