Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Who Speaks for Reformed Baptists? (Part 2)

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on March 26, 2013 at 1:25 pm

lbc1689

Who best represents Reformed Baptists?  Is there a specific individual or church we can look to as our definitive model?  History attests that leaders come and go.  We should be wise enough to see the devastation that inevitably occurs when a movement simply follows a man, no matter how good a man he is.  Eventually, once “the man” is gone, the group usually takes on a different form or emphasis than “the man” had intended.

A movement which comes into being because of one leader or adopts one leader as the definitive spokesman has some inherent problems.  It is subject to the changeable ideas of the leader.  It is often destined to be relevant for one or at the most two generations.  These movements usually are not able to come up with “a second man” but instead splinter as they divide in theological power struggles.  Within the third generation the movement has generally changed enough to no longer be what the founder envisioned.

Even a local church is bound to go through a transition period over the course of 30+ years.  Natural human frailty in this flesh inevitably dictates that Elders come and go.  The direction of the church may change with each change of leadership.  The surrounding theological landscape of evangelicalism and what it means to be “reformed” almost certainly changes.  We have seen this definition change dramatically in the last 15 years.  Hopefully, churches get stronger, but that is not always the case.  Without some kind of a strong foundation, it is almost a certainty that the changes will not be for the better.

The 1689 Confession itself best defines a Reformed Baptist Church.  It is a positive voice for what we believe and a strong defense against error.  It is not changeable, unless a conscious effort is made to change it.  Men are changeable.  We have sadly witnessed once strong men who have moved in their views over time.  Others have begun to tolerate or even espouse errors they once did not hold.  There is also the problem of the “one strong leader” endorsing men and giving his stamp of approval to those who stand on the borderlines of orthodoxy.  The stability of the Confession holds individual elders and entire congregations accountable to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27b).

Our Confession is the best safeguard for the local congregation and for Reformed Baptists as a whole.  That is not to say, that the wording cannot be brought up to date.  Stan Reeves has done a good service with his modern update which can be of great benefit to the man in the pew.  But with the Confession accepted as a whole, we have the advantage of standing on the shoulders of giants.  When has a more august company met than the Westminster Divines?  Savoy made improvements from the pure Presbyterian ecclesiology of Westminster.  Our Particular Baptist Forefathers made further improvements in language, ecclesiology and Reformed Baptist covenant theology.   They could adopt the Confession of 1677/89 without repudiating the Confession of 1644/46 because the truths were essentially the same.  However, these truths had been even better refined and defined by their reformed brethren along with their own theological improvement and understanding.  In a multitude of counselors…

Local churches are free to take exceptions or make clarifying statements to the Confession.  This should be done carefully because every change or addition has the potential to undermine an essential doctrine.  For instance, there may be value in churches clarifying their stance on marriage, but is it even necessary?  Our Confession speaks to the contemporary issue of “gay marriage” by stating without apology in 25:1, “Marriage is to be between one man and one woman;”.

In a sea with so many diverse and changeable voices, the Confession tells the world what we, as Particular Baptists (what called themselves) or Reformed Baptists (the more modern term), believe.  It gives us a point of unity and heritage with our like-minded reformed brethren.  It stands as the definitive Statement of Faith for our churches.  Our Confession speaks for us and has stood the test of time.  We should learn from it, study the heritage behind it, and discover in even greater ways from our Particular Baptist forefathers the truths contained in that age old document.  It does a great job defining “the things most surely believed among us.”

Steve Marquedant
Sovereign Grace Reformed Baptist Church
Ontario, California
www.sgbc-ontario.us
 
Who Speaks for Reformed Baptists? (Part 1)
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  1. […] by Steve Marquedant for Reformed Baptist Fellowship (full text here) […]

  2. I think our Hispanic churches will benefit from this 2 articles. May I translate to Spanish to share in my blog?

  3. I like the important point mentioned in this part of the the article, about the fallacy of one man leadership in our churches. That is why our reformed Baptist Churches by and large prefer the concept of a plurality of Elders who prayerfully shepherd God’s people through spiritual leadership rather than one man dictatorship. But I fail to see how the 1689 Confession is the solution to this problem? I understand what is being said about the fact of the great conclave of minds involved in the Westminster standards. These were all Giants in the faith, as has been pointed out, and we certainly should respect them and consider their wise words recorded in their important documents. But they were still men? Because they were men, they were fallible.

    Their viewpoint was also shaped by their own time in history. Steve pointed out that first the Westminster divine’s formulated the Confessional statements, then these were later modified in the Savoy Declaration of Faith and Order, and finally they were modified and given the Baptists slant in the 1689. In other words, they were building a statement of faith drawn from their own contemporary documents and articulating the contemporary trend toward Covenant Theology which was sweeping their world at that time because of the popularity of the Westminster standards. This was very much a contemporary statement at the time, and I feel that Steve is incorrect when he states: “They could adopt the Confession of 1677/89 without repudiating the Confession of 1644/46 because the truths were essentially the same.” In fact the truths are not essentially the same at all. They are radically different. I see the 1689 as a radical departure from the earlier baptist confessions in favor of a more ecumenical confession. The inclusion of a doctored up version of the “Covenant Theology” language which introduced “Covenant of Works” and “Covenant of Grace” terminology, was a deliberate attempt to identify with the popular Westminster Confession, and to reject the earlier Baptist Confessions both of which contain none of the “Covenant of Works” and “Covenant of Grace” language, which can be found nowhere in the Bible.

    Bottom line, I see the value in the 1689. I feel it is a great statement, but it is far from perfect, and it should never be looked upon as some sort of unchangeable device to define what a Reformed Baptist Church is. I therefore disagree with the idea stated in this article that “The 1689 Confession itself best defines a Reformed Baptist Church. It is a positive voice for what we believe and a strong defense against error. It is not changeable, unless a conscious effort is made to change it. Men are changeable.” The notion is that men are changeable but the Confession is virtually unchangeable except to bring it into a modern translation. The framers themselves did not intend the Confession to function that way.

    A simple reading of Chapter one on the Holy Scriptures will tell us what they intended us to believe and trust as our unchangeable guide. They told us to go to the Bible to define our doctrines and churches, not to go to a man made statement of faith. Look!

    “4. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God”

    also:
    10. (The Scriptures are ) The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved.

    That’s pretty clear! “The counsels, opinions of ancient writers, and doctrines of men” have no authority over the Scriptures. Nor are they to be the indelible rules or definitions that define us? I believe we should use all the all the Baptist Confessions as well articulated statements of our Baptist heritage, and statements about what these great men believed back in their day and age, as they were in the process of becoming Christ-like, and as they were actively speaking the eternal truths to their generation. But I do not believe that we should ever let them define us or keep us from an active and contemporary discourse of the truth in our own time, and in our own vernacular and with an eye to our own unique age. The problems of our age, require that we address things that those men 350 years ago never dreamed of. Being “Reformed” means to me that we are in the constant act of “Reforming”, and are constantly being transformed so that we become what God wants us to be in our own communities and in our own part of God’s kingdom. We must never deny the great truths of the Bible, and we must always articulate them so that they are maintained and strengthened. But a document from the past, should never define us or what God wants to do through us, other than the document which we call “The Bible”. That is my opinion, and I submit it to you, knowing that it may not be the opinion of most my Reformed Baptist brothers. But I fear any Confessionalism which thwarts the active operation and leadership of the Holy Spirit, because He is still actively doing exactly what Jesus said He would do. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” John 16:13. My opinion is that our unchangeable guide is “The Holy Spirit of Truth”, not a document from 1689.

  4. Dear sir,

    You made the following statements concerning the 1644/46 and 1689 confessions:

    “In fact the truths are not essentially the same at all. They are radically different.”

    This is directly opposite to what the 1689 authors state concerning the 1644/1646 confession:

    “Forasmuch as our method and manner of expressing our sentiments in this does vary from the former (although the substances of this matter is the same), we shall freely impart to you the reason and occasion thereof.”

    They then give the reasons why they wrote the second confession in place of the first London Confession.

    In other words, as I understand it, the authors of the 1689 understood these two confessions as “essentially the same.”

    Mike
    Heritage RBC

  5. ejack95108,

    1. You quoted Steve as saying, “They could adopt the Confession of 1677/89 without repudiating the Confession of 1644/46 because the truths were essentially the same.” Then you replied, “In fact the truths are not essentially the same at all.” Jim Renihan says, “There is no substantial theological difference between the First and Second London Confessions.” Cf. this article: http://www.reformedreader.org/ctf.htm. Renihan has shown this to be the case in more than one place. I think it would do many folks well to read his material. Much of what you say above is revisionist historical theology.

    2. You said, “…a document from the past, should never define us or what God wants to do through us, other than the document which we call “The Bible”.” I think a JW could say the same thing.

    3. You said, “My opinion is that our unchangeable guide is “The Holy Spirit of Truth”” Though I do not think the Holy Spirit is changeable, I think it is the truth as embodied in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments that is our unchangeable standard. I think you agree with that.

    4. This is related to the 1. above. The view you seem to be advocating would assert that the men connected to the 1689 Confession caved in to pressures around them; thus they used the WCF/Savoy as parent documents. The 1644/46 men used paedobaptist parent documents as well, but this does not argue that they knuckled under to pressure to conform. This theory of “compromise” in the men of 1689 has been undone via the work of several men in the last 15 or so years. For the sake of historical accuracy and respect for the 9th commandment, I think you need to do more reading in this era.

