- Smyth, John
- (c. 1570-1612 )founder of the Baptist movement in EnglandJohn Smyth attended Christ's College, Cambridge University, beginning around 1586 and received an M.A. in 1593. In 1600, he was named the Church of England preacher for the city of Lincoln, but was dismissed two years later because of his indiscreet criticisms of the church and his nonconformist ideas. He later published two volumes of sermons and lectures delivered at Lincoln.By around 1605, he had become minister of a Separatist congregation in Gainsborough on Trent. in 1607, the group decided to settle in the Netherlands. Sometime in the next two years, he became an Anabaptist, accepting the idea of adult baptism, though he did not suggest immersion as the only proper mode. His view on adult baptism split the congregation, especially after Smyth moved to join the Mennonites.Smyth died in 1612 before his examination by the Mennonites was complete. In the end, his group was accepted into the fellowship. Those who had broken with him returned to England. Under the leadership of Thomas Hewys, they founded the first Baptist congregation on British soil.Further reading:■ H. Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1887)■ Robert G. Torbert, A History of the Baptists (philadelphia: Judson press, 1950)■ W. T. Whitley, The Works of John Smyth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.