Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Confessional Christianity’

Reformed Baptists and the Purity of the Church

December 8, 2015 1 comment

by Tom Chantry

Having opened the week posting on the history of friendly interaction between Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists, I’ve made my way around to writing about a recent article by Westminster in California’s President, W. Robert Godfrey. Godfrey’s essay asks whether or not the Belgic Confession (one of the three confessional standards of the Dutch Reformed churches) indicates that Baptist churches are not churches, and, by implication, that Baptists are not Christians.

Godfrey’s conclusion is that our churches are churches, and our members Christians, even if our doctrine of baptism is imperfect. Far from taking offense at the implication that we are imperfect in this area (which is after all only to say that Godfrey actually subscribes to his church’s standards), I find myself challenged by the manner in which he applies his confessional standards with a spirit of charity.

This raises the question for Reformed Baptists: does our own confession lead us in the same catholic direction, and if so, are also we able to combine doctrinal rigor with a charitable outlook on the rest of Christ’s church?

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Godfrey and the Baptists

by Tom Chantry

This week I have been addressing the matter of friendship and cooperation across denominational boundaries within the broader Reformed world. Yesterday, in writing about the example of cooperation being set by Westminster Seminary California and the Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies, I mentioned a recent article by W. Robert Godfrey, WSC’s president, entitled “The Belgic Confession and the True Church.”

The article is being published in By Common Confession, a festschrift for James Renihan, dean of IRBS, and addresses the question, “Does the Belgic Confession, as some claim, require its subscribers to confess that all Baptist churches are false churches?” What is remarkable in this essay is that Godfrey…..

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

The Challenge of Cooperation

November 24, 2015 Leave a comment

By Tom Chantry

Yesterday I wrote about the spirit of friendship and cooperation which has formed at least part of the true history of interaction between Presbyterians and Reformed on the one hand and Reformed Baptists on the other. Fellowship has flourished where there has been mutual appreciation and trust. Yet it seems that recently, distrust is growing. I concluded by asking:

In this context, two questions arise. First, is similar friendship and collaboration sustainable any longer? And second, is such cooperation across denominational and confessional lines even a good idea?

My answer to each of those questions is a resounding “Yes.” First, though, we need to understand why such fellowship is challenged.

The New Calvinism

I am convinced that the main challenge to interdenominational cooperation among serious, confessional churches is posed by the movement which has come to be known as “New Calvinism.” New Calvinism is indeed…….

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Is John Piper Confessional?

November 24, 2015 Leave a comment

John Piper recently answered a question about the use of confessions by a church. I’m thankful for several parts of his answer, and I have some comments to offer on the other parts.

First, Piper affirms and defends the validity, necessity, and value of confessions of faith:

“Christianity that is unified around a written confession of faith, at its best, is the best Christianity… Confessional summaries of biblical truth really do help us in our faith, because I think faith thrives on deep, true doctrine that is brought out of the Scriptures, properly summarized, applied to peoples’ lives, and in our souls, in our families, in our churches, even in society. That kind of clear, doctrinal truth is healthy for life and for obedience to Jesus.”

Amen.

In light of this, Bethlehem Baptist Church created The Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith (I believe in 2003) and they modified their by-laws to state “Elders are also required to be in agreement with the Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith” The confession states

“We believe that the cause of unity in the church is best served, not by finding the lowest common denominator of doctrine, around which all can gather, but by elevating the value of truth, stating the doctrinal parameters of church or school or mission or ministry, seeking the unity that comes from the truth, and then demonstrating to the world how Christians can love each other across boundaries rather than by removing boundaries. (15:2)”

Again, Amen! (Note that their Congregational Affirmation of Faith for members is different from the Elder Affirmation of Faith).

The rest of Piper’s answer focuses on why they…..

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

On the Need for and Practice of Confessing the Faith

November 12, 2015 2 comments

by Samuel Renihan

On the Need for and Practice of Confessing the Faith

“Unity without verity is rather a conspiracy.” [1]

Truth is as unchanging as the Author of truth. It is the duty of the church to know, believe, and proclaim this truth. The theological vanguards of our day need not take us on a new path, but on the tried, tested, and true paths of the church throughout the ages. They may remove stones in the way, new or old. They may add clarity to the road we trod with clearer light. But they must keep us on that road. This can only be accomplished with a clear, comprehensive, and concise confession of faith.

The Need for a Confession of Faith

Communion is always built upon union. A confession of faith is thus necessary for the unity of individual churches and for the unity of multiple churches. It is the source of outward union upon which communion can take place. Nehemiah Coxe…..

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

No Creed But the Bible?

November 2, 2015 1 comment

John Piper was asked by a podcast listener if he subscribed to the 1689 Confession of Faith? Here are five points that he made against the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith:

 

 
Now here is the deal with the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. I didn’t choose to go that route, even though it is a good, solid, Reformed Baptist version of the Westminster Confession. And there are several reasons why. Here they are:

1) The language is somewhat foreign. Its vocabulary is like reading the King James Version. And I think it is probably a mistake to try to enshrine that today as the one if you expect families to use it without any updated form.

