Baptist unitarianism in the 17th and 18th centuries..dsv
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Baptist unitarianism in the 17th and 18th centuries..dsv

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A detailed analysis of how compromise of the full inspiration of Scripture and a loss of doctrinal clarity on the deity of Jesus Christ led the General Baptist Church and even many parts of the ...

A detailed analysis of how compromise of the full inspiration of Scripture and a loss of doctrinal clarity on the deity of Jesus Christ led the General Baptist Church and even many parts of the Evangelical Baptist Church to Unitarian unbelief and apostasy in the 18th and 19th centuries. Several footnotes !

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Baptist unitarianism in the 17th and 18th centuries..dsv Baptist unitarianism in the 17th and 18th centuries..dsv Document Transcript

  • Baptist Unitarianism in the 17th and 18th Centuries In Britain and America. This paper shall begin with a short introduction of Unitarianism in Europe andGreat Britain before 1650 to form a historical background and a broad theologicalcontext for explaining why Unitarianism infected the Baptists in England and Americafrom about 1675-1815. Unitarianism heresy particularly affllicted the General Baptists inEngland and those Baptists affected by the related heresy of Universalism in ColonialAmerica. This study will doubtlessly contain many unfilled gaps, important unseenhistorical connections, and inadequate theological analyses of the issues, but the writerdoes hope to sketch at least a few solid markers for future in-depth studies in theprimary sources as well as secondary sources. Since this is a seminary term paper, it isrealized that it will be hardly impressive to scholars acquainted with 17th, 18th, and 19thcentury primary sources and to those who have actually visited important historic sitesand have immediately perceived their connection to the historic milestones of theUnitarian controversies among the Baptists. But we pledge to do our best and let thereader decide for himself.
  • 2I. Early Unitarianism Until 1600. In the history of Christianity erroneous attempts have been made to have areligion " of Jesus " without having a religion " about Jesus ". This really an old heresycard which has been played many times in the march of Christs Church through time.The history of Unitarianism certainly has exemplified this tendency repeatedly. Jack W.Traylor, distinguished professor of history at William J. Bryan College in Tennessee,succinctly introduces the main points of historic Unitarianism. So we begin with hisanalysis of the Unitarian movement prior to the Protestant Reformation: Unitarians. A monotheistic religion born within Christianity which recognizes the existence of a transcendent God, but denies the deity of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The term "Unitarian" refers to belief in God as one Person in a unified Godhead rather than three Persons or a Trinity in the Godhead. The Unitarian conception of Christs Atonement is that it was not a literal vicarious substitute to pay for human sins but rather was a moral act by a man chosen by God that was designed to bring unity between God and man. Arius (d. 336), a priest in Alexandria , Egypt, may have been the first to pop- ularize the antitrinitarian views that came to characterize later Unitarians. His teaching that Christ was a created being rather than coequal and coeternal with God the Father led to the Arian controversy whose doctrines the Council of Nicea condemned in A.D. 325. Arianism nearly extinguished Western orthodoxy when it was championed by rulers in the 330s and 340s.1 The famed Yale historian of Christianity, Kenneth S. Latourette, observed thisabout Unitarianism of the Renaissance and Reformation era: " Others, usuallyhumanists, made much of the rational approach to Christianity, emphasized the ethicalaspect of New Testament teaching, and were inclined to be anti-Trinitarian and toregard Christ as an example and a leader to be followed rather than the divine-humanredeemer. "2 There were perhaps a few ardent "unitarians" between the fourth and thesixteenth centuries, but for the most part, heresy had moved in different directions
  • 3within European Christian thought in the Middle Ages. This is to say, that other than theGnostic type heresies of the Cathari and the Paulicians, most of the non-Trinitarians wereoutside of the Christian faith altogether, i.e., unbelieving Jews and Muslims. However,merely because a stream of thought goes underground, it does not mean it is obliterated- for old heresies have often reappeared in new outlets since Reformation times. Thus,an incipient unitarianism, which stressed the impersonality of God, became a fixednotion in the minds of certain radical critics of the Church. One of these was a pupil ofJohann Reuchlin, Martin Cellarius (1499-1564), who was perhaps the first explicitexponent of Unitarian views in his De Operibus Dei published in Strassburg in 1527.Other early Unitarians included J. Valdes, Michael Servetus, and Bernardo Ochino whowere actively influential in fostering Unitarianism as a sectarian community withinEuropean Christendom. Excepting Servetus, their story finds its life setting in the smallUnitarian communities which were established for a time in Hungary, Poland,Transylvania and England.3 One form of Unitarianism known as Socinianism was a particular Reformationphenomenon, a reaction to Biblical Protestant thought as much as Roman Catholic. TwoItalians, Laelius Socinus and his nephew, Faustus, were the key figures. AlthoughLaelius outwardly conformed to the Catholic Church, he taught his nephew and others adoctrine which thoroughly contradicted basic truths which it held. Laelius had been astudent of law, but he turned to theology and from 1550-1551 he lived in Wittenberg,where he was acquainted with Philip Melancthon. During his early life, the tragedy ofMichael Servetus death in Geneva moved him to reconsider both the doctrine of the
  • 4Trinity and the Reformation view of Christs redemption, though he did not publish hisreal beliefs openly for fear of persecution. Thus, in his teaching and circle of influence,he attempted to undermine confidence in the historic teaching of the Church withoutdirectly attacking the Creeds as such. Dr. Traylor describes then the second phase of theUnitarian phenomena which began in the later part of the sixteenth century. He picks upthe story with the main player, Faustus Socinus (1539-1604), Laelus more famousnephew: . . . Faustus Paulus Socinus, 16th-century Italian antitrinarian theologian, is often regarded as the first "modern" Unitarian. He was forced to flee Italy frequently because of the charges of heresy lodged against him as a result of the expression of his position. After 1579 he spent much of his time working among the infant Unitarian societies then forming in Poland, although he encountered considerable opposition there also. Because of his influence in the development of the doctrine, Unitarians in Europe are often referred to as Socinians.4 One other bit of interesting historical lore concerns George Blandrata, aPiedmontese physician who had led a Unitarian sect in 1558 (eventually settling inPoland until 1565), spent some time in Hungary in 1563 and incited an anti-Trinitarianmovement there in which even the King himself, John Sigismund, was converted. Butthis sect of gypsy Unitarians was severely persecuted after the Kings death in 1570, andthey had no recognized religious status until 1638 when they brought forward acommon confession and were recognized as form of Protestantism.5 Closely parallelingthe Hungarian heretics were those led by Franciscus Davidus (1510-1579), who is calleda "non-adorationist" because, unlike the more reverent Blandrata, he and his followersrefused to worship Jesus Christ, Gods Son, in any meaningful sense. Davidus group
  • 5spread in a limited number of hamlets in Transylvania after 1568, and it is said thatthere are still about 170 churches there until this day.6 This early modern form of Unitarianism was also paralleled in the career of thatinfamous and tragic heretic, Michael Servetus (1511-1553). Professor Traylor continues: Michael Servetus was another prominent Unitarian proponent of the 16th cen- tury. Although he did not form a national Unitarian body as Socinus, he spread anti-trinitarian ideas throughout the Continent. A renowned Spanish medical doctor, Servetus had gained prominence as a Unitarian thinker in a 1531 article he published in which he questioned the Trinity and denied original sin. Denounced throughout Europe for his views, Servetus fled from one city to another support- ing himself through the practice of medicine. While living in Vienna in 1553 he published Christianismi resttutio, a complete denial of all Christian orthodoxy. Con- demned to death by the Roman Catholic authorities, he was burned as a heretic in Geneva later that year.7 There seems to be no doubt among Christian historians that Servetus faith wasdeep and personal, but his overall sanity seems to be debatable. Despite Servetus piety,he was not above deception, maliciousness, and outright antisocial behavior (somewhatreminiscent of the later Quakers and Spiritualists, or even modern cultist leaders in thetwentieth century). He was a radical who, on the basis of his own opinions, denied whatall other Christians, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, and even the Anabaptistsaffirmed. He was a rabid controversialist, and everywhere that he went, he got intotrouble with the authorities. When he fled to Calvins Geneva in 1553, he already knewthat Calvin, no more than the Romanist authorities of Vienna, would support his attackson established Christian belief. Moreover, because he allied himself with Calvinspolitical enemies in Geneva, he threatened to undo the ongoing Reformation in that city.Finally, when this heretical "foreigner" demanded that Calvin himself be arrested as a
  • 6false accuser (a trumped up charge) and his house and goods be given to him, this wassimply too much for even gentle Jean Calvin to endure. Latourette remarks sadly: Servetus was condemned by the civil authorities on the charge that he denied theTrinity and rejected baptism, offenses punishable by death under the Justinian Code. In spite of Calvins pleas for a more merciful form of ex- ecution, Servetus was burned at the stake (October 27, 1553), crying through the flames: " O Jesus, thou Son of the God, have pity on me."8 The most ironic thing here, other than the uselessness of burning heretics, is thatwhen the circumstances (or stakes, if you will) are perilous, men seem to exhibit both ahigh Christology and sense of the value of the great transaction of Calvary. Still, thetragic death of Servetus moved others in the direction of doctrinal "latitudinarism" andcivil tolerance of religious dissent. In this case, Sebastion Castellio (1515-1563), aprofessor of Greek in Basel, was so incensed at Calvin and Geneva that he wrote his nowinfluential book, On Heretics, Whether They Ought To Be Persecuted, in which hemaintained that since no one group of Christians has a monopoly on truth, punishmentof "heretics" is premature and unjustified. While this had less influence during theReformation era, its key ideas were picked up by Enlightenment rationalists like JohnLocke and Deist writers in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Liberaland modernist theologians usually bring these things up when criticizing ProtestantOrthodoxy and the Reformation. 9 Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that the Reformation leaders like Luther andCalvin were righteously anxious to protect the rediscovery of the Gospel and the gloryof Christology from spurious attacks by those indulging in a humanist hermeneutic.And thus Calvin and the Geneva Reformers, much like the Lutherans, felt an urgent
  • 7need to define confessional Christian orthodoxy, both irenically in respect to otherProtestants and polemically in respect to positions they viewed as less than Biblical.Thus, the Helvetic Confessions and the Heidelberg Confessions condemnSocianism/Unitarianism as do the Lutheran Augsburg Confession ( Articles I & III), andFormula of Concord (Epitome , Article XII, "Errors of the New Arians"; Solid Declaration,Article XII, 1.2). Even though the Lutherans and Calvinists had lengthy and hot debatesover the details of the relationship of Christs two natures in His one indivisible person,especially in respect to the Lords Supper, both fully agreed that Jesus Christ was trueGod and true man in accord with ancient Ecumenical Creeds.10 The Socianian and Unitarian "sects" of the sixteenth and early seventeenthcenturies (often referred to collectively as the "Anti-Trinitarians" or the "New Arians")had a curious history. The followers of Lelio Socino (Sozzini) and his nephew Faustus(1539-1604) moved from northern Italy to Transylvania to Poland, but nowhere warmlywelcomed by the majority of devout Christians. Eventually, they settled in Racow,Poland where they formed their own church school and published their own non-Trinitarian catechism and confession of faith (The Racovian Catechism of 1605). But as thePolish Socinian movement gained attention, they became strongly opposed by themiddle the seventeenth century, and Jesuit authorities caused the Unitarian college atRacow to be suppressed and by 1658 all Socinians were expelled from Poland. All of thedisciples of Socinius were driven out of predominantly Roman Catholic Poland, itselfnervously caught between the Orthodox Russians to the East and the LutheranPrussians of the emerging Empire to the West.11
  • 8II. Unitarianism Among British & American Protestants ca. 1675-1815. Yet, the modern chapters on the history of Unitarianism do not really focus somuch on the waning impact of the movement in Continental Europe as its spread toEngland in the late 1500s and to Colonial America in the late 1700s and afterward. Afterbeing driven out Poland, bands of Socinians found refuge at times back inTransylvanian Carpathia, the Netherlands, the Rhenish Palatine, and finally in England.Actually, for about a century pure Socinians were rare, but Socinian ideas sometimesfound a home among the more radical Arminians (Remonstrants) and Mennonites. 12 Let us now return to the article by Professor Traylor. He does not discuss howthe Unitarianism began in England (where and when), but he picks up the historicalstrain in 1774 when the former Anglican priest Theophilius Lindsey organized the firstdistinctly Unitarian congregation in Essex Chapel, London. Yet, long before this, JohnBiddle (1615-1662) is actually reckoned as the "father" of English Unitarianism since hepublished numerous anti-Trinitarian/Socinian tracts from 1658-62, and had heldevangelistic conventicles in London from 1658-1662. Obviously, Unitarianian ideas andtraditions must have existed in the previous generations before 1700. Previously,scholars had been left primarily with the speculation that perhaps a few eccentricindividuals held to this doctrine due to Radical Remonstrant and Latitudinarian strainsin the English Reformation in the previous two centuries. But recent evidence in thetwentieth century (re-evaluating some 19th century sources) has shown that there was a
  • 9definite historical link between Poland and England and Scotland in matters of hereticalChristian ideas.13 During this period one may also consider the direct or indirect impactof Herbert of Cherburys "natural religion" (De Veritate, 1625); John Tillistons"Latitudinarianism" (1630-1694), John Lockes "Rational Christianity" (The Reasonablenessof Christianity, 1693); John Tolands notorious religious historiography (Christianity NotMysterious, 1696); and most certainly, the nearly full blown Deism of Matthew Tindal(Christianity As Old As Creation, 1730). From here it really is a short leap historically andphilosophically to Voltaires anti-Christian sentiments, Jean-Jacques Rousseaus Emile,and Thomas Paines vitriolic anti-Christian tract, Age of Reason (1794).14 Yet, ironically, itwas the devout scientist and cleric, Joseph Priestley, who first publicly defendedUnitarian principles in widespread debate, following his publication of Appeal to Seriousand Candid Professors of Christianity (1770). Meanwhile in the British colonies, the Puritan epoch in American historyprobably ended sometime between 1702 and 1726, or roughly between the time thatCotton Mather published his significant historical tome, the Magnalia Christi Americanaand the celebrated printing of Samuel Willards articulate summation of Puritantheology in The Compleat Body of Divinity. At this point then came the ScientificRevolution of Sir Isaac Newton (Cf. his Principia Mathematica, 1686) and the new PoliticalPhilosophy of John Locke (1632-1704) caught on (see his Essay on Human Understanding,1690 ; his Treatise on Government, etc.). But not long afterward, for a period of at least twoif not three decades, American religion experienced the traumatic effects of the GreatAwakening with the preaching of Jonathan Edwards in Connecticut, the American tour
  • 10of George Whitefield, and the rapid growth of Presbyterian and Reformed churches inthe Middle and Southern Colonies. In one sense, Edwards preaching was itself areaction to the loss or dilution of Puritanism in the "Half-Way Covenant", but it was alsoan attempt at modifying the pure stalwart predestinarian Calvinism of the originalPuritan divines. Hence, with Edwards we have the "New Divinity" and the foundationsof Princeton University and Seminary as fiery mission outpost for Congregationalismand Presbyterianism. Yet, at the same time, not all is well.15 It is sometime then, during the early to mid-eighteenth century, thatUnitarianism is formally introduced into the American Colonial scene. Most scholarswould view the life and work of Charles Chauncy, minister of the First Church in Bostonfrom 1727-1787, as the first crucial turning point. Reverend Chauncy was to become theleading figure in the liberal or "Arminian" party of Bostonian congregationalism, and hisArminianism was itself far removed from the original Reformed ideas of the DutchRemonstrant theologian, Jacob Arminius, who had lived in the first half of the previouscentury in Holland. Though his family heritage had been that of conservativePuritanism, Chauncy moved to what he viewed as a much more enlightened position onChristianity for his times. He not only was an outspoken critic of the "Great Awakening"in the early decades of the century, but he also was a most thoroughgoing opponent ofthe intellectual and spiritual thrust of Jonathan Edwards. In his person he reveals thesteady if barely perceptible transformation of New England Christianity toward"Arianism", "Universalism", and "Arminianism" ( i.e., a much more optimistic view ofhuman nature).16
  • 11 Thus in America (and the later early United States), Unitarian sentiments seemedto grow with the demise of Puritan and Reformed Biblicism, suffering the attacks ofDeism from abroad and at home. And, as Traylor correctly states, there were numerousUnitarians in late eighteenth century America. He marks as the official beginning oforganized Unitarianism with the 1785 congregational meeting at Kings Chapel,Boston.17 This a particularly interesting situation, because in 1782 the Episcopalianproprieters of the Chapel had invited the youthful James Freeman, a recent Harvardgraduate to serve as liturgical reader. But then, in deference to Freemans Unitarianscruples, they had eliminated all references to the Trinity from the liturgy and omittedthe reading of the Athanasian and Nicene creeds. Thus, the first Unitarian congregationwas formed. Traylor explains the perhaps second most important set of events in thenext decade: . . . English minister and chemist Joseph Priestly was the most prominent Uni- tarian of that period, arriving in 1794 from England where his support of the French Revolution had stirred hatred. A follower of Lindsey, he continued to pursue his two-faceted career of medical research and the preaching of Uni- tarian doctrines until his death in 1804. 18 Two of the most famous Unitarians in the early American Republic were, ofcourse, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both U.S. Presidents. Adams was the more"evangelical" (i.e., Bible and Gospel based) of the two. There was also Benjamin Franklin,statesman and philosopher, who fits in somewhere along the Unitarian to Deistspectrum. 19
  • 12III. Unitarianism Among British Baptists, ca. 1650-1815. But now we turn from the Introduction to our main topic, the growth ofUnitarianism among the Baptists in Great Britain and in America during the laterseventeenth century and through the eighteenth. The significance of thesedevelopments, of course, spill over into the early nineteenth century, which will besketched out briefly in the conclusion of this paper. According to historians favorable to Unitarianism (McLachlan, Robinson,Wilbur, etc.) the growth of anti-Trinitarianism in England was not a direct result ofDutch Anabaptist influences, but they do acknowledge that Dutch influences were notneglible in mediating Socinian (Unitarian) beliefs.20 These developments antedated theheretical work of John Bidle, previously mentioned, more than fifty years. During theearly reign of James I, Bartholomew Legate was burned at the stake in Smithfield and hisbrother Thomas perished at Newgate prison in 1607. They were reckoned by theAnglican authorities as Anabaptists of anti-Trinitarian sentiments.21 H.L. McLachlanfurthermore explains the important influence of Dutch sectarians and the more radicalEnglish Separatists on the development of Socinianism among the early Baptists: Early in 1624 a certain Elias Tookey led a small secession (seventeen in all) of people out of the first Baptist church in London, originally founded by Thomas Helwys and John Murton on their return from Amsterdam in 1613 [ or (1611? ) writers note!]. Before long this small small group meeting at Southwark, feel- ing isolated, sought to be received into communion by the Waterlander Baptist Church at Amsterdam, a liberal wing of the Mennonite Baptists which based its doctrines on the Scripture and in general was opposed to the use of creeds and formularies. Apparently, some members of Tookeys church held rather unorth- odox ideas on the deity of Christ, and felt that the Waterlanders, with their tol- erant attitude towards differences in doctrinal matters, were the group of2
