Another C17th Charismatic Baptist!

After my post on Caffyn, David Lytle on Twitter alerted me to similar sentiments in Thomas Grantham; his only responsibility for the comments below is sending me back to the text to look at it, but that was very fruitful: Grantham argues at length against the idea that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased, and claims to have witnessed in various ways, not shying from the word ‘miracle’, the gifts at work.
Thomas Grantham was certainly the most productive General Baptist of the seventeenth century, in terms of published output; it is hard to dispute the claim that he was also the most influential. Christianismus Primitivus was his most lengthy work by some distance, and probably his most important. The basic argument of the book is that the General Baptists are recovering apostolic (‘primitive’) Christianity, and so all should join them in that.
In Book II Part II of CP, he discusses church ordinances. The third chapter is devoted to the laying on of hands, which, on the basis of Heb. 6:1-2, had become a required practice for General Baptists. Grantham argues that the laying on of hands is the Biblical way of asking God to fulfil the pentecostal promise to pour out the Spirit on this disciple, too.
The first section of the chapter considers what it means to receive the Spirit; the second insists that the Spirit is poured out on women and men indifferently.
The title of the third section announces a desire to offer ‘…a more ample disquisition of the nature of the promise of the Spirit …’. This is to be fulfilled by exegesis of 1Cor.12:1 ‘Now I do not want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts, sisters and brothers.’ The text discussed is more expansive—chh. 12-14—but his prospectus of the discussion includes the intention to show ‘that the Church hath a perpetual right to (though not alwayes a like necessity of) all these spiritual gifts’
A subsection is headed ‘That the Gifts of the Spirit … belongs [sic] to the Church of Christ, as her right, to the end of the World.’; there are various exegetical arguments, but the point he returns to is that God calls the church of today to the same duties and ministries as the apostolic church was called to, so it is not credible that God will not give the church of today the same gifts that the apostolic church found necessary to fulfil its calling.
He then suggests another exegetical argument: ‘That the gifts and graces intended by the Apostle, are a portion of the right belonging to the Church in every age, appeareth from the nature and extent of the exhortations which she is under to ask or seek for them’ (referencing, inter alia, Lk. 11:13, but also extensively 1Cor. 12-14).
He turns next to an argument from experience: he suggests that the only reason anyone doubts the continuation of the gifts is that they have not seen them. But there are many examples in church history, and he himself has seen gifts like words of knowledge and prophecy evident in the ministry of preachers, and miraculous healings—and other miracles. And he has testimony from people whose word he cannot doubt that they have seen similar.

It’s not a project for me, at least for the next couple of years, but there’s some work to be done here, surely? Two significant national leaders insisting the gifts have not ceased, with one insisting on personal and reported testimony to miraculous happenings.


  1. Chris Schelin
    Jan 12, 2023

    Hello Steve,

    Steve Harmon sent me the link for this post. On Grantham’s continuationism, Clint Bass discusses this a bit in his book.

    More broadly, I have spent the last couple of years researching incipient charismatic tendencies among 17th-century English Baptists, resulting in an article that will appear in the next issue of the Journal of European Baptist Studies. So stay tuned!

    All the best,

    Chris Schelin
    Hercules, California, USA

    • steve
      Jan 12, 2023

      I look forward to it! Thanks for letting me know.

  2. Nima
    May 8, 2023

    Any particular baptists that would agree with this? Would be very interesting!

    • steve
      May 10, 2023

      Not that I know of, but I’ve been focused on the General Baptists for the last few years, so I speak from a position of ignorance.

    • steve
      Jun 18, 2023

      Thomas Edwards, who is admittedly not the most reliable witness, tells a story of William Kiffin praying for a church member who is sick. When she does not recover, he looks at the text in James, suggesting the ‘elders’ of the church should go to pray and annoint. So he goes back with Thomas Patience and she is miraculously restored.

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