Should you use the 1689 London Confession in your church?

london-baptist-1689Though I am not sure I agree with every point made here, from the 9marks ministry website, Associate Professor of Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also the Pastor of Leadership Development at Clifton Baptist Church.

****(AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE IS A RESPONSE BY DR. SAM WALDRON)

Should you use the 1689 London Confession in your church?

Although the 1689 London Confession (also known as the Second London Confession [SLC] to distinguish it from the 1644, or First London Baptist Confession) is a wonderful statement of Calvinistic Baptist faith, it should not be used as a local church’s statement of faith. Three factors lead to this conclusion

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

First, like all historical documents, the SLC was written in a particular historical context. This context shows the need that Particular Baptists as a whole felt to issue the SLC. The SLC was intended to distance the Baptists from questionable groups and to show their orthodox Protestantism, vis-à-vis other Reformed Protestants. The “Puritan Revolution” in mid-17th century England had its religious expression in the Westminster Assembly. This Puritan group of divines was overwhelmingly Presbyterian in character (though there were a handful of Congregationalists in attendance), so the “standards” it produced —including the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF; issued in 1646)—were expressions of fundamental Puritan Presbyterianism.

The Puritan revolution failed. With the reign of King Charles II renewed persecution of Protestants began. Before toleration came with the “glorious revolution” of William and Mary in 1688 two other Protestant denominations issued very slightly-modified versions of the WCF. Their reasons for broadly reissuing the WCF were, first, to show their broad agreement with the WCF and, second, to distance themselves from emerging groups like the Quakers who were viewed by orthodox Protestants as holding aberrant doctrine. So the Congregationalists issued the Savoy Declaration in 1658 and the Particular Baptists composed the SLC in 1677. The SLC was issued anonymously in times of Protestant persecution and then with full denominational support after toleration came for Protestants in 1689. We must be aware of the SLC’s place in history, for this influenced its shape.

Of course, the SLC’s historical situation does not mean that the document itself is heretical or even useless for Christians today. That situation does help us, though, to understand the felt need of 17th century Particular Baptists to identify themselves doctrinally with other Protestants in the Reformed tradition. They succeeded from a denomination-perspective. But that does not mean that the SLC should be used as a local church statement of faith. Continue reading

Modifications to the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

KINGSJSv3A Statement from the King’s Church Elders

Concerning Chapter 22 of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689: OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP AND THE SABBATH DAY

At the Diet of Worms in 1521, Martin Luther declared “to act against conscience is neither right nor safe.” How true this is! It is a concept drawn from the Bible itself. “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

It needs to be said, with great emphasis, that there are wonderful, genuine Christians, who truly love God’s word who come to differing conclusions on this issue of the Sabbath. This is not a new phenomenon in any way. This was the case even in New Testament times. Romans 14: 5, 6 says, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.” In this chapter (Romans 14), the Apostle Paul outlines how we are to handle these kind of differences in the setting of the local Church, and rather than breaking fellowship with each other, exhorts us to walk together with our fellow Christians in love and understanding, believing the best of each other, while at the same time, never violating our individual conscience.

In the context of outlining what Christ accomplished for His people on the cross, the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath (literally, ‘sabbaths’ plural). These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:16, 17) Christians are told to never let anyone judge them concerning Sabbath observation. When Church leadership tells another Christian “we cannot walk with you because of your view of the Sabbath” this is a clear violation of Paul’s apostolic command. Such should never be the case.

The Bible alone is the word of God – the sole infallible rule of faith for the people of God. Historic creeds and confessions of the Church, while having great weight and significance, never rise to the level of God breathed Scripture. Only Scripture has the authority to bind the conscience absolutely. This also means that every creed and confession must therefore be in agreement and alignment with the Bible to be true.

As elders at King’s Church, our study of the Scriptures has brought us to the conclusions outlined here below. Yet even as we make our position plain, we wish to make clear that those who hold a strong Sabbatarian view are very welcome at King’s Church. Please know that! We simply ask that they do not seek to promote or push that view on others in the flock. To these precious people we say “we can live with you as long as you can live with us.”

As to the question, “ARE THE SABBATH LAWS BINDING ON CHRISTIANS TODAY?”

We believe the Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances are typological and associated with the Mosaic Covenant, not moral, aspects of the law. As such, they are no longer in force, but have been fulfilled along with the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood, and all other aspects of Moses’ law that prefigured Christ. Here are the reasons we hold this view.

