Jared Smith On Various Issues

The Origin Of The Reformed Baptist Movement

Dr. Kenneth Dix traced the origin of the Reformed Baptist movement to September 1955, with the first publication of the Banner of Truth Magazine. This magazine was started by Sidney Norton, the minister of St John’s Church, Oxford, and his ministerial assistant, Iain Murray. In 1956, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones invited Murray to serve as his assistant at Westminster Chapel, London. He held this post for three years, during which time the Banner of Truth Trust was organized.

On July 22, 1957, The Banner of Truth Trust was registered as a non-profit charity, the trust deed stating: “The object of the Charity is to promote in such parts of the world as the Trustees may decide the better knowledge and understanding of the doctrines of the Christian faith as taught by the Protestant Reformers and English Puritans.” As Lloyd-Jones and Murray were not Baptists, their interests rested squarely on the “Reformed” tradition of church history.

This ministry grew quickly, with book sales reaching forty countries. In addition to the publications, the Trust began hosting Minister and Youth conferences, attended by large numbers of Calvinistic Baptists, drawn together by the resurgence of sovereign grace literature. During the 1960’s, a Banner of Truth office was opened in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA.

Simultaneous with the Banner of Truth publications and conferences was the start of another magazine called Reformation Today. It was founded in 1970 by Erroll Hulse, a friend of Iain Murray and the first manager of the Banner of Truth Trust between 1957 and 1967. Although a Calvinistic Baptist, Hulse subscribed to a moderate view of sovereign grace and leaned towards a Presbyterian form of church order, becoming one of the pioneering pastors of the Reformed Baptist Movement.

With reference to these influential publications, Alister McGrath, in his biography of J. I. Packer, speaks of the “revival in Puritan spirituality that had been borne aloft on the wings of Banner of Truth’s inexpensive paperbacks.” Curt Daniel, in his History and Theology of Calvinism, describes the Reformation Today magazine as “the unofficial organ of the Reformed Baptists.”

In England, the Reformed Baptists adopted the name “Grace”, assuming the oversight of many Particular Baptist chapels and drawing up a new confessional statement called “The Baptist Affirmation of Faith 1966”. While Reformed Baptists assert they represent the Particular Baptist churches of England, this claim is denied by the aforementioned churches.