Baptist Confession of Faith, the 1689
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About "Baptist Confession of Faith, the 1689"
C H Spurgeon said of this great Confession - "Here the youngest members of our church will have a body of Truth in small compass, and by means of the scriptural proofs, will be able to give a reason of the hope that is in them." This brilliant summary of doctrine (in the same family as the Westminster Confession), with its invaluable proof texts, is here gently modernised in punctuation, with archaic words replaced. Explanations of difficult phrases have been added in italic brackets. A brief history of the Confession, with an index, is included.
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The Baptist Confession of Faith originally appeared in 1644 and represented the Beliefs and teachings of the Reformed Baptist Churches of London of that time and was revised in 1646. It therefore first came out 2 years before the Westminister Confession. This book is on the further revised 1689 Confession of Faith of the Reformed (Particular) Baptist Churches. It is very readable with excellent comments by Dr Peter Masters gently 'clarifying' the meaning of archaic terms and words. As a Baptist Pastor I find this book has immense value as a study tool both for individual and group Bible studies - and not just for Baptists. Here with clarity and brevity together with scripture proofs the foundational doctrines of the Christian Faith is carefully laid down. It gives us a clear understanding of the great depth of understanding of our Baptist forebears and poignant reminder of how far we have fallen.
To get a good understanding of Reformed theology, then you must read one of the historic confessions of the Reformed tradition. The Westminster Confession is the usual first port of call, but if you're a Baptist then you can read the Baptist version and if you're Congregationalist then you have the Savoy Declaration. What does the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith teach? Advanced systematic theology. All the major doctrines of the Bible are present and accounted for with proof texts. Why do I say it contains 'advanced' systematic theology? This confession was shaped by some of the greatest theologians who ever lived and every word of it is carefully chosen. This is not a document you skim read, but one you read carefully and meditatively. Thus, it is truly 'advanced' reading. Is it for everyone? If you claim to come from the Reformed tradition I would recommend you try reading through it at least once. Firstly, to expose yourself to first class teaching even if you don't understand it all. Secondly, to give yourself some awareness of historical theology. Not everything in the document is supported by all those who call themselves Reformed today. Nevertheless it is good to see where your forebears stood on something like children dying in infancy and whether we are warned against the pope in Scripture. Why read the Peter Masters' edition? The theology is hard enough without the additional struggle of reading older English. So this edition helpfully updates the Confession by making it more accessible to modern readers. Masters writes: 'In this edition the Confession has been updated so that archaic, antiquated words (and word endings) have been replaced with their modern equivalents. The punctuation has also been updated, and difficult-to-follow sentences have been reconstructed, but as little as possible to ensure faithful reproduction of the original sense. Where further explanation was felt to be necessary, or where much more modern words were called for, these have been inserted additionally in italic brackets.' You may not get a Masters of Divinity by reading the writings of these doctors, but no doubt you will learn a thing or two and bring benefit to your soul.