"Reformed Baptist" as a title

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reformedman

Puritan Board Freshman
I wasn't the one who originally started the below thread but I'd like to see the discussion because I didn't get a chance to see how it ever ended.

I wonder if you'd mind my bringing this up again but I remember I guess about a year ago, there was a small discussion concerning the title reformed baptist and I wouldn't know how to even begin a search on this.

Some Presbyterians were saying, it is impossible to be a reformed baptist in linguistic terms (or was it grammatical, I don't know). The idea was that "reformed" and "baptist" can't go together.

Could someone please clarify once again, why it is that the title 'reformed-baptist' can't logically be used?

Thank you, and sorry for bringing it up again, but I want to know how it ended, and see what the arguments for each side would be.
 

Puddleglum

Puritan Board Sophomore
My understanding is that the line of reasoning is that "Reformed" means more than the 5-points - it also refers to the view of Covenant Theology taught by Calvin, etc. - which isn't compatible with being a Baptist (as it necessarily leads to infant baptism).

I'm sure there's lots of people who would be happy to debate it with / for you. :D
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Frank - the term "Reformed Baptist" is an American term. In the U.K. we are called Particular Baptists because of our stand on particular or limited atonement.

As far as the accuracy of "Reformed Baptist" it really is one of perception. Presbyterians would take exception to it because we do not fully embrace the Reformed faith (i.e. we're not full Covenant Theologians). But Baptists are not in the habit of trying to replicate Presbyterians. Our soteriology is definitely Reformed. Compared to most Baptist churches we have, indeed Reformed our theology. We are certainly Reformed-friendly without being full fledged covenant theologians.

I see no problem with the term "Reformed Baptist." Use it in good health and to the glory of our Lord! :cheers:
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Historically, the term Reformed was not associated with Baptists. I think the earliest usage of the term was 19th century. It is worth noting that where the Westminster Confession and the Savoy Declaration spoke of the "true reformed religion" in Chapter 25, the London Baptist omits the word Reformed.

I think it is a useful term, though, for those who want to emphasize that those particular baptists were historical and doctrinal descendants from the Reformers and the unity that is shared, and in particular those who hold to the 1677/89 London or 1742 Philadelphia confession.

The historical connection is hotly debated among Baptists, and I've even read about some Calvinistic Baptists who reject the term because they see themselves more as descendants of the Anabaptists than the Reformers. (In my opinion, it's hard to deny that there is truth to both).
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
A while back, I emailed a noted Reformed Baptist scholar this very question:
At what point in history -- and if it may be known, by whom -- was the phrase "Reformed" Baptist first used? I understand that most churches that hold to the Second London Confession, prior to the twentieth century, referred to themselves as "Particular" Baptists (referring to their belief in particular redemption). And as has been frequently pointed out, "Reformed" has historically been used to describe churches which hold to a specific ecclesiology (as well as soteriology), not embraced by "Reformed" Baptists. When did Baptists and Baptist churches first start to use this phrase?
To which he gave the reply:
Sadly, I can only give you a cursory answer to your question. You are correct that 'Particular' is the more common older designation for Calvinistic Baptists, though in this country it was supplanted too a large degree by 'Regular'. This term was co-opted by the GARBC, and today refers more to that specific group than to its older denomination.

The modern use of Reformed Baptist, so far as I know, derives from Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, PA in the early 1960s, when Walter Chantry came to be pastor there after his graduation from Westminster Seminary. He may actually be the one who coined the term. There is record of the phrase being used early in the 19th century, but not with its Calvinist component. It seems that that usage intended something different from the 20th century usage.

But there is more to say. My expertise is in 17th century England. In the sources there, the word 'Reformed' is somewhat more elastic than it is today. You will find, for example, that the PB churches were sometimes mentioned along side 'other reformed churches.' In some cases, they used the term themselves, sometimes you will find it in others. It seems to me that the word 'reformed' was conventionalized much later (though I don't right now know when) to refer more narrowly, as you say, "to describe churches which hold to a specific ecclesiology (as well as soteriology)". For example, one might note that that most Reformed of synods, meeting in Dort, included representatives from churches with broader (or perhaps differing) ecclesiological views to those of the Dutch churches.

So, while the phrase itself is fairly recent; the usage is not.

I hope this helps.
The individual in question "signed out" with his initials, "JMR," if that helps. :D
 

PastorFaulk

Puritan Board Freshman
A Few Thoughts...

Let me begin by my definition...To be reformed is to follow in the footsteps of the reformation. Anglicans, and Lutherans are reformed Catholics. Puritans are reformed Anglicans. Baptists are reformed Puritans. Does this make any sense? For one to claim the "reformed" title exclusively is to discount the size of the whole reformation. Calling oneself reformed is stating that one is moving from a stagnant source to renewed biblical stance. Baxter in "The reformed pastor" did not title his book to mean the Calvinistic pastor, but instead to show the constant work to become a biblical pastor. So If I were to define a Reformed Baptist, it is one who has shed the stagnant water of Baptist tradition for a renewed biblical stance. Theology will always move liberally and stagnate as it is poisoned by secular culture. That is why all of us must be reformed daily, both as individuals and as a church. Romans 12:1-2
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Back to the OP:

Could someone please clarify once again, why it is that the title 'reformed-baptist' can't logically be used?

There is no logical reason why the term can't be used.

fini
 

Philip A

Puritan Board Sophomore
Does this feel to anyone else like one of those evangellyfish campus ministry bible studies? You know, the one where you meekly raise your hand and say "can I share what this passage means to me?" :lol:
 
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