General Baptist ‘Primitivism’, the Radical Reformation, and Matthew Caffyn A Response to Kegan A. Chandler

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Stephen R. Holmes


Kegan A. Chandler recently argued that the Anabaptist movement was in part defined by an acceptance of anti-Trinitarianism, which heritage became a part of General Baptist life from the beginning; on this basis he locates Matthew Caffyn as an authentic representative of the General Baptist movement. I argue that Chandler’s historical reconstruction of the Radical Reformation is flawed, being based on some errors of fact and some misreadings, and that most Anabaptists, and all early General Baptists, were unreflectively orthodox in their Trinitarianism. I suggest however that the case of Caffyn suggests both a willingness on the part of the denomination to regard orthopraxy as important alongside orthodoxy, and a degree of suspicion of non-biblical standards of orthodoxy.

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Author Biography

Stephen R. Holmes, University of St. Andrews

Revd Dr Stephen Holmes is a Baptist minister who presently serves as Head of the School of Divinity, and as Principal of St Mary’s College, in the University of St Andrews, Scotland.