Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'The Confession of Faith' started by Dachaser, Oct 17, 2017.
Part of the question seems to be around confessional church membership. Although I don't see it explicitly stated, it seems to assume that the confession a church uses should be held by the entire congregation. From my experience in Southern Baptist churches, even the much broader Baptist Faith and Message is not held as the standard for membership. I don't know if other Baptists commonly have confessional membership, but I've not heard of such being common.
It's odd the views it takes exception with being part of a church's confession:
* Literal 6-day creation (although many in the Presbyterian tradition at least don't hold the phrase in question to only refer to this view of creation)
* Five point Calvinism (specifically limited atonement)
* The Lord's Day as the Sabbath
I could think of a lot of things to be more commonly taken exception to the LBCF of 1689 like the RPW and the Pope as the Anti-Christ than for example Five point Calvinism by Reformed-leaning baptists. Also, even the Baptist Faith and Message is fairly Sabbatarian, even though it doesn't explicitly identify the Lord's Day as the Sabbath.
"The first day of the week is the Lords Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, work of necessity and mercy only being excepted."
"The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord's Day should be commensurate with the Christian's conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ."
Moderator note to ALL:
Please refrain from styling thread titles as click bait that forces the reader to click the title to understand what is to follow.
The title should be descriptive enough for a reader to gather some substance about what is to follow. Moreover, what is to follow should not be a grammatical continuation of the title of the thread. The title is the title, not an introductory clause to follow in a post.
Say someone quotes your post above a few pages into the discussion. All that would appear would be a link. No context. No explanation. Now the reader must trudge backwards in the thread to determine why a post with only a link has been made.
Instead, your post should have at least started with the title you used for the thread in question. It would have helped to also offer up some comments about what the reader may expect to find at the link in question.
End Moderator Note to All
Moderator Note to David:
Did you read the content at this link, David?
Did you read the concluding remarks made?
"The SLC, then, is a tremendous statement of historic Reformed (and, I think, biblical) doctrine. I recommend it highly as a guide for biblical doctrine. However, it was historically-conditioned in the seventeenth century and it contains too rigid a view of certain doctrines. For these reasons it should not be used as a local congregation’s statement of faith."
The author of this linked content is also anti-Sabbatarian.
Why would you post such a link given the obvious contra-confessional nature of this person? I cannot divine your reasons for doing so as you offered up no explanations. I am forced to conclude you are advocating non-confessionalism, you are spamming the thread, etc.
You offer up no hesitancy for linking to this content, which, as a minimum would be expected given its strident anti-Reformed stance. Any other moderator who does not know you personally would be well within their rights to just give you an extended vacation from our site.
That said, I am not inclined to do so, because I have known you for many years and believe you only meant to innocently make this post to foster discussion. (You are not out of the woods as another moderator may feel some action is needed.)
Nevertheless, I am going to publicly admonish you to refrain from such actions moving forward. If you find something contentious on the internet and want to discuss it, firstly consider the reasons why the matter is post worthy. Is it merely to stir the pot? Is it bait to foster "board wars" when the author is not even present to defend himself? Do you have some edifying comments about the content to be posted that will increase the successes of our walk of faith?
Secondly, be courteous to the reader and provide some of your own commentary about a link you want others to read such that the reader may make an informed decision to go further. Do not just ask for opinions while failing to offer your own beforehand. Your tentativeness in matters of doctrine is well-known here. Continued tossing out some questions, then sitting back to see what comes afterwards before weighing in just will not do.
We do not have time to play twenty-questions with every topic. God has given each of us a limited number of resources, in particular—time, money, talents, and energy. And we are commanded to be good stewards of each (cf. Ephesians 5:15; Ecclesiastes 11:9; Mark 12:30). So be a good steward of your gifts and time—not everyone deserves it (especially the author of the linked content above) and you are not obligated to give it unworthily, Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 5:15-17; Psalm 90:12; Isaiah 49:4.
End Moderator Note to David
I didn't care for the position.
1- Historical context: while historical context is important for all kinds of things, the reason given- the need to distinguish- is no less today than it was in 1689.
2- Purpose of SoF- the article said the LBCF failed to provide an outline for worship and preaching. Really? I would argue that a "Reformed" soteriology without Reformed ecclesiology (RPW, doctrine of the Lord's Day,...) demonstrates folks don't understand the purpose of the Lord's Day or the purpose of worship. No, this is a pop-evangelical and non-Reformed view.
3- It's too narrow- I would agree.....for non-confessional, evangelical folk, almost any restriction is too narrow.
I will say the article didn't seem to be focusing on advancing non-confessional opinions. For example, out of the three doctrinal points he thinks are too rigid, one he explicitly says he holds to (just doesn't think it should be in a congregation's statement of faith) and the other you can't ascertain solely from the article, even if his position is implied.
