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Posts Tagged ‘Confessions of Faith’

Sam Waldron 1689 Baptist Confession and its Orthodoxy

Confessing the Faith in 1644 and 1689

Pastor James M. Renihan
Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies at Westminster Seminary in California
Reformed Baptist Church of North San Diego County
Escondido, CA
Confessing the Faith in 1644 and 1689

Introduction

Try to imagine a situation like this: You live in a large city, the capital of your country. You are a member of one of a handful of churches, just beginning to grow and be noticed in the city. But it is illegal for you to meet with your brothers and sisters. For as long as anyone living can remember, there has been only one legal religion, and every attempt to disagree with that one religion has met with opposition and persecution.

As your churches grow, rumors begin to spread. A hundred years before, some people with beliefs that were marginally similar to your own had been involved in a terrible rebellion in another country relatively close by, and rumors were beginning to spread that your churches would do the same kinds of things. What would you do?

That is something of the situation facing the members of seven Calvinistic Baptist churches in London in 1644. In the space of a few short years, their numbers had grown, and people were beginning to take notice of their presence in London. But it was often not a friendly notice. In 1642, an anonymous pamphlet entitled A Warning for England, especially for London; in the famous History of the frantick Anabaptists, their wild Preachings and Practices in Germany was published. It is an amazing piece of work. The author, in 9 double sized pages, described the sad events of Munster, Germany. Rebellion, sedition, theft, murder are all charged to the “anabaptists.” Throughout, there is no mention of anything but these events from another time and place—until the very last sentence of the pamphlet which stated “So, let all the factious and seditious enemies of the church and state perish; but, upon the head of king Charles, let the crown flourish! Amen.” The warning was in one sense subtle, but in another brilliantly powerful: beware! What was done in Germany by the anabaptists may well happen again in London, if these people are allowed to spread their doctrines.

So what did the Baptists do? The situation was potentially explosive. They knew that it was essential to demonstrate that they were not radicals, subversively undermining the fabric of society. To the contrary, they were law-abiding citizens, who were being misrepresented and misunderstood by many around them. They wanted and needed to demonstrate that they were quite orthodox in their theological beliefs, and that they had no agenda beyond a faithful and conscientious commitment to God and His Word.

 

 

 

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Biblical and Pastoral Basis for Creeds and Confessions

by Robert S. Rayburn

“Premise” Volume III, Number 3 / March 29, 1996

The following essay was a chapter in The Practice of Confessional Subscription (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1995).

Creeds serve a variety of purposes in the life of the church. They are a testimony of the church’s belief to the world; they offer a summation of Christian doctrine for the instruction of the faithful; and they form a bulwark against the incursion of error by providing a standard of orthodoxy and a test for office-bearers. In these ways creeds also serve to protect and to foster the bond of Christian fellowship as a unity of faith and doctrine, of mind and conviction, and not merely of organization or sentiment.1

The earliest creeds, as confessions of faith, served a liturgical purpose and some do to this day. The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, in their liturgical usage, foster a sense of belonging to the one, holy, catholic church. Their importance lies not only in the excellence of their form of words but in their antiquity, the witness they bear to the unity of the church through the generations. In worship, creeds give expression to the living connection between contemporary Christians and their spiritual ancestry. The Heidelberg Catechism, which functions liturgically in some Calvinist communions, links the worshipper in a similar way to the epoch of the Reformation and the Reformed tradition.

All of this notwithstanding, creeds have had their detractors. It has been alleged that they compromise the supreme authority of Holy Scripture in the church, that they unlawfully bind the conscience, being extra-biblical standards to which submission is required, and, more often popularly, it is alleged that, by focusing attention on doctrinal formulation, creeds contribute to a barren orthodoxy. It can hardly be denied that creeds have proved through the years a temptation and a stumbling block in all of these ways. However, the necessity of creeds as the authoritative declaration of a tradition of interpretation of Holy Scripture is taught and illustrated plainly in the Bible. 2

 

 

 

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Choosing & Using a Confession of Faith: Some Biblical and Theological Guidelines

If we grant the legitimacy and usefulness of a confession of faith,[i] we’re faced with two practical questions: first, what particular confession of faith should a local church or collective body of churches adopt? And, second, what type or level of confessional subscription[ii] should such a church or body of churches require of its officers and members? Below I’d like to suggest a few biblical and theological guidelines to assist in answering these questions.

