Primitive Baptists

Primitive Baptists comprised one early nineteenth-century form of the “antimission” movement protesting the development of Baptist organizations in the South.

Primitive Baptists comprised one early nineteenth-century form of the “antimission” movement protesting the development of Baptist organizations in the South. Emanating from the Kehukee Association in North Carolina, this particular brand of protest in South Carolina was found most commonly in the upcountry. These Primitive or Old School Baptist churches, and the later loosely organized denomination by the same name, were strongly Calvinistic, especially emphasizing predestination. However, they would argue that their doctrine was derived from the Bible and the “primitive” church, not Calvin. This belief, along with a general dislike for institutional structures that were assumed to drain local congregations of their money and their autonomy, led Primitive Baptists to “abandon all creature power” and reject missionary societies, Sunday schools, seminaries, and even a paid clergy. Distinctive practices then and in the early twenty-first century often included unaccompanied singing in a style said to resemble that of New England Puritans, foot washing, segregated seating for men and women, and the rejection of both instrumental music and the collection of offerings in the context of worship. Officers of the church included elders, deacons, and ministers, who were untrained because God both calls and “qualifies” preachers. Like other Baptists, they baptized the converted by immersion, but unlike other Baptists, sinners were not exhorted to accept Christ or join the church. In the early twenty-first century the churches identified by this name, though scattered across the United States, were few and tended to be in isolated areas, most commonly in Appalachia. Most of the few congregations remaining in South Carolina were in the foothills.

McBeth, H. Leon. The Baptist Heritage. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman, 1987. Piepkorn, Arthur C. “The Primitive Baptists of North America.” Baptist History and Heritage 7 (January 1972): 33–51.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Primitive Baptists
  • Author
  • Keywords comprised one early nineteenth-century form of the “antimission” movement protesting the development of Baptist organizations in the South, Kehukee Association, most commonly in Appalachia
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date July 20, 2024
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2022
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