  • 13 Christians most nearly kin to them in spirit. Correspondence still extant in the archives of the Amsterdam Mennonites shows that though none of none of Tookeys congregation explicitly denied the deity of Christ, never- theless on this subject there were ‘two or three who have a somewhat dif- ferent opinion than we maintain in general, though we think that after all it comes to the same end. Several letters passed between London and Am- sterdam, and the Waterlanders put the question how they were to under- stand the words of their English colleagues, viz., We do not compel one to believe of Christ what we do, but bear with each other. They wished to ed to know whether this was said only of the origin of Christs body, or whether it covers covers the article of the deity of Christ. To this pointed inquiry Elias Tookey and sincere friends 18 in number living in London, March 17, 1625 , replied. They admitted differences of opinion, but said that they could bear with each other in peace , for Christian tolerance was a better preservative against discord in the Church than minute ex- aminations, limitations, censures, and condemnations only for opinion . They claimed that they held the same belief as the Mennonites upon the deity of Christ, unless you would compel us to believe three different per- sons in the Deity which manner of speaking is not found in the Scriptures .22 McLachlan further notes that the incipient Socinianism here with its criticism ofthe doctrine of the Trinity is not that of Bidle and his followers in the mid-sixteenthcentury. While he views it as merely a rejection of the categories of Medieval scholastictheology, he yet tacitly acknowledges that the little circle in Tookeys congregation andtheir Mennonite correspondents were promoting " a kind of Modalism. "23Unfortunately, some of the early General Baptists imitated what they believed to be"Biblical" among the Dutch Anabaptists and Quakers such as not taking oaths, pacifism,civil non-involvement , etc. And along with these less harmful sectarian tendencies alsoabsorbed some of other weaknesses of the more radical Anabaptists in theology. A.C.Underwood offers both a caution and a clarification here : . . . On the other hand, that weakness on the question of the Incarnation, which afflicted the General Baptists, and the way in which Matthew Caffyn absorbed certain points of the Hoffmannite Christology, seem to be due to persistent Mennonite influences . . . . Where there are so many probabilities to be weighed, it is not wise to be
  • 14 too dogmatic. One point which must never be forgotten is that " there were were two kinds of Anabaptists, the sober and the fanatical. Failure to make this distinction has done mischief and caused modern Baptists to deny their connection to the Reformation, whereas they are the lineal descendents of the sober kind and have no reason to be ashamed of their predecessors. " This distinction was evidently in the mind of Troletsch when he suggested that the counterpart in England of more extreme continental Anabaptists is the confused medley of radical sects, which sprang to life during the Com- monwealth and caused Cromwell so much trouble. The General Baptist re- presented the the more moderate form of the Anabaptist Movement, with characteristic differences due to a different milieu. In England the sober va- riety appeared before the more extreme, because the common man had to wait a hundred years before got a real chance of taking his share in the Re- formation Movement. . . .24 Again, McLachlan observes that throughout both of the reigns of the first twoStuarts (James I and Charles I), many English students resorted to Dutch Universitieswhere they picked up both Arminian and Socinian ideas, especially at Leiden. Thissteady influx of new and often heretical views soon moved Archbishop Laud (not afriend to either Separatists or Baptists) to pass censures on émigré religious literatureand by 1640 to begin to pass his Canons against the Socinian heresy. Thisunderstandable but desperate measure was frustrated by the widespread general dissentagainst the Established Church, however.25 About the same time (in 1639) a certain Dr.Samuel Johnson, chaplain to the Queen of Bohemia at the Hague was accused ofcommending and propagating the writings of known Socinians. This Dr. Johnson (notthe later famous English literary critic) complained that he had been misrepresented, butMcLachlans research indicates he was quite sympathetic to the new heresy.26 The story of the development and growth of the Socinian/Unitarian heresyamong the Anglicans, Presbyterians, and the Independents is an interesting one, but the
  • 15focus here is on those English and later American Baptists who were already influencedby the trends which have been discussed.27 It is said that during the Commonwealth era(ca. 1638-1660) that Baptists like Paul Hobson became acquainted with Socinianliterature, and sympathized with its insistence on a purely Scriptural basis for theology,and liberal rationalism.28 Later, the writer shall raise serious doubts about the firstrationale, and shall show that the second one is the abandonment of Gods revealedauthority and truth. During the period of John Bidles arrest and trial for making a public denial ofthe deity of Jesus Christ in 1648, some Baptists who had suffered for their particularChristian beliefs, began to perceive that the official suppression of Socinianism wasanother example of persecution of those desiring religious liberty. But the controversy ofWilliam Kiffin with the Anglican authorities over Infant Baptism was really aninternicene controversy among Christians over a less absolutely vital doctrine of theGospel. John Bidles Socinian propaganda which denied Christs deity and theIncarnation, was undercutting the foundation of Christian society and believing cultureitself. Yet, the harshness and frequent hypocrisy of the English State and Church inpersecuting and punishing Bidle in Newgate prison (already infamous for being theresidence of many Non-conformists and Baptists), moved some previously orthodoxBaptists to identify Trinitarian belief with oppression and to strongly protest against theState forcing people to believe or confess against their will.29 Yet, many Baptists (andother genuine Christians) in the twentieth century might be more sympathetic to thetheologically seasoned wisdom of Oliver Cromwell whose ears were burned by the
  • 16petition and who sternly lectured the protestors about rightful restraint of unbelievers.30And three years exile and restriction of liberties (which was merciful for the time), Bidlewas granted a writ of habeas corpus by the Kings Bench at Westminster and he was set atliberty in 1658. But in 1662, after preaching and teaching his Socinianism in London, andwinning the support of philanthropists like Thomas Firmin and barristers such as JohnFarrington, Restoration authorities (undoubtably pressed by Presbyterians in theParliament) brought about his last arrest at small meeting in London. Bidle later diedfrom stark and unsanitary conditions in the notorious Newgate in September, 1662. Tohis Socinian disciples, and probably to some Baptists, he appeared to be a Christianmartyr.31 And the influence of his circle and his religious publications affected manyEnglish sects and would some be the immediate catalyst of the cancer of Socinianismwithin the General Baptists. Early Baptists (like early Quakers) with their aversions to creeds, early ChurchCouncils, and especially to eccesiastical powers wedded to the State, may have beensetting themselves a treacherous loophole for unorthodox beliefs. 32 According toMcLachan, there were Baptists in Bath and Bristol in 1644 who held unorthodoxChristology. This claim is based on a letter reprinted in Thomas Edwards Gangraena: ora Catalogue of Many of the Errours, Heresies, and Pernicous Practices of the Secretaries of thisTime (London, 1646), who was an Anglican critic of the Baptists, who may have lackedobjectivity here (as he reckoned Anabaptists and Baptists virtually the same).Supposedly, however, a minister in the Army had reported the rise of "two newOpinions . . . . among the Anabaptists there, viz. 1. That Christs humane nature is
  • 17defiled with Original sin, as well as ours. 2. That there is but one person in the Divinenature. "33 Some even maintained that the absence of the word "Trinity" in the 1660Baptist Confession of Faith, gave standing room to anti-Trinitarianism, but this chargenineteenth century Baptist historian Adam Taylor vehemently denied. However, Taylordid admit that there were some individual Baptists in Kent and Sussex " who early beginto puzzle themselves with attempting to explain the mysteries of the incarnation." 34 Andit is here we turn to the case of Matthew Caffyn and his followers. Matthew Caffyn (1628-1714) was born and raised in Sussex, but we do not knowa great deal about his early life as a youth. Probably, as a young man he shewed promisein learning, for we find him as a student at Oxford in the 1640s (during the Interregnum).Then in 1645, after being expelled from Oxford for his doctrinal views, he joined theGeneral Baptist Church at Horsham and became, for some years, a Messenger inSouthern England. Yet, even while at Oxford this very young man employed his intellectin puzzling over imponderable and inexplicable matters about God and Christ, whichwould soon lead him into the realms of Socinian and Arian heresy. 35 Soon, according toAdam Taylor, this young Baptist preacher concluded to his own satisfaction that thedoctrine of the Trinity must not be correct.36 In the later 1640s, Caffyn became the pastorof the Baptist Church at Horsham in Sussex; there he began to preach and teach his newunderstanding of Christology. He also began to openly publish his views in the 1650sand later. He was definitely opposed to the classic Athanasian Creed, and in Taylorsestimation, he was " a rational skeptic ". McLachlan observes that he " possibly adopted
  • 18several of Melchior Hoffmans views " which had already been deemed highlyheretical.37 It seems that at first he doubted Christs deity, then later he flatly denied it. Inhis later life, he was happy to adopt the prespective of the Socinians that Christ wasmerely a very good man. Underwoods summary is apt: " [He] passed from denying thereality of Our Lords Human Nature to a denial of His Deity ".38 His views twice split theGeneral Assembly in the 17th and 18th centuries. As early as 1686 Caffyns devianttheological views were challenged by Joseph Wright, the pastor at Maidstone (who was,for a time, a close personal friend). He brought charges against him before the GeneralAssembly, accused him of the double heresy of denying both the humanity and the deityof Christ, and asked for his expulsion. Yet Caffyn made an eloquent verbal defense ofhimself and was exonerated, while brother Wright was censured for a " want of charity." This led Caffyn to proclaim his heretical views ever more broadly and openly. Then in1693, heresy charges were again brought against Caffyn, but once more the GeneralAssembly refused to deal with situation. This led to the first split of the General Baptists.The more orthodox splinter group at that time published their manifesto as " TheReasons of our Separation from the General Assembly ".39 Finally, we shall see that from1693 until 1731, the two General Baptist denominations co-existed (not alwayspeacefully!) until an effort was made to re-unite on the basis of the Six Principles ofHebrews 6:1-2 some twenty years after Caffyns death. The second "split" (or reordering)came as a result of the Salters Hall Controversy in 1719 with the two sides being knownas the Subscribers (Trinitarian) and the Nonsubscribers (Non-Trinitarians [mostly]).
  • 19 Besides Matthew Caffyn, the other important advocate of Socinianist notions wasPaul Hobson, a General Baptist, whose work flourished between 1646-1666, the year ofhis death. The writer has not been able to determine his exact birth day and informationabout his youth and education is beyond sketchy. Thomas Edwards described Hobsonas a "chirchugeon" in London, and he was associated with the establishment of a BaptistChurch at Crutched Friars in 1639 (which doubtlessly means he was born ca. 1620 orearlier). He also signed the First London (Baptist) Confession in 1644. According toMcLachlan, he had moved his way up through the ranks of the Parliamentary army andattained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and that he preached in various places in thecountryside as his regiment moved.40 Eventually, he left the army and settled down atSacristan, near Chester-le-Street as a retired gentleman. During Oliver Cromwells laterProtectorate, he was connected to the Northumberland and Durham Baptists, and held afellowship and chaplaincy at Eton from 1654-1660, though he was often absent doingevangelism. When the Restoration came, he was to suffer several arrests in connexionwith conspiracies against the government, and thus, he was eventually imprisoned inAugust, 1663, first in the London Tower and later Chepstow. Then, finally, he wasreleased in April 1665, on the condition he migrate to the Carolina Colony. Little more isheard of him, but he probably died before immigrating as his will was probated in thePrerogative Court of Cantebury on June 13, 1666.41 Paul Hobsons writings reveal both a kind of evangelical fervor and yet astrongly rationalistic strain. One of his early tracts is entitled Practical Divinity: or, a Helpethrough the blessing of God to lead men to look within themselves (1646) which reveals the
  • 20practical mysticism of Hobson. His diary and autobiography, written during the periodof his last imprisonment, was printed in 1664 and it contains many details of his life.Apparently, he had spent some time with Socinian friends in France and then withothers in Newcastle and Durham. He had also, according to his own testimony,travelled over the Sea to Holland.42 However, when he returned from Holland, he wasnot admitted to the Durham Baptist meeting for worship, because he had begun toquestion the validity of Gospel Ordinances . His views on prayer, though an asidefrom his Christology, are interesting; he believed that prayer was a duty, but that it doesnot change or alter God, but only changes the Christian so that we fit Gods will. Hesaid, " So prayer is the Language of God in us, not to alter God, but us. " 43 This writercannot accept McLachlans judgment that " Hobsons Christology is purely Scriptural, "but his gist of Hobsons Socinian views is correct as follows: . . . The relationship of Christ to God is described by him quite simply as a bond of nature in the highest degree; for he was his Son (Psalm ii.7, Heb. V.5), his only Son; they were united in Affection, see upon Gods side in Matt. iii.17 – " This is my beloved Son ". So on Christs -- " his Fathers Will was his Will . . . . " & c. Christ stood related to God as the chiefest and eminestest object of His Delight . Here we find no discussion of the two natures of Christ, no mention of the Trinity, no references to the existing schemes of theology. Christ is Gods Son and the relationship is, accordingly, natural and non-metaphysical. The Holy Holy Spirit is, accordingly, not a Person of the Trinity but Gods activity in the world.44 Hobsons Baptist contemporaries and others, unlike himself, saw his teachings asunorthodox, and his Socinian view on the Atonement was likewise disturbing. Heaccepted only Christs death as the Reconciliation of the sinful world to the Father, buthe denied there was satisfaction for sin.45 His failure to take the Scriptures
  • 21grammatically and literally led him to affirm Universal Salvation but also to posit theImmortality of the Soul as demanded by both the Bible and Natural Reason. McLachlanadmits that Hobson was entirely oblivious to the fact that his views were held bydreadful heretics, and that his own Baptist colleagues responded to him in severestcriticism. He notes that " in 1654 letters passed between Newcastle and Hexham over hisunconverted state, and the Hexham minister warning the Newcastle Baptists againsttheir fellow-communicant. "46 Hobson was an eccentric figure among the seventeenth-century Baptists, what some call a "rare bird" (rara avis) indeed, who was totallyunorthodox in his understanding of justification and redemption and who was strictlysubordinationist and non-Trinitarian in his Christology. In the eighteenth century, his ilkwas multiplied in large numbers among the General Baptists. One key link between the strongly incipient Socinianism of the seventeenthcentury and the brashly triumphant Socinianism (Unitarianism) of the eighteenthcentury runs through an elite circle of urban English Baptists and their political andphilosophical supporters. Here the reference is to John Gale (1680-1721), James Foster(1697-1753), and the polymath William Whiston (1667-1752). Although there were anumber of lesser figures in among the General Baptists in the late seventeenth century(and early eighteenth), and a number of equally significant figures among the Anglicans,Independents, and Presbyterians, these three men were a core of "evangelical" Baptistswho were deceived by the intellectual allurements of Socinianizing theology. John Gale was son of a General Baptist minister in London, born on May 26,1680. His father, Nathaniel Gale, was a propertied gentleman who had holdings in the
  • 22West Indies. This situation allowed him to receive a first-rate education, first in thebetter preparatory schools of Britain and then as young man at the University of Leidenin the winter of 1697. He was already proficient in the Greek and Latin classics and hadlearned Hebrew as a youth. By the July 3, 1699, his gifts had made it possible for him toreceive both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, a phenomenal achievement. After graduationfrom Leiden, he spent time in Amsterdam in the company of the Arminian scientistsLimborch and Le Clerc. Returning to London in ca. 1700, he continued to pursue hisstudies in private, focusing especially on Biblical exegesis and Patristics. Hisaccomplishments were such that his alma mater in Holland offered to bestow on him thehonor of the Doctor of Divinity in 1703, but he declined because of his preference for amoderate Arminianism and his dislike for the hard Calvinism of the Synod of Dort.While at Leiden, or shortly after he had already published his four tomes of InquisitioPhilosophica Inauguralis de Lapide Solis (1699), and before age twenty-seven he had writtenhis second major work, Reflections on Mr. Walls History of Infant Baptism (1706), amanuscript which he had seen, five years before its publication (1711). Gale was aprecocious linguist and logical theologian, and his elite mental acumen drew him intothe orbits of those like William Whiston, Sir Isaac Newton, and others. Yet, he was,nevertheless, a Dissenter, and the son of a Baptist.47 Eventually, too, he was named as thechairman of Whistons " Society for Promoting Primitive Christianity ", and as we shallsee, became identified in the Salters Hall controversy, as a "non-subscriber."48 The next important link for understanding the development of the Socinianheresy among Baptists of the seventeenth and eighteenth century is Reverend James
  • 23Foster (1697-1753). His work also supplies a connection between the non-Subscribers atthe Salters’ Hall controversy, Baptist Unitarians, and the later English Deists. Foster wasborn on September 16. 1697 in Exeter, the son of minister of Kettering,Northamptonshire. He was well-educated , having attented the free school at Exeter andlater the academy there by Joseph Hallet. He began to preach at age twenty-one and hisentrance into the work of ministry coincided with the spread of Arianism among thedissenters in the western counties. This was in 1718, and only one year later, thesedissenters among the Baptists, Congegationalists, Independents, and Presbyterians,desiring to make a declaration of their biblical “orthodoxy” lead to the Salters’ Hallconference. This led to expulsion two friends of Foster, James Peirce and Joseph Hallet(d. 1722), from their Exeter congregations.49 When the latter challenge came, Fosterreadily took the side of the non-Subscribers. Foster’s congregation at Exeter (much totheir credit, we think!) found his doctrinal opinions offensive, and thus he soon accepteda call from the congregation at Milbourne Port in Somersetshire. Yet this church alsoproved to be too orthodox for him, so he moved into the house of a certain NicholasBillingsley, a sympathizer, who lived at Ashwick, under the Mendip Hills. From therehe preached for two small congregations at Colesford and Wokey, near Wells, for aminuscle salary of 15l per year. After being here at short time, he moved on toTrowbridge, Wiltshire, where he roomed in a glover’s quarters and pastored acongregation of fifteen to twenty persons. Foster did preach strongly on the Resurrectionof Christ in 1720 and he published one sermon on this topic. Later the same year hepublished an Essay on Fundamentals in which he argued that the doctrine of the Trinity
  • 24should not be regarded as essential to Christianity. In the appendix to this book, he isbelieved by most to prove his Arian leanings. Around the same time, he was baptized byJohn Gale in London and became a Baptist. For a time, because his means were solimited, he considered becoming a glover, but in about 1722, Mr. Robert Houlton, choseFoster as his domestic chaplain. Finally, in 1724, he was chosed as a colleague of JosephBurroughs to serve at the Barbican Chapel, following John Gale (mentioned previously)and Isaac Kimber (1692-1755). A.C. Underwood remarks on his pastoral and theologicalcommitments at this time: . . . He wrote against the Deists but was himself a rationalistic Socinian. He was accounted the best preacher in London. The wits, free-thinkers, clergy, and per- sons of quality went to hear him. It was a proverbial saying that “ those who had not heard Farinelli sing and Foster preach, were not qualified to appear in genteel society. ” [Later, N.B.] The Marischal College, Aberdeen, made him a Doctor of Divinity. When he had Socinianised the Barbican Church, it was said that Gale “ had labored” and Foster had “entered into his labours.” After these these remarkable doctrinal fluctuations the church was dissolved in 1768.50 Being something of a man ahead of his time (in a good sense), Foster frequentlygave Sunday evening lectures at the old Jewry, and was an eloquent preacher. But bothhis lectures and preaching were highly controversial. As already observed, he did writeagainst the Deists, for example, he made a famous reply to Matthew Tindal’s essay,Christianity as Old as the Creation in 1731. This essay, entitled The Usefulness, Truth, andExcellency of the Christian Religion defended against Matthew Tindal , however, allowedmany of the premises of Deism to be accepted as valid. Later in 1735, he wrote replies totwo “Letters” by Henry Stebbing in which he maintained that intellectual errors aboutGod are essentially “innocent”. Foster’s career and fame continued to prosper in a
