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"The modern Baptists formerly called Anabaptists are the only people that never symbolized with the Papacy." --- Isaac Newton

The name "Anabaptist" was a name given to Bible believers by their enemies. This is why early "Baptist" groups sometimes rejected the name. --- For example, Thieleman J. van Braght writes in 1659:

"The name 'Anabaptist' was really not accepted by them by choice or desire, but of necessity..." ("The Martyr's Mirror")

Henry C. Vedder writes:

"In the first Confession of Faith issued by the Particular Baptists in 1644, the churches that published the document described themselves, 'as commonly (but unjustly) called Anabaptists.'...They had never chosen the name Anabaptist, and had always maintained that it was not properly applied to them." --- ("A Short History of the Baptists", 1892, pp.3, 184)

In fact, when John Clarke, the great early American Baptist, was persecuted in America for Baptist views, he stated:

"...in our examination the Governor upbraided us with the name Anabaptists; to whom I answered I disdain the name; I am neither an Anabaptist nor a Pedobaptist, nor a Catabaptist...he told me in haste I was all." --- (p.31, "Ill Newes From New England", 1652)

The term "Anabaptist" means "re-baptizer". Since "Baptist" believers reject infant sprinkling, they do not see the immersion of a believer as a second baptism.

When Catholics and other groups demand to see "Baptists" before Luther, they are often looking for the NAME. But the believers who practiced immersion and rejected infant baptism were persecuted. They became the victims of the bloody Inquisition. To look for the history of "Baptists" in the Dark Ages, one must look for the persecuted Christians who denied infant baptism, rejected the Pope's authority, declared Rome to be the Whore of Babylon, denied Purgatory and prayers to the dead, and declared that the Scriptures were the final authority, and were SLANDERED as occultists, etc. The early Baptists will be found in such groups as the Albingenses and Waldenses.

The enemies of the ancient Baptists have ironically helped establish the fact of their existence throughout history! One opponent of the Baptists, Henry Bullinger (1504-1575) writes:

"Now, I think it not labour lost to speak somewhat of anabaptism. In the time that Decius and Gallus Caesar were Emperors, there arose a question in the parts of Africa of rebaptising heretics; and St. Cyprian, and the rest of the Bishops, being assembled together in the council of Carthage, liked well of anabaptism... Against the Donatists St. Augustine, with other learned men, disputed. There is also an Imperial Law made by Honorius and Theodosius, that holy Baptism should not be iterated (repeated).

Justinian Caesar hath published the same, in Cod. lib. I. Tit. 6, in these words. 'If any Minister of the Catholic Church be detected to have rebaptised any, let both him which committed the unappeasable offence, (if at least by age he be punishable) and he, also, that is won and persuaded thereunto, suffer punishment of death.'" (Henry Bullinger, "Sermons on the Sacraments", Cambridge, University Press for T. Stevenson, London, 1811, pp. 186, 187)

"The Martyr's Mirror" (1660), concerning the ancient edict against Anabaptists, writes "As those Christians greatly increased who valued only the baptism which is administered upon faith, and consequently rebaptized (as not having been baptized aright) those who had been baptized by unbelievers or in infancy, when they attained to the true faith, the Emperor Theodosius, A.D. 413, issued an edict, against the Anabaptists, commanding that they should be put to death." (p.190)

And perhaps the best testimony that could be demonstrated is provided by Catholic Cardinal Stanislaus Hosius (President of the Council of Trent from 1545 to 1564, designated by Pope Paul IV). He once stated:

"Were it not that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past twelve hundred years, they would swarm in greater number than all the Reformers." (Housius, Letters Apud Opera, pp.112,113; "The Trail of Blood" )

"The Anabaptists are a pernicious sect of which kind the Waldensian brethren seem to have been although some of them lately, as they testify in their apology, declare that they will no longer re-baptize, as was their former custom; nevertheless, it is certain that many of them retain their custom, and have united with the Anabaptists." (Hosius, Works of the Heresatics of our Times, Bk. I. 431. Ed. 1584; John T. Christian in "A History of the Baptists").


