Old Regular Baptist

Old Regular Baptist

The Old Regular Baptists are an American Christian denomination based primarily in the Appalachian region of the United States.


Most Regular Baptists merged with the Separate Baptists near the beginning of 19th century. The party names were dropped in favor of United Baptists. The use of the name "Regular" has persisted among some Baptist groups, particularly among primitivistic sects that reject modern methods, including missionary and educational auxiliaries for the churches. Most Old Regular Baptists can be traced back to the New Salem Association of United Baptists (org. in eastern Kentucky in 1825). The name was changed to "Regular United" in 1854, to "Regular Primitive" in 1870, to "Regular Baptist" in 1871 and then in 1892 to "Old Regular." The minutes of New Salem Association in 1892 indicate that they feared the extremism of some predestinarians that tended toward teaching God is the author of sin. Those associations and churches that do not trace their lineage through the New Salem, such as Mountain, Mud River, Twin Creek and others, along with some churches that are in the larger associations, may have originated in the North District Association; or else like the Mud River churches originated from the Particular Baptist. Yet others have left Primitive Baptist and United Baptist Associations and found a home among the Old Regular Baptist. The word "old" was added to Regular Baptist soon after many Regular Baptist had joined and or began to correspond with mission boards, this was done to distinguish the Old (or original) Regular Baptist from the New School Baptist that had emerged throughout the United States. Old Regular Baptist have had several divisions through the years in the 1960s a debate started over when everlasting (eternal) life began, many Old Regular Baptist hold the same views as the Primitive Baptist [some historians consider the Old Regular Baptist a branch of the Primitive Baptist, that held to a stricter order but more liberal in doctrine, allowing for different views on the atonement] . While the doctrine of some Old Regular Baptist would be in harmony with the majority of Primitive Baptist today, others among the Regulars hold to a more modified Calvinism, this difference led to the light is life split that took place in the Union Association. This division soon spread to other associations brought on by requests sent to them from the Union Association, resulting in the isolation of the Mud River Association, and the formation of the Bethel Association, other associations like the New Salem, chose not to divide over this issue, often churches and associations and even Elders are distinguished by which side of this debate they are on, those that hold to the doctrine that an individual is first begotten or quickened into life at the start of their travail, are called the "hard shell side" of Old Regular Baptist or the Old School, [this appears to be the original view of the first Regular Baptist in America] those who hold that life starts at the end of their travail (repentance) are called the "soft shell side". Today the debate is still among the Old Regular Baptist along with when one receives faith, men and women's dress, the receiving of divorced members, the doctrinal differences over hope and knowledge. In the 1990s a debate arose in the Northern New Salem over one of its member churches use of fermented wine in communion [this also was the original Regular Baptist custom] vs. grape juice. A query was sent into the association by a sister church against the church that used wine, all evidence shows that the church that sent the query had not taken the proper steps according to Old Regular Baptist decorum. The Association then involved itself, failing to send the query back to the church that sent it, violated its own orders. This led to two member churches breaking fellowship with the Northern New Salem. The two member churches and one formed latter, lettered to the Original Mountain Liberty Association and was found by them to be orthodox and orderly and were dismissed to form the Sovereign Grace Association in 1997.

Faith and Practice

The theology of the group is "election by grace", as stated in the scripture "By Grace are ye saved through faith. While all Old Regulars preach "election by grace "a difference of opinion exists among them concerning election and predestination. Today depending on which group you hear preach, their doctrine ranges from absolute predestination to man being a free moral agent. The majority of Old Regular Baptist hold to a doctrine that is between these extremes, with absolutism the smallest minority. Some churches and associations would be in doctrinal sympathy with the Old Line Primitive Baptist others would be closer to the United Baptist. Churches form local associations by which they fellowship with one another. This fellowship is formally maintained by the associations electing "correspondents" to attend the meetings of the other associations. Preachers are God-called, not trained by man, and unpaid, and preach "improvisational" (often chanted) sermons. Baptism (in running water), the Lord's supper and feet washing are held to be ordinances. Shouting is a frequent occurrence at Old Regular meeting, particularly among the female membership. Conversion experiences may be a lengthy "process," beginning with an awakening to sin, through a period of conviction and travail of the soul, to repentance and belief.