  • 25worldly fashion and in 1744 he was called from the Barbican Church to the pastorate ofthe General Baptist Church at Pinners’ Hall. Foster also visited the condemned LordKilmarnock in the Tower in 1746 and administered the Lord’s Supper to him previous tohis execution. Shortly afterward he published an account of their discussion and showedhimself to be sympathetic to the rebellious noble. For this indiscretion he was severelyattacked by orthodox Baptist pastors and others who suggested that he was willing toaccept the Pretended in order to get rid of the Test Act, as some non-Conformists inearlier days had been willing to submit to James II. This attack was unfair, and made bypeople who really had other motives for disapproving of Foster’s ministerial actions.Foster was prodigious writer of sermons and essays and his sermons were published infour volumes from 1744 to 1752 (Collected Sermons) and went through five editions. Healso published two volumes of controversial theology or apologetics from his Socinian(Baptist) perspective entitled Discourses on all the Principal Branches of Natural Religion andSocial Virtue (in 1749 and 1752), which sold at least two thousand copies. Foster’s healthwas bad, and the strain of controversy brought on a stroke in April 1750 and then asecond one in July 1753. He then died from his bodily frailties on November 5, 1753.51 One more comment about Foster must be made. It is said of James Foster that hewas a man of generosity and stout moral character, and that he even refused onprinciple a generous offer of an Irish church from Bishop Rundle. Yet, as a Baptist,Foster had moved far beyond Biblical Christianity and had embraced rationalism,although he viewed it religiously. And though he debated with Tindal and the otherhard Deists, he himself accepted much of the Deist approach to religion. Sir Leslie
  • 26Stephen, as he concludes his fine article on Foster which has been amply cited remarks :“ In his sermons (volume of 1733, i. 175) occurs a characteristic phrase quoted byBolingbroke and Savage (Gentlemans Magazine, v. 213): ‘ Where mystery begins, religionends. ’ ” 52 Previous to the eighteenth century theological work of William Whiston andSamuel Clark, there were many strands which led to the Salters’ Hall Controversy. TheBaptist Socinians were only part of it, yet they were an important and dynamic part.Below is a classified list of some crucial anti-Trinitarian thinkers:Thinker Location Church Affliation Date1. Gilbert Clerke, Northampshire. Anglican, Non-conformist. Late 17th Cent. (Mathematician)2. Noval of Tydd. St. Giles near Wisbech. Independent. Late 17th Cent. (Pastor)3. Thomas Firmin, publisher. London. Sabellian, Non-conformist. Late 17th Cent.4. William Freke. London. Arian. Late 17th Cent.5. John Smith. St. Augustines, London. Socinian. Late 17th Cent. (philomath6. Henry Hedworth. London. Socinian. Late 17th Century. - disciple of John Biddle.7. William Manning. Peasenhall. Independent. (1630-1711).53 When the Toleration Act of 1689 was passed, the leavening effects of almost acentury of anti-Trinitarianism began to publicly manifest itself among the churches ofEngland, beginning with the Anglicans themselves, then with the Baptists,Independents, and Presbyterians. As early as 1690, Arthur Bury, a Latitudinarianminister, lost his rectorship at Lincoln College, Oxford for his Socinian tract, the NakedGospel. Soon this was followed by steady stream of theological pamphlets on both sides
  • 27(John Wallis, William Jones, etc.). Eventually, this development lead to the publication ofthe Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity briefly Explained by Jones. About the same time WilliamSherlock, a rationalist theologian, published his Vindication of the Holy and ever BlessedTrinity. Then the controversy led to yet another attack from Robert South with hisAnimadversions upon Dr. Sherlocks Vindication. Then another strain of controversialistsentered into the fray and the collection was published as The Faith of one God Who is onlythe Father (1691). As the controversy deepened it dissolved the fraternal bonds of good-will among the Independents (Congregationalists) and the Presbyterians and it began tomanifest itself in several places among the General Baptists, particularly with MatthewCaffyn, the pastor at Horsham, Sussex, who was accused for a second time before the"Baptist General Assembly" of denying Christs deity in 1693. As the vote was onwhether or not to expel Caffyn, a secession of many of the more orthodox andevangelically Biblical Baptists produced the " General Baptist Association. " In the sameyear a second huge anthology of anti-Trinitarian essays appeared as a Second Collectionof Tracts proving the God, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only True God. Then, in1694, John Howe, a Presbyterian, entered the fight with his tract, Calm and Sober Inquiryagainst the tenth (and last) tract of the collection just noted. The struggle had becometriangular and circular and, mostly, vicious and hot !54 Yet, this first phase of the Trinitarian (or more properly, Socinian) controversycame to a logical end in 1708, having received its principle deathblow in 1698 by an actof the crown which aimed to suppress blasphemy and profaness (and this legal restraintremained on the English statute books until 1813). It is possible that both John Locke and
  • 28Sir Isaac Newton contributed to the anti-Trinitarian tracts as anonymous authors.Newton together with William Whiston and others was either a Semi-Arian or full-fledged Socinian according to some scholars. Before 1710, no official representatives ofeither the Anglicans or the Non-Conformist Churches had endorsed either side of theissue. Yet, the circumstances of the era and continued agitation from "famous" preachersand learned men brought in the various denominations with the Baptists,Congregationalists, and Presbyterians right at the heart of the struggle. Theological trialswere beginning: Matthew Caffyns case divided the Baptists in 1693; in Dublin, Ireland,Thomas Emlyn was tried by the Presbyterians for Arianism. There was only an eeriepause before the storm . . . . Then in 1710, the tempest came, and the fierce winds blew. The ArianControversy proper had come to England and it would led to Salters Hall in 1719 andbeyond. It would nearly destroy the General Baptists until they were saved by theMethodist revival and Daniel Taylor and the "New Connexion" in 1770. The new phaseopened with the steady blast of William Whistons Historical Preface (1710) which wassoon prefixed to volumes on Primitive Christianity (1711, 4 Volumes). Later, ReverendSamuel Clarke would publish his bombshell, The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity in 1712.Still, before discussing these developments further, it is time to more closely look atWilliam Whiston himself, who became the third center of feverish inflammation of theBaptists infected with the Socinian disease. It would seem on the surface of things that for creating the greatest controversyover heresy among eighteenth century Baptists there never was more of an unlikely
  • 29candidate than William Whiston. Yet, Whiston brought the local controversies of Caffyn,Gale, and Foster into the consciousness of English Baptists over the land because of hisimportant connections to Cambridge University and because of his important role inEnglish science and politics in the early eighteenth century. Who was William Whiston ? Whiston was a brilliant Englishman whose datesspan the latter half of the seventeenth century and the better half of the eighteenth(1667-1752). He was born at Norton near Twycross, Leicestershire. He was the son of anAnglican minister and was home-schooled by his father (a competent teacher,apparently) until he was nearly seventeen. Then he spent a short time at TamworthGrammar School. Then in 1686, he was admitted to Clare Hall, Cambridge where hequalified for the B.A. in 1690 and earned his M.A. by 1693, after being elected as a Fellowin 1691. About this same time he was encouraged by a friend, David Gregory, to studyIsaac Newtons Principia and to pursue mathematics. He intended to return toCambridge as a don and to accept mathematics pupils, but frail health made him giveup teaching at this time. William Lloyd ordained Whiston at Lichfield in 1695, and thenin 1699 he married Ruth Antrobus. During this same period he was active both as achaplain to the bishop of Norwich from 1694-1698 and he worked as an astronomer andnatural scientist. In 1696 he published his first major work, A New Theory of the Earth.Although a fairly devout Bible believer, he nevertheless maintained that the Biblicalaccounts of Creation, the Flood, and so on could be scientifically explained inNewtonian terms with scientific descriptions of events with historical bases (mostChristians at this time would not have necessarily objected to this per se). His theory
  • 30about the Flood was a little quirky, as he claimed that a comet smashed into the Earth ina catastrophic way. In 1698 Whiston obtained his first vicarage at Lowenstoft-with-Kissingland in Suffolk. But his scientific genius was recognized, and his earlypublications and essays were read by Sir Isaac Newton with keen interest. Later,however, he and Newton would have a falling out over their differing interpretations ofBiblical chronology. Also, Whistons cosmology left more room than Newtons for direct(and miraculous) intervention by God. But, in 1701, Whiston resigned his vicarage andtook up his appointment as Newtons assistant professor at Cambridge. There hepublished on mathematics and physics, producing a usable edition of Euclid for hisstudents. He also continued to publish on cosmology and Bible interpretation. In 1703, following Newtons graceful resignation from Cambridge, he succeededhis illustrious mentor as the Lucasian professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy.Together with Roger Cotes, who was the Plumian professor from 1706, Whistonconducted important joint research along Newtonian lines and created some brilliantscientific hypotheses of his own. Yet more and more, his searching mind was drawnback to questions of God and the Holy Scripture. His reason was puzzled with thedoctrine of the Trinity, and like Caffyn, Gale, and Foster, he begin to follow an Arianand a Socinian path of thought. When it became known to the Cambridge authoritiesthat he publicly questioned the Trinity, he was deprived of his professorial chair in 1710.In the next few years he was in London where a court was being set up and his trial bythe Lord Chancellor was expected. But foreign wars and the death of Queen Anne in1714 brought the end of the legal proceedings against him. Not one to remain mentally
  • 31or physically inactive, Whiston became instrumental in establishing the Board ofLongitude in England and for the next forty years he spent considerable time in study ofthis problem while giving occasional public lectures and courses on astronomy, physics,and , as has been noted, engaging in many theological controversies. Chiefly important, as previously observed, was his Historical Preface and hisPrimitive Christianity Revived (4 Vols., 1711). Ironically, while Whiston was quite aclassical scholar as well as a scientist, his whole basis for his major theological was morehis own anti-Trinitarian prejudice than rigorous historical research. His PrimitiveChristianity was based on the Apostolical Constitutions, an ancient writing which Whistonbelieved to have been published in the late first century, but was actually a latecompilation of various Eastern Church fathers in ca. 340-380. But , heretic or no, Whistonwas a man of integrity, and he believed that he had rediscovered a "primitive" UnitarianChristianity predating the Council of Nicea in 325 and the "corruption" of RomanCatholic Christianity. From 1710 until the 1740s he remained virtually poor and lived offa small income from a little farm near Newmarket together with his lecture fees. Helectured mostly in the coffee-houses of London and sometimes conducted scientificexperiments which astounding his audience, much as Joseph Priestley and MichaelFaraday would do later. While he never solved the problem of longitude, he didcomplete a famous translation of Josephus used until the late twentieth century. While William Whiston remained a believer in supernaturalism and theinspiration of the Bible, he was definitely heretical about the Trinity and remained eithera Semi-Arian or Socinian until his death. However, in 1747, after much deliberation, he
  • 32left the Anglican Church and was baptized by James Foster into the Baptist fold. Itremains a lively historical question whether the Baptists gained or lost with hisendorsement of "believers baptism" since neither Whiston nor Foster represented theTrinitarian commitments of the early Baptist confessions in the seventeenth century.55 The larger background of the Salters Hall controversy involves matters whichcannot be entered into here like the struggle of the Anglican High Church officials andthe Tory party against the various Non-Conformists and the Whigs. Controversies wereat once economic, political, social and theological and it would be difficult to do justiceto all the significant developments in the historical background of the era of Tolerationafter 1689 until the time of the Hanoverian dynasty of George II in 1727. 56 Selbie,discussing the decline and compromising lethargy of the Non-Conformists in the earlyeighteenth century, asserts that coming of a new wave of Socinianism and Unitarianismcontributed to low spiritual ebb of the time. His account leaves out much that wascovered above, but he does explore the immediate factors leading into Salters Hall andprovides the essential details about it. He writes as follows: But there was yet another cause which contributed to the same result. In 1712 one Thomas Emlyn, a minister in Dublin, wrote a book confessing a very mild type of Unitarianism. He was prosecuted, fined a thousand pounds, and impris- oned till the fine should be paid. The case excited some attention and was the be- ginning of the renewal of the Unitarian controversy. The trouble began in Exeter, where one James Pierce, a man of great ability and influence, with two or three other Presbyterian ministers, was suspected of Arianism. After discussions in the Assembly of Devon and Cornwall, the matter was referred to seven ministers, who, on the advice of some of their brethren in London, drew up a kind of ultima- tum for the direction of the managers of the Exeter churches. Meanwhile the ques- tion was being discussed in London. A meeting of the general body of Dissenters was held in Salters Hall, at which it appeared that there were many London mini- sters who were in sympathy with the Exeter heretics. When at a further meeting, an attempt was made to obtain the assent of those present to a declaration of belief belief in Doctrines of the Trinity and Divinity of our Lord, the company at once
  • 33 divided into subscribers and non-subscribers. Each then constituted their own assembly, the large majority of the nonsubscribers being Presbyterians, while the subscribing assembly consisted mainly of Congregationalists and Baptists under the leadership of Thomas Bradbury. This division marked a real doctrin- al rupture between Congregationalists and Presbyterians. The non-subscribers repudiated Arianism, but many of them later became Unitarians and were the founders of the Unitarian denomination, while eighteen or twenty of them, un- der some curious process of reaction, signed the Thirty-Nine Articles and joined the Church of England.57 It is not really an exaggeration to state that the Salters Hall controversy severelyaffected Baptists and other dissenting (evangelical) groups for the next seventy-fiveyears. Indeed, in the larger context of modern British and American Unitarianism, itwas one the historic milestones of the last three centuries. From the writers view, thetotal effect has been negative and devastating in many quarters of the Christian world, apreview of the disastrous things to come such as French and British Deism, DarwinianEvolution, the Higher Criticism of the Bible, and modern Skeptical Atheism. But for theBaptists (as with other evangelical Christians such as the Congregationalists andPresbyterians), the remainder of the eighteenth century and even much of the laternineteenth century proved to be a theological challenge, and the passion for the historicGospel and evangelical missions would require several mighty revivals of God andselfless defense and propagation of Christianity by many faithful soldiers of Christ. Butit was a fight both within and without the institutional churches thereafter and even inthe contemporary times we are still struggling against the same forces of humanisticrationalism and unbelief disguised as "religious philosophy". Immediately after the Subscription controversy, the General Baptists wereinternally divided and many Baptists were eventually lost to Unitarianism. James Foster,
  • 34for example, became a Congregationalist with growing Unitarian sentiments. In 1735-7he had previously noted controversy with a Rev. Henry Stebbing, in which he assertedessentially that differing opinions on the Trinity and Christology were "innocent".Finally, Foster found life too hot among the few believing General Baptists and wentover to the Independents (Congregationalists), becoming in 1744 the pastor of theIndependent Church at Pinners Hall. And while Foster denounced Deism and"infidelity", he had left Biblical and Baptist confession far behind. The same was true ofWilliam Whiston. The "Happy Union" of the Baptists, Congregationalists, andPresbyterians which had seemed so promising in 1690 and the beginning of theeighteenth century was a thing of the past and these churches were divided bothexternally from each other and internally among themselves on the issues of the Trinity,subscription, and the growing Calvinism-Arminianism debate.58 What some saw as anissue of Christian liberty was at its heart an issue about Biblical revelation and theTriune God. Yet, the two issues of required subscription to creeds and the matter oforthodox belief were awkwardly entangled and the distinctions did not become clear tomany people until the formal emergence of the Unitarian denomination toward the endof the century. But at Salters Hall, the results were prophetic: out of about 150 ministersand other Christian leaders, there were 73 non-Subscribers of which 47 werePresbyterians, 14 were General Baptists, 2 were Particular Baptists and 10 wereCongregationalists. By contrast, there were 78 Subscribers of which 29 werePresbyterians, 15 Baptists, 28 Congregationalists, and 6 who could either be Independent(Congregationalist) or Presbyterian. About these, Professor John Y. Briggs of Regents
  • 35Park College, Oxford, comments : " The orthodoxy of the 78 is clear, but not all of the 73were necessarily heterodox. "59 And, Professor Briggs adds some additional provocativewords: . . . General Baptists suffered a division between the General Association who roughly corresponded to those General Baptists who had a Lollard origin, who liv- ed in the inland counties of Buckinghamshire, Northhamsphire, and Cambridge- shire, who remained orthodox, and those churches in Kent and Sussex particularly, most influenced by the Dutch Mennonites, who, under the leadership of one Mat- thew Caffyn, adopted the heterodox Christology of Melchoir Hoffman which de facto denied the reality of the Incarnation. These were the churches that first adopt- ed Arianism and then full-blooded Unitarianism, thus to be lost to the Baptist cause. Indeed when Methodism came to offer a more attractive Evangelical Arminianism, many ministers and members transferred their affections, and many General Baptist congregations simply died out. The record is of preachers traveling to appointments to find zero congregations with the consequence that General Baptist congregations began to issue prohibitions to their members attending Methodist meetings. 60 W.B. Selbie furthermore observes that already in the early eighteenth century theskeptical, rationalistic spirit of Deism had been felt in Non-Conformist pulpits and hadcontributed to the spiritual barrenness of many of Englands churches. He terselycomments: " The older Independent theologians had written and spoken more asprophets than as philosophers. They were entrusted with a word from the Lord andthey gave utterance to it in no uncertain grounds. But in the period we have nowreached preachers attempted to argue for its acceptance on philosophical grounds. "61Even those among the fervent believers were to a degree affected by this rationalism.Noteworthy examples here were Philip Doddridge (1702-1751) and Isaac Watts(1674-1748), theological writers and composers of hymnody. Doddridge, a ministeramong the Congationalists, was the author of many famous evangelical hymns and theauthor of The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, was also a noted tutor and lecturer
  • 36on theological subjects. Many of his comprehensive essays and theological lectures werepublished after his death and reveal a true Christian piety but at the same time scatteredelements of Arminianism and Socinianism.62 Unlike Doddridge, Isaac Watts, is reckonedto be "the father of English hymnody" and together with Charles Wesley (1707-1788)supplied many of the powerful evangelical hymns of the English Evangelical Revivalfrom 1730-1756. Yet, like Doddridge, Watts suffered from a rationalistic element in hisdissent and was suspicious of the new "enthusiastic" revivalism and the newly emergingMethodism of the Wesleys. Unlike Doddridge, Watts was a more thorough-goingCalvinist, but while not in any respect an Arian, he was theologically aberrant in some ofhis Christological speculations and infected with the rationalism of his age.63 And, in thetwo generations after Salters Hall, the General Baptists were affected both by theintellectual theological speculation and even popular hymnody in subtle ways. Thus,despite the fact that between 1720 and 1740 there was a deadness on the surface of thechurch life of English Non-Conformists and a lethargic spirit of "indifferentism" toChristian doctrine, the hidden viral infection of anti-Trinitarianism was incessantly atwork, and this stage was merely a dormant period between the controversial Arianismof 1720 and the later full-blown Unitarianism.64 The writer of this article cannot agree with W.B. Selbie and others (e.g., H.J.MacLachlan, Roger Thomas, Roland N. Stromberg, et al.) that the decline of creedalism,subscription to theological confessions, was such a good thing. For if one looks at thecontroversy just among the Baptists going back to its roots with the doctrinal conflictbetween Matthew Caffyn and those like the rustically educated Thomas Monk of Bierton
