About Us

ABOUT US -- WHY GENERAL BAPTISTS?

A home-grown religious movement had its beginnings in the 1820s in Evansville, Indiana.  General Baptists came into existence because of the revival preaching of Elder Benoni Stinson.  He boldly and frequently proclaimed the good news of the gospel that "Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for everyman" with the result that "whosoever will may be saved." This preaching from texts found in the New Testament books of Hebrews and Romans resulted in the planting of new churches, a networking with other like-minded groups, and the birthing of a national organization in 1870.

But why are we called General Baptist?  The name is actually a summary of the core theology of the movement reflecting belief in a general atonement that anyone who is willing to trust Jesus as Savior may be saved.  This theological name stood in contrast to those groups of the 19th century who advocated a particular or limited atonement for in the theology only a few, not the many, could be saved.

Though the term "atonement" is not in the General Baptist Statements of Faith, few terms are more important to our historical identity.  The "general" in General Baptist is derived from our position on atonement.  Atonement can mean the compensation, the restitution paid, or expiation given by God through Jesus Christ for our sin.  Atonement can describe the actions of Jesus to secure our salvation, and thus the redemptive work of Jesus can be described as the atonement.

Many Protestants continue to disagree over whether atonement is general (i.e., for all) or particular (i.e., only for those who are "elect").  General Baptists argue that the atonement is for all, but the benefits of the atonement "can be received only through repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Statement of Faith IV).  Because we believe in a general atonement we are naturally evangelistic and intentionally missionary.  How else will our world hear the Good New?