  6. I agree with Mike Waters.

  7. @ejack,

    May I suggest some reading for you? Twice now you have advanced a historical opinion of the 1677/1689 Confession which simply does not match the facts. You are following some poorly formulated historical writing which was advanced in some Baptist circles decades ago and refuted by two very capable historians, Richard Belcher and Tony Mattia. Their book, A Discussion of Seventeenth Century Particular Baptist Confessions of Faith is actually a pretty short read given its somewhat clunky title. I recommend it because it addresses exactly the point which you keep making here. I believe it is out of print, but in the age of internet that is no obstacle. Here’s a link to Amazon, where some used copies are available:

    http://www.amazon.com/discussion-seventeenth-century-Baptist-confessions/dp/0925703230/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364333713&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Discussion+of+Seventeenth+Century+Baptist+Confessions+of+Faith

  8. It’s not surprising that when a church movement follows one man, the movement will eventually come to an end. I would also add that when a group of churches try and imitate one man to the point when there is no individuality, things become very impersonal, cold, and for a lack of a better word “fake”. God has given all believers gifts. Even though two individuals may have the same gift, no two individuals should be exactly the same. I believe our goal at the end of the day is to be like Christ, not like someone else. That’s not to say that there nothing to learn from others, its just to say that ourselves and our churches should have a personality of its own.

  9. I agree with Tom. I remember reading material 20 years ago advocating a theological wedge between the two confessions. Some (all?) of that material also advocated some form of the surrender to pressure theory of the 1689 men. When I came to the opposite conclusion based on reading primary source documents, it made me sad and angry.

  10. Thank you guys for your recommendations for reading. But please understand that I am not advocating some theory that I have read. I have personally read and studied the Westminster, the Savoy, the 1644, the 1646, the Somerset Declaration and the 1689. The differences that I see in them are self evident. I don’t know what anybody else has thought about this issue? I only know what I have read myself, right in the actual documents. I do not need to read what somebody else thinks. I can read the actual documents and come to my own conclusions. Reading them has shown me, as it will show anyone, that the 1644,1646,and Somerset, do not contain the “Covenant of Works” and “Covenant of Grace” language, which was carried directly into the 1689 from the Westminster and the Savoy. It is that language which I object to, because it is not found anywhere in the Bible. I also object to the notion that the 1689 speaks for all reformed Baptist’s and “defines a Reformed Baptist church”. Steve said: “The 1689 Confession itself best defines a Reformed Baptist Church”. I disagree, and I disagree for the reason that I sighted. I know why they incorporated the language that they did? I don’t even care what somebody thinks about it? The issue for me is not what were their intentions. The issue is what did they say? I think they knew what they were doing and saying. I think they incorporated the language that they chose to use for a reason, and they did so deliberately. But since I don’t agree with incorporating non-verifiable (as in provable from the Bible) language into my statement of faith, I personally choose to be defined by the earlier Baptist documents. In fact, I personally think the Somerset Confession is probably the best of the lot. I am not trying to present revisionist history. I can’t revise history, and I’m not trying to do that at all. Why can’t we let what they wrote stand at face value? They wrote what they wrote, and I don’t agree with it! That’s not being revisionist. It’s simply disagreeing. I believe that whatever the underlying reasons, and despite their claims that the document is identical in doctrine with the earlier Baptist Confessions, it clearly is not. Read them! the 1689 is radically different, and I don’t need to read this book or that book, or this study or that study to see the differences. You can read the 1689 side by side with the Westminster and the Savoy right here: http://www.proginosko.com/docs/wcf_sdfo_lbcf.html. I am not aware of any side by side comparison between the 1689 and the 1644 and the 1646. But all the documents are available for anyone to inspect online.

    This whole thing brings up an issue which many people have against us people in the Reformed community. We tend to get so caught up in the opinions of this Dr or that Theologian, that we forget that it is the Bible alone that is our true statement of faith. We tell everybody, Sola Scriptura is our watchword, and then we send people to 10,000 outside sources to try to verify our doctrines. What’s up with that? This my brothers is a huge mistake? I respect all you guys, but when I bring up objections based on reading the documents being discussed, and comparing them with each other, and with the Bible, then I am immediately told, that is not good enough, I need to read this or that so I can think clearly and straighten out my defective revisionist thinking? I am willing to learn, and I do read what you recommend, But there is no end of these books and these opinions? Is our faith really so confusing that we need to verify it with untold numbers of outside sources and supporting studies and documents? Why can’t we just read the Bible and judge things for what they actually are?

    The framers of our Confessions were far wiser than me, and that’s why I believe their words are intelligible. They did not speak nonsense or something impossible to understand, except I be initiated into a hermeneutic and jargon confirmed by expert opinions? I don’t like that about the Reformed faith. I myself, spent years doing just that, meticulously footnoting and cross-referencing the world of the experts. I used to do it constantly. I used to preach with “see this book” “read this sermon”, “study this report, “Joe blow says this”. But God has shown me that It’s way too complicated, and it turns us into intellectuals with very little heart and compassion. It’s a huge eyesore in the reformed faith,and I no longer want to be a part of an intellectualizing Christianity, where we are more concerned about being right than about loving the Lord and the Bible. None of us are right, except “right with God”, and that is by His grace! I came from a strong background of anti-Calvinistic hatred, and for years I heard that Calvinism was a plague on Christianity, because it sapped the life out of it’s adherents, and they would all rather argue about fine points of doctrine, than win the lost. They are right! That’s the huge pitfall of Calvinsim. I’ve been a Reformed Baptist pastor for 40 years, and I’ve seen it all. I used to be a staunch practitioner of the “see this book”, “read this study”, “look at this footnote”, “follow this Bibliography” approach to the Bible and Christianity. Now I want nothing to do with that! It is a dead end street for me. It makes me cold, and it leaves me technically right but spiritually bitter. I don’t want to go back to that. If you guys are happy with that kind of thing, that is fine? But I don’t think that’s what Reformed Baptist should be about. And I know that it is not what I am supposed to be. God called me to preach the Bible, not to be a librarian of great books and endless bibliographies. I believe we need to be people of the truth, people of one book, and people who have hearts after God’s own heart. Whenever I feel like I am being sucked into the never-ending vortex of endless studying of human opinions. I reject it, because it is nothing but a weariness of the flesh for me. I have a Library of over 10,000 books, and I have read a huge amount of them. I do research, I know how to do it, and I find lots of help in it. But the best book, the supreme book, and the book I have come to love the best is the Bible. If you want to refer me to that, instead of all these other sources, I would be much more responsive, and much more receptive, because I am tired of too many opinions, and too many ivory tower discussions. It drags me down and ruins my spiritual perspective. I’m a simple person now in my old age. And it took years for God to get me here. So,for now at least, I’ll just continue to believe that when I read the confessions that I love, and I read the Bible that I love, that God is able to bless me. I love our Baptist heritage, and I defend it staunchly, but when I see people making it into what it should not be, I feel I have to voice an objection. If I am wrong about keeping it simple, and sticking with the plain sense of words, then so be it. Each of us, answers directly to God, and my purpose is not to argue with you, or to correct you. Most of you guys are far more intellectual than I. I don’t care what you decide for myself. But please don’t tell the world that the 1689 speaks for all Reformed Baptist. It does not. The Bible speaks for me, and I prefer the way our forefathers stated the Baptist beliefs in the 1646 confession. For me that document defines what being a Reformed Baptist is. Please try to understand that there are few of us, who don’t agree with these blanket statements that the 1689 defines what a Reformed Baptist is. It’s simply untrue. We need to be careful not to misrepresent anyone who is a Reformed Baptist, because we all love the Lord, and are trying to follow Him. Discussions like this one, will lead to excluding people like myself, who do not embrace you favorite little man-made document, and that would be a sinful tragedy, because we are both “Reformed” and we are also “Baptists”. Please don’t exclude us, by your faulty defining only in terms of the 1689. Please be careful dear brothers.

  11. ejack95108,

    What you are advocating is not new. Others have read the documents you named and came to the same conclusion. But as Mike Waters pointed out, it is the signatories of the 1689 (some of whom were there for the first Confession) who claim the opposite of what you claim. Here is what Mike quoted, “Forasmuch as our method and manner of expressing our sentiments in this does vary from the former (although the substances of this matter is the same), …” The signatories of the second Confession claim that though the manner of expressing themselves differs from the first Confession, the substance(s) is the same. What you are claiming is not what they actually said. They claim the difference is in the manner of expression; you claim, at least it seems to me, the difference is in the substance of the doctrines. The recommended reading I suggested goes to the actual words of the men involved with both Confessions. In order to understand the intention of their doctrinal formulations, it is helpful (and in some senses essential) to go to their writings. Also, the absence of particular language in the first Confession does not necessarily imply the denial of a given doctrine. This can be seen easily in their writings and sermons.