  • 37(and Aylesbury) and Messenger Joseph Wright of Maidstone, it is clear that theessentials of Christianity were on the line. The son of Thomas Monk (Thomas Monk,Jr. ?) prophetically commented on an encyclical letter issued by the General BaptistAssociation in 1699: " In vain it is for you to separate from such as err about the subjectsand manner of baptism; if at the same time, you maintain communion with heretics andidolaters; as those must needs be who deny the Deity of the Son of God, and theimmensity and omnipresence of the Divine Essence. "65 But as stated the previousparagraph, this indifferentism affected the mass of Non-conformists and in light of laterdevelopments can be seen to have undermined the foundations of the General Baptistchurches in southern and southeastern England as well as their fledgling Christianeducational efforts in their academies.66 Professor Leon McBeth soberly observed thatthe General Baptists chose denominational unity at the expense of doctrinal agreementand that in time liberalism gained the ascendancy in that body in the later eighteenthcentury.67 He further bitterly laments: . . . Not many General Baptists were left who remember the old doctrines of the full humanity and the full deity of Christ and the vicarious atonement of the cross. Thus was laid the basis for the New Connection schism a generation later. According to W.T. Whitley, this debilitating controversy "destroyed the chance of General Baptists exerting any influence, and when in 1731 the two rival As- semblies did unite, . . . their attention was drawn too much to the past in which they forgot its finest ideals, which to the new needs of the new age, they proved blind. "68 Then has been strongly emphasized by this writers instructor (Dr. McMullen) formost of the remaining eighteenth century General Baptists focused on minor issues andmoralistic trivialities rather than core issues of the Gospel. Thus, as it has been
  • 38satyrically noted: " They debated whether Christians could sing as part of worship, andif so whether standing or sitting; they condemned fox hunting, a sport of the wealthywhich few if any of their members could participate; they repeatedly condemnedmarriage outside the faith; and published weighty tomes on whether to eat blood. " 69Meanwhile, their pastors grew old, preaching and theology languished, andcongregations losing a purpose for evangelism grew more worldly and more and morespiritually attune with the Enlightenment Age and less and less with ancient NewTestament message. Two outstanding Baptists preachers and theologians must be acknowledged inthis period of the latter eighteenth century and in the opening decades of the nineteenthcentury. For they represent on the one hand what became of the genuinely evangelicalGeneral Baptist movement, and on the other hand, what a catastrophic spiritualmetamorphosis - indeed a fall from Divine grace and truth - occurred with Socinian andliberal majority of the English General Baptists. In the first case, the writer is referring toDaniel Taylor (1738-1816) and the "New Connection" movement which he initiatedamong the more Arminian Baptists. This subject will complete this rather lengthy thirdsection of this study. For the last part of the paper, William Vidler (1758-1816) and hiswork will be examined. For it was primarily Vidlers leadership after the deaths ofWilliam Whiston and James Foster which shepherded such a large part of the GeneralBaptist fold into unabashed and full-bodied Unitarianism in the nineteenth century,contributed to the "Downgrade Controversy" in the latter part of it, and issued in thecontemporary modernistic Unitarian-Universalism. Also in the last and concluding part
  • 39of our paper we shall briefly survey the heretical theological additive of British andAmerican "universalism" with provided nineteenth century Unitarianism (i.e.,Liberalism) with its ultimate lure and weapon to damn human souls. So, enters the life and work of Daniel Taylor. Baptists (and other Bible Christianstoo !) believe that God works in wonderful and ironic ways in history. One of thosewonderful "coincidences" was the spiritual awakening in Great Britain brought on bythe preaching of the Methodists John and Charles Wesley and, perhaps even more fromthe Calvinistic perspective, the preaching of George Whitefield. It was indeed fromcontact with the Wesleyan-Methodist revival in England that young Dan Taylor came toknow his Lord about 1753. A few years later, ca. 1761, Taylor began to preach among theLeicester Evangelicals; then in 1762, after reading the elder Dr. Robert Halls History ofInfant Baptism, he was led to embrace for himself "believers baptism". Then, in 1763, heand a pastor friend, John Slater, after a long and strenuous search, met with ReverendGilbert Boyce, a Lincolnshire General Baptist, and received baptism by immersion in ariver near Gamston, Nottinghamshire. It should also be recalled that Daniel Taylor hadbeen born in Northowwram, near Halifax and as a youth had worked with his father inthe mines. Then, as a teenager he had walked miles through the moors at Haworth tohear the preaching of the Wesleys, George Whitefield, and the lesser known WilliamGrimshaw. He had also been largely self-educated, teaching himself Greek, Hebrew, andLatin, while working in the mines. He was an extraordinary young man with an intensedevotion to Jesus Christ and to the propagation of the Gospel of salvation for sinners.70
  • 40 Taylor, with the help of friends and the Gamston Baptists formed a littlecongregation and built a little Baptist Chapel called Birchcliff where Reverend Taylorhimself was ordained on July 30, 1763. Soon, Taylor and his church sought affiliationwith the Lincolnshire Evangelicals, but their lack of fervent worship and interest indynamic evangelism left him cold (the influence of Socinianism and, perhaps, hyper-Calvinism as well ?). For a time he longed for his fellows among the LeicestershireEvangelicals, but then when that group refused to join with the LincolnshireAssociation, Dan Taylor met with a handful of like-minded ministers in Whitechapel,London to form what was then called " The New Connection of General Baptists. "Strangely enough, even after forming this group, he continued to attend the annualsessions of the "old" General Baptists, even chairing some of their committees until 1803when Socinian Universalist William Vidler was brought into their fellowship. At thispoint, Taylor could endure the compromise and heresy no longer. Baptists scholarsspeculate about why he did this, but A.C. Underwood has suggested that it was due tohis wanting to use his influence to bring back erring churches into the Assembly, andultimately, to the New Connection.71 Under the Scriptural and fervent leadership ofTaylor, the New Connection grew steadily in disciples and mightily in spiritualinfluence in the turn of the new century. Leon McBeth and A.C. Underwood bothindicate that the New Connection began in 1770 with 7/8 churches and less than 1,000members. Yet, from the official Minutes of the Association of General Baptists atLeicester, 1786 we already hear of at least 31 churches and 2,357 members.72 Then,
  • 41according to A.C. Underwood, by 1817 (the year after Daniel Taylors death), the NewConnexion could claim 6,846 members in more than 70 churches. 73 Taylor was no conformist to tradition, but he was wholeheartedly loyal to theDivine inspiration of Scripture and the Divinity and Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is notsurprising either, that opposition to his New Connection emphases came fromLincolnshire leaders and others (especially in London) which lacked his vision and zeal,but more importantly, were seriously infected with Arianism and Socinianism. Neitheris it a coincidence that those who minimized the centrality of Christs vicariousatonement for sinners would find it difficult to tolerate a fiery evangelical such as aTaylor or his followers. McBeth underscores that he came into greater and greaterconflict with older General Baptists as he not only embraced a fully orthodoxChristology but also abandoned many "traditions": the laying on of hands on newbelievers ready for membership, the lack of congregational singing (especially women)in worship, and a non-interest in evangelism. Thus the stage was set for theconfrontations with the "Unitarian" baptists of the early nineteenth century, and for thelater nineteenth developments which would provide opportunity for John Clifford(1816-1923) and his ecumenical efforts leading to the 1891 merger of the NewConnection into the Baptist Union which Charles H. Spurgeon would oppose. But that isanother story . . . .74
  • 42 IV. Unitarianism & Universalism Among British Baptists, ca. 1725--1820. In this final section the writer wishes to briefly summarize the highlights of theUnitarianism which grew out of the Socinian advances at Salters Hall in 1719 andafterwards with the coming of William Vidler in 1803 to the General Assembly with aeven briefer sketch of the overall consequences for the English General Baptists until ca.1820. This kind of conclusion is tentative as ones mind naturally then interpolates from1818/1820 until the "Downgrade Controversy" of the latter nineteenth century andbeyond. Yet, in an effort to limit the size of this paper (already too large!), the writershall only focus on the key historical and theological milestones of the subject until 1820and add some lose final remarks as to how Socinianism/Unitarianism affected theGeneral Baptists of England thereafter in the century. Universalism was the new component in William Vidlers theological teaching inthe early 1800s, but it was not originally a part of even the Socinian General Baptistsbefore the late eighteenth century. Roughly speaking, it appears to have its roots in inWales and in Colonial America previous to its formal arrival among the General BaptistAssembly in 1803. James Relly (1722-1788) was converted as a young man under the preaching ofJohn Wesley and George Whitefield, caught up in the revival sweeping over wide areasof Great Britain in the mid-eighteenth century. Together with his greater (and muchmore orthodox) mentor, Wesley, Relly was early on inclined to Arminianism. Later, hewould move beyond evangelical Arminianism to the Universalist heresy. His influencethen would convert the reluctant John Murray (1741-1815) and effectually influence the
  • 43teaching of the Americans, Elhanan Winchester (1751-1797) and Hosea Ballou(1771-1852) who would strongly affect the path of Unitarian-Universalism in America inthe nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Relly was born in Saunderfoot, an English-speaking area of Pembrokeshire insouthwest Wales, educated at the local grammar school and as a young man employedas " a cow-farrier. " About 1740 he was converted under the preaching of GeorgeWhitefield (for whom he would have a life-long admiration) and became an ardentCalvinist Methodist preacher in the areas of Rhyddlangwraig, Narbeth, andPembrokeshire in the early 1740s. Then, after 1746, he made evangelistic tours throughthe West and Midlands of England (including Bristol, Portsmouth, Exeter, Bath,Bromsgrove, Birmingham, and Tewkesbury). Like many other evangelists Relly facedsignificant persecution and hostile opposition, but what made Relly receive rebuke fromeven the Methodists was his new doctrine of "universal salvation." Responding to thisnew heresy, Whitefields lieutenant (supervisor) in charge, Howel Harris, dismissedRelly at the peak of his career in 1746 while he was evangelizing at the LondonTabernacle in Moorfields. Then, in 1751, Relly returned to Wales where he created aneven more serious disruption " respecting Freeness, and the extent of Grace. " AlthoughRelly himself avowed that as an evangelist he was not promoting a universalist message,few others doubted it. The logic was simple and beautiful (if one is not bothered bythorny Biblical details here or there): " . . . if all had sinned in Adam, then all were savedin Christ. "75 Then, throughout the later 1750s and 1760s, Relly preached his new Gospelalso in Ireland.
  • 44 Rellys most important theological treatise (which would mold Vidlers thinking)was his book Union: or a treatise of consanguinity and affinity between Christ and his Church(London, 1759). He also wrote a universalist hymnal and several lesser popular tracts onthe nature of salvation, the nature of "Spirits", the anti-Christ, the life of Christ, Christianbaptism, Sadduceeism (legalism), Christian liberty, and angels (1753-1780). One of hismost famous writings was a poem which was dedicated to Whitefield, an elegy, writtenin 1770, following the great evangelists death. Relly himself died in 1778 and was buriedin the Maze Pond Baptist Burial Ground in Southwark, London, but the tinycongregation he established at Windmill Street survived until the 1820s. Then, for a fewdecades there some small and highly eccentric Rellyean Universalist societies in Dorsetand Wiltshire as well as Plymouth.76 Perhaps Rellys greatest impact on both Baptists and on the Unitarians inAmerica came as a result of his preaching to the congregation at Coachmakers Hall(Addle Street) in London from 1757-1764. There, according to the words of JohnMurrays autobiography, Relly was was drawing the wrath of his former Wesleyean andMethodist colleagues, because he was, according to the citation of James Hill, " a manblack with crimes; an atrocious offender, both in principle and practice. " 77 It was whenRelly was preaching here, that young John Murray was captured by the appealingpresentation of a pretty young woman who was one of Rellys disciples, who accordingto Unitarian legend, confounded him with her theological insight and logical acumen. 78In reading the actual account, however, one is more inclined to think of a lonely collegestudent or seminarian confronted by the seductive inticements of a gorgeous Jehovahs
  • 45Witness or a Unitarian wench in a secluded chapel. The logic consists purely in theequivocation of terms about faith and failure to observe the forensic character of theBiblical presentation of Christs death on behalf of sinful man. But now let the reader turn his attention briefly to John Murray himself, whowould soon leave the sorrows of old England and go to new circumstances in Americain 1770. The encyclopedias and handbooks provide little in the way of Murrays earlybiography, but that he was born somewhere near London in 1741 is certain. We do knowthat he was converted in his youth by the preaching of the Methodists and that he wastrained in Anglican Calvinism. We also know from his autobiography that as a brashyoung preacher he was taken in by the witness of a female universalist ca. 1760. Fromhis on account we also know that in 1769-1770 as he turned toward America, he hadfaced a series of personal tragedies, including an arrest for debt and the loss of his wifeand son. This made his voyage desirable, but his coming to America was not itselfwithout tribulation. An Alantic storm forced his boat to make an unplanned landing atGood-Luck Point on the coast of New Jersey. While there he happened upon a group ofcongregational people and also a sympathetic audience of baptist Quakers, especiallyThomas Potter, who already had Universalist sympathies from contact with someextreme dissenting Baptist sects in Rhode Island.79 The events of their meeting andMurrays first sermon at the Potter meeting-house has all the ear-marks of a "just so"story or sectarian hagiography, but it is historically certain that John Murray preachedthere on September 30, 1770 and this event marks perhaps the earliest conscious effortsto promote Universalism in America.80
  • 46 From this time onward until his death in 1815, Murray became one of the leadingitinerant evangelists of Universalism in New England as well as New Jersey and NewYork, becoming for several years the pastor of the first universalist church in America atGloucester, Massachusetts (The Independent Church of Christ, 1779). His work wassignificant enough that General George Washington appointed him as chaplain for theContinential troops of Rhode Island. Eventually, he was called to the pastorate of theUniversalist Society of Boston in 1793. Toward the end of his life, Murrays journals andsermons were collected by his wife, Mrs. Judith Sargent Murray and published by theUniversalist Society.81 During his career, Murray preached to some Baptist groups inAmerica, and his ideas found a harmonious chord among many of the General Baptistscum Unitarians who followed William Vidler.82 The last link to William Vidler and the ultimate demise of the General Baptists ofBritain was the American minister Elhanan Winchester, Jr. (1751-1797). Winchester wasthe sixth generation descendent of Sir Henry Vane, the fourth Governor of theMassachusetts Bay Colony. And like his father, the elder Elhanan, the son had been amember of the Congregational Church of Christ at Brookline, a liberal Calvinist body.The father himself, however, had made a spiritual journey through many religiouscommitments, from Separatist to Baptist, and even to Shaker (in Mother Ann Leescommunity in Harvard). The father had also been affected by the enthusiasm of theGreat Awakening in the 1740s. The son was a chip off the old block and he was a childprodigy, largely self-taught, but a brilliant, inquistive serious youth. When he was aboutnineteen years old, he was converted under the ministry of a Joseph Jackson, a moderate
  • 47evangelical Calvinist. Afterwards, his denominational experience resembled his fathers,and after being for a time a Separatist (Puritan) type, he accepted the Baptist teaching,and soon began to preach. Incidentally, one should mention that though he only lived tobe forty-six years old, he was married five times and all of his unions were less thanhappy.83 Since Winchester through William Vidler had such a powerful effect on themature formation of both the American and British Unitarian-Universalists and adefinite connection to the General Baptists, his life shall be examined in some level ofdetail. Elhanan began to preach almost immediately after his conversion and about thesame time (1769-1770), he married his first wife, Alice Rogers of Rowley, Massachusetts.Together they set out for his first pastorate in Virginia, where for a few years he was asuccessful Baptist preacher, holding to a moderate Calvinistic theological viewpoint.Also, during this early period (ca. 1772-1773), Winchester embraced the convictions ofthe open communion Baptists, and was himself baptized by immersion in Canturbury,Connecticutt. Through these years, he and his wife had four children, but either personalor religious quarrels strained their marital bliss. Also sometime in this early period hereturned to Massachusetts, where he established a new Baptist church at Rehoboth andduring the same time became friends with Ezra Stiles, the President of Yale College(who came to characterize him as " a loquacious and flaming preacher "). He was also,for a short time devoted to the Particular Calvinist Baptists and an avid reader of theLondon theologian, John Gill. During this time he dismissed evangelism and appeals tothe lost as foolish and irreverent activities; this attitude, of course, prevented the New
  • 48England Baptists from ordaining Winchester as a Baptist evangelist. Then within twoyears (1774-1776) he went from Rehoboth to Bellingham, then from there to Grafton, andthen to Hull, Massachusetts.84 In late 1774, Winchester was called to be the minister at the Particular BaptistChurch in a small town on the Pec Pec River in South Carolina, where his first wife,Alice, died. He was only there for a few months before returning to Boston, where hemarried his second wife, Sarah Peck (from Rehoboth) in 1776. Then he went back for acouple of years to his former church in Carolina where he began a practice ofevangelizing the Black slaves, something which was suspect in that culture. Winchesterhimself, had strong convictions about the evils of slavery and he relentlessly attackedthe institution. His second wife, Sarah, died in 1778. Soon after, Winchester married athird time, attracting a local lady, Sarah Luke. Strangely, Sarah herself lived for less thana year (?). During this period (until 1781) Winchester was caught up in the AmericanRevolution, and was an energetic supporter of political and religious freedom, evenpublishing on behalf of the Charlestown Baptist Association a bold manifesto forreligious liberty in 1779. Then, in the same year, he returned to Boston, where hepreached under the auspices of Dr. Reverend Stillman and in his home church ofBrookline. At this time he even made a positive impression on Isaac Backus, the greatNew England Baptist evangelist and recorder who is said to have highly praised hisefforts. Eventually, the Baptist Church of Philadelphia called Winchester as theirminister in 1780. Though his work there was brief, due to his growing public
  • 49pronouncements on universalism, he did not terminate his work at the First BaptistChurch until 1781.85 It was from his reading during these years of the works of a Robert Stonehouse(an American follower of Murray ?) and even more importantly, the works of PaulSiegvolck (pseudonym for George Klein-Nicholai), an Eastern European Socinian anduniversalist, that the imminent Winchester was finally won to the universalist heresy.Things came to a head in Philadelphia in 1781 when Winchesters preaching andteaching had led to his dismissal from the First Baptist congregation. Then, incidentally,Winchester married a fourth time to Mary Morgan (what became of Sarah Luke ?). Afterbeing expelled from the Baptists, he held services in the hall of the University ofPhiladelphia until 1784, and then his congregation built a new meeting house onLombard Street. During the next few years he met John Murray, the British Universalist,now pastor at Gloucester, Massachusetts. Then, in 1785, Winchester, having completelyrenounced his Calvinism and his evangelical Baptist heritage, supervised theestablishment of the first Universalist Meeting House for the Society of UniversalBaptists in Philadelphia. He also attended the first convention of Universalists inOxford, Massachusetts in the same year where he met Hosea Ballou, whose work ismentioned in the footnotes.86 Winchesters influence was such at this time that hereceived immense praise from Unitarians such as Drs. Benjamin Rush and Richard Price,noteworthy ex-Congregationalists. Furthermore, by 1788, Winchester had published hisfamous (or infamous) treatise, The Universal Restoration: Exhibited in a Series of Dialogues(London, 1778).
