London Baptist Confession

A Baptist Perspective on Reformed Theology, Part 2

From Faith Pulpit. Read Part 1.

II. The origin and nature of the church evaluated from Ephesians 2:11-15

Reformed theology sees all the elect from Adam onward as part of the universal church.

The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. (LBCF, XXVI:1)

Israel in the Old Testament is called “the Jewish church” (LBCF, XXI:1).

Many Baptists do not see either the universal Body of Christ or the local church in the Old Testament. Here is one reason why:

In Ephesians 2:11-15 Paul states:

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A Baptist Perspective on Reformed Theology, Part 1

From Faith Pulpit, Spring 2019. Used with permission.

The term Reformed theology means different things to different people. For some, this term simply refers to the “doctrines of grace” which are also known as the five points of Calvinism. The five points of Calvinism are:

  • Total depravity: Sin has affected all areas of our personality so that no one seeks after God.
  • Unconditional election: God’s choice of some to be saved was not based on foreseen merit or faith.
  • Limited atonement: God’s purpose in sending His Son was to actually save and preserve the elect.
  • Irresistible grace: Sooner or later, all who have been chosen will come to faith in Christ.
  • Perseverance of the saints: Those who are truly elect and thus saved will persevere.

For others, in addition to Calvinism, Reformed theology includes Covenant theology. This view is taught in the Westminster Confession of Faith, adopted in AD 1646, which was produced by and authoritative for Presbyterians.

Certain Calvinistic Baptists in London wanted the dominant Presbyterians to know they were not a sect, but rather very similar to them, so they produced a modified Baptist edition of the Westminster Confession, known as the Second London Confession of Faith (LBCF) which was adopted in AD 1689. Here is a website that compares these two Confessions, noting differences and similarities: www.proginosko.com.

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Using the London Baptist Confession of 1646 in the Local Church

Reformed Baptists are drawn to the London Baptist Confession of 1689 (originally issued in 1677) because it so closely mirrored the popular Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith. But the first two London Baptist confessions of 1644/1646 offer a window into history and a resource for Baptists today that is slightly different in its emphases. The London Baptist Confession of 1646 is Reformed and Baptist in its theology while emphasizing the newness of the New Covenant era that began with Christ. This article explores some of the benefits and challenges of using the London Baptist Confession of 1646 in the local church today.

Appealing Qualities

There are three appealing qualities of this Confession that are worthy of highlighting.

The Confession was originally drawn up and signed by seven churches in London in 1646. This was a “corrected and enlarged” edition of the first confession, published in 1644. The title of the original Confession of 1646 was: “A Confession of Faith of Seven Congregations or Churches of Christ in London, Which are commonly (But Unjustly) Called Anabaptists.” A copy of the original Confession of 1646 is widely available on the internet. An edition printed by Matthew Simmons and John Hancock in Popes-head Alley, London, 1646 is available online from The Angus Library and Archive at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford.

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