Posts Tagged ‘Confessions of Faith’

Credo-Baptism During the Reformation

When approaching the question of credo-baptism during the Reformation, James Dolezal argues for viewing three distinct categories: Anabaptists, general baptists, and particular baptists. The theological differences between these groups are as great as the differences among all forms of paedo-baptism. As such, it is important to trace these three groups separately throughout the Reformation. This informative discussion chronicles this history and concludes with a friendly debate on the issue of credo-baptism from a covenantal position. For credo- and paedo-baptists alike, this discussion will be both engaging and insightful.

Download audio here.




Belyea, G. “Origins of the Particular Baptists.” Themelios. 32, no. 3 (2007): 40-67.

Klaassen, Walter. Anabaptism in Outline: Selected Primary Sources. Kitchener Ont. Scottdale Pa.: Herald Press, 1981.

Renihan, James. True Confessions: Baptist Documents in the Reformed Family. Owensboro Ky.: RBAP, 2004.

White, B. The English Baptists of the Seventeenth Century. London: Baptist Historical Society, 1983.


Source [Reformed Forum]

Sam Waldron 1689 Baptist Confession and its Orthodoxy

Sam Waldron 1689 Baptist Confession and its Orthodoxy from on Vimeo.

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


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


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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