Current status

The strength of "Old Regular Baptists" is in Appalachia, particularly along the Kentucky and Virginia border, although Old Regular Baptist churches exist as far north as Michigan and as far south as Florida and several churches still exist in the state of Washington. Currently there are seventeen local associations: New Salem, Northern New Salem, Old Friendship, Old Indian Bottom, Philadelphia, Sardis, Union, Bethel, Friendship, Indian Bottom, Mountain, Mountain II, Mud River, Original Mountain Liberty, Solid Rock, Sovereign Grace, and Thornton Union. The first seven on the list maintain "correspondence" with one another, while the remaining ten exhibit various correspondence patterns, including three that have correspondence with the Primitive Baptists and two with the United Baptists. These seventeen associations and independent bodies [not lettered to an association] contain over 350 churches with over 10,000 members. Due to isolation and previous divisions an accurate membership is at this time unattainable. The folk singer Jean Ritchie was a member of the Old Regular Baptists in Kentucky.

Current membership among associations:

Lined-Out Hymnody

One noted feature that has gained much attention to the Old Regular Baptists is their lined-out, non-instrumental, congregational hymnody. [http://www.folkways.si.edu/search/AlbumDetails.aspx?ID=2653 Old Regular Baptists: Lined-out Hymnody vol.1] and [http://www.folkways.si.edu/search/AlbumDetails.aspx?ID=2967 Songs of the Old Regular Baptists vol.2] by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings are notable in the folk music industry. Though Old Regular Baptists are not the only group to retain lined-out hymnody, theirs may be the purest, since it is the only form of singing used in their churches. Having said that, Gaelic-speaking congregations in the Scottish Highlands and Islands sing in exactly the same way (only in Gaelic). See Salm vols. 1 and 2, which has recordings from the Hebrides. According to [http://www.folklife.si.edu/resources/festival1997/baptists.htm Jeff Titon] , "The leader sings the very first line, and the congregation joins in when they recognize the song. After that, the song proceeds line by line: the leader briefly chants a line alone, and then the group repeats the words but to a tune that is much longer and more elaborate than the leader's chant or lining tune." E. D. Thomas' "Hymns and Spiritual Songs" (1877) and Edward W. Billups' "The Sweet Songster" (1854) are two "words-only" hymn books preferred by these churches. Also [http://pages.suddenlink.net/orb/orb/index.htm The Baptist Song Book] by Elder Bobby Scott Sr.


*Asplund, John. "The Annual Register of the Baptist Denomination, in North America, to 1790".
*Association Minutes
*Benedict, David. "A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America, and Other Parts of the World".
*Dorgan, Howard. "Giving Glory to God in Appalachia".
*Dorgan, Howard. "The Old Regular Baptists of Central Appalachia".
*Leonard, Bill J., ed. "Dictionary of Baptists in America".
*McCauley, Deborah. "Appalachian Mountain Religion: A History".
*Perrigan, Rufus. "History of Regular Baptist and Their Ancestors and Accessors".
*Radecki, Patricia Marie (1991). "The World in the Text and the Text in the World: A Study of Old Regular Baptist Discourse." A.D. thesis. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan.
*Semple, Robert B. and George William Beale. "A History of the Rise and Progress of the Bapitsts in Virginia".
*Spencer, John H. "A History of Kentucky Baptists".
*Wicks, Sammie Ann (1983). "Life and Meaning: Singing, Praying, and the Word Among the Old Regular Baptists of Eastern Kentucky." Ph.D. dissertation. Austin, Texas: The University of Texas at Austin.
*Yonts, Wesley. "History of Old Time Baptists in America".

External links

* [http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NilesCenter/oldregular.html Appalachian Music]
* [http://www.cumberlandbooks.com/oldregular Blessed Hope Old Regular Baptist Church weekly worship services]
* [http://library.pc.edu/special/oldregbaptist.htm Historical Sketch]
* [http://www.angelfire.com/fl3/barbiej/redbushchurch.html History of Red Bush Old Regular Baptist Church]
* [http://www.oldregularbaptist.com Indian Bottom Association of Old Regular Baptists]
* [http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/~mudws/resource/chap13.html Information on Lined-Out Hymnody]
* [http://wncln.wncln.org/search/X?SEARCH=old+regular+baptists&searchscope=1&SORT=D&words=old&words=regular&words=baptists Old Regular Baptist Research - ASU]
* [http://pages.suddenlink.net/orb/orb/index.htm Old Regular Baptist Song Books]
* [http://www.webspawner.com/users/truebaptist/index.html Sovereign Grace Association of Old Regular Baptist]
* [http://pages.suddenlink.net/orb/orb/index.htm Old Regular Baptist Association History]

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