1. In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul explicitly refers to Sabbaths as a shadow of Christ, which is no longer binding since the substance (Christ) has come. It is clear in those verses that the weekly Sabbath is in view. The phrase “a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” refers to the annual, monthly, and weekly holy days of the Jewish calendar (cf. 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezekiel 45:17; Hosea 2:11). Paul is referring to all kinds of Sabbaths, which is why he used the Plural.

2. The Sabbath was the sign to Israel of the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 31:16-17; Ezekiel 20:12; Nehemiah 9:14). Since we are now under the New Covenant (Hebrews 8), we are no longer required to observe the sign of the Mosaic Covenant.

3. The New Testament never commands Christians to observe the Sabbath.

4. In our only glimpse of an early church worship service in the New Testament, the church met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

5. Nowhere in the Old Testament are the Gentile nations commanded to observe the Sabbath or condemned for failing to do so That is certainly strange if Sabbath observance were meant to be an eternal moral principle. Also, a Gentile cannot be expected to practice a sign of a covenant of which he is not a member; thus requiring Sabbath observance by Gentiles makes no sense. It’s like requiring unbelievers to attend the Lord’s Supper.

6. There is no evidence in the Bible of anyone keeping the Sabbath before the time of Moses.

7. When the Apostles met at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), they did not impose Sabbath keeping on the Gentile believers.

8. The apostle Paul warned the Gentiles about many different sins in his epistles, but breaking the Sabbath was never one of them.

9. In Galatians 4:10-11, Paul rebukes the Galatians for thinking God expected them to observe special days (including the Sabbath).

10. In Romans 14:5, Paul forbids those who observe the Sabbath (these were no doubt Jewish believers) to condemn those who do not (Gentile believers).

11. Sunday has not replaced Saturday as the Sabbath. Rather the Lord’s Day is a time when believers gather to commemorate His resurrection, which occurred on the first day of the week. Every day to the believer is one of Sabbath rest, since we have ceased from our spiritual labor and are resting in the salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 4:9-11).

So while we still follow the pattern of designating one day of the week a day for the Lord’s people to gather in worship, we do not refer to this as “the Sabbath.”

Note on Col. 2:16

A. Why do some translations translate the last part of vs. 16 as “or a sabbath day” (using the indefinite article and render “Sabbath” as singular), while others translate “or sabbaths” (not using the indefinite article but render “Sabbath” in the plural)?

It seems to us that the original intent of Paul, using the plural without the definite article, was to refer to multiple “kinds” of sabbaths – i.e. weekly, seasonal, etc. – which were commanded in the mosaic covenant.

To illustrate in English, using the term “holiday” – if we said, “let no one judge you in regard to a holiday” (using the indefinite article and singular noun) – we would mean, let no one judge you in regard to all of the days we classify as holidays – i.e. 4th of July, Memorial Day, Easter, Christmas, etc. Also, if we said, “let no one judge you in regard to holidays (omitting the indefinite article and using the plural noun) we would understand the same thing – i.e. let no one judge us in regard to any days we classify as holidays since there are different types of holidays.

The fact that Paul used the plural can only mean one of two things.

1. Either the thought is since the weekly Sabbath is repeated he put it in the plural because he wanted to say let no one judge you in regard to any particular week’s Sabbath. We do not think he meant this – but if he did it supports the non-sabbatarian position.

2. If the reason for the plural is not #1, then the plural must be being used as in the “holiday” illustration above – i.e. there was more than one type of “Sabbath” and Paul wanted to address them all.

Now if we are to be Sabbatarians we must go further in explaining Paul’s use of the plural. We must say he wanted to address more than one kind of Sabbath (the non-weekly ones) but not all kinds of Sabbaths (i.e. not the weekly)! And that his readers could be expected to conclude this?!

Concerning Chapter 26 of the Confession: OF THE CHURCH

Paragraph 4 reads- “The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.”

Here, we revise to say:

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner. As the Lord Jesus is the single head of the universal church it is impossible that any person has been or ever will be the single head of the universal church on earth.

Sabbath and Conscience

KINGSJSv3A Statement from the King’s Church Elders

Concerning the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 – Chapter 22: OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP AND THE SABBATH DAY and the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith (1833), article 15: OF THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH:

At the Diet of Worms in 1521, Martin Luther declared “to act against conscience is neither right nor safe.” How true this is! It is a concept drawn from the Bible itself. “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

It needs to be said, with great emphasis, that there are wonderful, genuine Christians, who truly love God’s word who come to differing conclusions on this issue of the Sabbath. This is not a new phenomenon in any way. This was the case even in New Testament times. Romans 14: 5, 6 says, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.” In this chapter (Romans 14), the Apostle Paul outlines how we are to handle these kind of differences in the setting of the local Church, and rather than breaking fellowship with each other, exhorts us to walk together with our fellow Christians in love and understanding, believing the best of each other, while at the same time, never violating our individual conscience.