  12. […] Who Speaks for Reformed Baptists? (Part 2) | Reformed Baptist Fellowship […]

  13. Rich, It is possible for men to be self-contradictory. I know what they said about the 1689 supposedly agreeing with the former Baptist Confessions. But when you read the actual words of the confession they differ widely. If the 1689 does in fact “agree in substance”, with the earlier confessions, then why was new Language added in which is completely absent in the former documents? I mentioned the “covenant of works” and “covenant of grace” language several times, because this is the specific language which departs from the earlier confessions. Let me quote first from Chapter 19 of the 1689.

    19:1 God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience which was written in his heart, and He gave him very specific instruction about not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. By this Adam and all his descendants were bound to personal, total, exact, and perpetual obedience, being promised life upon the fulfilling of the law, and threatened with death upon the breach of it. At the same time Adam was endued with power and ability to keep it.

    19:2 The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the Fall, and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai in the ten commandments, and written in two tables, the first four containing our duty towards God, and the other six, our duty to man.

    These statements on the Law of God are not the only “Covenant of Works” statements in the confession but they are pretty clear, and pretty easy to understand. Here are the salient points:

    1. God wrote the Law on Adams Heart Before The fall.
    2. It was not just specific instruction about a specific tree, but it was “The Moral Law (i.e. the Ten Commandments).
    3. Adam and all his descendants were bound to personal, total, exact, and perpetual obedience.
    4. Life is promised for fulfilling the Law.
    5. Death is threatened upon disobedience.
    6. The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the Fall.
    7. The same Law which was written on Adam’s Heart was delivered upon Mount Sinai in the Ten Commandments.

    Theses ideas are nowhere found in the earlier documents (the 1644, the 1646, and the Somerset Confession). The problem with these ideas is that they state that Adam received the Law before the law was given on Sinai. It uses the “Law written on the heart” language which is part of the New Covenant of Jer. 31:33. It places the moral law (i.e. the 10 commandments) in Eden), And it binds Adam and all his descendants (that includes us) to this Adamic law covenant in perpetuity. Such language is very problematic? Since it cannot be sustained by any portion of scripture. I don’t know why it was lifted from the Westminster and inserted into the 1689 almost verbatim? But it was. To me it does not really matter why? It matters what the documents actually say. Nothing even remotely similar to this is stated in the 1644 or 1646 or the Somerset. Obviously this is not AN AGREEMENT IN SUBSTANCE, despite what the preface claims.

    Here’s what the 1646 says about the Law in the Garden of Eden. This agrees with the 1644.

    IV.

    In the beginning God made all things very good; created man after His own image, filled with all meet perfection of nature, and free from all sin; but long he abode not in this honor; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to seduce first Eve, then by her seducing Adam; who without any compulsion, in eating the forbidden fruit, transgressed the command of God, and fell, whereby death came upon all his posterity; who now are conceived in sin, and by nature the children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subject of death, and other miseries in this world, and for ever, unless the Lord Jesus Christ set them free.

    Does that sound like the same language to you? They did not say that Adam received the 10 commandments….the very same 10 commandments which were not actually given until Moses received them on Mount Sinai. They did not say Adams posterity was bound by the Law of Eden. They said Adams posterity would die as a result of His action. These are huge differences, not Substantial Agreement, and it does not matter what the said in the preface. That does not cancel out their self-contradiction with the earlier confessions. Much time has been spent trying to rationalize and justify these huge differences, and trying to explain them away. I’m just looking at them for what they are. These people said what they said, and they knew what they said. The 1689 introduced language and ideas which were not included in the earlier confessions. And that’s what I have a problem with. It does not matter what they said to try to hide the fact and to get people to buy into the divergence. The fact is they diverted from the earlier statements significantly. If you can actually read the 1646 and the 1689 and tell me they are in perfect agreement in substance, you are either blind, or you do not understand the meaning of plan words. I can show you the same sort of divergence from the earlier documents regarding “Covenant of Grace” language which was added in in Chapter 7. None of that language matches anything stated in the earlier confessions. Sorry, but that is not a “substantial agreement”. It is a substantial disagreement! Read it yourself. Please show me how the passages I have sited from the 1689 substantially agree with the 1644 or the 1646? The language is completely absent from the former documents. Chapter 7 about the “Covenant of Grace” is completely absent in the former document. I can read, and I have read. Show me where I am reading wrong?

    There are many great things where the 1689 does in fact substantially agree with the former Statements of faith. All the main doctrines of Soteriology, Bibliology, the Trinity etc. agree. But this stuff does not agree. Show me how it agrees? I need to see it in the older documents. I can’t find it. I am not trying to advocate for the superiority of any man-made invention or document. My only purpose in any of this was to show that No the 1689 does not speak for or identify all Reformed Baptists. That was the these of both parts of this article. It does not matter to me if you agree with me. But don’t shut me out of the discussion, and don’t excluded me from the Reformed Baptist community, simply because I don’t laud and praise the 1689 Confession. It’s a man made document., as they all are, and they are all fraught with problems. None of the Confessions or statements of our Baptist heritage are inspired documents, and they should not be treated as if they were. They must bow to scripture. Show me a single verse from the Bible that says that Adam received the 10 commandments before Moses? Moses actually denies that in Deut. 5:2-4 “The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. 4 The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire”. Notice THE LORD MADE NOT THIS COVENANT WITH OUR FATHERS, BUT WITH US! Not with Adam but from Mount Horeb (Sinai). That’s pretty specific. For me to believe and endorse what the 1689 says about Adam receiving the Moral Law in Eden, before the Fall, and long before Moses actually received it on Sinai; I would need at least one verse of scriptural validation. The proof texts that are listed in the Confession. Say nothing of the kind. That’s why I refuse to be defined by the 1689. It has many great points with which I am in complete agreement. But this stinks. It’s bad language expressing unscriptural ideas. I cannot go along with it.

    What I am claiming here Rich is what they actually said, notwithstanding their own contradiction of it in the preface. They claim full agreement, and then they go on tho actual full disagreement with the earlier Confessions. We cannot rewrite history, or explain away their words. These were intelligent and godly men. They knew how to both speak and write to accurately express their ideas. They wrote contradictions and they wrote some stuff that I cannot find in the Bible. That will always be problematic for me. If I am wrong then show me this sort of “Covenant of Works” and “covenant of Grace” language in the 1644 or 1646? Don’t send me to somebodies opinion. Show me in the actual documents, how this is not a radical departure from the earlier language? As it stands, I still reject the 1689 as the Confession that defines me as a Reformed Baptist. But I do love you guys, and respect you none the less.

  14. ejack95108 has raised some valid concerns. It seems to me that “Reformed Baptist” is a misnomer. The term “Reformed” properly belongs to historic paedobaptist covenant theology, and baptists are only able to affirm a “hybrid” version of that. Better and more accurate to stick with “Particular Baptist” or “Sovereign Grace Baptist” than to engage in historical revisionism.

  15. ejack95108,

    The absence of certain language does not argue against adherence to the doctrine of that language. What they said in the 1644/46 Confession was not limiting what they believed. It was a digest of a larger belief system. The preface to the 1646 says, “…as for the other things, whereof wee are accused, we referre those who desire further satisfaction to the answer of them*.” The “*” functioned like a footnote. It refers readers to a book by Samuel Richardson published in 1645. Richardson was a subscriber to the Confession. In that book, he says:

    “Concerning Genesis 17.7. I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed; to expound and apply this, and the like places, to the naturall posterity of believers, such an exposition of it is an heresie, as we conceive, and strikes at many express Texts of Scripture; to name some: 1. If it be so, that by being born of a believer, the word (of God which is truth itself) saith they are born in the Covenant of Grace and life, then shall all such children be saved, or else God is unfaithfull, because the Covenant of grace is a covenant of life, in and by Jesus Christ, which is absolute and unconditionall, therefore none can misse of glory, if God be faithfull; but it is impossible for God to lie, Ergo, they shall all be saved, or they were never in this covenant; this doctrine makes void the stability of Gods covenant of grace itself . . . .

    Jim Renihan comments:

    Richardson’s argument must not be missed. He attempts to turn the doctrine of the covenant of grace against the Paedobaptists by demonstrating that the principle of infant inclusion effectively undermines a sure and stable fact—that God will be faithful to his covenant of grace. This is not a denial of the place and role of this covenant in Christian theology, rather it is an evidence of its use (in Richardson’s understanding) as an effective tool against the Paedobaptist argument. Rather than rejecting its existence, he employs it in his arsenal, clearly indicating that it is an “absolute and unconditionall” act of God for his elect. One could wish that he addressed the topic at greater length; still, it is present.”

    Here is one example of a signatory of the first Confession using covenant of grace language and theology. It is important to remember that the preface to the Confession pointed readers to this work.

    In Richardson’s work, he points readers to a work by John Spilsbury published in 1643. Spilsbury acknowledges a “Covenant of life lying between God and Christ for all His Elect, I doe not oppose: and that the outward profession of the said Covenant, had differed under severall Periods, I shall not deny…” This work was enlarged and published in 1652. He kept the language in this later work. Spilsbury is important, one reason being he may have been the primary author or editor of the first Confession.

    The same can be shown from the writings of men connected to the first Confession concerning the moral law and the Sabbath. Again, the absence of these concepts from their Confession does not argue against their adherence to these doctrines. Their Confession had a historical-theological context that necessitated, in their thinking, what they included in their public statement. Concerning other issues, they directed readers to their published works.

