Seventh Day Baptists
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Seventh Day Baptists are Christian Baptists who observe Sabbath on the seventh-day of the week in accordance with the Biblical Sabbath of the Judeo-Christian tradition (Genesis 2:2–3, Exodus 20:8). The Seventh Day Baptist World Federation today represents over 50,000 Baptists in 22 countries.
Seventh Day Baptists trace the beginning of their movement to coalescing factors during the decade of the 1650s in England. These factors included the continuing Baptist movement in England, English language publications about the Sabbath in the early 1600s, and a relative freedom of religion from state interference in Oliver Cromwell's commonwealth. Once the factors had coalesced, individuals associated with the movement chose to accept punishment meted out by the State rather than renounce their Sabbath conviction.
The first recorded Seventh Day Baptist meeting was held at The Mill Yard Church in London in 1651 under the leadership of Dr. Peter Chamberlen. However many Seventh Day Baptists believe that it had originated in 1617 with John Trask and his wife. They believe that the records for this were lost in a fire.
The first Seventh Day Baptist church in America was at Newport, Rhode Island in December 1671. Samuel and Tacy Hubbard, two members of the First Baptist Church of Newport, pastored by John Clarke (1609–76), withdrew from that church and joined with Stephen Mumford, a Seventh Day Baptist from England, and 4 others, covenanting to meet together for worship, calling themselves Sabbatarian Baptists. Mumford, for his part, arrived in Rhode Island in 1665, and was mentioned as an advocate for seventh-day Sabbath in many records of that time. Other churches rose in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and soon spread north into Connecticut and New York, and south into Virginia and the Carolinas. Seventh-day Sabbatarianism also emerged among the Germans at Ephrata, Pennsylvania, founded in 1735. Ephrata was incorporated as the German Religious Society of Seventh Day Baptists in 1814, and the site where their community was founded came to be known at the Ephrata Cloister. The Seventh Day Baptist General Conference was organized in 1801.
The World Field
In 1995, the Seventh Day Baptists had 253 churches and over 20 000 members in India, 78 churches with 4885 members in the United States, 2 churches with 55 members in England, and 1 church of 40 members in Canada. Conferences and associations exist in many other countries including Australia, Brazil, India, Jamaica, the Netherlands, New Zealand and amongst the Seventh Day Christians of Poland. Some conferences have sent missionaries to other nations including Malawi, Fiji and Argentina. The Seventh Day Baptist World Federation was founded in 1964–65, and it now represents over 50 000 Baptists in 17 member organizations in 22 countries.
Other than the belief that Christian Sabbath is Saturday rather than Sunday, Seventh Day Baptists are very similar to other Baptists. However, due to the Baptist tradition of freedom of conscience, even within Baptists, there are a lot of variations in doctrines. The same principle applies to Seventh Day Baptists. The Seventh Day Baptists do not hold a binding creed, and the belief system is relatively more flexible than mainstream Christianity, and the teachings Seventh Day Baptists hold may also vary from member to member. Some of the basic beliefs are baptism of believers by immersion; the practice of a non-liturgical form of worship, and the belief of religious freedom and the separation of church and state.
Statement of Belief
Each church and association of Seventh Day Baptist churches may have a statement of belief. A representative statement, from the conference of the USA and Canada, is as follows:
Seventh Day Baptists consider liberty of thought under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be essential to Christian belief and practice. Therefore we encourage the unhindered study and open discussion of Scripture. We uphold the individual's freedom of conscience in seeking to determine and obey the will of God.
The following statement is not intended to be exhaustive, but is an expression of our common belief, which is derived from our understanding of Scripture.
- 2 Corinthians 3:17–18; 2 Timothy 2:15; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:3–6, 15; Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:16–17.
We believe in one God, infinite and perfect, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe who exists eternally in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and desires to share His love in a personal relationship with everyone.
- 1 Timothy 1:17; Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Kings 8:27; 1 John 1:5; Genesis 1:1–2; Acts 17:24–25, 28; Psalm 90:1–2; Matthew 28:19; John 3:16; Isaiah 57:15; 2 Peter 3:9.