  • 50 Winchester continued his preaching and lectures in Philadelphia from 1784-1787,and then he traveled to England, according to his own reliable testimony, to where Godhad called him. Curiously, he lost his fourth wife, Mary Morgan, somewhere along theway and, arrived in Liverpool with his latest (fifth) wife, Mary Knowles, whom isreported to have been his most miserable and tragic alliance. Here it is too that ourjourneyman universalist apostle met William Vidler, a General Baptist pastor, andconvinced this younger man that God had given him a message to deliver there.87Winchester preached first before the Universalist Society in Liverpool in 1787 and thenoccasionally in the General Baptist churches in Blackfields and Moorfields, but after ashort time these congregations were alerted to his universalist doctrine and closed theirdoors to him. Even at this late time, not all General Baptists, even Socinizing ones, hadgiven up the traditional understanding of Christs atoning death and the reality of Godswrath on the unsaved. Naturally, the Particular Calvinist Baptists scorned anddenounced both Winchester and Vidler for their views. However, Joshua Toulmin, aUnitarian pastor of some fame, invited Elhanan Winchester to preach in the Chapel inSouthwark on Worship Street ; and so he preached there and in any nearby hall wherepeople would listen to his message. Soon, he also proceeded to London and establishedthere a congregation which became quite large (400-500) and had to move to newquarters, becoming Parliament Court Chapel on Artillery Lane in Bishopgate.88 Oneshould note in passing that Winchester not only had influence among the hereticalGeneral Baptists who would became Unitarians, he made significant contacts with otherfamous Unitarians such as Joseph Priestley, who preached at the Gravel Pit Church in
  • 51Hackney and who later immigrated to Philadelphia in America to spread the message of"evangelical Unitarianism" (something of a theological oxymoron, one thinks).Winchester also was strongly supported by Dr. Richard Price, a famous Britishintellectual ex-Presbyterian who ministered at both Newington Green and the Gravel Pitchurches as well as being instrumental in helping establish two dissenting Academies,the most importment being at Warringon, which led to the foundation of ManchesterNew College at Oxford. Winchester by his connection to Price, became more intimatewith George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Suchconnections helped to establish his fame and win sympathy to his cause whichundoubtably impressed many wavering British and American Baptists, who might haveotherwise been alarmed at his Universalism and eventual Unitarianism. But that muchof spirit of Universalism was self-serving praise and humanistic rationalism is clear fromthe words of a contemporary Bostonian admirer of Winchester : It is important at this juncture to recognize what was so frightening about the Gospel as understood by the Universalists. Why did so many more ortho- dox bodies and believers go to such extremes to condemn Universalists, urge the boycott of universalist persons and businesses, to flee from their theology as from the devil ? [?!!, N.B.] Orthodoxy, particularly in its narrower Calvin- ist forms, declared that those who did not believe in " an eternity of hell tor- ments " for sinners had no reason to seek virture and avoid evil. They had no no motivation to act justly, honorably, honestly. They could not be trusted in any office or appointment. Since they had no motivation for rectitude they should be excluded from all public trust and public life. Indeed it was but a short step to seeing them as minions of the devil, Satan’s own troops, malig- nant, dissipate, capable of every form of viciousness and dishonesty. It was not easy to be a professed universalist. The American Universalist movement generally responded with great good humor - how else could they embody the Gospel of Eternal Love and not fall into bitterness ? They loved to speak of the Calvinists "Glad Tidings of Endless Damnation." Calvinism was the ultimate blasphemy against God to Universalists, with its God of double pre- destination and eternal vengeance. This was not Jesus Gospel, they declared, and it was not theirs ! 88
  • 52 Much of the paragraph above is trumphed up resentment and self-servingbalderdash, weak in both philosophical logic and theological self-consistency. Butchiefly, it ignores that fact that it was Jesus Christ himself in the Gospels, speaking to hisintimate group of disciples and his enemies among the unbelieving Jews (e.g. thePharisees and Sadducees), who spoke more than 80 % of what the New Testamentteaches on hell. He clearly warned many people that they were in danger of it. TheApostle Paul in Romans and his other Epistles merely connected the danger of eternaldamnation to Adams original sin. But Unitarian-Universalists have always ignoredcareful exegesis of these majority texts and focused on rather slanted and rationalisticinterpretations of obscure passages out of context. So, the "God" of Robert Relly, JohnMurray, Elhanan Winchester, and William Vidler tends to be mild-mannered deity oflimited holiness and mushy compassion without much way of either glory orrighteousness. He is certainly not the God of the Bible, the holy Father of our Lord JesusChrist, and God whom the original Baptists trusted in. But now, it is necessary to hurry to see the role of Winchester on William Vidlerand how this set the stage for the first half of the nineteenth century for orthodoxBaptists (like the New Connection of Daniel Taylor and the Particular Baptistsrepresented by Robert Hall and Charles Spurgeon) and their conflict with those whoreally had ceased to be true Baptists and became full-bodies Unitarians. For by 1803, atthe latest, most of the Old General Baptist body had been totally metastasized by the
  • 53cancer of Socinianism, and with the new element of the Universalist heresy, the spiritualtransformation into the Unitarian-Universalist "Association" was tragically completed. Who was William Vidler? According to the Dictionary of Unitarian & UniversalistBiography which is found on the main British Unitarian-Universalist website, " WilliamVidler (1758-1816), a British Universalist and Unitarian preacher and publisher, was adisciple and colleague of Elhanan Winchester. Together with Unitarian missionaryRichard Wright, Vidler played a significant role in establishing institutional featuresBritish Unitarians continue to use."90 Vidler was born at Battle in Sussex, in southern England, inland from Hastings,the youngest of ten children. His father, John Vidler, was a stonemason, and from ayoung age the lad was apprenticed to him in the trade despite the fact that he wassomewhat weakly and asthmatic. William Vidler, like some other dissenters of theeighteenth century, was a self-educated and studious young person. In 1776, whenWilliam was eighteen years old, he heard George Gilbert preach a revival at Battle andhe was challenged to accept Christ and be converted. After this, the young Vidler joinedan independent Calvinist Church which was newly organized. Within the next year, hehimself began preaching to others. Around 1780, he William became convinced ofbelievers baptism and was immersed in a nearby river by Thomas Purdy, a Baptistminister at Rye. Because they were impressed by his sincerity and zeal, the Battle churchre-organized as a Particular Baptist Church and called Vidler as their minister. Althoughuntrained at college or seminary, the young Vidler had taught himself to be fluent inboth Greek and Latin, and he had read much in the literature of the Dissenters. During
  • 54the time that Vidler pastored at Battle, he continued his trade as a stonemason;nevertheless, the membership increased from 15 to 150 in a few years. Needing morespace the congregation bought and pulled down a decrepit Presbyterian chapel anderected a new building which left them with a significant debt for the time, L 160.91 From 1791 until 1794 Vidler traveled afield to collect funds to help pay off hiscongregations debt. It was either before or perhaps during this time that he began tosolemnly ponder over " serious thoughts of the Godhead of Christ and the eternity ofhell torments." Probably, he had begun to consider these issues as early as 1784, but hisinitial doubts about the orthodox doctrines grew conscious and strong after he readWinchesters Dialogues on The Universal Restoration, published in 1788. And even thoughhe had a friendly encounter with Andrew Fuller at Northampton when he attended theBaptist Missionary Society conference there, he was not entirely enthralled with thelatters moderate Calvinism. But over a period of weeks or months, Fuller lost patiencewith Vidler because of his hastily growing radical views on theology. Furthermore, asVidler made his journey through Lincolnshire, he encounted followers of ElhananWinchester among the General Baptists in Fleet and Luton. So, by the time he made hisfirst circuit back to the Battle Church, he was thoroughly convinced of the universalrestoration of all humankind to God. Thus he wrote in his journal for August 22, 1792:“ It is long since I wrote anything of the state of my soul . . . . I have lately been muchstirred up again by reading R. Winchester on the final restoration of all things, whichdoctrine . . . I am constrained to say I believe. " 92
  • 55 During 1792-1794 Vidler strengthed his theological and personal ties withWinchester. Previously, he had preached many times for Winchester at ParliamentCourt Church, and in 1794 he actually became Winchesters assistant at this UniversalistChapel in Artillery Lane, London. (In the latter nineteenth century and throughout thetwentieth the Parliament Court became Sandys Row Synagogue). In 1795 Winchesterdecided to return to America, and Vidler became his chosen successor there. Hisinfluential ministry at Parliament Court Chapel was to last twenty years and it wouldcarry the congregation there as well as several other General Baptists, into the Unitarianfold.93 Working with John Teulon, Vidler also opened a London book shop in the Standin 1796, where he distributed Universalist literature. The two friends also cooperatedfrom 1797 onward to publish a periodical, The Universalists Miscellany, which became animportant turning point for the later Unitarian missionary, Richard Wright (1764-1836).Wright had been a pastor for the ancient General Baptist Church at Wisbech, andVidlers publications led Wright to embrace the universalist message. Conversely,Wrights friendship with Vidler moved the latter in the direction of Unitarianism. This new development divided the Parliament Court congregation and by1801-1803, the majority had embraced Unitarian-Universalism. It was the trauma of thisunresolved division was extended to the General Baptist Assembly which theParliament Court congregation formally joined in 1803.94 Later, in 1806 both WilliamVidler and Richard Wright became ardent supporters of the Unitarian Fund. As a resultof these early nineteenth century efforts British Universalists (many whom had begun as
  • 56either Baptist or Presbyterians) became absorbed and eclipsed by the BritishUnitarians.95 Thus, by 1798-1800 Vidler had become an enthusiastic propagandist of bothUnitarian and Universalist doctrines, and he helped to foster in the opening years of thenineteenth century new Unitarian-Universalist societies in a large number of Englishcounties and cities: Northiam, Rye, Steyning in Sussex, Reading in Berkshire, (old)Boston, and several of the North Marches of Lincolnshire. With the assistance of RichardWright he also founded The Unitarian Evangelical Society in 1804, as related above, theUnitarian Fund in 1806, and wrote many Unitarian publications. From these humblebeginnings, came the amalgamation of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association in1825, and this prepared for the General Assembly of the Unitarian and Free ChristianChurches which was to be established in 1928. This latter organization still exists as themajor Socinian/Unitarian body in the British world today.96 Again, the ironic processes of history seemed to have transpired with Vidlersown congregation. Having already moved from a moderate Calvinist Baptist position toextreme Arminianism and then to Universalism and Unitarianism, the Parliament CourtChurch itself eventually moved beyond any semblance of Biblical Christianity. First,under the leadership of Vidler, it moved to Unitarian-Universalism in the first twodecades of the nineteenth century. Then, in 1824 the Church facilities were physicallyrelocated from Artillery Lane to South Place Chapel, Finsbury (near present-dayLiverpool Street Station). But, more significantly, in the later part of the century whatremained of the congregation changed their affliation name to " The South Place Ethical
  • 57Society." Finally, this society relocated once more in 1927 to Conway Hall, Red LionSquare. If spiritual symbolism has any meaning, Vidlers church, becoming Unitarian inthe beginning of the century, became flagrantly anti-Christian at the end of the 1800s.Another way of saying this is that those who were once followers of the Lamb, and theLion of Judah, in time became followers of His adversary, " the Devil, who as a roaringlion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. "97 Vidler wrote and published two tracts which were quite significant in theliterature of Unitarianism. The first is entitled, In Gods Love to His Creatures (publishedin London, 1799), and he taught in this book that Gods redemptive love extends even toanimals (New Agers who are animal rights advocates and radical enviromentalists lovethis one!). In his Letters to Mr. Fuller on the Universal Restoration (London, 1803), Vidlerrecorded his side of the controversy with the moderate Calvinists concerning universalsalvation. He also edited and published a new edition of Paul Siegvolks treatise, TheEverlasting Gospel (1795) and his master Elhanan Winchesters Dialogues on the UniversalRestoration with a Memoir of its author (1799). In support of his new anti-Trinitarianism, hepublished Nathaniel Scarletts A translation of the New Testament from the original Greek(1798). It should be noted, finally that both William Vidler and Richard Wright, who hadbegun their careers as General Baptist preachers of rather humble origins, became theonly official and paid Unitarian evangelists to scour the entire country for the cause ofUnitarian-Universalism. This is especially true of Wright, who spread the New Gospelof Unitarian-Universalism [?] from " Lands End to John o Groats " or from the
  • 58southeastern tip of Britain to the northeastern tip of Scotland in his evangelistic missionefforts.98 ************* A.C. Underwood, a sensible commentator, has correctly described the demise ofthe Old "General Baptists" in these terms: . . . Thereafter [after 1803], the two General Baptists bodies followed widely di- verging paths. The old Assembly may now drop out of our story, having virtually Unitarian. It still meets regularly and retains its old title for legal purposes, but it has no connexion with present-day Baptists. At various dates the churches in mem- bership with it relinquished baptism by immersion. Thus, for example, the ancient Baptist Church at Horsham, now called "Free Christian," has a baptistry which was last used about 1849. For a short time admission to church-membership was effect- ed by imposition of hands, but that rite is no longer used.99 Two other great examples of once-splendid and spiritually dynamic GeneralBaptist churches which died because of the infection of Socinianism (Unitarianism) arethe Barbican Church in Pauls Alley, once wealthy and center of Baptist life and thePinners Hall in London. After the non-subscription of Joseph Burroughs and JamesFoster at Salters Hall in 1719, the Barbican Church lasted only about a generation, forafter some remarkable doctrinal flucuations, it dissolved in 1768. Likewise, Pinners Hall,originally built by a refugee family of Calvinistic Hugenots in the reign of Elizabeth Iand refurbished and redecorated by the pious Hollis family in the early seventeenthcentury - once a center for zealous and Scriptural Baptists, became after passing into theSocinian orbit (also influenced by Rev. Foster) weak and ineffectual. The congregationdisbanded in 1778, following the expiration of the lease.100
  • 59 Another Baptist church existed at Bermondsey from about 1733 in theSnowfields. Originally, it had been a Methodist chapel, but in 1772 it became an opencommunion church under Baptist pastor, Rev. John Hughes (d. 1774). Yet, Ripponceased to mention it after 1794. Then from 1796-1800 it was led by Samuel Mansell, anArian Baptist. It became extinct in 1814.101 There was another Baptist church inBermondsey, built by John Dolman at Gainsford Street, Blackfields in 1754, also an open-communion body. It was reorganized by John Langford in 1766-1777. Then in 1778 until1820, it became Pedobaptist under the guidance of Michael Brown. Afterwards, itbecame Unitarian.102 We have already seen how under the leadership of Vidler, the Baptist Church atBattle (originally Particular Baptist) became Unitarian, and how from the work ofRichard Wright of Wisbech that General Baptist Church became an outpost of the sameheresy. Numerous other places, Stone Chapel, the Gravel Pit Church, the Eagle StreetChurch, Grafton Street Church, and so many others were troubled by Socinianism andUnitarianism and some that succumbed to it.103 At this point in the research of this writer there has not been time to run down allof the historically significant General Baptist churches which turned Socinian orUnitarian-Universalist eventually. Certainly many old smaller General Baptist (and forthat matter, Particular Baptist) churches in England died of the "natural causes" ofdemographic change and simple numerical decline from either lack of evangelical zeal,overwhelming secularism or both. For instance, W.T. Whitley wrote in 1928 of 856
  • 60Baptist churches being founded in the London area since 1612, but in 1928 orimmediately thereafter there only 416 which he lists in the following categories: A. 228 Churches in the London Baptist Association . B. 50 Churches in the Metropolitan Association of Strict Baptists. C. 27 Churches with the Gospel Standard Societies. D. 56 Churches in the Home Counties Association. E. 13 Churches in the Old Baptist Union. F. 8 Churches in Essex. G. 12 Churches in the Herts. H. 7 Churches in Kent and Sussex. I. 16 Isolated Churches. 104 Some of the most shocking statistics about Baptist decline have come in the lasttwenty-five to thirty years. According to Leon Mc Beth, " One of the most persistent andpuzzling problems facing English Baptists in the twentieth century has been their steadynumerical decline, which since 1906 has been consistent and sometimes dramatic. " 105He also cites some disturbing statistics which place Dr. Whitleys roster of Londonchurches in 1928 in larger perspective: In 1921 there were 3068 churches in the Baptist Union with a total member- ship of 442, 000; in 1981 there were 2058 churches with a total membership of 170,000. A 57 % decline in membership. In 1921 our Sunday Schools had 518, 000 scholars; in 1981, 157,000, a decline of 70 %106 As this paper is brought finally to a conclusion, this writer cannot help butbelieve that between 1870 and 1928, something drastic happened to both the remainderof the General Baptists and the Particular Baptists as represented in the Baptist Union in