    I think your theory that they contradicted themselves is without historical basis. It can’t stand up against what they said they believed in documents outside their confession, documents they encouraged others to read.

  16. It would makes sense that the paticular Baptist held to some form of Covenant Theology (including COW and COG) before they penned the 1689 being that they did not hesitate to make there differences clear. After a careful reading of the confession you will see that there are also significant differences than the Westminster in its chapter on Gods covnent , especially when it comes to the law. As has been said already you have to consider that the men who signed the 1689 have written on these things. Lets go to them (there writings) and let them speak for themselves.

  17. ejack95108,

    To assert that a document means something contrary to the author’s stated claim, seems rather dangerous.

    Do you think you could be misunderstanding the 1644/1646? If the authors of that document expressly tell us that it substantially agrees with the 1689, then who are we to tell them otherwise?

    degibraltar,

    I would encourage you to read carefully Pastor Barcellos’ above posts. The facts of history are clear – 17th century Particular Baptists believed in a covenant of works and grace (though differing on important points with their pedo-baptist contemporaries).

    Tyrese,

    Well said. Thanks.

    Mike
    Heritage RBC

  18. ejack95108

    You said, “The inclusion of a doctored up version of the “Covenant Theology” language which introduced “Covenant of Works” and “Covenant of Grace” terminology, was a deliberate attempt to identify with the popular Westminster Confession, and to reject the earlier Baptist Confessions both of which contain none of the “Covenant of Works” and “Covenant of Grace” language, which can be found nowhere in the Bible.” I dont think that this is a fair statement. Its obvious the Paticular Baptist were not concerned about practicing what was popular. if they were they would have been Presbyterian and praciticed infant baptism. You also keep making reference to COW and COG. Just because COW and COG are not literally written in the Bible doesnt mean the concepts are not there. If your going to read your Bible this way then why do you believe in the Trinity?

  19. Mr. Waters,

    I did indeed read Pastor Barcellos’ posts above. I agree with him that the theology of the 1677/89 is in substantial agreement with that found in the earlier 1644/46 confession. However, that wasn’t what I was referring to when I suggested that ejack95108 had raised some valid concerns. Perhaps the following syllogism may help:

    Major premise: Pastors Marquedant, Chantry, and Barcellos concede that the 1677/89 has modified the theology of a classic Reformed Confession (WCF), particularly in the areas of the sacraments, church polity, and even covenant theology (ala 1689).

    Minor premise: Those mentioned above believe it is appropriate to claim the label “Reformed” on the basis of sufficient continuity with classic Reformed theology despite the changes and modifications.

    Conclusion: If the premises above are valid, it follows that one may employ the classic description “Reformed” provided that (1) one can demonstrate some commonality with classic Reformed theology and (2) one is honest that his use of the term is NOT

  20. Accidentally hit the “enter” key. To pick up where I left off …

    … in accordance with classical usage but is modified.

    Since, therefore, ejack95108 claims commonality with the theology of classic Reformed theology (I’m assuming he is Calvinistic in his soteriology and the solas of the Reformation), there is no principled reason why he can’t use the term “Reformed” provided that he is honest and concedes that his usage of the term is NOT in accordance with classical usage.

    Unless one can provide Scriptural support for a “cut-off” line or some extra-biblical document that authoritatively delimits the usage of the term “Reformed,” he must grant that the “cut off” line suggested by Pastor Marquedant is simply arbitrary and represents his opinion and that of others.

    I’m sure you call agree that mere human opinion is not canonically authoritative.

    So I think you should either (1) allow other Baptists to use the term “Reformed” who may not fully subscribe to the 1689 or (2) stop using term yourselves and adopt some other nomenclature.

  21. Gentlemen, I understand your contentions, and I have heard them many times. I can only speak for myself when I say that I reject the idea that Adam received the 10 Commandment in the garden of Eden. I am not intending to speak for you, or for the Framers of the Confession. Nor am I advocating any departure from orthodoxy at all. I am stating that this language which was willingly included in the 1689 is absent in the earlier confessions. You guys are still trying to get me to read what this guy wrote about CT or what that guy wrote about. Why can’t you see that I am not arguing about what they believe, or what they intended to say but didn’t say. I am objecting to what they said. They said that Adam had the moral Law written in His heart,. the very same 10 commandments which Moses received later on tablets of stone. I find not one scintilla of evidence for this in the Bible, and that basis I find the inclusion of that type of language problematic in a statement of faith that I am supposed to be able to subscribe to as a statement of what I believe. I don’t believe that stuff, and I cannot subscribe to that kind of language, no matter who wrote it or why they wrote it. The two articles on “Who speaks for reformed Baptist’s?” suggest that it is the 1689 Confession which speaks for us, and I object to that sort of Confessionalism, because it automatically eliminates me, and others like me, who do not concur. That sort of thinking leads to the establishment of an ironclad theological papacy, where the pope speaks ex-cathedra for all the people in the 1689 Confession. That is not speaking for Reformed Baptist’s, that is stopping all reformation and trying to get us all to bow to some sort of imaginary authority that was concocted 350 years ago. I will never join you in that sort of submission to the the 1689 Confession. It is wrong. It is anti-baptistic thinking. It is un-Biblical, and it creates a bunch of carbon copy churches and people all blindly muttering the same thing. I will always object, and you guys are very knowledgeable, but you still have not addressed my objections or my concerns. Show me why the inclusion of such language into the later Confessions is “substantially the same” as the exclusion of such language in the earlier confessions? and show me from the Bible why I ought to go along with blind elegance to the statements which place the Mosaic Law in the garden of Eden? Until you do that you cannot truthful or rightfully say that the 1689 Confession speaks for all Reformed Baptists. There are many just like me, for whom it no longer speaks because we do not see any value in false forms of speech or writings that claim to represent the Bible, and then mis-represent it. That is not acceptable. Maybe they did not intend to actually say that Adam received the moral law, but I cannot read anything like that in the Bible. If they did not intend to say that, then they did not know how to articulate doctrines correctly, and the problem is far deeper. I believe the included the language deliberately and by choice, for some reason unbeknown to me. It’s there, and It’s a problem. Please address these objections, and quit trying to force me to bow to the 1689 altar, by sending me to various writings and outside sources. Any Biblical proof will satisfy my objections, and may help lead me back to using the 1689. But till I get some proof, and till somebody actually answers my objection to the false claim that the 1689 speaks for “reformed Baptists” and the 1689 defines what we believe, I will continue to object. So far only degibraltar has come close to actually understanding the objections and what is actually going on here. The rest of you guys just keep trying to insist that the later language is somehow mystically derived from the earlier Baptist Confessions. It is not. Read them. You do not need to do anything more than read the earlier and compare with the later. It is verbatim language lifted from the Westminister and the Savoy that was added into the 1689. It is far from the earlier Confessions. I will not buy into the reasoning, that says it is essential the same, when it is radically different. All these framers were intelligent men, who knew well what they were writing, and they included or excluded what precisely they wanted to include. For me, the earlier Confessions are far superior, and The Somerset is the best in my view.

  22. ejack,

    Our contention is twofold.

    First, on the basis of what you are saying, you simply do not believe what the Particular Baptists of the seventeenth century believed, and are not – in the historic sense – a Reformed Baptist. To claim a theological precedent in the 1644/1646 Confession is a-historical and intellectually dishonest. To insist that every signer of the 1677/1689 Confession was mistaken about the theology of the earlier confession but that you have interpreted it rightly from a distance of three and a half centuries is absurd. Your theology, like that of Reformed Baptists, may be right or wrong and must stand or fall according to its fidelity to Scripture, but it is not a theology found in either of the seventeenth century confessions.

    Second, to insist upon your own interpretation of the 1644/1646 Confession apart from any consideration of contemporary sources is invalid. You read the language of a confession that is centuries old with the conviction that its writers were using language to mean what you believe today, yet you do so without any consideration of their own words on the subject – either in printed sermons, in their other books, or in their own comments after the adoption of the new confession. This is terrible historiography. It leads you to assert without evidence that the Particular Baptists were easily swayed and dishonest. One wonders why you even wish to find any doctrinal heritage among such men! Your arguments can never be convincing. Saying again and again, “I have read the documents next to each other and they don’t mean the same thing; I just know!” is not an argument. We have read them next to one another also. We also read them next to one another – along with the corresponding historical documentation.

    “Reformed Baptist” as we use it is a historical term, and your theology is simply outside that history. To summarize Steve’s point in this essay, the 1689 Confession represents the mature understanding and expression of the English Particular Baptists as well as the commonly agreed upon doctrine of Particular and Reformed Baptists ever since. If your theology is something new, that is fine, but do not try to find precedent for it where it does not exist. You wind up defaming the character of the very men whose (early) theology you want to claim!

  23. @ Tom Chantry

    Amen!

