The basic question, ""Where did Baptists come from and why?"" has two camps that offer differing explanations: (1) the English Separatist camp produced the ministries of foundational Baptists, John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, thus takes credit for Baptist origins, and (2) the Anabaptist movement is the alternative camp, understanding either a direct connection via lineage back to the infamous Swiss Brethren or an indirect connection via Anabaptist teachings. Anabaptist ecclesiology is very much akin, if not in some ways identical, to modern Baptist ecclesiology.
In fact, the Baptist church, led by John Smyth and successively by Thomas Helwys, resembled both English Separatist and the Anabaptist ecclesiology with notable differences between both entities. When The Mystery of Iniquity is properly understood, as Helwys intended, the reader will grasp the logical reasons that the Baptist church in 1607 was akin to both the English Separatist and the Anabaptist and yet differed from both. In The Beginning of Baptist Ecclesiology, Marvin Jones give a fresh voice to Thomas Helwys's opinion that a Baptist church is a viable New Testament church, and provides further relevant material rationale for the conversation concerning Baptist origins.
""At long last, there is a substantial book-length treatment of Thomas Helwys. For far too long he has been overshadowed by his erstwhile coworker John Smyth; Jones restores Helwys to his place of true significance as the pioneer of being Baptist. A fine study.""
--Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
""In this perceptive volume, Jones has demonstrated that, while Thomas Helwys led a missionary people and wrote one of the most important books on liberty of conscience ever written by any Baptist anywhere, there is, nevertheless, a significant theological contribution in Helwys that has often been overlooked . . . This salient read will leave the reader with a far more comprehensive understanding of the development of Baptist work.""
--Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
""Following Helwys, early Baptist ecclesiology was covenantal, congregational, and credobaptist. This book will be helpful to scholars interested in studying--and preserving--this sort of distinctively Baptist ecclesiology in a post-denominational age.""
--Nathan A. Finn, Dean, School of Theology and Missions, Professor of Theological Studies, Union University
""Marvin Jones succeeds in The Beginning of Baptist Ecclesiology in providing a fresh voice to the role of Thomas Helwys in Baptist history. Often overshadowed by John Smyth, his intermittent Baptist predecessor, this volume provides a helpful retrieval service to position rightly the greater influence and courage of Helwys. Students, scholars, and pastors owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Jones for this helpful book.""
--Jason G. Duesing, Provost and Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri
Marvin Jones is the Chair of the Christian Studies Division at Louisiana College in Pineville, LA. He is also the author of Basil of Caesarea (2014).