  • 61England. Much transpired between the emergence of full-blown Unitarian-Universalismin the early nineteenth century and the decline of overall Baptist influence in Britainafter the first quarter of the twentieth century. At the present time, this writers theory isthat "Downgrade Controversy" among the Baptists in the 1880s and 1890s which wassymbolically represented in the personalities of Charles H. Spurgeon and John Cliffordwas linked to the earlier Socinian/Unitarian controversies of the seventeenth andeighteenth centuries. The writer also tends to agree with the conservative view that theseeds of the controversy began in the 1870s when doctrinal indifference began to affectthe Baptist Union. One speculates over the effects of ideas which may have indeed hadtheir source among Unitarian-Universalists and Liberals which subtly infected even themore orthodox Baptists. Charles H. Spurgeon, who certainly was no fool and an astuteobserver of Baptists, charged that many Baptist pastors in the British Baptist Union heldSocinian views of Christ, Universalistic ideas of salvation, and infidel views of theinspiration of Scripture.107 And, again, in light of what this writer has read about theDarwinian revolution after 1859, the rise of naturalistic and negative Biblical criticism ofthe Bible from 1750-1950, and the numerous philosophical attacks on Christianity andthe Bible for the last hundred and seventy-five years, Spurgeon looks quite visionary inhis stubborness. Some of his rhetoric and his particular suspicions may have beenwrong, but in light of the destructive precedent of Socinianism among the Baptists in thetwo centuries before, his general premises appear to be totally valid. Simply put, whenone begins to doubt matters such as the verbal inspiration of Scripture, the doctrines ofthe deity and humanity of Christ, or the penal subsitutionary atonement of our Lord,
  • 62Christianity gets replaced by a new Gospel and an anti-Christian system of thought.Jesus and His true Apostles seemed to have predicted it long ago in sundry places in theNew Testament (Matthew 24; 2 Corinthians 11: 3-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 2 Timothy3:1-17; 2 Peter 3:1-18; 1 John 4:2,3; Jude 3-4; Revelation 2:1-7). Faithful Baptists, who are first faithful Christians (as Thomas Monk, Jr. wouldplead for) must make the defense of their Lords person and work their chief concern,even while loving the souls of those lost in modern infidelity and cultism. One isreminded of how that illustrious champion of Biblical Christian orthodoxy, theReverend John Hall, Jr. (1764-1831) once answered a Socinian well-wisher who mistookhis kind remarks for the character and integrity of Dr. Joseph Priestley as anendorsement of his theological errors: On one of these occasions, Mr. Hall having, in his usual terms, panegyrized Dr. Priestley, a gentleman who held the Doctors theological opinions, tapping Mr. Hall upon the shoulder with an indelicate freedom from which he recoiled, said, " Ah, sir, we shall have you among us soon, I see. " Mr. Hall, startled and offended by the rude tone of exultation in which this was uttered, hastily re- plied, "Me amongst you, sir! Me amongst you ! Why, if that were ever the case, I should deserve to be tied to the tail of the great red dragon, and whipped round the nethermost regions [of hell] to all eternity. "108
  • 1 Endnotes1 "Unitarians," In J.D. Douglas, ed., New 20th-Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (Second Edition; GrandRapids, Michigan: 1991), pp. 841-842. Perhaps the best brief article written prior to 1960 on Unitarianism is thatcontained in F. E. Mayers compendium, The Religious Bodies of America. Revised by Arthur C. Piepkorn. (4thEdition; St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 1961), Pt. X, pp. 511-519. A more secular analysis ofUnitarianism as a philosophical viewpoint is covered in Paul Edwards, ed., The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2ndEdition; New York: Macmillan and Free Press, 1989). B.K. Kuiper in his classic book, The Church In History( Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans / Christian Schools International Publications, 1964), Ch. 35, pp. 280-283also has a clear short historical description of modern Unitarianism / Socinianism.2 A History of Christianity (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1953), chapter xxxv, p. 788. Cf. also his comments onpp. 792-795 and passim.3 See the article on "Unitarianism" in F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the ChristianChurch (3rd Edition; London and New York: 1990), pp. 1408-1409. We have obtained supplemental informationfrom The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV; New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. Cf. also the onlineEdition, 1999 by Kevin Knight at www.newadvent.org. In the article from the Oxford Dictionary above it is notedthat George Blandrata, a Piedmontese physician, became the leader of a small group of Unitarians in Poland in1558. By 1565 this group had grown, but was now excluded from the Reformed Church and held its own synodas the "Minor Church" (Ibid.) Perhaps the most famous and definitely the most scholarly works is E.M. Wilbur, AHistory of Unitarianism : Socianism and its Antecedents (2 Vols: Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard UniversityPress, 1945-1952). Earlier, the account of Joseph Henry Allen, An Historical Sketch of the Unitarian MovementSince the Reformation, Vol. 2 in the American Church History Series (New York: The Christian Literature Co.,1894) is also a worthy tome, despite its pro-Unitarian bias. In chapters I-V, Allen, like Wilbur later, has athorough survey of the Valdes and Bernard Ochino in Northern Italy, Servetus and his martyrdom in Geneva,the Unitarianism of Faustus Socinus, the spread and development of Unitarianism in Poland, and finally, itssurvival in the seventeenth century in Transylvania, pp. 1-120. The weakest aspect of both Allen and Wilbursaccounts are certain facts they deliberately leave out and their appeals to emotion in respect to Servetusmartyrdom. Two examples from Allen may suffice here. For instance, Allen hearty defense Ochinos view ofJustification (Cantu, vol. ii., p. 380-381) on p. 15 against the " Lutheran assertion of a faith wholly independent ofworks" is a glaring instance of refusing to note the context here of forensic justification before God and thebalance of the doctrine in the Lutheran confessions which teaches clearly that saving faith is never without goodworks, inspired by the Spirit (Augsburg Confession, XX, Melancthons Apology to the Augsburg Confession, LuthersLarge Catechism, Pt. I, The Ten Commandments, etc.). More serious, however, is Allens attempt to drawsympathy for anti-Trinitarianism from the youthful Philip Melancthons Loci Communes, first published in 1521,
  • about which work Allen implies that Melancthon did not seek "metaphysical grounds of the doctrine thendeemed orthodox" (i.e, a reference to the Trinitarian model of belief) (p. 27). Yet, all of Allens attempts in thetext and footnotes of the next several pages to show or imply that Melancthon sympathized with a non-Trinitarian interpretation of the Bible can hardly be substantiated in light of his Reformation work with Luther,his sermons at Wittenberg , his work on the Augsburg Confession of 1530, nor his very own words in The Apology0f 1531, where he plainly states that his Catholic opponents approved of his Article I on " God. " There, he saysplainly " This asserts our faith and teaching that there is one undivided divine essence, and that there arenevertheless three distinct and coeternal persons of the same divine essence, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Wehave always taught and defended this doctrine and we believe that the Holy Scriptures testify to it firmly,surely, and irrefutably. We steadfastly maintain that those who believe otherwise do not belong to the church ofChrist but are idolaters and blasphemers. " (Louis Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord. Philadelphia: Fortress Press,1959, p. 100). While Melancthon himself labored diligently to work out a more simple, logical, and Scripturalstatement of the Trinity (and rejected much Medieval speculation), he never held with rationalistic or hereticalreductions of the Godhead to mans rational capacity and he fervently held to the early creeds (Apostles, Nicene,and Athanasian) as sound expositions of Gods revelation of Himself. To suggest that because Melancthonpursued the immediate and practical purposes of reconciling Protestants and Catholics on this key doctrine thathe had a "disturbing consciousness" when it came to Servetus attacks on this (p. 29) is ridiculous. Undoubtly, hewould have agreed with Oeclampadius, who urged against Servetus that he really did not accept a trueIncarnation: " You do not admit, then, that the Son of God was to be a man, but [hold] that a man was to be theSon of God. " (Cited on p. 30, Allen). Later, both Calvin and Melancthon endeavored to win Servetus from hiserrors and the soul-damning propositions of his De Trinitatus Erroribus (Hagenau, 1531), but Servetus blindlyand insanely pursued his human rationalism against all Biblical and theological evidence to the contrary. We doaccept, however, the characterization of Professor Harold O.J. Brown: " A different fate [from Menno Simons]awaited one of the most brilliant and eccentric advocates of a heavenly-flesh doctrine, the Spanish physicianMichael Servetus (1511-1553). Servetus has gone down in church and secular history as a martyr to Calvinisticintolerance; his execution in Geneva represents a stain that Reformed Protestantism has never quite been able toefface. " (Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrikson Publishers, 1988,ch. 16, p.330. See further, pp. 331-352).4 "Unitarians," in J.D. Douglas, Op. Cit.. Actually, the first "Unitarians" in Christian history may have been the"Monarchists" of the early 3rd century. Here we think of the "Dynamic Monarchism" of the Ebionites,Theodotius of Byzantium, and Paul of Samosata (bishop of Antioch, A.D. 260). Generally, these "unitarians"believed that Jesus Christ was a special man (some accepted his Virgin Birth) who received the "Christ Spirit"either at his Baptism or in His Resurrection, or that he was an ordinary man endowed with Divine powers. Ineither case, Deity was not naturally the possession of Jesus, but something bestowed on him in some sense ordegree. The other form of "primitive Unitariansim" or Socinianism was exhibited by the "Modalists" (also aform of Monarchism) by Noetus of Rome , Praxeas, and later Sabellius who envisioned the Father , Son, andSpirit merely as"modes" or historical manifestations of the One Deity in various guises. Some of these tendenciesreappeared in sixteenth century Socianism and in the Unitarianism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.Fausus Socinius, for example, was a theology student at Basel, when his uncles unpublished manuscript cameinto his hands. His conversion to this view was a crucial historical step. See Bengt Hagglund, History of Theology,translated by Gene J. Lund ( 3rd edition; St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 1968). More recentlyHarold O.J. Brown has explored these historical connections in his lively study: Heresies: The Image of Christ inthe Mirror of Heresy and Orthodoxy from the Apostles to the Present (Doubleday 1984), chapters 3-5.5 See the references in the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church and The Catholic Encyclopedia above, Ibid. Seealso list of Latin collections by L. Wolzogen, F.S. Bock, and F. Trecshsel in the bibliography in the first reference.One key work in German is that of Otto Fock, Der Socinianismus nach seiner Stellung in der Gesammtenwickelungdes christlichen Geistes (2 Vols.; Kiel, 1847).6 Mayer (Piepkorn), Religious Bodies in America, Pt. X, Section 1, " Unitarian-Universalist Association, " p. 511-12.In a footnote on the same page, Dr. Mayer adds, " There were several Unitarians prior to Socinus, such as the
  • German Anabaptists Denk and Hetzer, the Dutch mystic Campanus, the Italian free-thinkers Blandrata,Garibaldo, and Gentile (executed in Bern, 1556). "7 In J.D. Douglas, New 20th-Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Op. Cit. It should be recalled that FaustusSocinus had been somewhat more discreet about his anti-Trinitarianism, possibly realizing that it was definitelyagainst the mainstream of Christian tradition and Biblical exegesis. He had outwardly conformed to the Romandogma and forms of worship while he was a secretary in the court of the Medici in Florence. Then, eventually ,he revealed his sentiments when he lived in more tolerant Basel, where he wrote his notorious treatise, De JesusChristo Salvatore which explicitly denied the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, Gods Son, for sin.Rather, Socinus believed, man must be his own savior by imitating the perfect life that Jesus lived and hispattern of the way of salvation. Later, he would take his anti-Trinitarianism and moralistic Gospel toTransylvania, and finally to Poland, where he died in 1604. See the comments of Kenneth Latourette on the laterPolish Socinians heretical missionary activity and the Socianism of the racial Transylvanian Cossacks, the"Szeklers"in A History of Christianity , chapter xxxv, pp. 793-795. See also Earl M. Wilber, editor and trans.,Stanislas Kot, Socianism in Poland: The Social and Political Ideas of the Polish Anti-Trinitarianians in the SixteenthCentury (Boston: Starr King Press, 1957).8 See Latourette, Op Cit., p. 793 and Spitz, The Renaissance and ReformationMovements. Vol. II, The Reformation.(Revised Edition; St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 1987), pp. pp. 396, 405, 437-438.9 "Unitarianism", The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, pp. 1408-1409.10 This is especially seen by reading carefully the citations from the respective confessions in the text andelsewhere. The three Ecumenical Creeds, which also the Catholic and the Greek Orthodox accept are theApostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. These come from the second, early fourth and latefourth centuries, respectively.11 See also Lewis W.Spitz, The Renaissance and Reformation Movements. Vol. II, The Reformation. (Revised Edition; St.Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 1987), pp. 374, 396. One who does justice to the civic concerns of theunorthodox while recognizing the value of Protestant Orthodoxy is the late Quaker scholar of Yale, Roland H.Bainton, in his work, The Travail of Religious Liberty ( Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1951). A sympatheticaccount, based on fairly extensive research, can be found in E.M. Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism: Socianism andits Antecedents (2 Vols: Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1945-1952).12 It is probable that the new Unitarian impulse in England ca. 1650 and after came as much from the influence ofDeism as the direct contact with traditions of Socianism in Continental Europe. Although this writer does notpresently have access to them, there are some bibliographical collections at Harvard and Andover NewtonTheological Seminary which have leads into the remote history of European Unitarianism from the Reformationto ca. 1700. But Cf. Earl Morse Wilber, A Bibliography of the Pioneers of the Socinian-Unitarian Movement in ModernChristianity, in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland (Sussidi eruditi Vol. 1; Rome: Edizioni di storia e letteratura,1950); Christoph Sand, Biblotheca antitrinitariorum, 1684 (Reprint, Instytut Filozofiii Socjologii Polskiej AkademiiNauk, Biblioteka prisarzy reforma-cyjnynch, 6. Varsoviae [Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1967]);Robert Wallace, AntiTrinitarian Biography (3 Vols.; London: E.T. Whitefield, 1850).13 One mayconsult the article on " Socianism" by Robert G. Clouse in J.D. Douglas, New 20th-Century Encyclopediaof Religious Knowledge,, p. 912. The best books on the overall topic may be E.M. Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism:In Transylvania, England, and America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1952), and H.J. MacLachlan, Socianism in 17thCentury England (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957. Originally published : Oxford University Press, 1951),Cf. especially chaps. I-III, pp. 1-44. See, moreover, George H. Williams, The Radical Reformation. (Philadelphia:The Westminster Press, 1962). The most detailed account of various individuals in England during the 1600swho partially or wholly embraced is found in Earl Morse Wilbur, Our Unitarian Heritage. Boston: Beacon Press,1925, Pt. V., Chapters XXVII and XXVIII.14 See the accounts in The Science of Theology, edited by Gillian R. Evans, Alister E. McGrath, and Alland D.Galloway in Paul Avis theological series, The History of Christian Theology (Basingstoke, U.K.: Marshall Pickering/Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1986), Vol. I, pp. 280-284. There is trenchantly observed, " In the eighteenthcentury, Jonathan Edwards had already exercised a powerful transforming influence on Calvinism. In
  • reconciling it with rationalism and Newtonian science, he had changed its ethos. He integrated into it therevivalist emphasis on emotion and personal decision. This weakened the doctrine of predestination " (p. 282).In more general terms, the degeneration of the Reformation/Puritan ethos is discussed in Marshall and Manuel,The Light and the Glory, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell, 1977), pp. 277-278; 345-353; and inLatourette, A History of Christianity , pp. 1035-1046.15 "Unitarianism, " The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Ibid. But at least ten years previous to this ( and inrespect to social roots, probably the whole previous generation of forty years) Reverend Samuel Langford,then President of Harvard College, had prophesied, " We have rebelled against God. We have lost the true spiritof Christianity, though we retain the outward profession and form of it. We have neglected and set light by theglorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy commands and institutions. The worship of many is butmere compliment to the Deity, while their hearts are far from Him. By many the Gospel is corrupted into asuperficial system of moral philosophy, little better than ancient Platonism." Sermon reprinted in Plumstead, ed.,The Wall and the Garden, Selected Massachusetts Election Sermons, 1670-1775 (Minneapolis: University of MinnesotaPress, 1968), cited in Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, chapter 15, pp. 277-278.16 "Unitarianism, "Op. Cit. Kenneth S. Latourette in his chapter xliv, " Repudiation and Revival, A.D. 1750-A.D.1815, " discusses in some detail how the effect of Rationalist "Pietism" ( e.g., Christian Wolff of Halle,1679-1754 ) opened up the way for Deism and Unitarianism among Evangelical Protestants. Much moredamaging , of course, was the more extreme Deist and Rationalist views of Herman Samuel Reimarus ofHamburg (1694-1768) and the famous dramatic critic Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) who tended toargue that religion "evolved" and that Deism/Unitarianism was the natural state of civilization in an EnlightenedAge (Cf. p. 1005). We have already mentioned the receptive mood of England to new notions. There were someUnitarians among the Scots as well, and the General (Arminian) Baptists of England tended in this direction. Itwas with this latter group that Joseph Priestly eventually ministered.17 "Unitarians," in J.D. Douglas, New 20th-Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, pp.841-842. Sydney E.Ahlstrom, the highly regarded authority on American Religion at Yale, in an earlier essay had stated, " Just asThomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams stand in their own right as flowerings of theEnlightenment comparable to any men of their age, in the same manner a long train of American theologiansplay important roles in the history of Christian thought even though their predicament often makes their worktoo American in its focus to allow wide international assimilation of it. Cited in " Theology In America: AHistorical Survey, " in James Ward Smith and A. Leland Jamison, eds., The Shaping of American Religion(Volume I, "Religion In American Life"; Princeton Studies in American Civilization, No. 5; Princeton, N.J.:Princeton University Press, 1961), p. 318. But see also pp. 183, 323, 341-343, 350, 351-352, 353, 357, 359, 403, etc.See also the revealing quotations in Nelson Manfred Blake, A History of American Life and Thought (New York:McGraw-Hill, 1963), chapter 14, pp. 189-202, and passim . On Thomas Jeffersons animosity to confessional,historic Christianity, see my essay, " A Historical and Philosophical Critique of Thomas Jeffersons View ofChristianity, " Graduate Paper at Stephen F. Austin State University, Fall, 1997. Generally speaking, PeterMarshall and David Manuels last three or four chapters in The Light and the Glory, Op. Cit., adopt a similarstance on the incipient Unitarianism of some of our American Founding Fathers.18 "Unitarians," in J.D. Douglas, New 20th-Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Ibid. See also DavidRobinson, The Unitarians and the Univeralists in Henry W. Bowden, General Editor, Denominations in America, Vol.I (Westport, Connecticutt: Greenwood Press, 1985), Ch. 2, " American Unitarians Origins, " pp. 21-23.19 Essentially, the writer has paraphrased Ahlstroms account in " Theology In America, " , Op. Cit., pp. 251-252.The direct quote is from p. 252. Ahlstrom himself cites the authoritative source of Conrad Wright, The Beginningsof Unitarianism in America ( Boston: Beacon Press, 1955). See also Latourette, Op Cit., p. 794-5 and in his chapterxliv, "Repudiation and Revival, A.D. 1750-A.D. 1815, " who discusses in some detail how the effect of Rationalist"Pietism" (e.g., Christian Wolff of Halle, 1679-1754 ) opened up the way for Deism and Unitarianism amongEvangelical Protestants. Much more damaging , of course, was the extreme Deist and Rationalist views ofHerman Samuel Reimarus of Hamburg (1694-1768) and the famous dramatic critic Gotthold Ephraim Lessing(1729-1781) who tended to argue that religion "evolved" and that Deism/Unitarianism was the natural state of