The Bible doesn’t give explicit instructions on how a Christian church must use a particular confession of faith. Nowhere does Jesus or the apostles address the issue of confessional subscription. And obviously the biblical writers don’t explicitly identify what creed we should use since the creeds and confessions framed throughout the history of the church did not yet exist. Of course, some in my theological tradition might be tempted to resort to a kind of cabalistic hermeneutic to uncover the numbers “1-6-8-9” in the biblical text.[iii] But I wouldn’t recommend that methodology for choosing a confession.

So we can’t answer the questions above with a simple proof-text or two. Nevertheless, I would submit that the Bible provides us with some biblical and theological parameters not only for choosing a good confession but also for deciding on how we should use and subscribe to that confession. These parameters are, in my opinion, not so narrow so as to restrict us only to one possible confession or even to one specific form of subscription. But they are relatively narrow enough to exclude certain confessions and kinds of subscription as either wrong or unwise.

 

 

 

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Baptists, the Bible and Confessions – The Need for Statements of Faith

by Gregory A. Wills
From The Southern Seminary Magazine,
November 2000 (Volume 68, Number 4), pages 13-15

Baptists have adopted creeds throughout their history. They probably have adopted creeds more than any other denomination. Baptist churches by the tens of thousands adopted a confession of faith when they constituted as a church. Some thousands of Baptist associations have similarly adopted their own confessions.

When critics of creeds raised their objections, Baptist leaders in earlier times answered that Baptists generally adopted creeds in their churches and associations because they were necessary to carrying out the church’s mission. John Taylor, the great Separate Baptist preacher of the Kentucky frontier, said that “in every church in its constitution” the members should agree upon some creed. He estimated that nine out of ten of the Baptist churches in Virginia and Kentucky had adopted “what may properly be called a creed.” Thomas Meredith, longtime editor of North Carolina’s Biblical Recorder, believed that “the articles of faith form an indispensable element of the constitution” of a church. He knew of no church or association that “did not have its summary of faith, as an essential part of its constitution.” Joseph S. Baker, who was a missionary preacher in Virginia and who edited several Baptist papers in his long career, noted that the majority of Southern Baptists rejected anti-creedal arguments and “every association with which we are acquainted” had a confession of faith.

 

 

 

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Teaching Others to Walk

Appendix

Teaching Others to Walk:

The Use of Creeds and Confessions In Local Church Reformation

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deut 4:9

The Future Generation

God is concerned about the future generations. Psalm 78:1-6 says:

O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old – what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. (NIV)

Psalm 145:4 similarly says: “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts” (KJV).

One of the best teaching tools available in a reforming situation is the use of creeds, confessions and catechisms. Unfortunately, the use of these teaching tools has been lost in all-too many churches. Yet it is vitally important that we recover the use of our historical confessional statements. Reformation will not come if we do not know who we are and where we have come from. To this end, in my view, every reforming pastor should have on his shelf and in his church library a copy of Timothy and Denise George’s collection of Baptist confessions of faith, covenants and catechisms.

Definition Of Creeds, Confessions and Catechisms

It is often said that Baptists are not creedal people, that we have no creed but the Bible. This simply is not true. Baptists have often utilized confessions of faith, beginning with the General Baptists’ Short Confession of Faith in Twenty Articles (1609) and the Particular Baptists’ London Confession of 1644 and continuing to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Faith and Message, recently amended in 1998.

 

 

 

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The Baptist Union Censure

THE censure passed upon me by the Council of the Baptist Union will be weighed by the faithful, and estimated at its true value. “Afterwards they have no more that they can do.” I brought no charges before the members of the Council, because they could only judge by their constitution, and that document lays down no doctrinal basis except the belief that “the immersion of believers is the only Christian baptism.” Even the mention of evangelical sentiments has been cut out from their printed program. No one can be heterodox under this constitution, unless he should forswear his baptism. I offered to pay the fee for Counsel’s opinion upon this matter, but my offer was not accepted by the deputation. There was, therefore, nothing for me to work upon, whatever evidence I might bring. What would be the use of exposing myself to threatened law-suits to gain nothing at all? Whatever may be said to the contrary, if we go to its authorized declaration of principles, it is clear that the Union is incompetent for any doctrinal judgment, except it should be needful to ascertain a person’s views on baptism. I decline to submit to it any case which would be quite beyond its powers. Would any rational man act otherwise? I have rather too much proof than too little; but I am not going to involve others in litigation when nothing is to be gained.

