Thomas Patient: The Father of the Irish Baptist Church


Thomas Patient: The Father of the Irish Baptist Church

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By Micah L. Caswell Foreword by Malcolm B. Yarnell

The study of Baptist history and theology includes a quest for Baptist identity. For generations Baptists have asked, “what does it mean to be a Baptist?” Exploring the life of Thomas Patient is helpful to find an answer to this question. Patient’s life and ministry provide helpful data on what it means to be a Baptist, even though he is unknown by most Baptist historians. He will be shown to be an English Puritan then an American Baptist then an English Particular Baptist all culminating in his foundational role in establishing the Baptist movement in Ireland.

“Caswell’s work on Thomas Patient gives vital insight on the relationship of the early Particular Baptists to one another, their theological vitality, their church planting energy, and their willingness to suffer for what they believed to be clearly revealed truth. The careful development of the practice and theology of believers’ baptism by immersion also is discussed with clarity and contextual relevance in a comparison of the work of Norcott with that of Patient. How the life and thought of Patient is relevant for contemporary discussions of Baptist identity is also addressed in a clear and informative way. This book makes the fabric of early Baptist historiography a more tightly woven garment.”

—Tom Nettles, Senior Professor of Historical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY


“Whether we realize it or not, we derive much of our identity from our family—the legacy of those who have gone before us. This holds true when it comes to our church family. In a word, we owe a great deal to many whom we have never met. In the present volume, Micah Caswell introduces us to one long-forgotten family member by the name of Thomas Patient, whose pioneer work in Ireland was pivotal to the establishment of Baptist churches and the spread of Baptist ideals in the early seventeenth century. As the reader will discover, Patient’s endurance in suffering, faithfulness in preaching, and commitment to Christ, make him a family member worthy of admiration and imitation.”

—J. Stephen Yuille, Vice President of Academics and Academic Dean of College, Heritage College & Seminary, Cambridge, ON; Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY


“It’s been said that the best of men are just men at best. That’s partially true. Men are men, but Christian men should stand at the forefront. Christian men should be men of conviction, courage, and boldness fueled by a biblical worldview for all of life. In his book, Thomas Patient: The Father of the Irish Baptist Church, Micah Caswell writes about a Christian man shaped, formed, and fueled by a biblical worldview for the glory of God. Whether you’ve heard of Thomas Patient or not, you will benefit from this book about a man whose life was marked by love for Jesus, the Church, and the people of God. May the Lord raise many more men like Thomas Patient in our day, for the glory of Christ, the spread of the gospel, and the building up of local churches.”

Dave Jenkins, Executive Director, Servants of Grace Ministries; Executive Editor, Theology for Life Magazine


“Sometimes the best way to recover our theological moorings is to go back into church history and examine the lives of those who have gone before us. Micah Caswell’s work on Thomas Patient, who established the first Irish Baptist Church in days of political and ecclesiological turmoil in the seventeenth century, enables us to do just that. This little known story of a faithful Christian minister with Baptist convictions will encourage and challenge all who continue to contend for the gospel today.”

Kirk Wellum, Principal and Professor of Systematic Theology and Pastoral Studies, Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College


“Far to often we are quick to forget those who came before us. Micah Caswell shines an important light on the life and work of Thomas Patient; an almost forgotten Baptist father who suffered much for the faith, wrote one of the earliest English works on believer’s baptism and helped strengthen the Baptist movement in England, North America, and especially Ireland.”

Joshua Stone, Pastor, Fellowship Baptist Church, Parry Sound, Ontario


“Far too many of us automatically assume that being Irish means being Roman Catholic. That is neither true today nor has it been so in the past. Thomas Patient’s transatlantic story is a good case in point. His most important ministry as a Particular Baptist lay in Ireland where he was instrumental in laying the foundations for the Irish Baptist community, which has had an especially significant history in the north of Ireland. Moreover, Caswell does not think that the rich details of Patient’s ministry are of mere antiquarian interest, since he is rightly convinced that such a life has much to teach us today.”

—Michael A.G. Haykin, Chair and Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY


“Caswell’s ground-breaking look at Thomas Patient provides crucial context on the development of early Baptists, both theologically, politically, and socially.  The fascinating connection that Patient had with pivotal moments in history, from the English Civil War to the signing of the 1644 London Baptist Confession, is set alongside his own personal zeal for church planting and Baptist ecclesiology.  Caswell also reveals the trials that the non-conformist Patient faced, from trans-Atlantic journeys, to internal denominational strife, to long imprisonments.  This new look into the life of a great, if flawed, Baptist leader will provide valuable resources for scholars and practical encouragement for Christians.”

—Matthew Lyon, (PhD in Baptist History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) Pastor, Chesapeake Baptist Church, Severn, MD; Host, History and Hope Podcast.

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