The Second London Confession On The Doctrine Of Scripture: -- By: Robert P. Martin

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 04:1 (Jan 2007)
Article: The Second London Confession On The Doctrine Of Scripture:
Author: Robert P. Martin

The Second London Confession On The Doctrine Of Scripture:

An Exposition of Chapter 1: “Of the Holy Scriptures” (Part 1)

Robert P. Martin*

* Dr. Robert P. Martin is Pastor of Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church, Seattle, Washington and Editor of Reformed Baptist Theological Review.

Our Confession of Faith (following the Westminster Confession and the Savoy Declaration) begins with the doctrine of Scripture. This is not true of all confessions of faith. For instance, the First London Baptist Confession (1644) commences with the subject of the Incomprehensibility of God, then proceeds to treat the Trinity, God’s Decree, Creation and the Fall, and Election unto Eternal Life. Only then, when it takes up the blessing of eternal life, which is “to know the only true God,” does the First London Confession consider “the Rule of this Knowledge,” or the doctrine of Scripture (1st LCF 7).

Why did the authors of our Confession follow the Westminster and Savoy rather than the First London? Certainly there is more in play than a desire to agree with the Presbyterians and Independents wherever they could. The authors of our Confession wished to do that, as they affirmed in their preface To the Judicious and Impartial Reader, but we must not miss the point that they also shared with these brethren the desire to express at the outset of confessing the faith the foundation of all that would follow.1 As Benjamin Keach said, “the truth and authority of

God’s Word” is “the very foundation of all [our] hope and religion.”2 This conviction placed the doctrine of Scripture at the beginning of our Confession. At a time when conflict with Rome over the authority to bind men’s consciences (authoritas in rebus fidei ac morum) was far from over in England, when Anabaptist errors concerning continuing revelation (revelatio immediata and revelatio nova) were making inroads, and when erroneous ideas of the relation of natural and supernatural revelation also were being promoted, our spiritual forefathers wanted to state up front the formal principle of the Protestant Reformation, i.e., Sola Scriptura, the doctrine that the Holy Scriptures alone are normative for ordering the faith and conduct of God’s people. Rome’s errors continue (indeed, are enlarged) in our day, the so-called Charismatic Movement also has taken positions opposed to much of what is said in these paragraphs, and men are still confused about the reality and role of “the light of nature.” This chapter is as r...

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