Baptists and the Identity of Persecution

Adrian Chastain Weimer

in Martyrs' Mirror

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199743117
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918744 | DOI:
Baptists and the Identity of Persecution

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The folklore of martyrdom, rooted in an apocalyptic reading of history, deeply informed Baptist identity in England and New England. Baptists saw themselves as continuing a line of persecuted saints battling Antichrist to reform the true church. New England Baptists ranged from the radical minister John Clarke's intensely apocalyptic view of Congregationalists as Antichrist to Obadiah Holmes's less self-assured journey. Holmes's performance of martyr-like cheerfulness under the whip drew directly on Foxeian models, and sparked serious self-reflection on the part of Congregationalists weary of being labeled “persecutors.” The cultural history of tolerance in North America is not complete without understanding how Thomas Gould and later Baptists who won religious freedom used these performances of suffering to establish their political and religious legitimacy.

Keywords: polemic literature; religious minorities; John Clarke; Obadiah Holmes; Thomas Gould; Baptist whippings; religious freedom; legitimacy; apocalyptic

Chapter.  10019 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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