Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The London Confession, 1644

It is time to resume the conversation.

The Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Chalcedonian Creed, the Schleitheim Confession, the Augsburg Confession, the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Arminian Articles, the Synod of Dort (all of which have appeared on this blog), among others, comprise an important background for understanding who we are at this juncture in church history. As men wrestled with the questions posed by the Scriptures and by the issues of their day, they formulated statements of faith to answer these questions. These answers have had a lasting effect on all of Western civilization, as well as Christianity. If we want to be wise people who understand our times and how to respond to them as Christians, we would do well to pay attention to these statements of faith. We need to understand what's going on in the conversation.

About the time that the Arminian Articles provoked a response at the Synod of Dort, a new Protestant group was emerging and consolidating. These people became known as the Baptists. The most formative early confession which they produced is known as the London Confession, set forward in 1644. It was entitled The Confession Of Faith, of those Churches which are commonly (though falsly) called Anabaptists. It was intended to refute false charges against these churches and to prove that they were not heretical. I will reproduce it here for you over the next several weeks.

I. THE Lord our God is but one God, whose subsistence is in Himself; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light, which no man can approach unto; who is in Himself most holy, every way infinite, in greatness, wisdom, power,love: merciful and gracious, long- suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; who giveth being, moving and preservation to all creatures.
1 Cor.8:6; lsa.44:6. 46:9; Exod.3:14; 1 Tim.6:16; Isa. 43:15; Ps.147:5; Deut.32:3; Job 36:5; Jer.10:12; Exod.34:6.7; Acts17:28; Rom.11:36.

II. IN this divine and infinite Being there is the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; each having the whole divine Essence, yet the Essence undivided; all infinite without any beginning, therefore but one God; who is not to be divided in nature, and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties.
1 Cor.1:3; John 1:1, 15:26; Exod.3:14; 1 Cor.8:6.

III. GOD hath decreed in Himself, before the world was, concerning all things, whether necessary, accidental or voluntary, with all the circumstances of them, to work, dispose, and bring about all things according to the counsel of His own will, to His glory: (Yet without being the author of sin, or having fellowship with anything therein) in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, unchangeableness, power, and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree: And God hath before the foundation of the world, foreordained some men to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of His grace; and leaving the rest in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His justice.
Isa.46:10; Eph.1:11; Rom.11:33; Ps.115:3, 135:6, 33:15; 1 Sam.10:9.26; Prov.21:6; Exod.21:13; Prov.16:33; Ps.144; Isa.45:7: Jer.14:22; Matt.6:28,30; Col.1:16, 17; Num.23:19.20 Rom.3:4; Jer.10:10; Eph.1:4,5. Jude 4.6; Prov.16:4.

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