Daniel Patz: "I gladly affirm the new Northland International University articles of faith -- the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1853"

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Previous statement of faith attached as PDF

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Greg Linscott's picture

The copy Jim points to contains a revision to the original NHCoF. The text of Article #15 states:

15. Of the Christian Sabbath. We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord's Day, or Christian Sabbath[78]; and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes[79], by abstaining from all secular labor and sinful recreations[80]; by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private[81] and public[82]; and by preparation for that rest that remaineth for the people of God[83].

78.  ↑ Acts 20:7; Gen. 2:3; Col. 2:16–17; Mark 2:27; John 20:19; 1 Cor. 16:1–2
79. Exod. 20:8; Rev. 1:10; Psa. 118:24
80.  Isa. 58:13–14; 56:2–8
81. Psa. 119:15
82. Heb. 10:24–25; Acts 11:26; 13:44; Lev. 19:30; Exod. 46:3; Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2, 3; Psa. 26:8; 87:3
83. Heb. 4:3–11

The full text of the actual NHCoF: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_Baptist_Confession_of_Faith_(1833)

On Sabbitarianism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puritan_Sabbatarianism

I'm sensitive to this, BTW, because the current Minnesota Baptist Association statement, which builds on the NHCoF, contains similar language which we plan to address in our current revision process. It would be interesting if this was actually the wording (and practice) they intend to adopt- broadening the allowances in some areas (the NHC does not address a specific system of eschatology or a hermenutic principle by which the Bible is interpreted- e.g., it is neither pre-mill, post-mill or amill, nor does it take a position on the ministry  of the Holy Spirit- e.g., it is neither continuationist nor cessationist), while tightening observation of the Sabbath. I tend to doubt this is their intent, though (Sabbitarianism, that is- I quite expect that it is their intent to open up the other areas to a diversity of views).

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

jimcarwest's picture

18. Of the World to Come
We believe that the end of the world is approaching (1); that at the last day Christ will
descend from heaven (2), and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution (3); that a
solemn separation will then take place (4); that the wicked will be adjudged to endless
punishment, and the righteous to endless joy (5); and that this judgment will fix forever
the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness (6).

 

The rapture does not occur on the "last day." There is no general resurrection of the saved and the lost occuring at the same time taught in Scripture.  The "last day" occurs after the millenium.  It appears that this Confession makes no distinction between the first and second resurrection, nor from the rapture of the Church and the judgment of the wicked.  It appears to advance a "general judgment" position of belief.  It is obviously and blatantly non-dispensational.

Shaynus's picture

jimcarwest wrote:

18. Of the World to Come
We believe that the end of the world is approaching (1); that at the last day Christ will
descend from heaven (2), and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution (3); that a
solemn separation will then take place (4); that the wicked will be adjudged to endless
punishment, and the righteous to endless joy (5); and that this judgment will fix forever
the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness (6).

 

The rapture does not occur on the "last day." There is no general resurrection of the saved and the lost occuring at the same time taught in Scripture.  The "last day" occurs after the millenium.  It appears that this Confession makes no distinction between the first and second resurrection, nor from the rapture of the Church and the judgment of the wicked.  It appears to advance a "general judgment" position of belief.  It is obviously and blatantly non-dispensational.

 

Jim, notice the title of the Article "Of the World to Come." It's not "Of the Last Days." Even if you are a pre-tribulational pre-millenial, you could agree with that article understanding it's just talking about the last day. One of my favorite passages is Job 19:25-26: 

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

For Job, the "Last Day" or the "Latter Day" is when God stands on the earth. That's not talking about the rapture of the church in a Pre-millenial way. Job is summarizing his hope (which is amazing in detail for being so early in history). 

I like how the confession doesn't add details over which we don't have as much light, and sticks to the main points of orthodoxy. My church has this statement as our statement, but we modified it to not be Sunday-sabbatarian and changed this section slightly. I'm sure Northland could change it slightly as well. I hope they do. 

 

Shaynus's picture

Greg, here is how we worded the Lord's Day section if it helps you guys. 

Of The Lord's Day

We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord's Day and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes by preparation for the rest that remains for the people of God.

We added a statement on Gender which I think is necessary these days.

XVIII . Of Gender and Marriage

 

We believe that God created humanity as male and female, equal as persons before God, with distinct yet complementary roles according to the created order, that males alone may serve as an elder as one who governs and teaches in the church; that marriage is a covenant made before God between a man and a woman, that models the relationship between God and His people and the profound mystery of Jesus’ relationship with the church, in which wives should joyfully submit to their husbands as to the Lord and that husbands should lead and love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for the church.