My apology to any on the Board who felt that I was insulting Reformed theology in any way, as I thought reading the article, the author was expressing the view that within certain churches, the 1689 Confession by itself should not be used to be the church statement of beliefs and practices, as in some even Reformed Baptists churches, they would tend to fold to a different statement for purpose of the minimum a member needs to adhere to when in fellowship with that church.
I did not mean it to be cutting down Reformed Theology, but as a discussion as to if some churches can choose to have a different statement of beliefs in their church or not.
I took it that he was holding to Reformed/Calvinistic theology views, but did not regard the 1689 Confession as being mandatory and used only for a church statement of doctrines.
No one on here believes that every church must adopt any one confession. That is not the Reformed teaching on creeds. The problem with the article is that the author gave bad reasons for rejecting the 1689 Confession.
The problem I see is that he says...
"In the second place, churches must decide on the purpose of a local congregation’s statement of faith."
"Churches must decide how tightly to draw their theological boundaries..."
But, he then concludes...
"For these reasons it should not be used as a local congregation’s statement of faith."
I can understand where he is coming from given his beliefs, but I would rather he said something like. "I think local churches should carefully consider whether the LBC is an appropriate confession for particular circumstances."
Personally, I think the strength of the Reformed confessions (which he largely ignores) outweighs his concerns.
I think that this issue would be much more a discussion in a reformed Baptist church, as Baptists by definition have that dual thread of being a confessing group, but also holding to individual beliefs and doctrines that can be held. That also might be why he wrote as he did, as some will hold to the 1689, some to 1833, and others to the Baptist statement of faith and doctrines from I believe 1925/1963/2000.
It should be noted that Pastor Sam Waldron wrote a rebuttal to this article at the time which was subsequently published by 9 Marks as well. I think most of us will agree with his assessment of the article.
Thanks for the link, as he made valid points that would in large measure refute what the OP author was contending for.
Am I alone in thinking that you cannot be a Reformed Baptist without holding to one of the historic Baptist confessions? That's kind of the point of the handle: I should be able to go to any church that says it is Reformed Baptist and expect regulated worship, Calvinistic (all five of 'em) preaching, high view of the Sabbath, reverence and awe in worship, and the Table decently fenced.
Sadly, a lot of places claiming to be RB fall short in these areas, but that's another issue.
As to the link in the first post: I find the views therein completely specious. No RB's in my circle of acquaintance would cavil at the doctrine of Limited Atonement--it's one of the glories of Christ crucified that He will surely save all whom He died for.
And a high view of the Sabbath is standard among everyone who is not antinomian.
To me it shows a bit of a lack of commitment for churches to write a few brief sentences (a "doctrinal statement") which is usually not very in-depth, call that their standards, and let whatever elder happens to be in charge do pretty much what he wants. The LBCF is a safeguard for the people of the church against wolves in sheep's clothing who would fain lead them away. If my elders were to go astray in some way--say they began to teach some novelty like a day-age theory of creation or theistic evolution--I could approach them with the confession in hand and require a recantation. It helps keep 'em honest. It's a great comfort to have.
If more so-called Baptist Churches were to adopt and hold to the LBCF, it would do them a world of good.
To be accurate, one is either confessional (entirely) or they are not. This is the problem in this age. People take membership and say that they agree with said confession and they don't. Church leadership are more concerned with increasing the membership role than the contents that they vowed to. For example, I have no issue with the WCF and subscribe to it fully.
The word 'Reformed' means so many things today that it basically means nothing at all.
Yep; the term has been hijacked.
And very few care.
I don't agree. I think the 1689 LBC is fine as a doctrinal statement. It would not hurt for a local church to add position papers on culturally relevant topics like same-sex marriage, but the doctrinal statements in the 1689 LBC are sound and are not bound to specific time periods.
Indeed. He seems to give a sort of 'postmodern' view of confessions whether or not he sees that's how his presuppositions come across.
My two cents: this is one reason why I love Presbyterian polity. Wright's congregational views presuppose that every member of the church must hold strictly to the church's confession of faith - in essence, every member an elder.
The problem with this is that it will either cause the church to create or adopt too narrow of a confession, thus jeopardizing the purity of the church; or the church uses a confession, such as the 1689 LBC, that is so specific that it becomes nearly impossible for the average lay person to fully understand let alone confidentially vow to uphold its contents.
What happens in the later category is that either:
1) The church dwindles because no one can confidentially and truthfully affirm the confession. Does the average lay person really have the time to do an in-depth study of the confession to see whether or not they agree with all of its contents without reservation? Being baptized or transferring membership becomes a year long process for a genuine believer simply because they have not done an in-depth study of the confession.
2) The church grows but the confession is affirmed often times in ignorance which has all sorts of problems of its own. Do we really want members to take a vow that they believe the contents of a document to be biblical, when in fact they have not studied all the contents thoroughly?
In essence, every member is treated like an elder. What this means is that, again, the church dwindles or the members become ignorantly puffed up with pride because they went through the year long membership process and have subscribed to a hefty theological document that they, in fact, have only briefly studied.