I do not complain of the censure of the Council, or feel the least care about it. But was this the intent of its loving resolution? Is this the claw which was concealed by the velvet pad of its vote to send four doctors of divinity to me “to deliberate how the unity of the denomination can be maintained in truth, and love, and good works”? Did those who passed that resolution mean — we send these four men to put him to the question? Why, then, did they not say so? Did the world ever hear of such a result of a “deliberation”? The person with whom they deliberate upon union “in truth, and love, and good works” is questioned and condemned! Let plain sailing Christian men judge between me and this Council.

The question now to be answered is — “Does this decision represent the opinion of the Baptist Union?” It may be so. It may be that the Council is elected in such a manner that it is fairly representative. It may be that the churches will admire the conduct of their prominent men. I do not believe it. It is not for me, as an outsider, to raise the question; but surely there are members of the Union who will consider it, and act accordingly.

I have, in simple brotherly kindness, given the advice which was asked of me; but had I known the secret object of the deputation from the Council, I would not have given it any advice of any sort. These gentlemen came, avowedly, to me to deliberate upon “unity in truth, and love, and good works”; but their real errand was not what was openly avowed. What they were driving at is made clear by the facts. Before considering as a Council the advice which, in any fair English construction of the words, was the object aimed at, they censure the man with whom they professed to deliberate. How is this consistent with itself? It is quite as well that their resolutions should be as incomprehensible as their doctrinal position is indefinable. But this goes far to render my recommendations useless. Is it not a waste of breath to deliberate under such circumstances? When language is used rather to conceal a purpose than to express it, it becomes fearfully doubtful whether any form of doctrine can be so worded as to be of the slightest use. Nevertheless, I would like all Christendom to know that all I asked of the Union is that it be formed on a Scriptural basis; and that I never sought to intrude upon it any Calvinistic or other personal creed, but only that form of belief which has been accepted for many years by the Evangelical Alliance, which includes members of well-nigh all Christian communities.

To this it was replied that there is an objection to any creed whatever. This is a principle which one may fairly discuss. Surely, what we believe may be stated, may be written, may be made known; and what is this but to make and promulgate a creed? Baptists from the first have issued their confessions of faith. Even the present Baptist Union itself has a creed about baptism, though about nothing else. The churches of which it is composed have nearly all of them a creed of some sort, and the very men who object to a creed many of them hold offices which require adhesion to certain doctrines, implied, if not actually written down. Trust-deeds of chapels and colleges usually have some doctrinal declaration; and how persons who hold positions connected with churches and institutions having creeds can fairly object to them when they meet in a united character, I am quite unable to see. Certain members of the Council talk about having expelled Unitarians: does not this admit that they have already an unwritten Trinitarian creed? Why not print it? Possibly “modern thought” has methods of getting over this which have never occurred to my unsophisticated mind.

To say that “a creed comes between a man and his God,” is to suppose that it is not true; for truth, however definitely stated, does not divide the believer from his Lord. So far as I am concerned, that which I believe I am not ashamed to state in the plainest possible language; and the truth I hold I embrace because I believe it to be the mind of God revealed in his infallible Word. How can it divide me from God who revealed it? It is one means of my communion with my Lord, that I receive his words as well as himself, and submit my understanding to what I see to be taught by him. Say what he may, I accept it because he says it, and therein pay him the humble worship of my inmost soul.

I am unable to sympathize with a man who says he has no creed; because I believe him to be in the wrong by his own showing. He ought to have a creed. What is equally certain, he has a creed — he must have one, even though he repudiates the notion. His very unbelief is, in a sense, a creed.

The objection to a creed is a very pleasant way of concealing objection to discipline, and a desire for latitudinarianism. What is wished for is a Union which will, like Noah’s Ark, afford shelter both for the clean and for the unclean, for creeping things and winged fowls.

Every Union, unless it is a mere fiction, must be based upon certain principles. How can we unite except upon some great common truths? And the doctrine of baptism by immersion is not sufficient for a groundwork. Surely, to be a Baptist is not everything. If I disagree with a man on ninetynine points, but happen to be one with him in baptism, this can never furnish such ground of unity as I have with another with whom I believe in ninety-nine points, and only happen to differ upon one ordinance. To form a union with a single Scriptural ordinance as its sole distinctive reason for existence has been well likened to erecting a pyramid upon its apex: the whole edifice must sooner or later come down. I am not slow to avow my conviction that the immersion of believers is the baptism of Holy Scripture, but there are other truths beside this; and I cannot feel fellowship with a man because of this, if in other matters he is false to the teaching of Holy Scripture.

