The Theology of John Smyth: Puritan, Separatist, Baptist, Mennonite


The Theology of John Smyth: Puritan, Separatist, Baptist, Mennonite

School or Department

Biblical and Theological Studies



The first English Baptist, John Smyth created controversy with his radical thought and actions. During his writing career of only ten years, Smyth successively produced works of Puritan, Separatist, Baptist, and Mennonite thought. After accepting Mennonite beliefs, Smyth and a majority of his congregation petitioned to join the Waterlander Mennonites in Amsterdam. However, before the union could be achieved, Smyth died of tuberculosis. Under Thomas Helwys’s leadership, the portion of Smyth’s congregation that did not join the Waterlanders returned to England and established the first General Baptist Church. Most studies of Smyth and his successors have approached the material with predominantly historical concerns. While the historical facts about Smyth are important, they should be coupled with his theology, which motivated his actions. Jason K. Lee is the first scholar to investigate Smyth’s theology in this context. First, Lee identifies the historical and theological environment that shaped Smyth’s thought, examining Puritan, Separatist, and Mennonite backgrounds in order. Smyth often found himself isolated from former associates as he continued his pursuit of truth. Second, Lee provides an analysis of Smyth’s theology including his understanding of Scripture, covenant, atonement, Christology, and Church-state relations. This book makes an important contribution to the understanding of both the origins of Baptists and to Christianity in the seventeenth century.




John Smyth, Baptists, church history

Publication Date



Mercer University Press


Macon, GA


Christian Denominations and Sects | Christianity | History of Christianity | Religion

About the Author

Jason K. Lee has served as the Dean of the School of Biblical and Theological Studies at Cedarville University since 2013. He previously served as a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (NC) and also at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (TX). He also previously served in pastoral ministry in Louisiana and Scotland. He has published a book and essays in his fields of historical theology and theological interpretation. He preaches regularly and has served local churches as an interim pastor.

Visit Dr. Lee's SelectedWorks page.

The Theology of John Smyth: Puritan, Separatist, Baptist, Mennonite