John Smyth, according to Bruce Shelley (CHPL, 308) and Wikipedia, was the first of the English Baptists. An Anglican priest, he came to the conclusion that infant baptism was invalid and started a small Baptist congregation in 1609.
However, this group was not the first to come to this conclusion; the Anabaptists had been "rebaptizing" adults since at least the 1520s. And it appears that John Smyth was a "general," not "particular," Baptist, meaning his theology did not closely align with that of Reformed theology – another similarity with Anabaptism.
So, my question is: was John Smyth's view of baptism influenced by the Anabaptist movement? That is:
- Do we have any evidence from the writings of Smyth or his close associates that indicate that he had read and agreed with any Anabaptist writings prior to 1609?
- What is the scholarly consensus on the source of Smyth's views? Was Anabaptism a factor? Or was his shift in views on paedobaptism truly a result of independent Bible study?