 

G. N. Barkman's picture

Our church also uses the New Hampshire Confession, 1853, slightly modified.  In truth, it became the "standard" Baptist confession for much of America.  Both the Bible Baptist Fellowship (Springfield) as well as the GARBC adopted modified versions of it, along with most fundamental Baptist institutions.  It is an historical link to orthodox Baptist theology in the 19th and early 20th century.

On Affirmation xv, "Of the Lord's Day," we adopted the following :  "We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord's Day, the day appointed for the regular assemblies of the church.  We believe that Christians should meet with the church on the Lord's Day for public worship, fellowship, instruction, and observance of the Ordinances, and that it should be utilized to cultivate personal spiritual growth and as a testimony before the world."

Here is our revised affirmation xvii, "of the World to Come."  "We believe that Christ will return to earth in His glorified body; that the dead will be raised from their graves, that the righteous will be received into endless joy; that the wicked will be assigned to endless punishment, according to principles of righteousness; that the present world will be destroyed and that a new heaven and a new earth will be instituted wherein dwells perfect righteousness."

Our intent was to affirm what all orthodox Christians believe about these subjects, without adding the details that divide many Bible believers.

G. N. Barkman

JobK's picture

jimcarwest wrote:

 It is obviously and blatantly non-dispensational.

The New Hampshire Confession was first created in 1833 and received minor revisions in 1853. And taking care to distinguish it from forms of chiliasm like historic millennalism that can be traced at least back to Polycarp, it is very fair to say that premillennial dispensationalism did not exist prior to the Plymouth Brethren movement that began in Ireland in 1827, and that the doctrines were not presented in a systematic fashion until John Nelson Darby did so no earlier than 1831. 

Dispensationalism's becoming even moderately known in America was due to James H. Brooke and Dwight Moody. Brooke did not even become an ordained minister until 1854 and became dispensational some time afterwards. For his part Moody did not start to lean dispensational until 1872. 

So when you charge this doctrinal statement with being "obviously and blatantly non-dispensational" please put it into context. It is akin to stating that the research of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell obviously and blatantly failed to reflect nuclear physics and the general theory of relativity. 

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

Greg Linscott's picture

So when you charge this doctrinal statement with being "obviously and blatantly non-dispensational" please put it into context. It is akin to stating that the research of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell obviously and blatantly failed to reflect nuclear physics and the general theory of relativity.

So then, JobK, to run with your illustration, would NIU be, in effect, throwing out modern technology for gas lamps and telegraphs? Smile

Interesting note: As much as some of protested that NIU isn't "BJU North," this specific move, at least, actually serves to fuel that charge more than it does distance them. The University Creed and Our Biblical Foundation documents make no issue whatsoever about issues like eschatology or continuationism/cessationism.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jay's picture

Here's the link to the updated articles of faith: http://www.ni.edu/about-us/core-values/articles-of-faith/

There is a PDF available for download as well (attached).

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Greg Linscott's picture

So, they kept it. Interesting. Wonder if it is something they intend to comply with.

It seems to me that adopting the NHCoF is a way to say "we stand in step with historic Christianity"- which is admirable, as far as it goes. At the same time, an issue like the Sabbath statement reveals that there are reasons our immediate forebears didn't always  limit themselves to such statements, but improved upon them at times, and even adjusted the articulations of the past in an effort to reflect a more precise and Biblical understanding.

What we have now is potentially an institution that allows for wide fellowship between dispensationalists and covenant theologians, between cessationists and continuationists, so long as their churches don't have Superbowl Sunday parties. Smile

 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Pastor Doug H's picture

This is a provisional until their Board and bible department can adapt it to fit who they are now.  So I'll guess it will be broader than the old but several points will be refined ex: Sabbath...

JobK's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

So when you charge this doctrinal statement with being "obviously and blatantly non-dispensational" please put it into context. It is akin to stating that the research of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell obviously and blatantly failed to reflect nuclear physics and the general theory of relativity.

