Free Will Baptist

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Free Will Baptist is the name of several Baptist denominations, mainly located in Tennessee and North Carolina, which differ from traditional Baptist doctrine and practice in two main areas:

  • The main area of difference is their strong holding to Arminian doctrine (thus the name "Free Will") and their rejection of the doctrine of eternal security.
  • A secondary, though notable, difference is their practice of foot washing as a third ordinance (along with baptism and the Lord's Supper).

Originating from the General Baptist movement in England, the American development of Free Will Baptists came about through two different groups: the "Randall" line (originating in New England through the work of Benjamin Randall) and the southern "Palmer" line (originating in North Carolina through the work of Paul Palmer). The Randall line was the much stronger of the two (ironic given the denomination's current strength in what was Palmer's area).

In 1935 representatives of the lines met to create the National Association of Free Will Baptists, which is the largest Free Will Baptist group. A split in 1961 would see nearly all of the North Carolina congregations create their own group, the Original Free Will Baptist Convention. Two black Free Will Baptist denominations exist: the United American Free Will Baptist Church (organized in 1901) and the United American Free Will Baptist Conference which split from the former in 1968.

Other minor groups exist, along with a handful of congregations which are not affiliated with any national group.