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Also known as Old School Baptists or Hard Shell Baptists, the Primitive Baptists are conservative Baptists whose polity is much the same as the original Baptist groups.

The Primitive Baptists are known to be the strictest of all of the Baptist groups, particularly when it comes to local autonomy. The Primitive Baptists have never been organized as a denomination, and have no administrative body of any sort, other than local churches and local associations.

The Primitive Baptist movement began in the 1800s as a protest against the money-based missions and benevolent societies that were being organized among Baptist churches at the time. The Primitive Baptists argued that the Apostles did not employ missionary societies, and no such organizations are in evidence in the Scriptures.

In 1827 North Carolina, the Kehukee Association condemned all money-based and centralized societies as being contrary to the teachings of Christ. Over the next few years, several other Baptist associations withdrew from other Baptist bodies, making similar statements. Most of these were in the mountainous regions of the US Southeast, and this is where they continue to be concentrated.

Rather than depending on a centralized organization for fellowship, many of these churches began the practice of printing their articles of faith, constitutions, and rules of order into their annual minutes. These statements were examined by other local associations and, if approved, correspondence and fellowship might follow. Associations not approved were dropped from the fellowship.

Although they tend to oppose the Calvinist practice of infant baptism, Primitive Baptists are Calvinist in their theology, holding to the five points of Calvinism: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.

Also common among Primitive Baptist groups are a cappella singing, family integrated worship, and foot washing.

In Primitive Baptist churches, musical instruments are usually not used as a part of the worship service. Scripture instructs worshippers to sing, but there is no mention of musical instruments.

Primitive Baptists reject the use of Sunday School as a means of separating children from parents during the worship service. Children are expected to attend the service with their parents.

Most Primitive Baptists perform foot washing as a symbol of humility and service among members of the church, although males and females are separated during this ritual.

Primitive Baptists consider theological seminaries to have no sanction by the New Testament or in the examples of Christ or the apostles. Pastors are to be called by God, come under the laying on of hands, and be in fellowship with the local church of which they are members in order to administer the ordinances of the Lord's Supper and baptism of believers by immersion. No theological training is required of pastors, many of whom travel widely and serve without salary, subsisting on voluntary contributions.

There are three traditional Primitive Baptist groups. The Old-Line Primitive Baptists teach that Christians are responsible for the salvation granted by God. The Predestinarian Primitive Baptists stress God's predestination in all things, not just salvation. The Universalist Primitive Baptists believe that God predestines all people to salvation. The last two of these groups are very small, and declining.

Another group of Primitive Baptists are about as large as the Old-Line Primitive Baptists, and that is a group of African-American Primitive Baptists. The African-American Primitive Baptists may not adhere to the traditional Primitive Baptist policies against the use of musical instruments in the worship service.

Other groups associated with the Primitive Baptists include the Primitive Baptist Universalists, the Progressive Primitive Baptists, and the Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists although, given the importance given to church autonomy among Primitive Baptists, not all Primitive Baptist congregations are associated with either of these groups.

As Missionary Baptists became the mainstream, the influence of the Primitive Baptists has been in decline.

Primitive Baptists in general, any associations of Primitive Baptists, or any site that focuses on Primitive Baptists, or any specific Primitive Baptist group, are the focus of topics in this category. However, sites representing local congregations should be listed in the appropriate Local & Global category.



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