We believe in God the Father, who is sovereign over all, and is loving and just as He forgives the repentant and condemns the unrepentant.
- 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:6; Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8; John 5:24; John 3:16–18.
We believe in God the Son, who became incarnate in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. He gave Himself on the cross as the complete and final sacrifice for sin. As our Risen Lord, He is the mediator between God the Father and mankind.
- John 1:34; Hebrews 1:3; John 1:14–18; Romans 1:3–4; 1 John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 10:10–14; 1 Corinthians 15:20–21; 1 Timothy 2:5; John 14:6; 1 John 2:1–2.
The Holy Spirit
We believe in God the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who gives spiritual birth to believers lives within them, and empowers them for witnessing and service. We believe the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, convicts of sin and instructs in righteousness.
- John 14:16; 3:5–8; 14:17; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 12:4–7; 2 Peter 1:20–21; John 16:7–11.
II. The Bible
We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and is our final authority in matters of faith and practice. We believe that Jesus Christ, in His life and teachings as recorded in the Bible, is the supreme interpreter of God's will for mankind.
- 2 Peter 1:20–21; Romans 3:2; 2 Peter 3:1–2, 15–16; 2 Timothy 3:14–17; Matthew 5:17–19; Psalm 119:105; John 20:30–31; Hebrews 1:1–2.
We believe that mankind was created in the image of God and is therefore the noblest work of creation. We believe that human beings have moral responsibility and are created to enjoy both divine and human fellowship as children of God.
- Genesis 1:26–27; Psalm 8:3–9; Micah 6:8; Matthew 5:44–48; 1 John 1:3; John 1:12.
IV. Sin and Salvation
We believe that sin is disobedience to God and failure to live according to His will. Because of sin all people have separated themselves from God. We believe that because we are sinners, we are in need of a Savior.
We believe that salvation from sin and death is the gift of God by redeeming love accomplished by Christ's death and resurrection, and is received only by repentance and faith in Him. We believe that all who repent of their sin and receive Christ as Savior will not be punished at the final judgment but enjoy eternal life.
- 1 John 3:4–5; Romans 3:23-25; Isaiah 59:2; 1 John 1:8-10; Romans 5:6-8; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 10:10-14; 1 Peter 1:3; John 3:16-18, 36; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6; Matthew 25:41-46; Romans 5:10.
V. Eternal Life
We believe that Jesus rose from the dead and lives eternally with the Father, and that He will come again with power and great glory. We believe that eternal life begins in knowing God through a commitment to Jesus Christ. We believe that because He died and lives again, resurrection with spiritual and imperishable bodies is the gift of God to believers.
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 20-23; John 14:1-3; Matthew 24:30; Titus 2:13; John 17:3; 1 John 5:11-13; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44; John 10:27-28; John 6:40
VI. The Church
We believe that the church of God is all believers gathered by the Holy Spirit and joined into one body, of which Christ is the Head. We believe that the local church is a community of believers organized in covenant relationship for worship, fellowship and service, practicing and proclaiming common convictions, while growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We believe in the priesthood of all believers and practice the autonomy of the local congregation, as we seek to work in association with others for more effective witness.
- Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 12:13, 14, 27; Romans 12:4-5; Colossians 1:18; Acts 2:42; Ephesians 2:19-22; Romans 15:5-7; Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Matthew 18:20; Hebrews 10:24-25.
We believe that baptism of believers in obedience to Christ's command is a witness to the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We believe in baptism by immersion as a symbol of death to sin, a pledge to a new life in Him.
- Romans 6:3–4; Matthew 28:19–20; Acts 2:41; Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:11; Galatians 3:26–27
VIII. The Lord's Supper
We believe that the Lord's Supper commemorates the suffering and death of our Redeemer until He comes, and is a symbol of union in Christ and a pledge of renewed allegiance to our risen Lord.
- Mark 14:22–25; Matthew 26:26–29; 1 Corinthians 10:16–17, 11:23–30.
