Primitive Baptists, also known as Hard Shell Baptists, Anti-Mission Baptists, or Old School Baptists are conservative Baptists adhering to a degree of Calvinist beliefs that coalesced out of the controversy among Baptists in the early 1800s over the appropriateness of mission boards, Bible tract societies, and temperance societies. The adjective "Primitive" in the name has the sense of "original."
This controversy over whether churches or members should participate in mission boards, bible tract societies, and temperance societies led the Primitive Baptists to separate from other general Baptist groups that supported such organizations, and to make declarations of opposition to such organizations in articles like the Kehukee Association Declaration of 1827.
African-American Primitive Baptist groups have been considered a unique category of Primitive Baptist with approximately 50,000 African Americans affiliated with African-American Primitive Baptist churches as of 2005. Approximately 64,000 people were affiliated (as of 1995) with Primitive Baptist churches in the various other emergences of Primitive Baptists.
Despite having emerged as a recognizable group in the early 19th century, Primitive Baptists trace their origins to the New Testament era, rather than to John Calvin. In fact, they oppose elements of Calvin's theology, such as infant baptism, and avoid the term "Calvinist." However, they are Calvinist in the sense of holding strongly to the Five Points of Calvinism and they explicitly reject Arminianism. They are also characterized by "intense conservatism". One branch, the Primitive Baptist Universalist church of the central Appalachian region, developed their own unique Trinitarian Universalist theology as a logical extension of the sovereign grace aspect of Calvinist theology.
A cappella singing
Primitive Baptists generally do not play musical instruments as part of their worship services. They believe that all church music should be a cappella because there is no New Testament command to play instruments, but only to sing. Further, they connect musical instruments in the Old Testament with "many forms and customs, many types and shadows, many priests with priestly robes, many sacrifices, festivals, tithings" which they see as having been abolished; "had they been needed in the church Christ would have brought them over." African-American Primitive Baptists may not share the general Primitive Baptist opposition to musical instruments, however.
Family integrated worship
Primitive Baptists reject the idea of Sunday School, viewing it as unscriptural and interfering with the right of parents to give religious instruction to their children. Instead, children are expected to attend at least part of the church service.
Informal training of preachers
Primitive Baptists perform foot washing as a symbol of humility and service among the membership. The sexes are separated during the ritual where one person washes the feet of another. The practice is credited with increasing equality, as opposed to hierarchy, within Primitive Baptist churches.
- List of Primitive Baptist churches
- Reformed Baptists
- Strict Baptists
- Progressive Primitive Baptists
- Primitive Baptist Universalism
- Jonas 2006, p. 158.
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- Crowley 1998, p. xi.
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- Crowley 1998, p. 10.
- McGregory, Jerrilyn (2010). Downhome Gospel: African American Spiritual Activism in Wiregrass Country. University Press of Mississippi. p. 55. ISBN 1-60473-782-4.
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- Crowley 1998, p. 167.
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- Crowley, John G (1998). Primitive Baptists of the Wiregrass South: 1815 to the Present. University of Florida Press. ISBN 978-0-8130-1640-5
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- Bertram Wyatt-Brown. "The Antimission Movement in the Jacksonian South: A Study in Regional Folk Culture," Journal of Southern History Vol. 36, No. 4 (Nov., 1970), pp. 501–529 in JSTOR
|Wikisource has the text of a 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article about Primitive Baptists.|