So then, JobK, to run with your illustration, would NIU be, in effect, throwing out modern technology for gas lamps and telegraphs? Smile

One would have to take the position that people who believe in dispensationalism are 100% right and people who do not believe in dispensationalism are entirely wrong. The person who has that position would then be responsible for explaining why these doctrines were not part of Christianity until 1830. Belief in a literal interpretation of Revelation 20 is one thing ... though it has been a decided minority viewpoint in Christianity at least since the time of Eusebius, you can at least trace the doctrinal system back to the early church and point out those who have adhered to it in times since. But the distinctives associated with premillennial dispensationalism go far beyond a literal interpretation of Revelation 20. Before making dispensationalism the equivalent of superior modern technology, someone needs to come up with a good explanation for what it was that made the Plymouth Brethren the theological equivalents of Edison and Bell while all the Christians in ages prior were still stumbling around in the darkness and stricken with muted voices concerning their ability to clearly interpret and proclaim scripture.

And care should be taken while making that case, not least because the Plymouth Brethren countenanced a number of problematic heterodox beliefs. John Nelson Darby had a the most un-Biblical conviction that making distinctions between the clergy and the laity was sin because the Holy Spirit could speak through anyone, a heresy first rejected by God himself when Korah attempted to lead a rebellion against God's anointed minister Moses while the church was in the wilderness and then specifically repudiated by the Acts account and the Pauline writings. That is one example. There are others.

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

Jay's picture

NIU was always very, very strong on getting students out of the campus and into local churches for extension ministries and corporate worship on Sundays, so that may have been an area that they decided to strengthen by adding it to the articles of faith.  I don't know.

They had a 'campus church' that met in the white chapel, but that was almost like a "If you really can't get to a local church, then here's a place for you to go" type thing.  At least, that's how I felt about it.  It was 'lead' by one of the deacons/elders at Faith Pembine, but I don't know what they do now.  As I look back, I'm glad that they treated is as a subsidiary of Faith Pembine and not as a 'school church'.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Greg Linscott's picture

One would have to take the position that people who believe in dispensationalism are 100% right and people who do not believe in dispensationalism are entirely wrong.

Why? I don't believe all paedobaptists are 100% entirely wrong. I'm not going to encourage my church to change our statement to allow for latitude in that area in our membership, though.

I'm not intending to make dispensationalism necessarily the equivalent of superior technology. It did seem the logical (if unintended) conclusion of your illustration.

Arguing from church history and that kind of thing is not entirely irrelevant- but I don't think it necessarily is a convincing reason to discard the position. Otherwise, there would be plenty of things we could point to that we could either abandon or embrace- like the Sabbitarian issue I've mentioned in the NHCoF, or paedobaptism, or sacramentalism...

 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

jcoleman's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

Interesting note: As much as some of protested that NIU isn't "BJU North," this specific move, at least, actually serves to fuel that charge more than it does distance them. The University Creed and Our Biblical Foundation documents make no issue whatsoever about issues like eschatology or continuationism/cessationism.

While it may not be in the Creed or other documents, those two things--particularly strongly so with respect to eschatology--are very much requirements to teach on the Bible faculty.

This leads to some (in my opinion) great ironies--like the fact that you can be very strongly confident that from day to day in chapel you'll always hear the same eschatology, but you can (literally, I've seen it happen) go from a strongly Calvinistic message on Monday to a flamingly Arminian (flaming meaning the Calvinists get ridiculed etc.) message on Tuesday.

Greg Linscott's picture

Is that in writing anywhere? Not doubting you... Just curious. 

But for all we know, NIU has stronger requirements for faculty than students, too. Everything's up in the air, now...

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jay's picture

When I mentioned that NIU wasn't "BJU North" a couple days ago in a different thread, I never meant to denigrate either school or to argue that one was inferior to the other.  What I mean is that there is a culture to each school that is it's own and that they are very different in some major ways.  BJU is very buttoned down, formal and precise.  NIU is more easygoing, relaxed, and isn't quite as dogmatic on the way things must be done.  That's not a knock on either school, and I think BJU is actually loosening up in some areas.  The DS at Northland when I was a student there could be signed by BJU faculty and vice versa when I was at BJU.  It probably still could be that way - but the cultures of the school and the practices at each are night and day.

