Why regard John Smyth as the founder of the Baptists? Why?
1. He wasn’t the first to baptize only believers. Why not regard Balthasar Hubmaier, Conrad Grebel, or Michael Sattler as the founder? They baptized only believers long before John Smyth.
2. He probably didn’t baptize by immersion, so the doctrinal connection to modern Baptists is weak at best. Even if you are willing to overlook immersion, why not look to the Anabaptists instead?
3. He wasn’t the first Englishman to baptize only believers. There were Anabaptists in England long before 1609. For proof please see John T. Christian’s History of the Baptists, volume 1, chapter 15 – The Baptists of the Reformation Period in England – http://www.pbministries.org/History/John%20T.%20Christian/vol1/history_15.htm
4. He didn’t start a church that lasted. There are no churches in existence today that have a historical connection to him. If you say, well he did start a believer’s baptism church – it still wasn’t the first one. See #1 and #3.