English Baptist History in Context.

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1


Students give attention to the early development of English Baptist life in the seventeenth century; the differences between General and Particular Baptists; persecution and Baptist growth; the effects of the eighteenth-century Evangelical Revival on Baptists; the formation of the Baptist Union in the nineteenth century; home mission, church planting and social involvement; Baptist developments in other places; the shaping and re-shaping of Baptist life in the twentieth century.  Regarding the wider church, among developments that receive attention are the progress and results of the evangelical revival; Nonconformity and the social gospel; the Oxford Movement in the Church of England; the influence of the holiness movements and the world-wide growth of Pentecostalism and of charismatic movements; features within Roman Catholicism in Europe, with particular reference to the effects of Vatican II.


To develop an understanding of Baptist history and modern church history by a survey of some of the major themes and episodes in these Language from the seventeenth century to the present day.  Particular emphasis is given to the church in England, although this is firmly set in the context of wider developments.


Category of outcome

By the end of this unit students should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

·      Explain how theological, social, political and cultural factors have influenced the development of Baptists and other churches

Intellectual skills

·      Analyse and critically evaluate a range of historical and theological data

Practical and Transferable skills; Personal qualities

·      Reflect on how developments in English Baptist History and its wider context can illuminate issues of faith, discipleship and church life today


Assessment task


Weighting within unit


·         A class test






·         An essay


3000 words






Available on which programme(s)?

BA in Theology


1.    Introduction and Overview / Baptist Principles in the Light of Baptist History / English Baptist Beginnings in Context

2.    Creeds and Confessions in early Baptist life / A Case Study: The Life and Ministry of John Bunyan

3.    Revival and Renewal: Baptist Life in the Eighteenth Century

4.    The foundation and early history of the BMS / An example of Eighteenth-Century Baptist Devotion: Anne Steele

5.    English Baptists and Slavery: Responses to the Trade in Enslaved Africans in the British Colonies

6.    The Nineteenth-Century Context / Baptist Life in the ‘Nonconformist Century’ / Baptists in Europe

7.    A Case Study: The Life and Ministry of C.H. Spurgeon

8.    Baptists and Baptism and Communion. Case Studies in Baptist Life

9.    Evangelical, Pentecostal and Baptist life in the Twentieth Century: An Overview

10.  Women in Baptist life

11.  The Current Context / Baptist Principles revisited

Teaching method

Interactive lectures

Additional eLearning content

Unit materials are available at Spurgeon’s Online to support student learning


Written feedback within 15 working days from submission

Date of approval (for office use)


Information updated on

December 2015

Indicative reading

Aalders, Cynthia Y., To Express the Ineffable: the Hymns and Spirituality of Anne Steele (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2008)

Bebbington, David W., Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Routledge, 1994)

Bebbington, David W., Baptists Through the Centuries: A History of a Global People (Waco: Baylor Univ. Press, 2010)

Cross, Anthony R., Peter J. Morden and Ian M. Randall (eds), Pathways and Patterns in History: Essays on Baptists, Evangelicals and the Modern World in Honour of David Bebbington (London: Baptist Historical Society / Spurgeon’s College, 2015)

Grass, Tim G., Modern Church History (London: SCM, 2008)

Hayden, Roger, Baptist History and Heritage (Didcot: Baptist Union, 2005)

Lalleman, Pieter J. (ed.), Challenging to Change: Dialogues with a Radical Baptist Theologian (London: Spurgeon’s College, 2009)

McBain, Douglas, Fire Over the Waters (London: DLT, 1997)

Morden, Peter J., ‘Communion with Christ and his People’: The Spirituality of C.H. Spurgeon (1834-92) (Centre for Baptist History and Heritage Studies 4; Oxford: Regent’s Park College, 2010 / Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2014)

Morden, Peter J., The Life and Thought of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2015)

Randall, Ian M., The English Baptists of the Twentieth Century (Didcot: Baptist Historical Society, 2005)

Stanley, Brian, The History of the Baptist Missionary Society, 1792-1992 (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1992)

Wright, Stephen, The Early English Baptists, 1603-1649 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2006)

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English Baptist History in Context.

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1
Course Unit 344





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Dr Peter J. Morden

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