I've told people - and believe this strongly - that if I'd gone to BJU for undergrad first and then NIU for grad school, I would be a radically different person today, and for that I rejoice that God sent me to NIU first.  I needed the 'heart focus' and 'discipleship' that NIU was able to provide as a fairly new Christian.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Greg Linscott's picture

Understood, Jay- but I will say that distinction wasn't always apparent to those, say, sending their kids. Some hadn't probably paid enough attention to BJU's history of a broader constituency (hence the lament of some at one point in time that they sent them to BJU Baptists and they came out Presbyterian). I think there is some merit to the idea that music was a sort of common bond (like, for example, the songs of Joe Zichterman, for one now awkward example, or the recruiting between Northland and BJU to comprise groups that traveled with Steve Pettit and Will Galkin). There was overlap, too, in camps like the Wilds that ended up serving as kind of a de facto denominational structure, creating ties at least as strong an anything I ever saw in formally organized associations like the GARBC.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jay's picture

Greg- Totally agree with you there.  It's also why I think that it is totally legitimate to refer to 'cultural Fundamentalism' without it being derogatory (although it could be taken as such).

NIU has just released a new statement, noting that the articles of faith are templates for reworking their position statements and that Dan Patz is praying about and consulting with friends, elders and family before accepting the Chairman role.

http://www.ni.edu/news-events/an-update-from-northlands-board

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

jcoleman's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

Is that in writing anywhere? Not doubting you... Just curious. 

 

Not that I've seen. But it is more than just my own observation (though I did observe it.) The same thing has been said by those I've known that have worked on the Bible faculty...so I'd consider that to be a bit more than hearsay.

James K's picture

jimcarwest wrote:

18. Of the World to Come
We believe that the end of the world is approaching (1); that at the last day Christ will
descend from heaven (2), and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution (3); that a
solemn separation will then take place (4); that the wicked will be adjudged to endless
punishment, and the righteous to endless joy (5); and that this judgment will fix forever
the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness (6).

 

The rapture does not occur on the "last day." There is no general resurrection of the saved and the lost occuring at the same time taught in Scripture.  The "last day" occurs after the millenium.  It appears that this Confession makes no distinction between the first and second resurrection, nor from the rapture of the Church and the judgment of the wicked.  It appears to advance a "general judgment" position of belief.  It is obviously and blatantly non-dispensational.

This is just a general statement.  There is nothing in this that would prevent a premill understanding of eschatology.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Matthew J's picture

Not that it matters what I think, I hope to lead the people God has placed under my leadership closer in exulting in the greatness of the one true God, and have little desire to get super involved in other ministries, But I do believe that colleges ought to be more general and less narrow in their doctrinal statements. It is supposed to be a place of education. Therefore, narrowing the focus so  finely that puts students in an awkward position of having to agree with something prior to being taught it is one of frustrations I have had with fundamental Bible schools. But maybe that is a reaction to pressure by supporting churches. I believe that in the church, Holy Spirit filled and lead leadership and assemblies can and should refine doctrine further as it is taught, but in an educational environment, make the statements general enough to place them in orthodoxy, mainline denomination they claim to be, (ie baptists school can expect general agreement to historical baptist polity and theology, the same for presbyterian, charismatic, etc.) and the philosophical emphasis they are teaching toward (pastoral, missions, liberal arts, etc.). 

Jeff Straub's picture

Confessions are wonderful things. They have a robust tradition in the Christian church and ought to be used regularly and intentionally.

1.) Confessions are like fences. They mark boundaries and define things--like sheep and wolves. Sheep are in, wolves are kept out. And they serve as useful ways to teach children the difference between sheep and wolves. I heartily recommend the use of confessions for such a reason as this.

2.) Confessions testify to the theological views of the people who draft them and they tell us what was important at the time of their composition. For example 1689, 2nd London, which was actually written in 1677, set the English Baptists alongside their Presbyterian neighbors as being in essential agreement on some things and essential disagreement on others. The very purpose of 1689 was to say to their Presbyterian neighbors that they were not "together for the Gospel" when it came to ecclesiology, or they would not have been separatists, leaving the C of E, and refusing to join with their Presbyterian friends. They did not plant churches together and they did not do missions together. Their Baptist identity was important to them.

3.) Confessions are thoughtful documents designed to be a positive statement of what one believes. They are not ordinarily used to affirm what one does not believe. The NHCF has no statement on the Pentecostal movement not because this was a matter of indifference. The movement was still more than 50 years away from its early origins, unless one considers the rather small English Irvingite movement that had little if any influence in America. Also, there was little debate in 1833 on eschatology, so the statement NHCF affirms is rather generic. It was not an issue because they wanted to be "all things to all men" but because eschatology had not risen to be an issue of prominence anywhere in 1833. The Millerite movement was in its infancy.

