Compendium of Baptist History
J. A. Shackelford completed his “Compendium of Baptist History” in 1891. It was not his original intent to write a history of the Baptists, but rather prepare a chart “which would give a bird’s eye view of Baptist History, with its relations to the Catholic hierarchy, and the branches of the Romish church.” However, the amount of material acquired through research provided an abundant supply of historical facts which suggested a larger work should be produced. The finished manuscript is a superb summary of significant events which tell the story of Christ preserving His church through two millennia.
The following chart serves as a guide to Shackelford’s historical narrative.
The column marked A represents the true churches, each independent of the other. The red shows when they were persecuted, sand the heavy black lines and black circles show the persecuting powers. It will be seen that the true churches have been persecuted in every century since the days of the apostles, whilo they have never persecuted others.
The column marked B gives the names by which the true churches were known in each century, and the column C gives the places where they were to be found in the corresponding periods of time. The dark background in this column shows the Waldensean, or Wilderness period of the churches.
The line of stars shows the period of time in which Baptists can trace their history church by church.
At the right hand of the column of true churches will be found some which became corrupt — clouded—and dropped out of line. In the second century these formed themselves into Synods—coalesced, and formed a diocese under one bishop. In the fourth century these Catholic organizations combined with the civil government under Constantino, and became a groat hierarchy.
Some of the branches of this hierarchy are shown in the chart. The examples given show how all other existing organizations have been formed. There were but two kinds of churches, as shown in the chart—Catholic and Baptists—until 1054, when a final division occurred in the Catholic party, forming two branches—Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic churches. All other existing church organizations of the present day, except the Baptists, resulted from the reformation of the sixteenth century.
The circle over the date, 1891, represents the Congregational Methodists.
Author of the “Compendium Of Baptist History”. Please inform the Editor of the AHB (via the Contact page) if you have biographical information on this author. Thank you.