Calvinism and the London Baptist Confession of 1644 (Part 2)

The Particular Baptists and Calvinism
1644 brought growth for the Particular Baptists as they more clearly defined the doctrinal standards in their confessional statement. 1645 brought trouble.

Arminian General Baptists charged the Particular Baptists with insufficiently addressing free will, communalism, and falling from grace, especially within the L0ndon Confession of 1644’s first edition. The General Baptists’ response to the London Confession of 1644, documented in a pamphlet titled “The Foundation of Free Grace Opened,” gave their dictional stance against limited atonement, clearly siding with Arminian theology.

The differences and disagreements between 1645’s General and Particular Baptists gave rise to a second edition of the 1644 London Confession and of the First London Baptist confession of 1644. Third and fourth editions would be made later in 1651 and 1652. As William L. Lumpkin commented about the Particular Baptists,

In the Army of Cromwell, Baptists had distinguished themselves and had risen to positions of leadership . . . (Calvinist) Baptists were everywhere in prominent positions, and no longer lived in fear of the King and Parliament. The Westminster Confession has appeared in 1646, and by comparing the London Baptist Confession with it men could see that Baptists indeed belonged to the mainstream of Reformed life.

Calvinistic theology can be seen in a number of areas within the Particular Baptist’s confessional documents. Here are just a few examples taken from the second-edition London Baptist Confession of 1646.

Total Depravity
Article VI: first Eve, then Adam being seduced did wittingly and willingly fall into disobedience and transgression of the Commandment of their great Creator, for the which death came upon all, and reigned over all, so that all since the Fall are conceived in sin, and brought forth in iniquity, and so by nature children of wrath, and servants of sin, subjects of death, and all other calamities due to sin in this world and for ever, being considered in the state of nature, without relation to Christ.

[See also Article V.]

Unconditional Election
Article V: Subject to the eternal wrath of the great God by transgression; yet the elect, which God has loved with an everlasting love, are redeemed, quickened, and saved, not by themselves, neither by their own works, lest any man should boast himself, but wholly and only by God of His free grace and mercy through Jesus Christ.

[See also article XVII and article XIX.]

Limited Atonement
Article XXI: That Christ Jesus by His death did bring forth salvation and reconciliation only for the elect, which were those which God the Father gave Him; and that the Gospel which is to be preached to all men as the ground of faith, is, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the ever blessed God, filled with the perfection of all heavenly and spiritual excellencies, and that salvation is only and alone to be had through the believing in His name.

[See also article XXX.]

Irresistible Grace
Article XXII: That faith is the gift of God wrought in the hearts of the elect by the Spirit of God, whereby they come to see, know, and believe the truth of the Scriptures, and not only so, but the excellency of them above all other writing and things in the world, as they hold forth the glory of God in His attributes, the excellency of Christ in His nature and offices, and the power of the fullness of the Spirit in His workings and operations; and thereupon are enabled to cast the weight of their souls upon this truth thus believed.

[Se also article V and article XII].

Perseverance of the Saints
Article XXXVI: To this Church He has made His promises, and given the signs of His Covenant, presence, love, blessing, and protection: here are the fountains and springs of His heavenly grace continually flowing forth; thither ought all men to come, of all estates, that acknowledge Him to be their Prophet, Priest, and King, to be enrolled amongst His household servants, to under His heavenly conduct and government, to lead their lives in His walled sheepfold, and watered garden, to have communion here with the saints, that they may be made to be partakers of their inheritance in the Kingdom of God.

[See also article XXVII.]

Connections to Today’s Current Situation
Where do Baptists come from and what are their historical beliefs? The question lives on, surfacing again in the twenty-first century within America’s largest Baptist denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. As Rev. Dr. Tom Ascol stated in 1995, “Never in our history have we stood in greater need of reexamining our roots.” The issue is the same today as it was then.

With regards to today’s current Southern Baptist situation on soteriology, members must look past the “traditional” views of the twentieth century and back to their historical seventeenth-century fathers. We must not forget the theology that the Baptist church is founded upon. Southern Baptists need to clearly see the historical value of their Protestant faith and its theological stances. As Baptist historian W. T. Whitley once stated (on Baptists’ redress of their own history), “if a later generation finds that it does not agree with its predecessors, whether in content or in emphasis, it has openly revised and re-stated what it does believe or it has discarded the old confession and framed another.”

Additional Reading Information on Calvinism and Baptist Church

7 Responses to “Calvinism and the London Baptist Confession of 1644 (Part 2)”

  1. Wesley July 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    I’d be very interested to read/hear when and/or how this current rejection of Reformed soteriology began in the Baptist tradition. I’d be interested to hear if it softened with the infiltration across evangelicalism of biblical feminism. Just a speculation but a cultural influence on the church that has also radically shaped doctrine and ecclesiology.

    • Muhammet August 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      I am sharing Lottie Moon with our chcurh and each Sunday I try to tell them a little more about Lottie.My question is: Do you know the names of her 2 brothers and 4 sisters? I know the oldest girl was Edmonia but no other names have I been able to find.Thank you for answering my question.Zeta

    • Stoik August 5, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

      I wonder if a cofnerence that included all the various sects, denominations and varieties of Christian belief and included Gabriel would be able to reach a consensus. Gabriel gave the word to Muhammad and that is good enough for millions, would it be good enough for all Christians or would some argue that it was actually a trick by the great deceiver?

  2. key1 July 17, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    It’s a nice post.

  3. Kris Mazzariello July 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog post.Thanks Again. Fantastic.

    • DuRjoy August 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      I am thankful that the Convention has given so much tughoht and prayer to this issue. I too am proud of the long heritage that the SBC has in going after the main thing, the gospel. However, I believe that it is insightful and sensitive to discuss a name change as we look to the future. I believe that the name Great Commission’ will be offensive to many people, but it will be offensive because of the gospel message that it bears. What is better, to be offensive because we are being obedient to God in our pursuit of the Great Commission, or to be offensive because our name Southern’ reminds people of the terrible time in our country’s history when slavery and prejudice were ingrained so deeply that even our churches followed the cultural influences?

  4. Grete August 5, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    I am opposed to the SBC name chagne and the optional unofficial name . We are what we are and we have good reason to be proud of the SBC name we presently carry. Does anyone really believe that we can chagne our name and the unchurched will suddenly see us in a different light than before, flock to the church buildings and reverse the decline in membership? The Lifeway study that revealed a significant enough level of negativity toward the Southern Baptist churches by the unchurched implies that our work fulfilling the Great Commission is made more complicated. It may be. However, painting our denomination with a different color (i.e., name) does not chagne the composition of our Biblically-based doctrine.With over 50 associations, fellowships and conventions using the name Baptist in the U.S. I can see where the unchurched are confused, as this list goes from the Alliance of Baptists to the World Baptist Fellowship. The Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas is also in this list. We (SBC Baptists) have pregnancy crisis centers, childrens homes, relief shelters, disaster relief teams, foreign and home missionaries and numerous other outreach programs that carry comfort, goodwill and the message of the Cross to those who need it. How many of the unchurched know about these programs of our denomination? I imagine very few.I believe the answer to our negative numbers from the Lifeway study is not window dressing like a new name, but advertising in the national media showing what the Southern Baptists are doing in our communities to serve those in need. Additionally, each of us needs to redouble our time in God’s Word daily and spend copious amounts of time in prayer to God, seeking wisdom, forgiveness of our sins and His assistance to us in living our life as He wants us to do. We need to live our faith each day and be the salt of the earth and that the light on the hill, essentially walking the talk. Any effort less than that is aid and comfort to those who seek to criticize our church.

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