This is why I love the membership process in the PCA and other similar reformed churches. The church receives genuine believers, even though they may not be theologically mature due to their recent conversion - either initial or from a non-reformed background. Likewise, the purity of the church is protected as the officers of the church lead the church faithfully.
To the best of my knowledge, this is similar to the way Israel was constructed and, one could argue, the NT church. In Israel, every member of the congregation was to be taught the Law diligently, thus leading to full maturity in every member. But lacking full legal/theological maturity did not keep you out of the congregation - it only kept you from officially leading the congregation or making important decisions for the community.
^^ Well, seriously--the LBCF is neither long nor difficult. Our elders are always available to answer questions regarding it by applicants for membership, and quite often a membership transfer does take a year. But what's wrong with a year? It gives the elders time to examine the life and witness of the applicant, and bring up any issues they might have to sort out. One of the benefits of a rigorous application process is that discipline and excommunications are reduced, since the insincere and uncommitted are weeded out.
Saying that only the elders need know the confession well is like saying only elders need to know the Bible. But all christians should know their Bibles, and to expect them to do so is not burdensome. Likewise the confession, being a sort of systematic theology is not a bad thing to expect members to know.
And the WCF is not as specific?
The WCF is very specific. My point is that, as is usually the case with congregationalism, members have to "subscribe" to the confession in order to become a member.
In most P&R churches, only the elders have to subscribe to the specific confession (WCF, 3FU, etc.), and there is an entirely less specific confession that lay members have to confess before the congregation in order to be received into the church.
This was my point in saying that I am thankful for Presbyterian polity because, besides being in my opinion the biblical standard, elder rule allows the church to be more 'catholic' without jeopardizing the purity of the church. Likewise, it allows the church to receive young children as members who may not currently be wise in regards to the confession and theology of the church - though that is of course the end goal.
My apologies for opening 'pandora's box' in regards to the process of church membership. My issue does not lie with the LBC, I am simply pointing out a practical reason why I love Presbyterian polity more than congregationalism.
Again, I don't want to go off the rails into a debate over length of time between profession and baptism/membership. But, in my opinion, there are all sorts of things wrong with a year long membership process. This all seems to boil down, as many issues do, to the differences in the understanding of the church between Baptists and the Reformed.
Likewise, as a practical note, what is the real difference between spending 12 months in a membership process, only to be told that you will not be received into membership, versus spending a month being examined and being disciplined 11 months later for whatever reason? In either case the church is making a statement regarding your profession of faith. The only difference is that, in the latter, the church actually received your profession, as it should, and ends up disciplining you as a professing believer. In the prior case the church does not recognize your profession at all but instead says "we will see" for a year before saying "we don't believe you." I know that nobody would put it exactly the way I have stated, but when the church does not receive a lay member into its communion that is essentially what it is saying - "we don't believe you."
Lastly, again, I never said that members need not know the confessions or their bibles well. Of course they do! But the church should receive baby Christians into its communion and teach them the confession as Christians. The confession (again, the LBC, WCF, etc.) should not be a litmus test to be received into the church and be recognized as a Christian. I have been a Christian for over ten years now and I have studied and been taught the WCF for well over half that time and I still don't have the sort of knowledge of its contents that Baptist churches, in my experience, expect of their members when they require them to take a vow to uphold it.
In my former church, it was not necessary for a prospective member to have to agree with the 1689 LBC in toto. They had to agree to be taught from the 1689 perspective, and that the 1689 LBC could be used to settle any doctrinal disputes. Basically, they had to be teachable. I think that is the case with more than a few confessional Baptist churches. I caution about saying "usually is the case". You really can't make a wholesale statement like that unless you have data to back it up.
Good to know. Not trying to put every Baptist/congregational church under that label.
I am just responding specifically to the 9 Marks article and, having been in a 9 Marks church in the same city as Mark Dever's church that had copied their polity almost dot and tiddle, this has been my experience. Every person coming forward for membership had to subscribe to the church's confession (1853 NHCF) and vow to uphold it. If you did and then later disagreed with a portion this was viewed as breaking the membership vow and could bring one under discipline - as almost happened in my case when I changed my views on baptism.
I should have been more clear that this is simply my experience with '9 Marks' churches.
The distinctive Baptist views regarding this would allow for an individual to be onder a Confession, or the entire church, but also to have it that one can hold to a statement of beliefs as sufficient to being a Confession of faith.
So would be Reformed baptists under the 1689/1833 Confessions
Calvinist Baptists could be under those 2, or the Baptist statements of faith 1925/1963/2000. or none at all
Actually, more like more inclusive
I always thought that it would be good to update that by adding specific language regarding issues like same sex, evolution, and other current trends.
There is also the interesting situation like currently I am in, in that that my local Baptist church there are some of us that are now reformed in our theology, but also those holding to Calvinism and others holding to more of a free will salvation viewpoint. Being Christians Baptists, we all can and have living together under the one same rook now.