Baptists And Confessions -- By: George J. Carlson

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 03:1 (Spring 1960)
Article: Baptists And Confessions
Author: George J. Carlson

Baptists And Confessions

George J. Carlson

Baptist history, strangely enough, presents for our consideration a number of Baptist Confessions of Faith. While Baptists are not a creedal Protestant denomination, they have on various occasions crystallized their tenets of faith into specific confessions. The Baptist movement has always been a back-to-the-Bible and a baptism movement.

Competent Baptist historians, of which there are a host, point out for us that in every reform movement of the Church there has been a back-to-the-Bible Baptistic group. These-groups became the spiritual parents of our modern Baptist witness. Historians such as R. J. Smithson, (The Anabaptists, Their Contribution to Our Protestant Heritage) W. J. McGlothlin, A. H. Newman, H. C. Vedder, Thos. Armitage, H. S. Burrage and David Benedict, to name a few, indicate, in tracing Baptist history, the objectives and distinctives of New Testament faith that made these groups Baptists.

It has been the genius of the Baptist fellowship through the years to return to the Scriptures and square its belief ‘with the contents of the Scriptures. Each time the squaring process has occurred there has come into existence, either locally or on a wider scale, a Confession of Faith that has crystallized the belief of those who had thus banded together. Every evidence is shown by history that before the twentieth century there was a unanimity of what Baptists basically believed. Most all of the Confessions of Faith up to that time were brought about to defend the Baptist positions against, other denominations. History shows that Baptist groups in the past were persecuted for their beliefs by both Protestants and Catholics. It is only in recent years that Baptists have had to formulate Confessions of Faith to distinguish between Baptists within Baptist ranks.

It is often said that Baptists have no creeds. Historically and practically, this is very true. A creed in a historical sense is a dogma that was formulated after long deliberation by theological and Church councils, and possesses complete ecumenical sanction. A Confession of Faith, on the other hand, may be the expressed belief of many Christians, drawn up and drafted by one individual, or several, and given wide, but unsubscribed, acceptance. In this sense, Baptists have had a Confession of Faith or Confessions of Faith up to at least the turn of the century. The essential difference between the two is that a creed is static, while a Confession of Faith need not be. The Baptist method is always contemporaneous and its very method demands that there shall be frequent, new, purposeful redefinings of its historic position.

Church history shows that every tim...

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