To alter the foundation of a building is a difficult undertaking. Underpinning is expensive and perilous work. It might be more satisfactory to take the whole house down, and reconstruct it. If I had believed that the Baptist Union could be made a satisfactory structure, I could not then have remained in it; because to do so would have violated my conscience. But my conscience is no guide for others. Those who believe in the structure, and think that they can rectify its foundation, have my hearty sympathy in the attempt. Let them give themselves to it earnestly and with firm resolve: they will have need of all their earnestness and resolution. In the Assembly, in the Associations, and in the churches they can urge their views, and make it plain that they mean to make the Union an avowedly Evangelical body on the old lines of faith. This they must do boldly, and without flinching. I have no very assured hope of their success, for the difficulties are exceedingly great; but let them combine, and work unitedly, and persistently, year after year, and they may do something, if not everything. It is not for me to lead in a work which I have been forced to abandon; but there are other men who are less known, but not less resolute, and these should take their turn. The warfare has been made too personal; and certain incidents in it, upon which I will not dwell, have made it too painful for me to feel any pleasure in the idea of going on with it. It might even appear that I desired to be reinstated in the Union, or wished to head a party in it, and this is very far from my mind. But let no man imagine that I shall cease from my protests against false doctrine, or lay down the sword of which I have thrown away the scabbard. However much invited to do so, I shall not commence personalities, nor disclose the wretched facts in all their details; but with confirmatory evidence perpetually pouring in upon me, and a solemn conviction that the dark conspiracy to overthrow the truth must be dragged to light, I shall not cease to expose doctrinal declension wherever I see it. With the Baptist Union, as such, I have now no hampering connection; but so far as it takes its part in the common departure from the truth, it will hav to put up with my strictures, although it has so graciously kicked me under pretext of deliberation.

Will those who are with me in this struggle remember me in their constant prayers to the Lord, whom in this matter I serve in my soul and spirit?

(From THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL Magazine, February, 1888).

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 34 Page 2

Newly Revised – The Reformation Study Bible

April 13, 2015 2 comments

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Got my new revised Reformation Study Bible in the mail. Over 75 Pastors and Scholars helped Dr. R. C. Sproul revise this Bible. This updated edition includes: The Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, Definition of Chalcedon, Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, Canons of Dort, Westminster Confession, Westminster Larger Catechism, Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the 1689 London Baptist Confession.

As an added bonus for those who purchase this edition, they will get a digital learning library that is worth well over $400.00. The Bible comes with its own special registration code. Once registered you can sign into this learning library. This is what all the learning library includes:

 

Ebooks:

Everyone’s a Theologian by Dr. R. C. Sproul

Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow by Dr. R. C. Sproul

By Grace Alone by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

In Christ Alone by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Daring Mission of William Tyndale by Dr. Steven J. Lawson

The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Dr. Steven J. Lawson

Believing God by Dr. R. C. Sproul Jr.

 

Teaching Series:

Dust to Glory (57 messages) by Dr. R. C. Sproul

Attributes of God (16 messages) by Dr. Steven J. Lawson

A Survey of Church History, Volumes 1-4 (49 messages) by Dr. W. Robert Godfrey

Lessons from the Upper Room (12 messages) by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

What is Reformed Theology? (12 messages) by Dr. R. C. Sproul

Why We Trust the Bible? (6 messages) by Dr. Stephen Nichols

 

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Outstanding!

The Integrity of Words and Our Confession of Faith

by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

In the beginning was the Word. Christians rightly cherish the declaration that our Savior, the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, is first known as the Word — the one whom the Father has sent to communicate and to accomplish our redemption. We are saved because the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Believers are then assigned the task of telling others about the salvation that Christ has brought, and this requires the use of words. We tell the story of Jesus by deploying words, and we cannot tell the story without them. Our testimony, our teaching, and our theology all require the use of words. Words are essential to our worship, our preaching, our singing, and our spiritual conversation. In other words, words are essential to the Christian faith and central in the lives of believers.

 

 

 

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