Moreover, confessions are intended to be thoughtful things, not merely "provisional" in nature, meant to be a stop-gap until something better comes along. Men labored long over particular wording so as to express clearly what was affirmed. I personally like what NHCF says in article VI and VII re: regeneration proceeding faith! Great affirmation. But I could not affirm article 15 on Sunday as the Christian Sabbath. Note that those who sign this document pledge to abstain "from all secular labor and sinful recreations, by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private and public; and by preparation for the rest that remaineth for the people of God." This is far too legalistic for me and I would guess for most thoughtful Christians today, though I do wish Christians today took the Lord's Day with greater sobriety. But perhaps those who can sign this are serious about no longer cancelling the evening service on Sunday night in favor of a Super Bowl party. If this is the result, I applaud the ends, if not the means.

For this reason, NHCF, which has been used by many churches since 1833, has often been amended before its adoption to reflect the theological sensibilities of those who affirm it. As I said, I know of no other case where a doctrinal statement was used "provisionally" and adopted because of what it did not say, rather than adopted for its clear presentation of one's personal beliefs in Christian theology.

Jeff Straub

Don Johnson's picture

Isn't that what we are supposed to be doing?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Andrew K.'s picture

Jeff Straub wrote:

Confessions are wonderful things. They have a robust tradition in the Christian church and ought to be used regularly and intentionally.

1.) Confessions are like fences. They mark boundaries and define things--like sheep and wolves. Sheep are in, wolves are kept out. And they serve as useful ways to teach children the difference between sheep and wolves. I heartily recommend the use of confessions for such a reason as this.

2.) Confessions testify to the theological views of the people who draft them and they tell us what was important at the time of their composition. For example 1689, 2nd London, which was actually written in 1677, set the English Baptists alongside their Presbyterian neighbors as being in essential agreement on some things and essential disagreement on others. The very purpose of 1689 was to say to their Presbyterian neighbors that they were not "together for the Gospel" when it came to ecclesiology, or they would not have been separatists, leaving the C of E, and refusing to join with their Presbyterian friends. They did not plant churches together and they did not do missions together. Their Baptist identity was important to them.

3.) Confessions are thoughtful documents designed to be a positive statement of what one believes. They are not ordinarily used to affirm what one does not believe. The NHCF has no statement on the Pentecostal movement not because this was a matter of indifference. The movement was still more than 50 years away from its early origins, unless one considers the rather small English Irvingite movement that had little if any influence in America. Also, there was little debate in 1833 on eschatology, so the statement NHCF affirms is rather generic. It was not an issue because they wanted to be "all things to all men" but because eschatology had not risen to be an issue of prominence anywhere in 1833. The Millerite movement was in its infancy.

Moreover, confessions are intended to be thoughtful things, not merely "provisional" in nature, meant to be a stop-gap until something better comes along. Men labored long over particular wording so as to express clearly what was affirmed. I personally like what NHCF says in article VI and VII re: regeneration proceeding faith! Great affirmation. But I could not affirm article 15 on Sunday as the Christian Sabbath. Note that those who sign this document pledge to abstain "from all secular labor and sinful recreations, by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private and public; and by preparation for the rest that remaineth for the people of God." This is far too legalistic for me and I would guess for most thoughtful Christians today, though I do wish Christians today took the Lord's Day with greater sobriety. But perhaps those who can sign this are serious about no longer cancelling the evening service on Sunday night in favor of a Super Bowl party. If this is the result, I applaud the ends, if not the means.

For this reason, NHCF, which has been used by many churches since 1833, has often been amended before its adoption to reflect the theological sensibilities of those who affirm it. As I said, I know of no other case where a doctrinal statement was used "provisionally" and adopted because of what it did not say, rather than adopted for its clear presentation of one's personal beliefs in Christian theology.

My understanding was that the purpose of the 2nd London Confession was to say, "We're not Arminian, et al.; we're 'Reformed' as well, but from a Baptist perspective." That's why it borrows so heavily from the Westminster Confession.

神是爱

jimcarwest's picture

So why did they choose a statement of faith that is doctrinally out-of-date with their current position?

dlhanson's picture

jimcarwest wrote:

So why did they choose a statement of faith that is doctrinally out-of-date with their current position?

Bixby wrote on his blog that he suggested the old confession.

"Since I was in on the discussion and actually suggested the NHBC 1833 before it was set aside for the 1853 revision I know some of the thinking that was behind this decision. While there are plenty of Baptists and historians who would disagree, it is fair to say that enough people understand a confession to be an affirmation of what we are while a doctrinal statement which is far more extensive in detail details what we must believe to work together."

http://bobbixby.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/on-northlands-confession/

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