Following are some brief notes on the "Berenger Baptists" --- From the days of the Apostles, down through the ages, there have been many believers that have embraced Baptist doctrines. Wherever people have had access to a New Testament, there have been some that have rejected infant sprinkling, the celibacy of priests, image worship, state church, popes, Mary worship, etc. Many reformers left the Catholic church through the influence of early Baptist Christians, or through the study of Scripture itself.

Berenger (or Berengarius) was one of these early reformers:

"Archdeacon of Angers . . . was born at Tours . . . scholars flocked to him from all parts of France. Sometime between 1040 and 1050 he began to publish his sentiments . . . Berenger was excommunicated." (M'Clintock and Strong, "Cyclopedia...", 1890; p.759)

Berenger responded to his excommunication by confessing his opinion of Pope Leo IX:

"In him I find by no means a saint . . . not even an upright man. To be declared a heretic by him I account as nothing." (M'Clintock and Strong; Ibid.)

Bishop Thomas Newton writes concerning Berenger:

"Not long after these arose the famous Berengarius, a native of Tours . . . who more professedly wrote against the doctrine of Transubstantiation; and also called the church of Rome a church of Malignants, the Council of Vanity, and the Seat of Satan. He lived and died in the same sentiments." --- (Thomas Newton, "Dissertations on the Prophecies", London, 1759; Vol. 3, p.164)

Although he had his disappointing moments of fear before the authorities, he always repented in the end; he remained committed to Baptist principles until the end of his life. At his death, he supposedly exclaimed:

"Today, on this day of Epiphany, my Lord Jesus Christ will appear to me, as I hope unto glory, because of my repentance, or, as I fear, on account of other things unto punishment." (Thieleman J. van Braght, "The Martyr's Mirror", p.269)

Catholics have attempted to see in this quote a retraction of his Baptistic principles. However, Berenger is simply reflecting on his life's work at death and realizing that he will be judged (like all Christians) on the degree he confessed Christ and His words before men (2 Tim.2:12, Luk.12:8, etc.). At times, Berenger let his influential friends in high places talk him into compromised retractions ("doublespeak") to save his life. Yet, once free from trouble, he would always write another fiery attack upon Catholicism. In regard to his influence, he was one of the greatest reformers.

Yet, failings in life, even with repentance, never make easy dying. The warnings concerning the Judgment Seat of Christ and accountability after death are found in almost every chapter of the New Testament. It appears that Berenger's momentary compromises made him fear temporary chastening and rebuke by His Lord after death. Yet, even if it could be proven that he actually struggled with final assurance on his dying day, this would still be far different than concluding that he recanted his Baptist doctrines.

When Berenger rejected infant baptism and other doctrines of the church of Rome, he found many common people (Albigenses) already espousing these beliefs. He was very influential and helped spread Baptist doctrines far and wide. It is therefore truly absurd to claim that Baptists originated with the so-called "Anabaptists" of Munster or with John Smyth "of England" in the 17th century!

Proof that Berenger Denied Infant Baptism

Thomas Crosby (1685-1750), in his history, writes:

"We must therefore look for a more early beginning of this sect and opinion [Baptists] than the insurrection at Munster, or the reformation in Germany...The name of Albigenses and Waldenses were the titles most currently given to them...there were several sects, who went under this general name...Bruno and BERENGARIUS...are said to have attempted a reformation about the year 1035, among which the practice of baptizing infants was one...One proof that these men were against infant-baptism, is from a letter written by Deodwinus, bishop of Leige, to Henry I, King of France, in which are these words:

'There is a report come out of France, and which goes thro' all Germany, that these two viz. Bruno and BERENGARIUS, do maintain the Lord's Body [the host] is not the body, but a shadow and figure of the Lord's body . . . And, as far as in them lies, overthrow the baptism of infants.'" --- (Crosby, "The History of the English Baptists", London: 1738-40)

Jesuit theologian and cardinal, Bellarmine (1542-1641) states:

". . . the Berengarians admitted only adults to baptism, which error the Anabaptists embraced . . ." --- (Quoted in G.H. Orchard's, "A Concise History of the Baptists", Nashville: Southwestern Publishing House, 1859)

The Vast Influence of Berenger's Baptistic Beliefs

"...both Bruno and Berengarius, said that infant baptism was not necessary to salvation...It is stated that after the death of Berengarius, his doctrine...in reference to baptism and the Supper, against the belief of the Roman church, gained much favor among his followers, who were called Berengarians; so that England, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and even part of the Netherlands, became filled with it....Hence, Pope Urban II, A.D. 1095, by constraint as it were, convened a great council against them, in the city of Piacenza, in Italy...the views of Berengarius, which were called a heresy, were again, as had repeatedly been done previously, anathematized or cursed...Hence it came, that a great persecution and dire distress arose, particularly about A.D. 1100..." --- (Thieleman J. van Braght, "The Martyr's Mirror", pp.263, 270)

"...Berenger had denied infant Baptism, with those of his followers who were spread in England." --- (Whitley, "A History of British Baptists", p.106)

"...for above an hundred years after, all that stood up for the purity of the Christian religion were called Berengarians. And so many were his followers, that Mathew Paris says, he drew all France, Italy and England to his opinions." --- (Crosby, "The History of the English Baptists", London: 1738-40)

"...persons existed in these provinces in the profession of his sentiments, and who readily gave him support so soon as he appeared in the character of a reformer...his followers were as numerous as his fame was illustrious. [Mosh. v. ii. p. 216] His views of religion appear to have been scriptural. His followers were called GOSPELLERS for one hundred years, and many of them suffered death for their opinions. On his followers being examined, they said 'baptism did not profit children.' --- [Usher in Danv., p. 288]

Many Berengarians suffered death for their opinions, and for opposing infant baptism. [Montanus, p. 83. Baronius’ An. 1223]...Mezeray declares Berenger to have been head of the Sacramentarians, or Anabaptists. [Fr. His. p. 229]... The Berengarians, from the identity of doctrines, were called Albigenses; Berengarians and Vaudois were equivalent terms. [Facts ubi. sup.] Morell declares, it was computed in 1160, that above eight hundred thousand persons professed the Berengarian faith. [Mem. p. 54 in Bap. Mag. v.i.p. 435] 'Thus it cannot be supposed,' says Dr. Allix, 'that the Albigenses were the disciples of Peter Waldo; and consequently they are to be considered originally as a colony of the Vaudois.' [Ch. of Albig. c. 11. p. 114]" --- (G.H. Orchard, "A Concise History of the Baptists", Nashville: Southwestern Publishing House, 1859)

"From his great reputation as a teacher, his views were widely diffused, not only in France, but in other countries...Sympathy with Berengarius's views existed among the chief clergy of France and of the neighboring German border." --- (M'Clintock and Strong, "Cyclopedia...", 1890; p.759)

"...his followers were so numerous, that as old historians relate, he had corrupted almost all the French, Italians, and English with his depravities." --- (Thomas Newton, "Dissertations on the Prophecies", London, 1759; Vol. 3, p.164)

It is obvious that infant sprinkling and other Roman corruptions were denied all over Europe centuries before the so-called Anabaptists arose in Luther's age. Rome did not slaughter millions of these Christians for no reason! They were killed because they opposed the doctrines of Rome:

"In the thirteenth century the Waldenses and Albigenses had spread and prevailed so far, and were prevailing still farther, that the pope thought it necessary to exert his utmost efforts to suppress them....the office of inquisition was first erected...It is enough to make the blood run cold, to read of the horrid murders and devastations of this time...It is computed that in France alone were slain a million." --- (Thomas Newton, "Dissertations on the Prophecies", London, 1759; Vol. 3, p.178)

Where were the Baptists before the 16th and 17th centuries? It appears they were so abundant that Rome had to slaughter them in the millions. However, they will receive their full reward when the Lord returns in glory as the Avenger of evil. Oh that a multitude of modern Catholic leaders would get saved and become fiery Baptists like the old Berengerites!

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