  • civilization in an Enlightened Age (Cf. p. 1005). We have already mentioned the receptive mood of England tonew notions. There were some Unitarians among the Scots as well, and the General (Arminian) Baptists ofEngland tended in this direction. It was with this latter group that Joseph Priestly eventually ministered.20 H.J. Maclachlan, Op. Cit. has a quite detailed discussion of the growth of heresy among Anglicans, PuritanNon-Conformists, and others in his Socinianism In Seventeenth-Century England, pp. 30--38. There he mentionssuch individuals as Matthew Hamont, John Lewes, Peter Cole, George von Parris, Justius Velsius, Francis Kett,Bartholomew Legate, William Sayer, and others in the later sixteenth and early seventeenth century. He alsonotes the powerful influence among Anabaptists and some Non-conformists of the Racovian Catechism and theEnglish translation of Konrad Vorst De Deo and Apologetica exegesis pro tractatu de Deo by the autumn of 1611(!).21 Maclachan, Socinianism In Seventeenth-Century England, p. 32. Another man, Edward Wightman, was burned atLichfield in 1612. The manuscript of his trial (dated December 5, 1611) is in the Bodleian library in Oxford(Ashmole Manuscript, No. 1521, vii). According to McLachlan, he had wrote a small folio book of 18 pageswhich he dedicated to King James. According to MacLachlan, " he held that Jesus Christ is only mann and amere Creature, and not both God and man in one person. He began to hold new views about the Trinity in1609. " (Ibid.)22 McLachlan, Ibid., pp. 38-39. This correspondence is contained in the historical work by B. Evans, Early EnglishBaptists, 2 Vols.; London, 1862-64, Vol. II, pp. 21-51. Despite McLachlan and other pro-Unitarian historiansprotests about the "Biblicism" of the early Socinians/Unitarians, it is clear that such loose "tolerance" obviouslyignores the statements of Jesus himself about his coinherence ("remaining in")and eternal unity with the Father (Cf.Johns 5: 24-40; 7:28-29; 8:14ff.; 8:27-29, 58; 10:25-38; 14:9-11, 14:15-19; 15:26ff.; 16:25ff.; 17:1-5, etc.). It also totallyignores scores of other statements about Christs equal deity with the Father and Spirit in the New Testamentepistles which are too numerous to enumerate here. Anti-Trinitarianism is not the result of unprejudicedexegesis, but rather a reluctance of human sinners to acknowledge Christs absolute perfect Godhood andmanhood. It is sinful rationalism.23 Ibid. See Leon Macbeth, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness. ( Nashville, Tennessee: BroadmanPress,1987), Ch. 5, pp. 154-158.24 A History of the English Baptists (3rd edition; London: The Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland, 1961), pp.54-55. The first quotation is from Philip Schaff, ed. , The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge(New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1908), Vol. I, p. 161, and the citation from Ernest Troletsch is from theEnglish translation of his Die Sozallehren der Christlichen Kirchen und Gruppen (Tubingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1902), TheSocial Teaching of the Christian Churches. 2 Vols. (London: Herder and Herder, 1931), p. 708.25 Socinianism In Seventeenth Century England, pp. 39-43. He further comments, " For example, in 1639, at thesuggestion of the English Ambassador the States of Holland were warned of the probable arrival of someSocinianism from Poland, after their expulsion from Rakow, and were exhorted ( tout de bon ) to anticipate theevils that might arise by suitable decrees." In Holland itself in 1653 the States General at the instance of theNational Synod issued a very stringent edict against Socinianism. But this only temporarily affected the spreadof this theological infection. (JR)26 Mclachan, Ibid.27 H.L. McLachlan, whom we have already cited frequently, discusses several issues related to the cultural andsocial milieu of English Unitarianism and these include (1) the dissolution of high Calvinism and the genesis ofLiberal theology; (2) the school of "rational theologians " at Oxford; (3) the growth and development of"Cambridge Liberals" in the pre-Enlightenment age; (4) the Socinianizing teaching of John Webberly andThomas Lushington in thelater seventeenth century; (5) the immense distribution and currency of Socinian books and tract literature; (6)the Socinian missionary "evangelism" of Paul Best (1590 ? - 1657); (7) and finally, the work of John Bidle himself(1616- 1662), who is considered to be the father of English Unitarianism. For the details of these importantsimultaneous events in the historical context, cf. Socinianism In Seventeenth-Century England, chaps. IV-X, pp.
  • 45-218.28 Cf. F. Cheynell, The Rise, Growth, and Danger of Socinianism (London, 1643), p. 17, cited in McLachlan, Op. Cit, p.120. Another famous Anglican treatise against the evil propaganda of Socinianism/Unitarianism was that ofSamuel Maresius, Hydra Socinianismi expugnata (1651-1662) who described this heresy as " a venomous poison, amonstrous hydra, and a murderous weapon of Satan. " In light the destructive effect on the Christian faith andthe moral life of America in the last three and one-half centuries, and the bizzare sycretism of twentieth-centuryUnitariansim with the New Age, Wiccan witchcraft, and modern Paganism, it appears to me that the judgmentof those like Maresius and Cheynell were both theologically correct and indeed prophetic.29 McLachlan , Socinianism In Seventeenth Century England, pp. 208-211. McLachlan further notes that about 1655Jeremy Ives with a group of Baptists circulated a petition asking that the Blasphemy Ordinance of 1648 " bedeclared null and void" and that Bidle be set at liberty. This petition was presented to the Lord Protector onSeptember 28 of that year. Essentially, the petition stated that Bidle was a man of good conscience and shouldnot be punished merely for his unorthodox opinions. (Ibid.)30 Cf. Mecurius Politicus, 28 Sept. 1655 and also Masson, Life of Milton, v.65-66 in the Clarke Papers, edited by C.H.Firth (London: Camden Socinians N.S. 61, 1899), iii, 53 cited by McLachlan, Op. Cit., p. 210. Cromwell didintervene with the Parliament so that Biddle was taken out of Newgate by special warrant and sent to wile awayfor over three years his exile in the dungeon of St. Marys castle on the Isle of Scilly. While there he was allowedbooks and visitors and given ten shillings per week by the authorities. This also doubtlessly saved him fromexecution.31 McLachlan, Ibid., pp. 212-217. It appears to me that John Bidle was not a martyr for Christ and the Gospel, butthat he was only (possibly) an honorable man with his own erroneous convictions.632 A.C. Underwood suggests that the General Baptists, though professing a purely derived Biblicism, werenevertheless the victims of their own "old ways" (i.e., traditions) which included " some of the Sect-type ideaswhich they had inherited from the Mennonites or derived from their biblicism." Cf. A History of the EnglishBaptists, ch. VI, " Toleration and Decline, " pp. 126-127. Leon McBeth, moreover, emphasizes the negativeinfluence on General Baptist theology by the Quakers (e.g., George Fox), who had a tendency " to put moreemphasis upon the mystery (the inner, mystical elements of faith) to the neglect of the history (the writtenScriptures) [which] could only undermine Baptist views. " See The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of BaptistWitness, Ch. 5, pp. 154-155. McLachlan observed that from the time of Elias Tookeys friends in the BaptistChurch at Spitalfields, London some were not sound on the matter of the Trinity. And he follows other modernresearchers in asserting that from this point onward " Socinian influences were making themselves felt. " Op.Cit., p. 218.833 McLachlan, Socinianism In Seventeenth Century England, p. 219. A.C. Underwood , describing the decline of theGeneral Baptists, states: " But, above all, their vitality was drained away when their body was prevaded bySocinianism. Their belief in a universal redemption had made them earnest in preaching the Gospel to all. TheirMessengers were travelling evangelists, but now they either died out or ceased to itinerate. In spite of theirconnexional organization, ruin came when they gradually adopted Arian and Socinian views of the Person ofChrist. " A History of the English Baptists, Op. Cit.34 History of the English General Baptists (2 Vols.; London: Thomas Bore, 1818), Part I, 2, p. 1, cited in McLachlan,Op. Cit. , p. 219.935 See the accounts of McLachlan and Underwood, Op. Cit., pp. 219ff. and 126-127, respectively. On Caffynsearly Socinian musings at Oxford, see Michael R. Watts, The Dissenters (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), p. 375.The closest the author to come to a primary source on Caffyn, was Thomas Crosby, The History of the EnglishBaptists From the Reformation To the Beginning of the Reign of King George I (4 Vols.; London: John RobinsonBookseller, 1740), IV, pp. 328-342.136 Cf. History of the English General Baptists, Op. Cit., Vol. I., p. 464.37 Socinianism In Seventeenth Century England , pp. 219-220 and A.C. Underwood, A History of the English Baptists,p. 127.
  • Melchior Hoffmann (ca. 1498-1543/4) was an Anabaptist whose Christology was Valentinian, as he regarded thehuman nature of Jesus a direct creation of God.38 A.C.Underwood, Ibid. See also W.T. Whitley, Minutes of the General Assembly of the General Baptist Churches inEngland (2 Vols; London: Kingsgate Press, 1909), Vol. I, p. ix.139 See Macbeth, The Baptist Heritage, p. 157-8. See also W.T. Whitely, ed., Minutes of the General Assembly of theGeneral Baptist Churches in England, Op. Cit., Vol. I: 84. McLachlan summarizes his main views: " In 1653 headopted a very anthromorphic view of the body of Christ, and from 1661 on he maintained that God is in theshape of man or some such kind of form or shape . This anthromorphism is not unlike that found among theearly English Socinians, but says Gordon, with Socinians Caffyn had no sympathetic relations, and did his bestto convert them to his own point of view . " Socinianism In Seventeenth-Century England, p. 220. The article byArthur Gordon on Matthew Caffyn is found in Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary ofNational Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1917, 1954), Vol. III.140 Socinianism In Seventeenth-Century England, Ibid. McLachlan also records that he was the cause of a riot inNewport Pagnell and that " For setting up a conventicle and absenting himself from the public thanksgivingservice for the victory at Naseby , he was arrested and imprisoned by the governor of the garrison. "(Ibid.).141 McLachlan, p. 221.142 Ibid. This writing was titled Innocency, Though under a Cloud, Cleared. By P.H. a poor Prisnoner, when almost sunkunder pretended Friends Censures in the day of his Sufferings, And also, A Discovery of the Comforts that attendInnocency in a Prison (1664). In what is stated immediately afterward, much is draw from page 23 as cited byMcLachlan.143 McLachlan, Ibid., p. 222.144 McLachlan, Ibid. Hobsons exegesis is loose and free and it ignores the context entirely. The plain meaning ofthe Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek is that Jesus was Gods unique Son ( ho uios and homonogenes uios). The Socinian objections to the literal and grammatical-historical interpretation of the multitudeof Christological passages in New Testament are not based on biblicism but rationalism. Furthermore, a leadingpatristics scholar such as J.N.D. Kelly can assert that despite the lack of the word "Trinity"in the New Testament,there are scores of passages in the New Testament that are "triune" in structure. In the first through thirdcenturies the orthodox fathers bound by both the radical monotheism of the Old Testament and the undeniablerevelation of the Deity of Christ and the personality of the Divine Spirit, simply expressed that truth in the mostobvious way. Cf. J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (Revised Edition; London and New York: OxfordUniversity Press, 1978), chaps. I-III.45 His interpretation of 2 Corinthians 5:19,20, etc. On the positive side was Arminianism with the note of Godsfree grace, yet it was radical and Socinian in that it was based purely on a moral theory of the Atonement.Thomas Edwards in his Gangraena, Part I, 2, p. 33 draws out a phrase from Hobsons sermons, " Christ is theeffect not the cause of the love of God. " In other popular literature circulated at the time, it was said: " Yea,Christ came not to reconcile God to men, but men to God. For though Christ do hold forth love and life, yet hedid not purchase it, but was purchased by it. . . . " Cited in McLachlan, Ibid.46 McLachlan, Ibid., p. 223. By 1660 Hobson was classified with Paul Best and John Bidle as a heretic. This is whythat when he returned from Holland in 1661 that the Baptist churches gave him a cold and hostile reception.247 This account is generally a paraphrase of the facts given in Arthur Gordons article on John Gale in Sir LeslieStephen and Sir Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1917,1954), Vol. VII [?], p. 721 [?]. Because of his distinction in learning he became known to William Whiston andthrough him and possibly Barrington Shute (late Viscount Barrington), he came to know influential people likethe Whig bishop Hoadly and Bishop Bradford of Rochester. Like Saul of old, he was a tall, handsome youngman with the distinctiveness of genius and a dynamic gift for speaking and writing.248 Cf. A.C. Underwood, A History of the English Baptists, p. 137. Thomas Crosby, The History of the English Baptists,Op.Cit. has a long litany of praise for his spiritual integrity and pastoral virtues, Vol. IV, pp. 366-373. Evidentally,his preformance as an expositor was excellent and he displayed a high moral character.
  • 249 The Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. VII, pp. 494-495, passim. Cf. also A.C. Underwood, A History of theEnglish Baptists, Op. Cit., p. 138.250 A History of the English Baptists, Ibid. See also William L. Whitley, The Baptists of London (London: TheKingsgate Press, 1928 ), p. 14. Most of the key facts are drawn from the DNB article above in footnote 49.Another ironic and historically significant connection is that it was James Foster who in 1647 baptized theeccentric William Whiston, who had been an Anglican clergyman, and who also became so noteworthy as atranslator of the works of Flavius Josephus and as representative of eighteenth century Arianism andSocinianism.51 The Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. VII, Ibid.52 The Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. VII, p. 495. Sir Leslie Stephen also notes that Foster was sharplyupbraided by conservative Particular Baptists like John Brine for his “free-thinking tendencies” (Ibid.). Longbefore the middle of the eighteenth century, perceptive Biblical Baptists realized that hard Unitarianismfollowed Socinianism and that it led to Deism and, ultimately, to unbelief in Christ and His Word.253 From The Cambridge History of English and American Literature (18 Vols; London: Cambridge University Press,1907-1921), Vol. X. , Pt. XVI. 7 cited in http: //www. bartleby.com /220/1607.html.254 The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Ibid. cited from the net address above.255 The material facts here are taken from the article on Whiston in The Dictionary of National Biography , Vol. XXII,and the internet article on "William Whiston" at http.: //www.gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Whiston.html. Other material is found in Edmund Calamy, An Historical Account of MyOwn Life, Vol. II, Op. Cit., pp. 250, 305, 350, 438, 442, 523-4, and 528; and also in Roland N. Stromberg, ReligiousLiberalism in Eighteenth Century England (London: Oxford University Press, 1954), particularly Chap. IV, " Ariansand Socinians, " pp. 34-51.256 See W.B. Selbie, Non-Conformity: Its Origin and Progress In Herbert Fisher, Gilbert Murray, et al., eds., HomeUniversity Library of Modern Knowledge (London: Williams and Norgate, 1912), chapters viii and ix, " TheRevolution, " and "Reaction and Decline, " pp. 134-171. Most of Edmund Calamys convulted volume, Op. Cit.[footnote 55 above] is concerned with this period and written in almost sensationalistic journal fashion.257 W.B. Selbie, Non-Conformity: Its Origin and Progress, pp. 162-163. Cf. also The Cambridge History of English andAmerican Literature (18 Vols; London: Cambridge University Press, 1907-1921), Vol. X. , Pt. XVI. 8 cited in http: //www.bartleby.com/220/1607.html. This source, as others, also mentions the role of Joseph Hallett, the date of thesecond Exeter assembly as May, 1719. The actual Subscription controversy seems to have occurred in July, 1719.John Shute Barrington (afterwards Viscount Barrington) is identified as the leader of the Presbyterians, who ashas been noted, resisted formal imposition of the a creed. The minority of subscribers later formed their owndistinct minority under Bradburys direction, while the non-subscribers issued a dispatch (or manifesto ?) letterto Exeter, stating their virtues and convictions in not subscribing. Ironically, the Unitarians of the latereighteenth and nineteenth century would look on this as their charter of freedom from "dogmatism." See furtherthe minute coverage of the events in Roger Thomas, " The Non-Subscription Controversy, " in Journal ofEcclesiastical History 4, No. 2 (July-October, 1953): 162-163.358 Class notes from Professor John Y. Briggs, Regents Park College, Oxford which were kindly lent to this authorwith permission to cite them in this paper. The facts are, however, substantiated in the various histories: ThomasCrosby, Edmund Calamy, McBeth, Selbie, and Underwood and elsewhere.359 Class Notes from Professor Briggs course in Modern Church History, Regents Park College, cited withpermission. These figures differ slightly from those given in some handbooks and general histories as well thosein our class notes from Professor Macmullens class on Baptist History at Midwestern Baptist TheologicalSeminary. But the effect of the slight numerical variations is neglible. The main point is that most of the keyGeneral Baptist leaders were influenced in the direction of non-Subscription (and eventually towardUnitarianism), while a few General Baptists and most Particular Baptists remained orthodox at this time. (JR).