We believe that the Sabbath of the Bible, the seventh day of the week, is sacred time, a gift of God to all people, instituted at creation, affirmed in the Ten Commandments and reaffirmed in the teaching and example of Jesus and the apostles.
We believe that the gift of Sabbath rest is an experience of God's eternal presence with His people.
We believe that in obedience to God and in loving response to His grace in Christ, the Sabbath should be faithfully observed as a day of rest, worship, and celebration.
- Genesis 2:2–3; Exodus 16:23–30; Exodus 20:8–11; Matthew 5:17–19; Mark 2:27–28; Luke 4:16; Acts 13:14, 42–44; 16:11–13; 17:2–3; 18:4–11; Ezekiel 20:19–20; Hebrews 4:9–10; John 14:15; Isaiah 58:13–14; Luke 23:56.
We believe that Jesus Christ commissions us to proclaim the Gospel, to make disciples, to baptize and to teach observance of all that He has commanded. We are called to be witnesses for Christ throughout the world and in all human relationships.
- Matthew 24:14; Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18–20; 2 Corinthians 4:1–2, 5–6; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Corinthians 5:17–20; Ephesians 6:14–20.
Organizational Structure and Offices
Offices of the General Conference for the USA and Canada are maintained in Janesville, Wisconsin. The Missionary Society offices are in Westerly, Rhode Island, and the Board of Christian Education has offices in Alfred Station, New York. The Seventh Day Baptist General Conference (USA and Canada) is a member of the Baptist World Alliance. The current General Secretary of the Seventh Day Baptist World Federation (founded in 1965) is Pastor Jan Lek, of the SDB Church of Amsterdam (the Netherlands).
- Brackney, William H, Baptists in North America: An Historical Perspective, ISBN 1-4051-1864-4 Unknown parameter
- Hill, David, The Development of the Seventh Day Baptist Denomination in Australia.
- Katz, David S (1988), Sabbath and sectarianism in seventeenth-century England, Leiden, NE: Brill.
- McBeth, H. Leon, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness.
- Rogers, Albert N (1910), Seventh-Day Baptists in Europe and America l, Plainfield, NJ, USA: American Sabbath Tract Society for the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference.
- Sanford, Don A, A Choosing People: The History of Seventh Day Baptists, Broadman Press, ISBN 0-8054-6055-1.
- Sanford, Don A (1991), Conscience Taken Captive: A Short History of Seventh Baptists, Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society.
- Wardin, Jr, Albert W, Baptists Around the World.
- "History", Seventh Day Baptist, CA, retrieved April 15, 2011.
- Sanford 1991, pp. 4–5.
- Brackney, p. 11.
- Mill Yard Seventh Day Baptist Church.
- About Us, Mill Yard Seventh Day Baptist Church.
- Katz 1988, p. 71.
- Sanford, p. 91.
- Andrews, J.N. (1873). History of the Sabbath and first day of the week (Making of America online ed.). Battle Creek, MI: Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association. p. 494.
- Benedict, David (1848). A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America and Other Parts of the World (Google eBook). New York: Lewis Colby. p. 921.
- "Statement of belief", History, Seventh Day Baptist.
- The Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, Contact Us.
|Wikisource has the text of a 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article about Seventh Day Baptists.|
- "Statement of Belief", Seventh Day Baptist, SDB Conference, USA and Canada.
- Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, USA and Canada.
- Profile of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, Association of Religion Data Archives.
- Seventh Day Baptist Board of Christian Education, USA and Canada.
- Australasian Conference of Seventh Day Baptists, Australia and New Zealand.
- Association of Seventh Day Baptists, Australia.
- Heritage of SDBs in Australia (to 1999), Australia.
- Conferência Batista do Sétimo Dia Brasileira (in Portuguese), Brazil.
- Zevendedags Baptisten (in Dutch), Nederlands.
- Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society
- Seventh Day Baptists, Canada.
- Mill Yard Seventh Day Baptist Church, London, ENG, UK.
- Alfred Station Seventh Day Baptist Church, Alfred Station, NY, USA.