  24. earl,

    The 1689 Confession language of the law written on the heart at creation first appears in chapter 4, Of Creation. Paragraphs 2 and 3 use that language. Paragraph 2 cites Romans 2:14-15. Verse 15 says, “…the work of the law written on their hearts…” This language is based on creation or that which is possessed via “nature” (cf. Rom. 2:14). It is not exclusive to the New Covenant. Chapter 4 of the Confession also connects this with being created in the image of God. When Paul speaks of the renovation of souls in Ephesians 4:24, he says “the new man, which according to God has been created in righteousness…” New creation in Christ includes the reparation of soul “according to the image of the One who created him…” (Col. 3:10). Adam and Eve were created morally upright to a standard. In 19:2, the Confession cites Romans 2:14-15 again, asserting that the law first written on man’s heart via creation still functioned after the fall into sin. Then the Confession asserts that God wrote the same law “in” ten commandments on stone tablets. It is important note that though the essence of that which God wrote on man’s heart at creation and on stone tablets is the same, the form is not necessarily the same. Here is Francis Turretin on Romans 2:14-15, “If it is asked how this natural law [the natural law in the context of Turretin’s discussion is that which all men possess via creation] agrees with or differs from the moral law [the moral law in the context of Turretin’s statement refers to the Decalogue], the answer is easy. It agrees as to substance and with regard to principles, but differs as to accidents and with regard to conclusions. The same duties (both toward God and toward our neighbor) prescribed by the moral law are also contained in the natural law. The difference is with regard to the mode of delivery.” The Bible itself connects creation and a law writing on the heart (presumably by God, the Creator) which ends up being true of all creatures in the image of God. Since the fall into sin, all men are guilty of breaking God’s law and therefore accountable to God for such (Rom. 3:19-20). A law of God of which all men are guilty for violating predates the giving of the law to Moses. The ten words did not first come into existence at Sinai. Numerous studies by others (not all of the confessional Reformed type, Walter C. Kaiser being one of them) have been conducted to show that all ten of those words predate Sinai. The promise of the New Covenant includes the renovation of all the souls of those in the New Covenant, which I think is all the elect of all time. The new creation in Christ includes the renovation of that which was ruined, tainted, scared, twisted, distorted by the fall into sin. The language of the New Covenant concerning the law written on the heart is the language of the renovation of creation, the language of new creation. Grace in Christ both repairs nature and exalts it to a status never attained by Adam.

    Here are statements by two signatories of the first Confession.

    Paul Hobson wrote this in 1645: “By the commands of Christ, my meaning is, Not the Ceremonial Law, which was a Type of Christ; and did in a dark way hold forth Christ. Nay, by the Laws of Christ, or the commands of Christ, I do not intend the Moral Law considered in the hands of Moses: Though I must tell you, first, I own the Authority of that Law: Secondly, I own the Materials of that Law: But the obligement of that Law, Do and live; (for so it was considered in the hand of Moses). So it is not to be considered in the hand of Christ to us; for now we are not to do for life; but because we live: But consider the Authority of God, and the Materials of the Law handed down to us in Christ, so I own it, and desire all Saints may do so.”

    Renihan comments: “This is a very important description of Hobson’s understanding of the Christ-centeredness of the Law for believers. He does not argue that there is a new law, but rather that the same Law comes to believers in a new way. Under the Old Covenant, the command was “Do this and live.” Hobson asserts here, in brief language, that the Old Covenant was a republication of the Adamic Covenant of Works—a classic form of covenant theology. Obedience to its law was the path of life.19 But under Christ, obedience results from life. Life is not the goal of obedience, but rather its source. Christ saves sinners, and because of this gift, they are to obey him. Notice that there is a clear assertion that the content of the law is the same. The difference is in the grant from the Mediator, not in the command itself.20 Hobson could not be clearer: he “owns” the authority and materials of the moral law. His concern is that believers see the same law, not in Moses, but in Christ.”

    Here is Hanserd Knollys, writing in 1646: “The difference betweene these two schoolmasters, the Law and Christ, is this, Moses in the Law commands his Disciples to do this, and forbeare that, but gives no power, nor communicates no skill to performe anything: Christ commands his Disciples to do the same moral duties, and to forbeare the same evils, and with his command he gives power, and wisedome, For he works in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure.”

    Here is a piece from Benjamin Cox’s 1646 Appendix to the first Confession. This was written to further clarify the Confession. Part of the long title reads “…A more full Declaration of the Faith and Judgement of Baptized Beleevers. Occasioned by the inquiry of some well-affected and godly persons in the Country…” The first Confession churches were being misunderstood and misrepresented. Here’s what Cox said, which speaks to the issues were are discussing: “Though we be not now sent to the Law as it was in the hand of Moses, to be commanded thereby, yet Christ in his Gospel teacheth and commandeth us to walk in the same way of righteousness and holiness that God by Moses did command the Israelites to walk in, all the Commandments of the second Table being stil delivered unto us by Christ, and all the Commandements of the first Table also (as touching the life and spirit of them) in this epitome or brief sum, Thou shal love the Lord they God with all thine heart, &c. Math. 22.37,38,39,40. Rom. 13.8,9,10.” In the context of being misunderstood and lumped in with European Anabaptists, English General Baptists, and various strands of antinomians, Cox sets the record straight. This is the same doctrine as that of the second Confession, in substance though not in form.

    When faced with questions by others, the first Confession men pointed their readers to other writings and/or took up the pen to clarify what they meant and its implications. It is only when the writings of these men are consulted that we are able to both honor their request and understand what they did and did not intend by what they said.

    Quoting something I said above, “Their Confession had a historical-theological context that necessitated, in their thinking, what they included in their public statement. Concerning other issues, they directed readers to their published works.

    I think your theory that they contradicted themselves is without historical basis. It can’t stand up against what they said they believed in documents outside their confession, documents they encouraged others to read.”

    Standing hundreds of years after the seventeenth century, it is simply wrong not to understand the historical-theological context in which they wrote and not to respect their wishes by refusing to read their writings to clarify what they did and did not intend by what they confessed. Documents of antiquity have meaning that has nothing to do with what I might think they mean or might want them to mean.

  25. I have asked the permission to translate the 2 articles. I guess I should interpret silence as a “yes”, right or wrong?

  26. elcaminoangosto – Steve Marquedant may not have seen your request; I’m forwarding it to him.

  27. Steve’s dad died earlier this week.

  28. Pastor Chantry,
    If I use the 1646 Confession to define my doctrinal stance, how is what you said true at all? “To claim a theological precedent in the 1644/1646 Confession is a-historical and intellectually dishonest.” Why is that non-historical? and Why is that intellectually dishonest? I happen to believe that that statement is superior, and I happen to think that it better describes my theology, but I am not being dishonest at all. It may not agree with you. But the framers of that document gave a beautiful statement of the Reformed Baptist position prior to the 1689. So how is that being a-historical or dishonest?

    You said “you simply do not believe what the Particular Baptists of the seventeenth century believed, and are not – in the historic sense – a Reformed Baptist”. But the 1646 is a particular Baptist 17th century document, and it is just as valid and in my opinion it is even more important than the one you want me to embrace in order to be classified as a “Reformed Baptist”. I am not denying any of the orthodox or Reformed Baptist doctrines, simply because I do not agree with a particular statement of them due to doubtful language that I cannot find in the Bible. You are not being fair with me here. You are taking offense at my position and it has caused you to misjudge and mis-read everything I have said.

    You state: “Second, to insist upon your own interpretation of the 1644/1646 Confession apart from any consideration of contemporary sources is invalid. You read the language of a confession that is centuries old with the conviction that its writers were using language to mean what you believe today, yet you do so without any consideration of their own words on the subject – either in printed sermons, in their other books, or in their own comments after the adoption of the new confession”. I have not done any of those thing. I have read all the same supporting documents you have mentioned. I have not considered contemporary sources invalid. In fact I agreed fully that they used contemporary sources, and had plenty of discussion about all this. The bottom line is the incorporated language which differs widely from the earlier confessions. I did not discount their sermons and their own attempts to explain what they did? You are assuming that I have done this, because I said that they wrote what they wrote, and the knew what they wrote and they wrote it for a reason. I don’t believe it is unintelligible gibberish, It is English, and I can comprehend everything they were saying. But what is the use of having these Confessions if ordinary men like me, cannot pick them up and read them at face value, and see how they contradict the other Confessions, or how they contradict the Bible? When you insist on having to jump through all sorts of theological and mental hoops to get at the meaning, you have robbed it of it’s meaning.

    In a previous post you accused me of trying to resurrect some old doctrine I must have read and which was squashed ten years ago, but I have read no such thing. My opinions are based on reading the confessions, and reading the Bible. But that’s not good enough for you. You have judged me unfairly here. You said “Reformed Baptist” as we use it is a historical term, and your theology is simply outside that history.” How is that? My theology is identical with the 1646. How is that outside “Reformed Baptist history”? I don’t even know how you can make such a statement when I have told you virtually nothing about my theology? I align fully with the 1646 Confession of faith, but apparently that is not good enough for you? Do you expect me to crawl on my hands and knees to be recognized as a “reformed Baptist”? What exactly are you looking for? If I had the words “I am a 1689 Confessional Baptist” tattooed on my forehead would that mean I was within the historic Reformed Baptist position? You are way too tense about these issues. I think the brothers in 1689 would have been content to let me believe in the older confessions. I know there were many churches which did retain the older confession. But apparently they would have been excluded, because they did not tow the mark that some more advanced brothers designed for them. When Baptists lose the “Priesthood of all believers” and when we start pontificating our doctrines to other churches, we should not call us call ourselves “Baptists” let alone “Reformed Baptists”, because those are not Baptist principles at all.