  • 360 Class Notes, Ibid., p. 5. See also the detailed survey of the intellectual movements of the time in Stromberg,Religious Liberalism in Eighteenth Century England, pp. 34-39 and W.B. Selbie, Non-Conformity: Its Origin andProgress, pp. 164-171. An excellent contemporary survey of the whole period is found in Gerald R. Cragg, TheChurch and the Age of Reason, 1648-1789 in The Pelican History of the Church (London: Pelican/ Penguin Books,1988), Vol. 4, pp. 117-140.361 Non-Conformity: Its Origin and Progress, p. 164. Progress, pp. 164-171. An excellent contemporary survey of thewhole period is found in Gerald R. Cragg, The Church and the Age of Reason, 1648-1789 in The Pelican History ofthe Church (London: Pelican/ Penguin Books, 1988), Vol. 4, pp. 117-140.62 Cf. G.R. Cragg, Op. Cit., p. 136 and see K.S. Latournette, A History of Christianity (cited in footnote 2), Pt. VII,chap. xxxvi, p. 827, and Selbie, Op. Cit., pp. 164-65.363 See Sromberg, Religious Liberalism in Eighteenth Century England, pp. 95, 113, and 116 and the standard historiesof the time. Edmund Calamys work An Historical Account of My Own Life, Vol. II, chaps. IX and X, minutelydetails both the political-social developments and the religious events of this time (pp. 233-535).364 Perhaps a hint of this hidden working of Arianism/Socinianism can even be found, ironically, in the letter ofIsaac Watts to Reverend Cotton Mather in Boston written on February 11, 1720, contained in his Collected Works,6 Vols. (London, 1810-11), ii, p. 414 (contained also in the Massachusetts Historical Society Collection), cited inThomas Rogers, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 4, No. 2 (July - October, 1953), p. 182.65 Selbie, Non-Conformity: Its Origin and Progress, p. 165, for instance. Thomas Monk (Jr)s quotation is from theminutes of the 1699 General Assembly, cited by Arnold H.J. Baines in his fine old article in The Baptist Quarterly(London: The Baptist Historical Society), Vol. 17 (1957-58): 41 (See context, pp. 35-42; 74-86; 122-128; 170-178). InProfessor (Rev.) Bainesls footnote # 20 he comments: " For evidence that Caffyns followers still denied Godsomnipresence see A second Address to the Anabaptists (1702), p. 22, citing The Vail turnd aside, which I have notseen."66 Cf. Selbie, Non-Conformity: Its Origin and Progress, pp. 165-171, but he has some qualifications on pp. 169-170(e.g., the "Northern Education Society, " and the Heckmondwicke Academy). The few solidly Biblical Baptistacademies like those at Bristol continued and the later Stepney Academy (f. 1796) which became Regent ParkCollege, Oxford.67 See Adam Taylor, The History of the General Baptists (London, 1818), Vol. I, pp. 464-480, cited by Leon Mcbeth,The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness, pp. 156-158. See also Michael R. Watts, The Dissenters(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), pp. 300 and 375 which reviews the Trinitarian controversy from the Caffynitecrisis until after the Salters Hall debacle.68 Leon Mcbeth, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness, Ibid. Macbeths citations come from AdamTaylors history, Op. Cit., Vol. I, p. 480 and W.T. Whitley, A History of the British Baptists (London: Charles Griffin& Company, 1923), p. 174.69 The Baptist Heritage, p. 158. Mcbeths description of the General Baptists between 1720 and 1770 rings true: "They fell victim to extreme liberalism. They had no gospel to preach, and they preached no gospel. " Later, inthe 1760s, Daniel Taylor, having attended the General Assembly in London with disillusionment and shockstated: " They degraded Jesus Christ, and He degraded them ", cited from A.C. Underwood, A History of theEnglish Baptists, 152.370 Leon Mcbeth, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness, pp. 161-170 and 289-295; and see A.C.Underwood, A History of the English Baptists, 152-159.371 A History of the English Baptists, pp. 155-56. Unitarians would, doubtlessly, from their more rationalisticperspective have a different perspective on this. It must be recalled for historical completeness that Dan Taylorleft Birchcliff at Wadsworth in ca. 1773 to become pastor at Halifax, where he remained until 1785. Then in 1785,accepting a new a wider call, he loaded his family (with nine children) and his belongings on a wagon borrowedfrom a friend and journeying to London. There he became the assistant to John Brittain at Church Lane,Whitechapel, and after Brittains death, was the sole pastor there until 1815.
  • 72 The Baptist Heritage, p. 164. Later on Mcbeth writes, "As its Unitarianism became more pronounced, itsadherence to outworn methods more intransigent, the old General Baptists . . . . subsided into insignificance.Meanwhile, the New Connexion prospered, though its growth leveled off somewhat from its early days. In 1811,the New Connection assembly registered 81 delegates from 58 churches, and reported a total membership of 5,471 with 339 baptisms in that year." The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness, p. 294. SeeUnderwood, Op. Cit., pp. 156-159.73 A History of the English Baptists, p. 155. In addition to home and foreign missions, the New Connectionsponsored several printing efforts, and these included the Baptist Repository, the Missionary Observer, a newhymnal, and an evangelical tract society. There was a sharp and heated controversy among the pastors andothers about maintaining the headquarters in Leicestershire rather than move it to London. So, the NewConnection came to its centenary celebration in 1870 with 153 churches and 20,488, mostly in the EnglishMidlands. Cf. McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, pp. 294-5.74 These events, which include the launching of the modern Missionary Movement with William Carey andJoshua Marshman in 1793, are discussed in intricate detail in Underwood, A History of the English Baptists, Chap.vii, " Revival," pp. 153-200 and in McBeth, Op. Cit., pp. 163-170 and pp. 285-307.75 References are from the papers of James Relly in the John Murray Papers at the New York Historical Societyand the Judith Murray Papers at the Andover Harvard Theological Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts ascited by Andrew Hill in his article, "James Relly," at http: //www. uua.org/uuhs /duub/articles/jamesrelly.html. Hillhas promised to update the information available on Relly in Alexander Gordons article in The Dictionary ofNational Biography in a new essay coming in the New Dictionary of National Biography (forthcoming, 2004).76 Andrew Hill, " James Relly," at http: //www.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/jamesrelly.html., pp. 2-3.77 Ibid., p. 2. This writer has not checked on any references concerning Relly in either Wesleys or WhitefieldsJournals at the present time, but plans to do so in the near future.78 Naturally, the account of this "coversion experience" (to heresy!) is found on the Unitarian website. See "TheConversion of John Murray," from The Life of Murray cited at http://www.uua.org/uucf/jmur-con.htm (3 pages). Thefull title of Murrays biography is entitled, Life of Rev. John Murray . . . written by himself (London, 1816).79 According to David Robinson in The Unitarians and Universalists (Westport, Connecticut: The Greenwood Press,1985), Chap. 5, " American Universalist Origins, " pp. 47-59. In this same place he remarks, " The Baptistmovement in particular in particular was a seedbed for early Universalism, and a good many Universalistsleaers and their followers, including Caleb Rich and Elhanan Winchester, arrived at their views by way ofBaptist evangelicalism. " (p. 48). George de Benneville, Benjamin Rush, and Elhanan Winchester, because oftheir distaste for the doctrine of eternal damnation of the lost, were also inclined to this persuasion.80 David Robinson in The Unitarians and Universalists, p. 49. A popular account of this Universalist legend can befound as " The Story of Thomas Potter and John Murray, " athttp.//www.murraygrove.org/heritage/pottermurray.html. As extra-Scriptural revelation of mans native goodness andGod the Fathers supposed prior reconciliation of each and every unrepentant and unregenerate sinner is soappealing to human reason and is so close to the actual Gospel (John 3:16-17; Romans 3: 21-25; 2 Corinthians5:17-21), it is easy to understand its intrinsic power to convince. Anne Lee Bressler in her essay, " CalvinismImproved, " in The Universalist Movement in America, 1770-1880 , in Harry S. Stout, ed., Religion In America (Series)(Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 9-30 even goes so far to say that Universalism ". . .reflected the legacy of Edwardsean Calvinism, " and Universalists were simply preachers of "Rational Election",a determined effort to improve Calvinism. This unbelievable essay may be found on line at http://www.oup__usa. org/ sd 0195129865 __01.pdf. It is a diabolically clever and sophisticated prevarication !81 Although it has not been included in the bibliography, Cf. Rev. John Murray, Letters and Sketches of Sermons. 3Vols. (Boston: Universalist Society, 1812-1813) and Record s of the Life of the Rev. John Murray . . . Written byHimself . . . to Which Is Added a Brief Continuation . . . Edited by Mrs. Judith Sargent Murray (Boston, 1816).382 An important link between John Murray and later American Unitarian-Universalism was Hosea Ballou(1771-1852), who was the dominant figure in American Universalism for the first half of the nineteenth century.
  • Ballou, unlike Murray and Elhanan Winchester, who were Trinitarian Calvinists of a heretical stripe, was anavowed opponent of the Calvinist-Reformed system of theology and the whole notion of Christs satisfactoryAtonement. His most famous writing, A Treaise on the Atonement was a radical Arminian (Congregationalist)attack on the traditional teaching of the Church and it was a concerted effort to make reason the final arbiter ofthe interpretation of Christs work. His position was known as "Ultra-universalism", and although purportedlybased upon an exegesis of the Bible, it was largely a total re-interpretation of Scripture according a philosophicnotion of Gods benevolence. Ballou was " utterly convinced that a loving God would not condemn humankindto eternal punishment. For Ballou, the consequences of sin were the spiritual, psychological, and physical harmto the sinner, not the punishment of an angry God. " See David Robinson, The Unitarians and Universalists, Chap.6, pp. 61-73 and pp. 215-216 (biographical article).483 Much of this material is drawn directly from David Robinson, The Unitarians and Universalists, pp. 51-59 andan article by David Johnson, "Elhanan Winchester, Junior - Fire for the Gospel, Universalism,"pp. 1-8, an articletaken from the Internet in October from one of the Unitarian web-sites for which the writer has presently lost theaddress.484 David Johnson, " Elhanan Winchester, Junior ", p. 3.485 David Johnson, Ibid. and see David Robinson, Op. Cit., 57.486 See David Robinson, Op. Cit. and David Johnson, " Elhanan Winchester, Junior, " pp. 3-4. Much detail is beingdeliberately left out for the sake of space and time (JR). On Hosea Ballou, see footnote # 82 above. The writer alsoapologizes for not having time to tract down the bibliographical references on either Stonehouse or PaulSiegvolcks Everlasting Gospel (a good task for further research, no doubt !).87 David Johnson, Op. Cit., p. 4. One may be tempted to imagine some psychical or physiological connectionbetween Winchesters Gospel of universal salvation and his serial polygamy, but the writer does not wish tojudge the motives of a man who lived over two hundred years ago on mere secondary sources. Still, maybeJoseph Smith and Brigham Young were not the first to have the idea.488 David Johnson, Ibid.489 These are the words of David Johnson himself, a Unitarian-Universalist from Brookline, Massachusetts whereWinchester had his original church home. Johnsons article, which we have used frequently for the last couple ofpages was a personal research on Winchester done between 1999-2001. The actual citation is taken from p. 6.490 From article by Andrew Hill, " William Vidler, " at http://www .uua.org/ uuhs/ duub/ articles/ williamvidler.html.,p. 1.91 Andrew Hill, " William Vidler, " Ibid. See also David Johnson, "Elhanan Winchester, Junior," pp. 6-7. ThereJohnson comments: " Battle Baptist built a new building in 1789, though it took a couple of generations to payfor, and by 1792, Vidler was a Universal Baptist, like Winchester. Vidler described Winchester as of "amiable"character and said that his "conversation " was "cheerful and instructing." He also noted that he exhibited a"watchfulness over his tongue such as [he] had never witnessed before." Later, Vidler and Winchester frequentlyexchanged pulpits at Christmastime, leading the Battle Church to the Universalist (and ultimately) Unitarianpersuasion.92 Andrew Hill, " William Vidler, " Ibid. Hill also comments that after announcing his new belief, " aminority of his church withdrew, but the majority loyally remained. Vidler and his universalist congregationwere expelled from the local Particular Baptist association in 1793. "493 While Vidler did occasionally preach and maintained a part-time ministry with the Battle Church until 1796,his focus now became wider and more urban, as he envisioned a Unitarian London and beyond. Here we add afinal brief note on Winchesters life until his passing in 1797. He left London to return to Boston, chiefly it seems,on account of his wifes quarrelsome nature and violent abuse (at least that is his side of the story). For theremaining years he preached in Boston, Brookline, and New York. He also became the mediator of the GeneralConvention of Universalists meeting in Oxford, Massachusetts. On a number of occasions he preached in JosephPriestleys Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. In his last months, he felt compelled to travel up and down theAtlantic coasts, irratically proclaiming the " Universal Gospel. " At last he settled down on a farm in
  • Connecticutt, still forebearing his hot-tempered wife, and here he died on April 18, 1797.94 After 1805, The Universalists Miscellany was renamed The Monthly Repository. It was this event, the GeneralAssemblys decision to accept William Vidler and his Parliament Court congregation which caused DanielTaylor to resign in disgust. Cf. Andrew Hill, " William Vidler, " p. 2. and cf. again Leon McBeth, The BaptistHeritage, p. 164.95 Cf. Earl M. Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism. 2 Vols. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Pressm1952),Vol. II, Chap. XXXIII, " English Unitarianism in the Nineteenth Century. "96 Cf. Andrew Hill, " William Vidler, " Ibid.497 Andrew Hill, "William Vidler, " Ibid. The Scriptural citation is from 1 Peter 5:8b, KJV.498 See the citation of John MacLachlan in Rara Avis: A Memoir of Richard Wright (Sheffield: Unitarian-UniversalistPress, 1998), p. 11 cited by David Johnson in " Elhanan Winchester, Junior, " p. 7. Johnson also records thatParliament Court chose William Johnson Fox as Vidlers successor in 1816, and it was under his leadership thatthe congregation moved to South Place Chapel in Finsbury and evolved into the "South Place Ethical Society."Truly, it had become a church body without the Father, Son, or the Holy Spirit and a humanist organizationwithout the Gospel of salvation. Socinianism had issued ultimately in secular naturalism and mans own"religion" of his "good works."(JR)99 A History of the English Baptists, p. 156. (He himself cites as evidence: Transactions of the Baptist Historical Society,Vol. IV, p. 191. )5100 Cf. Underwood, A History of the English Baptists, p. 138. He himself refers to the compendium of William T.Whitley, The Baptists of London 1612-1928 (London: The Kingsgate Press, 1928), p. 14.101 See W.T. Whitley, above, Op. Cit., p133.102 W.T Whitley, The Baptists of London, p. 131.103 See R. Philip Roberts, Continuity And Change, London Calvinistic Baptists and the Evangelical Revival, 1760-1820.(Wheaton, Illinois: Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers, 1989), pp. 15-16 and 183-185. Professor Roberts alsoshows how Calvinistic Baptists, touched by the dynamic of an evangelical revival, Scripturally and theologicallyresponded to the onset of Socinian/Unitarian heresy. The Calvinistic and Particular Baptists, however, werenever infected with anything like the degree of General Baptists.5104 The Baptists of London, p. 97. He further comments: " Baptist evangelists and statesmen had appeared by 1862,which indeed wasa summit year; the gross total was about 330, the net about 260. After 1870 the pace slackened,and the sixth half-century brought the net total just over 400. A graph shows actual decline from the Restorationto the death of George II, and the most remarkable progress under Victoria. His explanation for the declineamong Baptists in the later nineteenth century and early twentieth century was mainly " doctrinal rivalry andunintelligent conservatism. " But this writer would suggest the growth of secular rationalism and thecompetition of the Unitarian-Universalist societies which seem to count numbers in the hundreds of thousandsofficially. And, one might safely wager that in the turn of the millennium (ca. 2000 A.D.) that of Englishmen thatare "religious" at all, several million are unofficially "Unitarian" and "Universalist". It looks like England wentneither to the Anglicans nor the Presbyterians, nor to the Baptists - it looks as though in many quarters, with afew notable exceptions, that England has been won by atheism and or unbelief. Is this fair ? Is it true ? Is it thelast word ?5105 The Baptist Heritage, Chap. 13, p. 507.5106 L.G. Champion, " Baptist Church Life in the Twentieth Century: Some Personal Reflections, " in Clements, p.4, cited in The Baptist Heritage, Ibid.107 See McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, p. 303. A.C. Underwood in A History of The English Baptists, pp. 229-233 viewsthis differently, as Underwood more or less sides with the sentiments of John Clifford (1836-1923).5108 The Miscellaneous Works and Remains of the Rev. Robert Hall with A Memoir of His Life. Edited by OlinthiusGregory, LL.D. and with A Critical Estimate of his Character and Writings by John Foster (London: Henry G.
  • Bohn, 1849), p. 21. See also his insightful remarks on Socinians and Unitarians in his "Review of GregorysLetters, " pp. 539-540.555556666Written by Joseph David Rhodes for Baptist History (HT 3110) taught by Dr. Michael McMuellen, M.A.,6M.Div., Ph.D. (Aberdeen University). A course in the M. Divinity program taken at Midwestern BaptistTheological Seminary in the Spring of 2003. ( This was the major term paper for the course and I received anA.)66666777777777788888888889999999
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