In the context of outlining what Christ accomplished for His people on the cross, the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath (literally, ‘sabbaths’ plural). These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:16, 17) Christians are told to never let anyone judge them concerning Sabbath observation. When Church leadership tells another Christian “we cannot walk with you because of your view of the Sabbath” this is a clear violation of Paul’s apostolic command. Such should never be the case.

The Bible alone is the word of God – the sole infallible rule of faith for the people of God. Historic creeds and confessions of the Church, while having great weight and significance, never rise to the level of God breathed Scripture. Only Scripture has the authority to bind the conscience absolutely. This also means that every creed and confession must therefore be in agreement and alignment with the Bible to be true.

As elders at King’s Church, our study of the Scriptures has brought us to the conclusions outlined here below. Yet even as we make our position plain, we wish to make clear that those who hold a strong Sabbatarian view are very welcome at King’s Church. Please know that! We simply ask that they do not seek to promote or push that view on others in the flock. To these precious people we say “we can live with you as long as you can live with us.” As to the question…

ARE THE SABBATH LAWS BINDING ON CHRISTIANS TODAY?

We believe the Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances are typological and associated with the Mosaic Covenant, not moral, aspects of the law. As such, they are no longer in force, but have been fulfilled along with the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood, and all other aspects of Moses’ law that prefigured Christ. Here are the reasons we hold this view.

1. In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul explicitly refers to Sabbaths as a shadow of Christ, which is no longer binding since the substance (Christ) has come. It is clear in those verses that the weekly Sabbath is in view. The phrase “a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” refers to the annual, monthly, and weekly holy days of the Jewish calendar (cf. 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezekiel 45:17; Hosea 2:11). Paul is referring to all kinds of Sabbaths, which is why he used the Plural.

2. The Sabbath was the sign to Israel of the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 31:16-17; Ezekiel 20:12; Nehemiah 9:14). Since we are now under the New Covenant (Hebrews 8), we are no longer required to observe the sign of the Mosaic Covenant.

3. The New Testament never commands Christians to observe the Sabbath.

4. In our only glimpse of an early church worship service in the New Testament, the church met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

5. Nowhere in the Old Testament are the Gentile nations commanded to observe the Sabbath or condemned for failing to do so That is certainly strange if Sabbath observance were meant to be an eternal moral principle. Also, a Gentile cannot be expected to practice a sign of a covenant of which he is not a member; thus requiring Sabbath observance by Gentiles makes no sense. It’s like requiring unbelievers to attend the Lord’s Supper.

6. There is no evidence in the Bible of anyone keeping the Sabbath before the time of Moses.

7. When the Apostles met at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), they did not impose Sabbath keeping on the Gentile believers.

8. The apostle Paul warned the Gentiles about many different sins in his epistles, but breaking the Sabbath was never one of them.

9. In Galatians 4:10-11, Paul rebukes the Galatians for thinking God expected them to observe special days (including the Sabbath).

10. In Romans 14:5, Paul forbids those who observe the Sabbath (these were no doubt Jewish believers) to condemn those who do not (Gentile believers).

11. Sunday has not replaced Saturday as the Sabbath. Rather the Lord’s Day is a time when believers gather to commemorate His resurrection, which occurred on the first day of the week. Every day to the believer is one of Sabbath rest, since we have ceased from our spiritual labor and are resting in the salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 4:9-11).

So while we still follow the pattern of designating one day of the week a day for the Lord’s people to gather in worship, we do not refer to this as “the Sabbath.”

Note on Col. 2:16

A. Why do some translations translate the last part of vs. 16 as “or a sabbath day” (using the indefinite article and render “Sabbath” as singular), while others translate “or sabbaths” (not using the indefinite article but render “Sabbath” in the plural)?

It seems to us that the original intent of Paul, using the plural without the definite article, was to refer to multiple “kinds” of sabbaths – i.e. weekly, seasonal, etc. – which were commanded in the mosaic covenant.

To illustrate in English, using the term “holiday” – if we said, “let no one judge you in regard to a holiday” (using the indefinite article and singular noun) – we would mean, let no one judge you in regard to all of the days we classify as holidays – i.e. 4th of July, Memorial Day, Easter, Christmas, etc. Also, if we said, “let no one judge you in regard to holidays (omitting the indefinite article and using the plural noun) we would understand the same thing – i.e. let no one judge us in regard to any days we classify as holidays since there are different types of holidays.

