The Church that Defied Two Laws
The First Baptist Church of Boston.
Due to unbelievable Boston traffic and shortage of time, we were not able to stop at the Church building, but we pray that you will be challenged by the founders of this church who sought to "obey God rather than men!"
In 1665, two women and seven men organized a Baptist church based on their strong commitment as disciples of Jesus Christ and their determination to worship God with freedom of conscience (soul liberty). They organized this church, the third church of any kind to be founded in Boston and the fifth Baptist church in all America, on June 7th, 1665. The first pastor, Thomas Gould, and three others were baptized on that day, the others having been baptized in England.
The Church was formed in defiance of two laws, passed by the General Court: (1) That all persons wishing to form churches must first obtain consent of the "magistrates and elders of the greater part of the churches within this jurisdiction." (2) That "if any person or persons within this jurisdiction shall ... condemn or oppose the baptizing of infants... such person or persons shall be subject to banishment."
In the years that followed, many were punished for trying to practice the Baptist "heresy." They were arrested, jailed, publicly beaten, fined, and often were not allowed to speak in their own defense. Obadiah Holmes was one of these, and was publicly whipped on September 5, 1651.
At first, the group met in homes, usually at the home of Mr. Gould in Charlestown. Later, he built a house on Noddle's Island (now the location of Logan Airport, in East Boston) and the members rowed out to the island where they could meet in secrecy and relative security.
In 1679, the group built a meetinghouse in the North End of Boston, at the corner of Salem and Stillman Streets. It was a modest wooden building resembling a house. One Sunday in 1680 the worshippers found the doors nailed up by order of the General Court, the following notice (see copy in narthex) posted:
"All persons are to take notice that by order of the Court the doors of this house are shut up and that they are inhibited to hold any meeting therein or to open the doors thereof, without license from Authority, til the General Court take further order as they will answer the contrary at their peril, dated in Boston 8th March, 1680, by order of the Council."
Undaunted, they met outdoors in the cold and rain. But the following Sunday, inexplicably, the doors were found open and they were never again closed by the authorities.
Disclaimer: We do not know exactly where this church stands doctrinally today. Sadly, it is affiliated with The American Baptist Churches which no longer stands uncompromisingly upon the Bible. This should encourage each one of us to hold fast to the inspired, infallible Word of God as our sole authority.
Labels: Baptist Freedom Trail