Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Confessional Stability

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on March 1, 2016 at 3:02 pm

cof

“…earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.” Jude 1:3b

Fake Christianity has always existed alongside of real Christianity. Fake Christianity always compromises with the world when placed under pressure and crumbles into irrelevance, while real Christianity continues to steam forward just as it always has done, regardless of the cultural and political environment it finds itself in.

Real Christianity never changes from generation to generation, because it is defined by fixed and eternal and unchangeable truths, and by a Christ who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

It does not fluctuate and re-define itself to obtain popularity and acceptance. Its morality and theology do not change to meet the approval of the masses. Its message is fixed and constant.

Part of “evangelical” Christianity’s problem is that they have focused on size over substance, influence over faithfulness, and popularity over truth.

This is because they are unhinged from any commitment to a historic confession of faith, and therefore can free float their message and theology to adapt to the public consensus of the moment. This has been disastrous.

Those Reformed churches who adhere to a historic confession of faith like the London Baptist Confession of 1689, or the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646, or some other historic reformed creed, have known that they cannot and must not go down that road, because they have a fixed body of truth and theology that they adhere to throughout the generations – one that is not influenced by the world and the political system in which they currently live.

It is a theology that has been tested and proven to be biblical in the crucible of examination by the collective church across the centuries. It isn’t the “insights” made up on the spur of the moment by an eloquent and imaginative megachurch pastor while he is pacing the platform clutching his microphone.

A fluid message, or a fixed message – that is the difference between the “evangelicals” and the reformed. One has little to no doctrinal definition, while the other has a robust and full understanding and expression of biblical truth, and does not conform to the world, but calls the world to conform to the truth.

That is why “evangelical” Christianity is collapsing into theological irrelevance – and why reformed and confessional Christianity never will.

Pastor Max Doner
Sovereign Grace Bible Church
Lebanon, Oregon

  1. So true. It’s sad to see so many professing Christians that don’t have discernment on many of the issues that are facing us today.

  2. The basic premise of the article is flawed. No confession written by man can keep man from sliing into error. Having been written by man, the confessions themselves contain error and those who cling too tightly to the confessions will be led astray. The Word and the Spirit alone can keep God’s people from sliding towards apostacy.

  3. Further, the view espoused above ignores the fact that the confessions themselves were the product of the influence of what was going on in the world in England during the times in which the authors lived.

  4. I think the premise is that confessional churches have a “Set of Standards” that they publicly adhere to. This lends itself to stability and a lack of “free float(ing) their message and theology”.

    I would agree, there was a day when one could look to a Baptist church and be assured it was preaching God’s word but no longer. Far to many ‘churches” claim to believe in Christ, preach Christ, but their doctrine is so watered down and just plain bad. How can the faithful be reassured that they are going to hear the unfeigned Gospel? I would suggest if the church is a 1689 or WFC they can be far more certain than not. At least that has been my experience and the point I took from this article.

  5. Jude 1:3b “…earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints,” refers to Scripture, not the 1689.

  6. The faith that was once delivered to the saints has to be defined, or it can be made to mean anything. That is the purpose of confessions. And if the confession accurately defines the faith once delivered to the saints, then to adhere to it, IS to adhere to the faith that was delivered to the saints.

    It never ceases to amaze me that those who argue against a written confession, make a great deal out of their verbal confessions that declare the irrelevance of written confessions. Do they think that their belief system (only verbally stated – God forbid that they should ever write it down so it could be examined in the light of scripture) is NOT influenced by what is going on in their world during the times in which they live?

    Some times I wonder if the critics of the utility and necessity of confessions have ever taken a class in logic.

    No one ever said that confessions are infallible – that is the constant straw man argument that critics of the confession always make. Do they think their preaching is infallible? And if not, why not discount it as being of no value in preserving men in the faith, just as they do the confession? Why not let’s all keep silence, both in writing and in speech, and just depend on the Word and the Spirit to keep men from sliding into apostasy?

    Biblical confessions adhered to do indeed keep men from sliding into error, as they test their “insights” against the insights of the collective voice of men of God who have spoken with one voice for the last 400 years on the subject under consideration, as to what the Bible teaches on that subject.

    Any cultist would be glad to say: “No creed but the Bible” and “We just depend on the Word and the Spirit to guide our beliefs.”

    Hiding behind such evasions of sophistry to keep from having to define and thereby avoid any objective examination of precisely what one thinks the Bible teaches, is a sign of a lack of integrity, not a sign of superior spirituality.

