The Second London Confession On Baptism (Part 1): The Significance of Christian Baptism -- By: Robert P. Martin

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 02:1 (Jan 2005)
Article: The Second London Confession On Baptism (Part 1): The Significance of Christian Baptism
Author: Robert P. Martin

The Second London Confession On Baptism (Part 1):
The Significance of Christian Baptism

Robert P. Martin

Robert P. Martin, Ph.D., is Pastor of Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church, Seattle, WA, and Editor of Reformed Baptist Theological Review.

In a preface entitled, “To the Judicious and Impartial Reader,” the framers of the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (2ndLCF) describe its relation to other great English confessions of the Seventeenth Century. They assert that “the substance of the matter is the same” as in the First London Confession (1stLCF, 1644); however, they also note that “that Confession is not now commonly to be had.”1 Also, since the publication of the 1stLCF, the (Presbyterian) Westminster Assembly had made significant advances in expressing the tenets of orthodox, Reformed, Puritan religion. The Congregationalists recognized this and wherever possible adopted the language of the Westminster Confession (1648) in their Savoy Declaration (1658). In this climate, agreeing with the Presbyterians and the Congregationalists “in all the fundamental articles of the Christian Religion,” the framers of the 2ndLCF chose to follow the Congregationalists’ example: “we have no itch to clogge Religion with new words, but do readily acquiesce in that form of sound words, which hath been, in consent with the holy Scriptures, used by others before us.”2

The Baptist framers of the 2ndLCF were eager to express oneness with their paedobaptist brethren in the “fundamental articles” of Puritan religion; and yet, “in those things wherein we differ from others, we have exprest ourselves with all candor and plainness that none might entertain jealousie of ought secretly lodged in our breasts, that we would not the world should be acquainted with.”3 In that category was their doctrine of baptism. On this point the 2ndLCF differs markedly from the Westminster and Savoy-so markedly that An Appendix was added to the 2ndLCF to defend that difference.4 Such a step was taken on no other point of doctrine.

The framers of the 2ndLCF spoke with “all candor and plainness,” yet they did not wish their spirit to be misunderstood.

Contention is most remote from our design in all that we have done in this matter: and we hope the liberty of an ingenuous unfolding our principles, and opening our hearts unto our Brethren,...

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