  29. Rich, you are obviously very well versed, and have provided me with lots of material about the valid place of the Law. I do not question the role of the law today, or any of the things you have so eloquently shown. I dispute that the moral law was given to Adam, as it says in the 1689 confession. Where do you find that in the Bible. Neither Romans 2 nor Ephesians 4 says anything like that. Adam is not mentioned, creation is not mentioned. In fact it is speaking clearly about “the Law” which believers have as opposed to “those who sin without the law” Rom 12:2. It is contrasting unbelievers with believers. Gentile is used as a term for those who had not in fact received Moses laws. It is not referring to Adam or His children. It is referring to Gentiles, as those who had not received the Mosaic Covenant… Gentile as opposed to Jew. The passages you sight do not show that Adam received the ten commandments in Eden a thousand years before they were received on mount Sinai? The rest of your post is addressing the role of the law in general, none of which I was objecting to? I agree withthe statements you quoted by Paul Hobson, Hansard Knollys and Cox. I never questioned any of those things. I question the validity of adding language into our Baptist confession that states that Adam received the 10 commandments before Moses! Tha’s the language I object to, but the quotes you submitted are not addressing that they are talking about something entirely different. But thanks for your research and for trying to help. It’s just not addressing my issues at all.

  30. Earl, you use your understanding of the 1646 Confession to define your doctrinal stance, in spite of the fact that your understanding is exactly contrary to the understanding of the men who first wrote and adopted that confession. Did you read any of the quotes Rich Barcellos included above?

    Perhaps an analogy would be helpful. In the political realm, there are persons who insist that the US Constitution defines their political opinions, in spite of the fact that their reading of the constitution is exactly contrary to the broader writings of the authors of that document. Perhaps they choose not to read The Federalist Papers, but the fact remains: if their opinions are the opposite of James Madison’s, then the US Constitution cannot define their position.

    Many Americans understand the importance of understanding the sources of our political documents if we are going to understand the documents themselves. Does the same not hold true of our theological documents?

    I don’t imagine that you want to espouse a liberal, post-modernist, reader-centric hermeneutic, but if you continue to insist that the 1646 Confession means what you think because you think it no matter what the authors thought, then you are indeed employing that post-modernist hermeneutic.

  31. You have my permission to translate this into Spanish, elcamino. As Rich said, I am out of town and just checked in. The comments are very helpful!

  32. earl,

    I will refer readers to the commentaries on Rom. 2. Your view, as far as I know, is, by far, the minority view.

    tom,

    Your mention of a post-modern hermeneutic is a good point. In post-modern thought, man, the reader, is king of interpretation/meaning. Meaning is subjective and in the eye of the beholder. Authorial intent is a non-factor. Idiosyncratic and anachronistic interpretation is our right. I have been guilty of these very things and am constantly trying to rid myself of such debilitating and meaning-determinative presuppositions. This not only applies to extra-biblical documents but also to the Holy Scriptures themselves. I am not advocating presuppositionless interpretation. I think that’s a modern/Enlightenment myth. I think we need to enter into the thought-world of authors as much as possible to understand their intended meaning. With reference to extra-biblical documents, such as the two Confessions under discussion, we must 1) read the confessional statements themselves, 2) anything the authors of such direct us to read, 3) other writings of the authors, 4) the general theological climate of the day, and 5) the historical articulation of the truths under discussion. This will provide us with much better presuppositions by which to interpret their words.

    Thanks to all for the discussion!

  33. Pastor Chantry,
    You keep implying that I don’t know how to read what the various Baptist Confessions say. I agree with everything that the 1646 says, and yet you say “your understanding is exactly contrary to the understanding of the men who first wrote and adopted that confession”? If my understanding is exactly contrary to what the Confession says, then please supply an example of something I have said to substantiate your accusation? I know what you are trying to say. You are trying to say that many of these men were in fact Covenant theologians, and I have no problem with that at all. I have a problem with you telling me and everyone else that my understanding of the Confession that they wrote is exactly contrary to what they wrote. They wrote very clearly, and you need to show me how I have said something that is exactly contradictory to what they wrote. I have said plenty that contradicts the 1689. I can agree with that. But that’s not what you are accusing me of? You are accusing me of completely contradicting the Confession that these men wrote and you are comparing me to post-modernism and are insinuating that I am trashing the 1646 the same as people who might be trashing the constitution. We have a Supreme court to interpret and apply what the Constitution means in spite of our opinions. For us as Christians, our Supreme court is the Bible. I have voiced an objection based upon the Bible that Adam did not receive the 10 commandments, but Moses did. Because of what I see in our Supreme Court, I have personally decided to reject the 1689 as my statement of faith, and to accept the 1646 instead. But that is not good enough for you. Now you accuse me of a liberal post-modern reader-centric hermeneutic. I can see no end to this. What do you want from me? It’s going way too far, when you accuse an orthodox and a Reformed Baptist brother of exactly contradicting the Confession he holds dear. What is the point of that? and if it is true, and is so evident, then why do you not show me the places where I have directly contradicted that document? Why is it that you are quick to ask me have I read the quotes Rich Barcellos gave me? Of course I read them, I even addressed them in the last post I made. Instead of asking me if I read those quotes, why are you not asking me to read this verse or this passage from the Bible? This endless microscopic criticism and critiquing without the use of the Bible is not healthy at all. It does not matter to me if you want to insult me or call me names. I certainly am not of the intellectual caliber of you are Rich. But should you really be insulting me, simply because I disagree with the 1689 confession? And should you really be accusing me of post-modern liberal hermeneutics, when I keep repeating that I wholeheartedly subscribe to the 1646 Confession? And should you tell the world that I exactly contradict that which I fully subscribe to,m without even one ounce of substantiation for that comment? Once again, it shows that you are very unfair in your assesment of me and what I have actually said. You are obviously reading into this discussion, a lot that I have not stated. Right along I have stated a few simple things. I have changed none of them. But for some reason you and Rich are not hearing, and are jumping to other conclusions. Here are my basic premises in tabular form. Maybe this will help.

    1. The 1689 does not define all Reformed Baptists.
    2. The “Covenant of works” language which states that Adam received the 10 commandments before Moses received them is exactly one area I find objectionable and for which I can find not one shred of evidence in the Bible.
    3. The 1644, the1646, and the Somerset Confessions do not contain that objectionable language.
    4. I prefer to define myself by the 1646, as do other Reformed Baptist brothers that I know.
    5. I have asked for some proof from the Bible that Adam received the 10 commandments, and I have as of yet received none.

    This is not complicated, and you all have made it very complicated, because I am not gladly tooting the same horn that you are tooting. So what? Get over it and don’t just call me a post-modern liberal. Address the issues I have raised, and quit requiring me to affirm a hundred different documents and quotes in order to understand my Baptist faith. When you show me where the Bible says that Adam received the 10 commandments then I will listen to you? And as far as me contradicting the 1646, I’d like to see that also, because perhaps that does not define me either. I refuse to let any document other than the Bible tell me what to think. I walk by faith, and if God can’t show me something in His word, then all your attempts to reel in my post-modern heresy by using quotes from men, will be just an exercise in futility.

    I will say this again, because maybe you also missed this, as you have missed my most basic premises. I am not trying to get you to agree with me, nor am I trying to get you to be untrue to your own convictions. I respect you guys, and I was actually hoping that my comments would drive all of us back to the Bible, rather than to our encyclopedias and library shelves? But obviously that didn’t happen? Instead they drove you all to defend a position which I was never attacking, and to turn around and attack me, simply because I don’t agree with the 1689 or the idea that it speaks for me. Please re-read my comments and reconsider your responses. See if you addressed any of my actual issues? Ask yourself did you use the Bible at all to show me why my objects aren’t valid? and Please underscore and reiterate those areas where I have directly contradicted the teachings of the 1646 confession, which I identify with. We may never resolve our differences but we certainly need to resolve to be a little more kind and respectful rather than arbitrary or accusative in our speech. Brothers, I am no trip to Disneyland, and I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I do recognize when I am being insulted? I don’t think I insulted any of you, or falsely called you names, but if I did, please forgive me. I rally want to do whats right, and I really want to honor Christ in my life and in my thinking. I do read everything you guys write, and I do consider it prayerfully. But when it falls dead and lifeless out of some moldy book, and it does not speak to my concerns, I pay little attention. If it comes from the book of books it gets all my attention. In my mind this illustrates my biggest objection to steves hypothesis that The 1689 speaks for all Reformed Baptists. At our very core we are not supposed to be about dead and lifeless documents. We are supposed to be about the only book that can bring life. I see value in all these great Confessions, and I have said that they all are uninspired man-made contraptions. But the word of God is our touchstone, and it really is what defines us, so we need to more in it, and less in the seat of the scornful. I’m going to refrain from commenting for a while, because I don’t like where this went.

  34. OK

    1. The 1689 does not define all Reformed Baptists.
    Terms must have some definition or they are useless. Our definition of “Reformed Baptist” is those who stand in the stream of Seventeenth Century Particular Baptist thought, believing what they believed. If you or anyone else wish to call yourself “Reformed” or “Baptist” or even “Reformed Baptist,” we have no title to the words of the English language, and you may use them as you wish. But no one is a Reformed Baptist according to the definition used here unless he holds the beliefs of the Particular Baptists.

