Saturday, June 10, 2023

We Believe....

Thomas Kidd has posted "Confessions of Faith and the Baptist Tradition" responding to Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, a Southern Baptist church that is in trouble with its denomination. Warren argues that Baptist “unity has always been based on a common mission, not a common confession.” Kidd pretty thoroughly refutes that contention: "The idea that Baptists have found unity in “mission” and not in confessions crumbles under an avalanche of historic evidence to the contrary."

Kidd notes what should be obvious:
Historically, Baptists have intuitively understood that confessions foster unity by setting up ecclesiological and doctrinal fences. The truth is, all churches use doctrinal tests to maintain denominational boundaries, whether they are written ones or not. For example, what would be the point of keeping a church in fellowship with a Baptist denomination if it rejected believer’s baptism? Or if its pastor was an agnostic? Would critics of confessions really say that we are obliged to maintain fellowship with churches regardless of what they believe?

All social, political, and religious groups have to set some limits, or they’d become incoherent and pointless. No one wants to join a group that is for nothing.
I belong to one of the older (albeit smaller) Baptist denominations. This is an early Seventh Day Baptist confession of belief:
Expose of Sentiments
1833, revised in 1852

Resolved: that this expose is not adopted as having any binding force in itself, but simply as an exhibition of the views generally held by the denomination.

We believe that there is one God. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, and of Jesus Christ his Son. We believe that there is a union existing between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and that they are equally divine and equally entitled to our adoration.

We believe that "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life" That he took on Him our nature, and was born of the Virgin Mary; that He offered Himself a sacrifice for sin; that He suffered death upon the cross, was buried, and at the expiration of three days and three nights He rose from the dead; that He ascended to the right hand of God, and is the Mediator between God and Man—from whence He will come to judge and reward every man according to the deeds done in the body.

We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are given by inspiration, and contain the whole of God's revealed will, and that they are the only infallible guide to our faith and duty.

We believe man was made upright and good, and had ability to remain so; but that through temptation, he was induced to violate the law of God, and thus fell from his uprightness, and came under the curse of the law, and became a subject of death; and that all his posterity have inherited from him depravity and death. We believe that the depravity of man is in his will and affections, and that it is such as unfits him for the Kingdom of God, or the society of holy beings, and disinclines him to come to Christ, or receive his truth.

We believe that by the humiliations and sufferings of Christ, he made an atonement, and became the justification for the sins of the whole world; but that the nature or character of this atonement is such as not to admit of justification without faith, or salvation without holiness. We believe that regeneration is essential to salvation; that it consists in a renovation of the heart, —hatred to sin and love to God; and that it produces a reformation of life, in whatever is known to be sinful, and a willing conformity to the authority and precepts of Christ.

As to good works, we believe that they are not the ground of a believer's hope; but that they are fruit essential to a justified state, and necessary as evidence of the new birth.

We believe that there will be a general resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

We believe that a gospel church is composed of such persons, and such only, as have given satisfactory evidence of regeneration and have submitted to gospel baptism.

We believe that Christian Baptism is the immersion in water, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, of a believer in Christ, upon the profession of the gospel faith, and that no other water baptism is valid.

We believe that there will be a day of judgment for both the righteous and the wicked, and that Jesus Christ shall judge every man according to his works.

We believe that the righteous will be admitted into life eternal, and that the wicked shall receive eternal damnation.

We believe that the law of God, contained in the Decalogue, and recorded in the 20th chapter of Exodus, to be morally and religiously binding upon all mankind.

We believe it is the duty of all men, and especially the Church of God, to observe religiously the seventh day of the week as commanded in the fourth precept of the Decalogue, [which in common with other days of the week, scripturally commences and ends with sunset].

We believe it is the duty of all the members of the church to commemorate the sufferings of Christ, in partaking of the Lord's Supper, as often as the church shall deem it expedient, and their circumstances admit. As we deem it unscriptural to admit, to the membership of the church, any person who does not yield obedience to the commandments of God, and the institutions of the gospel, or who would be a subject of church discipline, were he a member of the church, so we deem it equally improper to receive such at the Lord's table, or to partake with them of the Lord's Supper.
The current Seventh Day Baptist "Statement of Belief" can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.