Saturday, December 10, 2016

What Is The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith?

If you are a regular visitor to Keeping The Main Thing, you have seen posts that have been adapted from the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. Some of you are aware of what this confession is while some of you may not know what it is.

To help those who want a more understanding of this confession, Nathan Finn wrote an article on the history of the 1689 Baptist Confession:

The Second London Confession is the most influential Baptist confession of faith ever written. The Second London Confession was drafted in 1677 for the Petty France Church in London, during a time when Baptists and other Dissenters were being persecuted under the Clarendon Code. When William and Mary ascended to the English throne and declared religious toleration in 1688, the door was open for Dissenters to once again meet freely. The Particular Baptists held a general assembly in London in 1689 and publicly adopted the Second London Confession. Since that time, it has often been called the 1689 Confession. This year marks the 325th anniversary of the public adoption of the 1689 Confession, so it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the confession’s history and legacy.

The 1689 Confession was a Baptist revision of the Savoy Declaration (1658), which itself was a Congregationalist revision of the famous Presbyterian standard the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646). The 1689 Confession is characterized by a basically Reformed understanding of salvation and worship, a Baptist ecclesiology, a modified version of covenant theology and a “Puritan-ish” understanding of the Lord’s Day as a “Christian Sabbath.” It includes a stronger statement about the universal church than most Baptist confessions and it argues the pope is the antichrist. It is the only major Baptist confession of faith that is neutral on the question of open versus closed communion (a minority of Particular Baptist churches were open communion and even open membership—most famously, the Bedford Church pastored by John Bunyan).

Though most Particular Baptists never meticulously affirmed the document, it serves as an accurate summary of what most pastors in that tradition believed into the time when the Evangelical Awakening began affecting the Baptists in the 1770s. After that time, the influence of “Fullerism” led to a more moderate Calvinism that gradually downplayed covenant theology and allowed for wider latitude on the extent of the atonement. Charles Spurgeon, who was strongly influenced by the Puritans, published a slightly revised version of the 1689 Confession in 1855, though it did not catch on; by that time, British Baptists were focusing on downplaying the differences between Calvinists and Arminians, a trend that ultimately led to the (Calvinist) Baptist Union’s assimilation of the New Connection of General (Arminian) Baptists in 1891.

You can read the entire post here.

Be sure to check this page on Joe Thorn's website where you can read each chapter of the confession.

This video gives an introduction on 1689 Federalism:

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