    2. The “Covenant of works” language which states that Adam received the 10 commandments before Moses received them is exactly one area I find objectionable and for which I can find not one shred of evidence in the Bible.
    You do not, and yet the Particular Baptists – including the men who wrote the 1644/1646 Confession – did. It is an element of that theology which we here have accepted as definitional to “Reformed Baptist.” You may also use the word, but in our context to do so is confusing. It is like me trying to insist that my Orthodox Presbyterian friends admit that I’m a Presbyterian too because my church has elders. My own new, personal definition is only confusing, even if it is linguistically plausible.

    3. The 1644, the1646, and the Somerset Confessions do not contain that objectionable language.
    And there is much more that they did not contain, which is why the very men who wrote them saw fit to subsequently adopt a fuller statement of the faith they all held. By their own writings and according to all the available evidence, they had one theology, not an early and late theology. The Particular Baptists all ascribed to the 1644/1646 Confession until the publication of the 1677 Confession in 1689. Then they ascribed to it as a fuller statement of what they had already believed. Your earlier assertion that they changed is contrary to all the historical evidence.

    4. I prefer to define myself by the 1646, as do other Reformed Baptist brothers that I know.
    But think about how illogical this is. You prefer to define yourself by a confessional statement of men with whom you strongly disagree. That is not confessionalism as we understand it. The insistence that you are comfortable with the words and unconcerned with the actual thought of the men who wrote them is very like the hermeneutic of postmodern literary critics. That is not name-calling, it is an observation. I rather think that you are probably not postmodern, but your use of the 1644/1646 Confession smacks of a hermeneutic which we all need to guard against in our use of history. Rich acknowledged that this is a problem he faces; I will acknowledge it also. We are merely pointing out that you are engaging in it here. The actual theology believed by the men who wrote the Confession matters. If you do not hold that theology, then in what meaningful sense is their document your confession? It would seem more helpful for you to identify yourself historically as something else.

    5. I have asked for some proof from the Bible that Adam received the 10 commandments, and I have as of yet received none.
    The item under discussion is not our theology of law, but the definition of “Reformed Baptist.” But since you ask:
    1. Adam clearly knew that there is one God; he spoke of Him as such.
    2. Adam knew this God according to His own self-revelation, not according to his own fallen imagination.
    3. Adam was not deceived by the serpent, but recognized when the name of God was misused and the command of God misrepresented.
    4. Adam knew the Sabbath, for God declared the seventh day holy on the second day of Adam’s existence.
    5. Adam understood authority, for he was given dominion over the earth.
    6. Adam knew the value of human life, since its avoidance was a worthwhile goal that he was called to in God’s threat.
    7. Adam understood the importance of marital fidelity when he said that a man would cleave to his wife.
    8. Adam understood the right of property, since God had given him the garden.
    9. Adam knew the difference between the truth and a lie; again, he was not deceived by the serpent.
    10. Adam knew that contentment was required of him; he recognized that the serpent was trying to build discontent as a prelude to sinful action.
    The language of the 1677/1689 Confession does not require that the specific words of Mt. Sinai were given earlier, only that the same moral categories existed and that Adam was bound by them. Clearly they did, and clearly he was.

  35. my last comment

    1. Earl said, “I feel that Steve is incorrect when he states: “They could adopt the Confession of 1677/89 without repudiating the Confession of 1644/46 because the truths were essentially the same.” In fact the truths are not essentially the same at all. They are radically different. I see the 1689 as a radical departure from the earlier baptist confessions in favor of a more ecumenical confession.” Mike Waters and I provided evidence that the men involved with the 1689 (some of whom were involved with the first Confession) did not see it your way at all.

    2. Earl said, “Rich, It is possible for men to be self-contradictory. I know what they said about the 1689 supposedly agreeing with the former Baptist Confessions. But when you read the actual words of the confession they differ widely. If the 1689 does in fact “agree in substance”, with the earlier confessions, then why was new Language added in which is completely absent in the former documents?” In part, probably because the absence of such in the first Confession caused confusion in the minds of others. This is why Cox wrote an Appendix to the first Confession.

    3. Earl said, “What I am claiming here Rich is what they actually said, notwithstanding their own contradiction of it in the preface. They claim full agreement, and then they go on tho actual full disagreement with the earlier Confessions. We cannot rewrite history, or explain away their words. These were intelligent and godly men. They knew how to both speak and write to accurately express their ideas. They wrote contradictions and they wrote some stuff that I cannot find in the Bible.” Full disagreement? If they were so intelligent and godly and knew how to both speak and write to accurately express their ideas, why would they write such blatant contradictions?

    4. Earl said, “It is far from the earlier Confessions. I will not buy into the reasoning, that says it is essential the same, when it is radically different. All these framers were intelligent men, who knew well what they were writing, and they included or excluded what precisely they wanted to include.” Again, if they were intelligent men, why would they say something that is so contradictory?

    I have provided an explanation for their statements about the substance being the same. I have also provided evidence from the men of the first Confession that they wanted its readers to go outside the Confession for interpretive help concerning their intended meaning and broader theological convictions. I have stated more than once that the absence of particular language does not necessarily imply the denial of any given doctrine. I even provided evidence that some of the main men involved with the first Confession did use the language that so troubles you. I think a good case can be made from the documents of the seventeenth century and the words of the men involved that their statement is not contradictory at all. I, too, think they were intelligent men who knew well what they were writing. I, too, think they were godly, honest men. But, unlike you, I do not think they were self-contradictory the way you claim. All the evidence I have seen points in another direction.

    Thanks for the exchange.

  36. Rich and Tom,
    I have been praying about all the things you have written, and about my own statements and convictions in this discussion, and I am certain that we may not reconcile our differences through the sort of exchange that has taken place. Early on in the discussion I admitted that I viewed this from a New Covenant theological perspective, and as soon as you guys heard the term New Covenant Theology, it acted as a buzz word for you in the discussion, and it caused you to not hear any of my actual objections and statements, because of the preconceived ideas you have about my theological stance. Almost all of you comments and responses became a defense of “Covenant Theology” and how most of the Framers of the 1689 and indeed the earlier confessions were CT’ers, and they did not modify or alter that stance in any way. The buzz word (NCT) that I tossed out, caused you to not hear or understand my actual objections, and also caused you to to address all your concerns toward a defense of CT in the framers of the confessions. I never disputed their Covenant Theology position. But you just keep defending that over and over, without addressing my actual objections.

    I have never been on the attack against CT or have never questioned the validity of any of your statements. My objection was that the 1689 does not define all Reformed Baptist, and That I and others like me use the 1646 because of the problem I have with the idea stated in the 1689 that Adam received the 10 commandment. I have read all of the things you told me to read, and they are all valid and great if my objection was against the Covenant Theology of the Confessions, but my objection was never with that. I can’t tell you how many times I have read Cox’s addendum to the earlier confessions. You told me to do just that, and I did just in case I missed something? but he does not say anything at all about Adam receiving the moral law. In fact what He says, does not even mention Covenant Theology at all, so his addendum could not even be used as you are trying to use it in defense of CT.

    The point of the absence of certain language not proving that the men held or did not hold certain positions, is clearly received and well taken. I agree, that the earlier confessions were absolutely vague on the points you are trying to defend. They are also silent about the nonsensical “Adam received the 10 Commandments” language. I believe the men left out the language deliberately, and all we can do is speculate about why. Unless you are some sort of retrograde time warping mind reader you have no way of knowing what somebody was thinking 350 years ago? All any of us can do is go by what they wrote, and I never disagreed with any of that. But what they wrote about Adam receiving the 10 commandments is what would address my concerns and objections.

    In short I feel you guys let a buzz word that I used send you on a goose chasing rabbit trail that had nothing to do with either the topic of the post or my object to why the 1689 does not speak for all reformed Baptist’s. You made it about Covenant Theology, and it was never about that. You made it about what you think is my false view of the Mosaic Law, and it was never about the law. It was about Adam receiving the 10 commandments. Bottom line is this. You guys need to try to listen and comprehend issues before you spin off on a tangent caused by buzz words. My objection was always about the linguistics of the 1689 which include “covenant of Works” and “Covenant of Grace” language which I cannot find anywhere in the Bible. But you interpreted that as me attacking Covenant Theology. That’s not a good thing. I’m discouraged by your actions. I felt that you were unfair and even judgmental (which you called observations like when you observed me be post-modern liberal) , when you should have tried to listen and asses and understand what I was saying. You are not good listeners, and because you don’t know how to process what is actually being said, you read way too much into it, and it warps the discussion. I know that your intentions are right, and that you want to defend the truths of the faith. But I am not your enemy just because I hold this view, any more than I would be your enemy if you are post-millennial and I am A-Millennial. The vague language of the 1689 would allow for both positions. And The vague language of the 1646 allows for my New Covenant Views, and even supports them. You want Reformed Baptist who adhere to seventh century orthodoxy, and I do; but it it is just not the 1689 version of the orthodoxy, so you arbitrarily reject it and try to say that I really don’t fit the technical requirements. That is just ridiculous, and it is untrue.

