“The Baptists as a denomination have always regarded the Bible as being amply sufficient for the purposes of faith and practice. But knowing that many persons holding wild and visionary notions about religious subjects, often use the same language and say that they too make the Bible their standard; and knowing that Baptist views and practices are often misunderstood and often misrepresented, our brethren have felt it important to get up certain briefs, or compendiums of their faith, so that their adoption of the Bible in general terms, might not seem to be a sort of shield for heterodox opinions, and that there might be a oneness of doctrine and practice amongst ourselves. These summaries of faith have generally been taken from the Old Confession, published in England, first in 1643, and subsequently in 1689; adopted in America by the Philadelphia Association of Baptists in 1742 and by the Charleston Association in 1767.
Now it has been a question in our mind why we regular Baptists, throughout this whole country, might not adopt this “Confession”, and by so doing, have the articles of faith in every association exactly alike? For certainly, this venerable little book does contain the doctrines, systematically arranged, which are held by the old-fashioned Calvinistic Baptists the world over. Why may we not, then, have a cheap edition of this most excellent compendium, numerous enough to furnish every family in America with a copy?
That our brethren and friends and the world (for we are not ashamed of our faith) may see that this good old “Confession” is, we propose to give, from time to time the successive chapters, together with such remarks as we may have time and ability to make. After this cause shall have been completed, we hope our brethren will express their views in relation to the above suggestion. We commence with Chapter One, “On the Holy Scriptures’.”
THE CHRISTIAN INDEX
[THE CHRISTIAN INDEX of Georgia was the first state newspaper among Baptists in the South. (It was not until 1845 that Baptists in the South united to become the “Southern Baptist Convention”.) The above article was the first in a series on the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. It ran for many months while Jesse Mercer was the Editor. The stated purpose in reprinting the “old Confession” in a handy newspaper format was to promote “oneness of doctrine and practice among ourselves”. Sadly, Baptists in the South and around the world have lost their doctrinal bearings inherited from their founding fathers in the faith. Those wishing to study the history and theology of Baptists should note: Thomas Nettles, BY HIS GRACE AND FOR HIS GLORY (Founders Press); Thomas Nettles, BAPTISTS & THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE (DVD from Founders Ministries); Thomas Nettles and Russ Bush, BAPTISTS AND THE BIBLE (Moody Press); Gregory Wills, DEMOCRATIC RELIGION: Freedom, Authority & Church Discipline in the Baptist South, 1785-1900 (Oxford University Press); and Brandon F. Smith and Kurt M. Smith, THE GOSPEL HERITAGE OF GEORGIA BAPTISTS (1772-1830) (Solid Ground Christian Books).]