Controversy over “Immersion”


From the earliest days of the British and Foreign Bible Society (founded in 1804) and the American Bible Society (founded in 1816), Baptists supported and encouraged the translation of the Bible into numerous languages. A conflict eventually developed which caused the Baptists to withdraw from fellowship with these interdenominational Bible Societies. In the 1830’s the British and Foreign Bible Society refused to support Carey’s Bengali translation and the American Bible Society refused to support Judson’s Burmese translation because they both had translated the Greek baptizo as “immerse.” As a result, on both continents, the Baptists moved their support to new Bible societies which would be true to the original meaning of Scripture.

During the half century after these two divisions, the Baptists had occasionally sought to restore fellowship between the various Bible Societies. While at times some headway was made, the refusal to recognize the actual meaning of baptizo continued to create a barrier to reunion. Read more…

Burma Sees More Freedom


Myanmar, better known to many as Burma, closed its borders to much of the world after a military coup in 1962. There were numerous Baptists in Burma at that time, and they were reflective of American, and to a lesser degree, English Baptists – fundamentalist Baptists and liberal Baptists. That distinction continued until the government began to ease open its doors a decade or so ago. During the last decade, many of us have been able to visit the country and create new links with the Baptists in that country. The decades of isolation did not seem to hinder the Baptists. They developed their schools, planted churches, remained faithful to God’s Word, and did what indigenous believers are supposed to do.

After decades of oppression by the military, a new president, Thein Sein, a former military leader but also a proponent of more freedom in the country, was elected in 2010. The military junta was disbanded in 2011. Aung San Suu Kyi — a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner who has been kept under house arrest for the past 15 years — was elected to parliament this past weekend. While her Read more…

Judson and American Baptist Missions


When Adoniram Judson left America as its first foreign missionary, only the Congregationalists were supporting missionaries. Adoniram and Ann Judson were not the only missionaries sent out by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Accompanying the Judsons were Samuel and Harriett Newell and Luther Rice.

The Judsons were not the only ones in this initial group of missionaries to conclude that believer’s baptism was the Biblical model. Rice also came to the same conclusion. Upon notification to the clergy of the Congregational church of their change of convictions, the Judsons’ and Rice’s support was immediately dropped. Therefore, they turned to the Baptists for help. Luther Rice returned to America to gain support for the Judsons and for himself, with the intent that he might rejoin them shortly. Upon his arrival in America in 1813, Rice traveled throughout the States, raising support and arousing Baptist interest in missions. As a result, it was decided to hold a meeting on May 18, 1814. Read more…

Adoniram Judson and Baptism


Adoniram and Ann Judson along with the Newells sailed from Salem, Massachusetts, on the 19th of February, 1812. Judson spent part of the journey in a study of the question of infant baptism. He understood the baptism of new converts to be the plain command of Scripture. “But how,” thought he, “am I to treat the unconverted children and servants of such converts? If I adopt the Abrahamic covenant, and put baptism in the place of circumcision, I must consider not only the children but the servants of the family entitled to baptism.” Along with this issue, he also began to examine the mode of baptism. He knew he would be spending time with the Baptist missionaries at Serampore, India, although he was not aware that William Carey and the other missionaries made it a rule never to introduce their opinions to their guests of other persuasions.

Judson’s son, Edward, indicated that Judson’s plan was to start a Congregational church in the neighborhood of the Baptists, and thus he would have to explain to the natives the differences Read more…

America’s First Missionary Sacrifices


Sitting in a small cabin on board the ship Caravan were six young people. Two were the well known Ann and Adoniram Judson. Two were young men on board only to say goodbye to the others. The last two were Harriett and Samuel Newell. The former Harriett Atwood was the youngest of the group. Her father had died more than three years before, but her love for Samuel and for her Lord led her to pursue the difficult life of a missionary. The six spoke of their high hopes for a great work to be achieved in Christ’s name in the needy countries of the far East. They sang hymns from an old songbook long since forgotten, and they prayed in the “quietness and confidence” which was their daily strength. On the morning of February 19, 1812, a little after sunrise, the ship spread her sails to the wind. Harriet and Samuel Newell, along with the Judsons, set sail for the mission field.

Their arrival in India was unwelcomed. William Carey and his fellow missionaries opened their homes and hearts to the new missionaries, but the East India Company was far less Read more…

Adoniram Judson’s Marriage


On June 25, 1832, more than twenty years after embarking upon the missionary task in Burma, Adoniram Judson responded to a letter from the Foreign Missionary Association of the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, N. Y.  The questions initially asked related to the necessary character and preparation needed for missionary service. Judson provided ten short, instructional statements to the future missionaries. The second of these related to marriage. He notes: “Secondly. In choosing a companion for life, have particular regard to a good constitution, and not wantonly, or without good cause, bring a burden on yourselves and the mission.”

At the time of this instruction, Judson had been a widower for over five years. No doubt as he wrote those words of advice to future missionaries, he paused to give thought to his Ann who had faithfully served him and the Lord from the outset of their marriage on February 5, 1812 until her departure from this world October 24, 1826 at age 37. Read more…

Adoniram Judson’s Conversion


This year we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the American Missionary enterprise. Adoniram Judson, at first a Congregationalist, but then a Baptist, rallied Americans to support foreign missions and helped establish the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Supporting missions was not enough for Judson. He became one of America’s first missionaries.

Judson was born on August 9, 1788 into a Congregationalist pastor’s home. Unsaved and just sixteen, he entered Providence College (later to become Brown University), where he met a young skeptic named Jacob Eames. These two loved to study, both were bright, and they had a flair for the dramatic. Because he was brought up in a religious home, Judson initially resisted Eames’ attacks on Christianity, but with a godless heart his religious arguments were no match against the logic of Eames’ atheism, and before his graduation, Adoniram declared himself an atheist.

Every believer should read Courtney Anderson’s To the Golden Shore. Anderson describes the conversion of Adoniram Judson vividly. Read more…