2) While I am able to affirm that Genesis 1 refers to literal 24-hour days, I had a hard time thinking that I should make that a matter of confessional faithfulness to Christianity, and so I stumbled over that section.

3) The understanding of the Sabbath is, perhaps, more rigorous and narrow than my understanding of the implications of Jesus’s teaching about the Sabbath.

4) There are certain historic categories of theology, like the covenant of works and others, that have proved useful, but you might wonder: Shall I make that the structure of the theology I am going to present?

5) This is going to sound so piddly — and yet you can’t be piddly in a confession — little things like saying that bread and wine are prescribed in the Lord’s Supper. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that wine was used in the Lord’s Supper. That comes as a shock to a lot of people. It doesn’t say that is what was used.

Now I suspect it was. I suspect it was wine, but it always uses the term cup or fruit of the vine and, therefore, if you get into a knock down battle and say we are going to settle this confessionally and you go to the 1689 Confession, it is going to say wine is what you are supposed to use. And I would say: Well, that is just unbiblical, because that is not what the Bible says, even though that is totally legitimate and maybe even preferable, but not at all required.

To read the entire audio transcript, click here.

To download the audio, click here.

 

 

My response to Piper:

1) The language of the1689 Confession is not foreign to the average reader of today. It is fairly simple in its explanation of the doctrines in which it confesses. That is not to say, that the average reader today, doesn’t need to study a little history of the Church because the confession does use certain words that affirm the truth, over and against the errors that tried to creep in during church history. But this is also true of the scriptures contained within Holy Writ. Unless one studies the historical setting of the Bible, then the reader will not grasp certain things in which the Bible states. So if, the average reader of today, struggles with the confession, then it is certain that they haven’t studied any church history and probably hasn’t studied any Biblical history. Of course, there are modern versions of the 1689 Confession, in modern language, and so Piper’s objection right here is absurd and ridiculous.

2) Piper has a hard time thinking that the 24 hours days of Genesis should by a matter of confessional faithfulness to Christianity. But why does he think that? Is he saying that whatever God states in scripture shouldn’t be a matter of confessional faithfulness to Christianity? To deny what God says in scripture is to deny scripture. Many, for the sake of not trying to look like the Bible is outdated or is ignorant concerning creation, have chosen to try and harmonize the scriptures with the obscure data of fallen man’s so-called science. Paul warned Timothy of this in 1 Timothy 6:20, whereby Paul said, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called…” So I say, if someone gets Genesis wrong, then they get all of scripture wrong. Genesis lays the foundation for the rest of Biblical revelation. And if you notice several of his remaining objections are points that can be cleared up by studying the book of Genesis.

3) Piper also has a problem with the 1689 on its doctrine concerning the Sabbath. Yet the Sabbath, is part of the Moral law, and is contained within the ten commandments. These ten commandments where given on Mt Sinai, and are the totality of what is contained in the moral law. However, these ten commandments were revealed before Mt Sinai when God wrote these commandments on the heart of man at creation. We see that most of these commandments were broken in Genesis and God judges those who broke them.

4) Piper also seems to have a problem with the covenant of works. Yet, if one does away with the covenant of works, then they do away with Christ’s sacrifice. What law did Christ fulfill? Why did Christ have to die in our place, if no covenant was broken? If you do away with the doctrine of the covenant of works, then you do away with justification.

5) Finally Piper has a problem with the 1689 because it speaks of wine being used in the Lord’s supper. He states that wine is unbiblical and that it was probably only the fruit of the vine which was used at the Lord’s supper. You would think that someone who was a Pastor for as many years as he was, that they would not be so ignorant concerning such a matter as this. The Lord’s supper took place between March and April, seeing that the Passover was a movable feast. The harvesting of grapes took place in late October. Now how does Piper propose that the Jews preserved grape juice for six months? Welch had not yet been born. Once new wine was bottled, it started the fermentation process.

What Is “Full Subscription?”

Submitted by Dr. James M. Renihan

Confessional subscription employs three main terms in its nomenclature: absolute, strict/full, and loose. ARBCA has adopted the middle position. According to Dr. Morton H. Smith, “strict or full subscription takes at face value” the terminology used in adopting a confession of faith.

In an article entitled “The Case for Full Subscription” (in The Practice of Confessional Subscription, ed. by David Hall, Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1995; pages 185-6), Dr. Smith provides some helpful insights [albeit in a Presbyterian context with a much more developed tradition of discussion of the issue than among Baptists]. He says, “Note some things that full subscription does not mean. First, it does not insist that all of the teachings of the Confession . . . are of equal importance (just as not all of the teachings in the Bible are of equal importance). The full subscriptionist…

Read the entire article by downloading the Pdf here.