Paige Patterson: What 21st Century Southern Baptists Today Can Learn from 16th Century Anabaptists

The first speaker on the second day is Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is to present several lessons for today from the Anabaptists.

We can learn from the Anabaptists regardless of our views on Baptist origins (some believe that modern Baptists are heirs of the Anabaptist tradition, while others believe that today’s Baptists can trace their line through the English Separatists in the Reformed Tradition.

Dr. Patterson is obviously speaking from a well-prepared manuscript and is speaking rapidly. I assume that the complete manuscript will be made available at some point in the future. When it is available I will provide a link. For now, I will provide a simple overview of what I can pick up through listening (i.e., the main points).

  1. A Redeemed Disciplined Church – Contemporary Baptists who have bloated membership rolls and worldliness in their members lifestyles can learn from the practices of the Anabaptists. While the Anabaptists baptized with confidence those who professed faith in Christ, but with the understanding that baptism symbolizes the death of the old man and the resurrection of the new man. When baptized believers manifested a lifestyle contrary to the gospel, the “ban” was practiced and they were forbidden to partake of the Lord’s Table. Church discipline, while difficult, must be practiced to maintain the proper idea of the church.
  2. The Confession of Baptism – Those baptized have submitted themselves to the rule of Christ and to the authority of the church. Churches must once again emphasize the significance of baptism. It must be more closely associated with the profession of faith.
  3. The Authority of the Bible – For the Swiss Anabaptists, every farm was a school in which the Old and New Testaments were taught. For many Christians today experience is exalted above the Holy Scriptures as the authority. We need to recover the Anabaptist emphasis on the authority of Scripture.
  4. The Church Looks Different from the World – Church discipline was practiced to protect the purity of the church. The church was to function differently than the world. The church is to be made up only of Christ’s disciples.
  5. The Supper as a Fellowship Trust – While the Lord’s Supper was primarily seen as a memorial of Christ’s death, it was also an appropriate place to practice the “ban.” The Lord’s Supper is an important place to emphasize the fellowship of the Lord’s body. This concept needs to be recovered.
  6. Courage of Conviction – Anabaptists were willing to die for their convictions.

They believed in preaching the gospel to all, maintaining a pure church, practicing the Lord’s Supper, saw the Word of God as an authority, and practiced church discipline. Their courage was exemplified by their willingness to die for their convictions. May God grant a recovery of these principles of the 16th Century Anabaptists by 21st Century Southern Baptists.


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