Roger Williams well knew persecution as he experienced it firsthand in the Puritan Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Banished from there he was to establish the colony of Rhode Island where freedom of religion for all, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and even American Indians was a hallmark of the new colony. Williams wrote the Bloudy Tenent as a defense of his views on the church and state and freedom of religion. Initially decried as false and heretical The Bloudy Tenent challenged the common understanding of the union of church and state and laid the foundation for the establishing of the freedoms most Americans take for granted. This work deserves to be read by every Baptist and lover of freedom, especially since there is a tendency today to minimize the Baptist distinctives as being secondary or unessential. This trend does not bode well for the future and many Baptists who have taken the position that it is necessary to deny or minimize their distinctives will awaken to find that the opportunities to preach the Gospel and propagate their faith may quickly be lost.
Roger Williams (1604 - 1683) was educated at Pembroke College and ordained in the Church of England. In 1630, he sailed for North America in search of religious liberty. Finding the same religious restrictions in Boston as he had in England, he established a schismatic church. He was banished from Massachusetts in 1635 and took refuge with the Indians, with whom he would remain friends and fight for their liberty as well. He called the new settlement Providence and established there the first Baptist church in the colonies. In 1643 he returned to England to secure a new title for the colony. It was while there that he published The Bloudy Tenent in 1644. Not published for over 100 years Mercer Press has made it available under the editorial direction of Richard Groves. This edition also includes a forward by Edwin Gausted and a series forward by Walter Shurden.
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