WHY THE 1689 IN OUR TIME?
Updated: Nov 11, 2020
The London Baptist Confession of Faith, or Second London Confession of Faith, written in 1677, but commonly carrying the moniker 1689 due to a part of its recognition history, is a triumph of confessional theology. It has much to offer churches today, and yet many may wonder what value this centuries-old Confession has for churches in the Twenty-first century. However, this Confession is exactly what Baptist churches need in our day.
First, this historic Confession is a time-tested statement of Christian orthodoxy. As a document drafted prior to the Enlightenment, and other cultural shifts of recent centuries, this document provides a clear and complete system of Biblical doctrine for the church. While many churches are abandoning lengthy statements of faith for shorter versions, we are increasingly living in a day when we need to say more theologically, rather than less given the doctrinal anemia of our day. This time-tested document gives local churches a robust Confession of faith that is not nuanced according to the theological fancies and interests of our day alone.
Secondly, this Confession brings with it a connection to a creedal orthodoxy flowing out of the church catholic over the last 2,000 years. In its treatment of the Doctrine of God for instance, connections are made to the ancient Creeds, like the Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian definition. This is a necessary connecting point that churches often miss out on as new, short statements of faith are drafted.
Thirdly, this robust Confession connects Baptist churches to their Particular Baptist history, and their roots within the Reformational, covenantal and predestinarian streams. When a church chooses to adopt this confession, it provides a wonderful resource for training its members in the truths cherished by the early Particular Baptist churches of the mid-seventeenth century churches in England, and beyond. In a day when many Baptist churches have “forgotten their roots,” having this document, in addition to giving clear and biblical guardrails, provides a return to the rich history of the early Particular Baptist, (now often called Reformed Baptist), movement.
A final reason for adopting this Confession is that it provides a wonderful vision of the Christian life. Based on the Reformation principle of Law/Gospel, this Confession provides local churches, and believers, with a helpful tool in growing in their vision of the Christian life. Believers have been condemned by the Law, brought into right standing with God through the Covenant of Grace, and now given the moral law of God as means of living a life of glorifying God, and this Confession details aspects of what this new liberty we have in Christ gives us as we seek to walk in His ways.
In a day of theological drift, churches adopting worship and outreach methods that are watered-down, and a day in which many are theologically malnourished, this Confession provides for Baptists a beautiful tapestry of systematic doctrine to be confessed. Doctrine moves us to worship, and thus, a robust Confession like the Second London Confession of Faith, the 1689, aids the growth, and the worship of the churches of Jesus Christ.