The fact that Paul used the plural can only mean one of two things.

1. Either the thought is since the weekly Sabbath is repeated he put it in the plural because he wanted to say let no one judge you in regard to any particular week’s Sabbath. We do not think he meant this – but if he did it supports the non-sabbatarian position.

2. If the reason for the plural is not #1, then the plural must be being used as in the “holiday” illustration above – i.e. there was more than one type of “Sabbath” and Paul wanted to address them all.

Now if we are to be Sabbatarians we must go further in explaining Paul’s use of the plural. We must say he wanted to address more than one kind of Sabbath (the non-weekly ones) but not all kinds of Sabbaths (i.e. not the weekly)! And that his readers could be expected to conclude this?!

The London Baptist Confession of Faith – Some Pastoral Observations

In this lecture, Dr Tom Ascol shares some observations on questions related to the local church’s use of the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.

Some Pastoral Observations re: The Baptist Confession – Tom Ascol from Reformed Baptist Seminary on Vimeo.

The Guardrail of the Creeds

“While never rising to the same authority as sacred Scripture (which alone is the word of God), the ancient creeds and confessions of the Church have served the people of God through the ages as concise and precise summaries of what the Bible teaches on very vital matters. These include, amongst others, the doctrine of God, the person and work of Christ, how a man is justified in God’s sight as well as the doctrine of last things (eschatology). On today’s Dividing Line, guest host John Samson teaches on the practical value of the ancient Creeds and Confessions of the Church.”

Pastoral Observations re: The Baptist Confession

In this lecture, Dr Tom Ascol shares some observations on questions related to the local church’s use of the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.

Some Pastoral Observations re: The Baptist Confession – Tom Ascol from Reformed Baptist Seminary on Vimeo.

Confessing the Faith in 1644 and 1689

CONFESSING THE FAITH IN 1644 AND 1689

Pastor James M. Renihan

Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies at Westminster Seminary in California
Reformed Baptist Church of North San Diego County, Escondido, CA

Confessing the Faith in 1644 and 1689

Introduction

Try to imagine a situation like this: You live in a large city, the capital of your country. You are a member of one of a handful of churches, just beginning to grow and be noticed in the city. But it is illegal for you to meet with your brothers and sisters. For as long as anyone living can remember, there has been only one legal religion, and every attempt to disagree with that one religion has met with opposition and persecution.

As your churches grow, rumors begin to spread. A hundred years before, some people with beliefs that were marginally similar to your own had been involved in a terrible rebellion in another country relatively close by, and rumors were beginning to spread that your churches would do the same kinds of things. What would you do?

That is something of the situation facing the members of seven Calvinistic Baptist churches in London in 1644. In the space of a few short years, their numbers had grown, and people were beginning to take notice of their presence in London. But it was often not a friendly notice. In 1642, an anonymous pamphlet entitled A Warning for England, especially for London; in the famous History of the frantick Anabaptists, their wild Preachings and Practices in Germany was published. It is an amazing piece of work. The author, in 9 double sized pages, described the sad events of Munster, Germany. Rebellion, sedition, theft, murder are all charged to the “anabaptists.” Throughout, there is no mention of anything but these events from another time and place—until the very last sentence of the pamphlet which stated “So, let all the factious and seditious enemies of the church and state perish; but, upon the head of king Charles, let the crown flourish! Amen.” The warning was in one sense subtle, but in another brilliantly powerful: beware! What was done in Germany by the anabaptists may well happen again in London, if these people are allowed to spread their doctrines.

So what did the Baptists do? The situation was potentially explosive. They knew that it was essential to demonstrate that they were not radicals, subversively undermining the fabric of society. To the contrary, they were law-abiding citizens, who were being misrepresented and misunderstood by many around them. They wanted and needed to demonstrate that they were quite orthodox in their theological beliefs, and that they had no agenda beyond a faithful and conscientious commitment to God and His Word.

As the Baptists faced these circumstances, they decided that they needed to take action to relieve the fears and misinformation spreading. God had blessed their efforts thus far, and they did not want to see those efforts frustrated by the rumor and innuendo of their enemies. So they adopted a practice frequently used by others in the last 150 years—they issued a confession of faith so that anyone interested in them might be able to obtain an accurate understanding of their beliefs and practices. Continue reading

The Covenant Theology of the 1689 Baptist Confession

From Reformed Baptist Seminary

http://confessingbaptist.com/the-covenant-theology-of-the-1689-baptist-confession-5-part-audiovideo-by-pascal-denault-qa/