  7. Creeds and confessions have their places in the lives of saints and assemblies thereof. The place where upon the author of this article has placed the 1689 LBC borders on blasphemy.

  8. “The place where upon the author of this article has placed the 1689 LBC borders on blasphemy.”

    LOL

  9. Hello again,

    Okay….so, I give a slight critique about your article and these phrases/comparisons get thrown back in return:

    -never taken a class in logic
    -“those who argue against a written confession”
    -cultist
    -evasions of sophistry
    -lack of integrity.

    Two errors often plague dialogue among zealous believers: (1) the tendency to make over-arching statements that go too far (i.e. accusing someone of being against all written confessions just because they reply that the phrase “the faith once delivered to the saints” was not meant to mean the 1689), and (2) the ugly painting of someone who disagrees on a single point or a particular emphasis as illogical, cultic, evasive, a sophist, and lacking in integrity. You’ve succeeded in doing all of this in just a few short sentences.

    My position is that confessions of faith are helpful summaries, yet, are not to be equated 100% with the faith delivered to the saints. I have never argued against a written confession. You accuse others of constructing strawmen, but isn’t this what you are doing in your response?

    See above…I simply believe citing Jude 1:3 is a stretch, even as I give a hearty salute to the 1689. Were I not already sold on the merits of the 1689, however, and I had come across your article and your reply to me for my simple comment that Jude 1:3 was not referring the 1689 Baptist Confession, I believe I would have been unduly prejudiced against it due to unnecessary polemic in your remarks.

    Good day.

    Trevor

  10. Trevor – My previous comment that you reference was a response to all of the comments above mine, not just yours. The only part of my above comment directed at your comment was:

    “The faith that was once delivered to the saints has to be defined, or it can be made to mean anything. That is the purpose of confessions. And if the confession accurately defines the faith once delivered to the saints, then to adhere to it, IS to adhere to the faith that was delivered to the saints.”

    My point was this: The 1689 certainly does express the faith that was once delivered to the saints, and therefore it is no stretch to apply that verse to the subject matter of the importance of confessions when they accurately (though not infallibly) set forth the faith that has been delivered to the saints.

    The rest of what I said was directed at Manfred’s comments, and even then were not personal. It was intended to be a general polemic against the general spirit of denigration of the value of confessions of faith that seems to be increasingly prevalent in reformed baptist circles these days.

    You are way over reacting to what I wrote, and reading far too much into what I said, and the terminology I used, by construing it as a personal attack on yourself.

    It was a attack against the illogical arguments that people frequently use to downplay or dismiss the value of confessions, and that is all it was.

  11. Ok,

    Good to hear that you were only calling Manfred an illogical, evasive sophist lacking in integrity. 🙂

    I agree that confessions are useful summaries.

  12. Who is making overarching statements that go too far now?

    What part of

    “The rest of what I said was directed at Manfred’s comments, and even then were not personal. It was intended to be a general polemic against the general spirit of denigration of the value of confessions of faith that seems to be increasingly prevalent in reformed baptist circles these days.”

    did you not understand?

    What part of

    “It was a attack against the illogical arguments that people frequently use to downplay or dismiss the value of confessions, and that is all it was.”

    did you not understand?

    You keep accusing me of personal attacks, when I made none, and your false accusations against me are themselves personal attacks. Please reconsider.

  13. ‘Tis a common trait for those who cling to confessions too tightly to consider all who see them as good but flawed documents are cast as lawless folks without much concern for Truth. History shows the men who wrote the 1689 did so as a public declaration to the state, to make the case that they, the Baptists, were not radicals wanting to turn over the state; but they were much like the paedobaptists of the WCF who had successfully “sued for peace” with the state themselves. 20th and 21st century particular Baptists have made the 1689 LBC more of a magisterium than a useful, secondary resource.

  14. Pastor Doner
    Since becoming a Christian I have been learning of the usefulness of confessions. Thank you for your article. Here is a quote that I came across recently by the late Dr. Robert Paul Martin.
    “Those who conscientiously defend the great reformed confessions are regarded as anachonisms, if not as enemies of the faith and of the church. In some circles we are censured and avoided; and if we attempt to convince others of the benefits of confessional Christianity and of the dangers of doctrinal latitudinarianism, we are stigmatized as infected with ‘creeping credalism’, the theological and ecclesiastical equivalent of leprosy. In such a climate, it is important that those who love the reformed confessions have clear views of the legitimacy of confessions and of their many beneficial uses.”
    Aric

  15. Excellent piece, and very encouraging! Thank’s for sharing.

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