    And Tom, I think you know that your idea of Biblical proof Adam receiving the Ten Commandments as you expressed it in your last post, is nothing more that you imagining what you think Adam knew and did not know. It is not exegsis, it is not in fact based on any verses at all. It is based on what you imagine that Adam knew or did not know. It was a nice piece of speculative theology, but it is not Bible and it is not fact. You should be ashamed to offer that as Proof from the Bible. You ten deductions from assumption is not Bible. Nor is it proof of anything, and you know that I and probably other people reading this, are looking for chapters and verses and something along the line of actual exegesis not fictional hermeneutics. I’m surprised that you would post something like that? You are a man of God. Where in the first three chapters of Genesis, or even in some other portion of the Bible does it say what the Confessions says? That is a valid question, and it requires a valid godly response, not something like what you offered. You should be embarrassed and ashamed for treating the word so flippantly that you send the message, that we can just imagine what as in Adams mind to substantiate a doctrine. Shame on you.

    Guy, I am now done with this. and I have learned a lot through this exchange. I hope I have not offended any of you, because I love and respect you all, and that was never my intention. I just want to post this last post, in hopes that you will learn something about not being tripped up by buzz words, and led astray buy preconceived notions. When you do that you are led astray by your own thoughts, and you imagine an attack where there is none, and you answer all the questions wrongly. Find out what somebody is objecting to, and address the responses so that they actually address the issues being raised. I don’t feel you did that with me. I feel you assumed a defense posture from the get go, and that caused you to defend the law, and defend Covenant Theology, and not once did I raise any of those issues. Like I said before, I am no trip to Disney land and I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I am a very good observer, and I don’t observe very much accuracy of analysis, prayerful consideration of the issue or Biblical accumen in any of your responses. In fact that makes me want to consider dropping the name Reformed Baptist altogether, because I think we should be more careful compassionate and astute than just jumping to conclusions because we heard a buzz word that sets us off. I’ve been preaching particular Baptist theology for over 40 years and I know the ins and out, the arguments , and the resources. But the heart of a man, the heart of a church, the passion for truth and the compassion for people of the truth, should take precedent over dead men, dead issues, and ancient texts. You guys would go a lot further if you learned how to listen, before you start judging, condemning, name-calling and ridiculing another brothers beliefs or understanding. I’m sure we’ll meet again, but next time I hope our discussion is able to actually accomplish something, and I hope there is some Biblical content instead of just scholastic opinion-ism. God bless you all.

  37. ejack95108,

    I do not remember you using the “buzz words” New Covenant Theology. I am getting older so I may have read them and forgotten. I think the discussion has been helpful. Press on!

  38. I am wondering whether Pastors Marquedant, Barcellos, or Chanty can provide any instances of the appellation “Reformed Baptist” being used in the 17th, 18th, or 19th centuries to denote Christians or churches that adhere to the 1689 Confession. I may be mistaken, but I’ve been under the impression that subscribers to the 1689 were called “Particular Baptists.”

    If the use of the expression “Reformed Baptist” is a mid to late 20th century phenomenon, it would seem that one would have to allow for the fact that the term “Reformed” has a broader usage today than it may have had during the Reformation or Puritan era. That has certainly been my expression from hearing the term used in contemporary theological/ecclesiastical discussion and from reading contemporary theological literature.

    And if it can be demonstrated that its usage today is inclusive of Baptists like Earl, then one cannot on the grounds of synchronic lexicography deny him the right to apply that appellation to himself. So it seems to me.

  39. R. DeGibraltar,

    My view is that folks are free in Christ to use any appellation they desire as long as it does not violate the Word of God.

  40. Wow. I needed to say stuff like “(Gen. 2:3)” after saying “…God declared the seventh day holy on the second day of Adam’s existence.” I was talking with a fellow pastor; I’m quite sure you know where to find that in the Bible.

    No, Earl, I am not embarrassed by my failure to produce an exegetical treatise in the meta of a post on another subject. I gave you a summary of a doctrine you do not like, and it angered you more than my previous failure to give that summary.

    Earl, you are not a Particular Baptist; the Particular Baptists would not have owned you as one. As I’ve said before, we have no title to the words of the English language, and you may call yourself what you want, but nothing you have said has even begun to address our contention: that we have an agreed-upon working definition of the term “Reformed Baptist.”

    For some reason this is a deeply personal matter to you. You think we are calling names and being terribly unfair. Let me just say that when I encounter Presbyterians who insist that “Reformed” belongs to them alone, I am not offended. Nor do I go to their websites and call their doctrine “nonsensical.” Even if they misrepresent me as an “Anabaptist,” I am willing to engage them on the distinctions between the Particular Baptist confession and the Anabaptists, but I don’t accuse them of calling me names. Yet somehow this has been a deeply offensive discussion to you. I would suggest that it has not been edifying to you, and you should probably not engage in this sort of thing any more. For my part, I’m done with the discussion.

  41. Toms comments on Adam and the moral law are the best small and. concise explanation possible imho.

  42. Mr. Barcellos,

    Thank you for your reply. With that in view do you or the other brothers posting here believe that Earl is in violation of biblical precept or principle in identifying himself as a “Reformed Baptist” even though he cannot subscribe to every doctrine in the 1689 Confession?

    And do you brothers believe you have biblical warrant for the position advanced by Mr Marquedant, namely, that the “1689 Confession itself best defines a Reformed Baptist Church”?

    I am not trying to debate the point but am trying to determine whether this whole discussion is a matter of personal preference or biblical principle.

  43. ejack95108

    Two things perhaps to (re)consider:

    (1) Regarding the question of whether the 10 commandments were written on Adam’s heart … I don’t think Pastor Barcellos is arguing, and he can correct me if I’m wrong, that the precise wording of the decalogue was somewhat imprinted on Adam’s heart, i.e., mind. The point is, I believe, that the moral principles reflected in the decalogue are, by their very nature, reflective of God’s own holy nature. The reason Israel was to obey the Law as because as his “images” they were to be “holy as he his holy.” (Lev 19; cf. Matt 5:48). This does seem to be the point Paul makes in Romans 1:32 and 2:14-15, as Pastor Barcellos noted. It doesn’t seem unwarranted to affirm that Adam was created with a conscience and that conscience communicated to him the same unchanging moral principles as are found in the decalogue.

    (2) Above you indicated that you don’t see the idea of a “covenant of works” as a biblical idea. It’s true that the term “covenant” doesn’t appear in the Genesis account. Even so, there are many scholars today who have marshaled exegetical and biblical-theological evidence for viewing the creation arrangement between God and Adam as covenantal. And I am not just referring to scholars who subscribe to the Westminster Confession or 1689. Read, for example, the arguments set forth by Gentry and Wellum in Kingdom Through Covenant, who are New Covenant theologians.

    Respectfully yours

  44. degibraltar,

    We are pretty far down the list of comments, and I haven’t looked at this blog article in quite some time, so you may never see this, but I found your comments directed to Pastor Barcellos to be interesting.

    Above you ask Pastor Barcellos “And do you brothers believe you have biblical warrant for the position advanced by Mr Marquedant, namely, that the “1689 Confession itself best defines a Reformed Baptist Church”?”

    I find that an odd question for a number of reasons. First of all — how are we going to prove or disprove what is the proper name for a church or group of churches from the Bible? Some Baptists believe they are to be called baptists because of John the “Baptist”. Some in the the Church of Christ argue for that name, because it is found in the Bible. Same with Church of God, etc.

    Second of all — anyone can call themselves anything they wish. We have that type of freedom. We could call ourselves Ontario Catholic Church — and argue that we have the right to do so — because of what “catholic” means — and the term is even in the Apostles Creed which we hold dear — but I doubt few in our community — who simply read our sign would understand what we were meaning to say.

    So what should we think when we say, “Reformed Baptist?” How do we define what is a “Reformed Baptist”? Would “Covenantal Baptist” be better? Maybe — but to the average American Citizen, it wouldn’t mean anything different. Would “Particular Baptist” be better? It would be more historical — but it certainly would not be understood properly in our day. It would be misunderstood much like our “Primitive Baptist” brethren are sometimes misunderstood. To Joe Average Citizen it can conjure up the idea of cave-men, although that certainly is not what they intend. I find “Progressive Primitive Baptist” to be an even more interesting name and almost an oxymoron.

    I appreciate the comments made by Mr. ejack above. He knows what he believes, what he does not believe, what parts of the 1689 that he does not believe are correct and what other confession(s) he is more comfortable holding. But it seems he would like to be called a Reformed Baptist. Labels do help — they separate, they define, and they also can confuse. There is a church in my local area that advertizes themselves as “Reformed in their soteriology and Dispensational in their eschatology”. That is a very long slogan, but it does help us know who they are with accuracy. I doubt few of them (or probably any of them) would want to call themselves “Reformed Baptists”.

    Maybe we need to call ourselves “Reformed Baptists holding to the 1689 Confession?” That is usually the first thing I say when I am asked by others outside the church what we believe. They usually have no idea what the 1689 is (or sometimes they do and want to run:-), but it does give us a chance to put a copy in their hands of the things most surely believed among us. We would never, nor should we ever expect people to come to our church already believing these things — but it is good to be able to tell them — these are the truths from Scripture that will be proclaimed from our pulpit.

  45. […] point in history to go back to, like the freakishly detailed 1689 London Baptist Confession that serves as the doctrinal statement for Reformed Baptist churches.  Anything outside of this document, or outside of a traditional […]

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