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The Historical and Confesional Background
of the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

Albany Baptist Church, Albany NY

Compiled by Albany Baptist Church, for a Sunday School series
on the 1689 London Batist Confession of Fatih
(see also the Legitimacy and Function of Creeds)


I. The Historical Background of the 1689 Confession of Faith

A. The Protestant Reformation on the Continent

1. Lutheranism: justification by faith alone, synergism, consubstantiation, authority of state over church

2. Calvinism: predestination, sanctification, remaining validity of the ten commandments, church discipline, "regulative principle," theocratic union of church and state

3. Anabaptism: superiority of New Testament, Arminian, millenarian, believer's church, rejection of infant baptism, rejection of hierarchy, complete separation of church and state. Many Anabaptists: opposition to Christians becoming magistrates, refusal to bear arms, refusal to take oaths, Christian communism

B. The Protestant Reformation in England

1. Under Henry VIII (1509-1547)

a. Supremacy of king over Church of England

b. Act of Six Articles (1539): imposed death penalty on all who denied transubstantiation

2. Under Edward VI (1547-1553)

Exiles return with Reformed ideas. Attempted purgation of English Church of its abuses.

3. Under Mary "Bloody Mary" (1553-1558)

Protestants flee to the Continent and are brought into close contact with a thoroughly reformed church in such places as Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Strassburg. While there they imbibed a deep dislike of Anabaptist opinions.

4. Under Elizabeth (1558-1603)

Against the Papacy, but favored ceremonial religion and opposed Calvinism

a. Suppression of Reform

1. Act of Supremacy (1559)

2. Act of Uniformity

b. Reform Movements

1. Puritans:

Sought to reform the English Church by replacing episcopacy with presbyterian church government and removing everything from the church which is not commanded in Scripture. Espoused religious uniformity

2. Separatists:

a. Felt it was hopeless to stay in the established church in order to reform it, formed "gathered churches."

b. Early leaders: Robert Browne, Henry Barrow, John Greenwood and John Penry. The London leaders (Barrow, Greenwood and Penry) were hanged in 1593.

c. Congregationalism founded

d. "A True Confession" (1596)

5. Under James I (1603-1625)

a. Elizabethan Settlement continued; 300 Puritan ministers ejected (1604)

b. John Smyth and the General Baptists

c. "Short Confession of Faith in Twenty Articles" (1609)

d. Henry Jacob's "gathered church" (1616)

6. Under Charles (1625-1649) and the Long Parliament (1640-1653)

a. John Spilsburg: first Particular Baptist church (1633)

b. First London Confession (1644): moderately Calvinistic, no teaching on reprobation, baptism by immersion

c. Westminster Confession (1646)

7. Under Charles II and James II

a. Clarendon Code (1661) and Conventicle Act (1664) suppressed religious dissent

b. Declaration of Indulgence (1672) by Charles in order to allow Catholicism; withdrawn (1673); Test Act (1673) barred non-conformists from military and civil offices. Persecution unites Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists.

c. Second London Confession of Faith (1689)

d. Following accession of William and Mary, Act of Toleration passed (1689)

II. The Confessional Background of the 1689 Confession of Faith

A. Early Ecumenical Creeds

1. The Apostle's Creed second century

2. The Nicene Creed (325)

3. The Chalcedonian Creed (451)

B. Reformation Creeds

1. The Augsburg Confession

2. Lutheran (1530)

3. The Catechism of Geneva (1541)

4. The 39 Articles of the Church of England (1551)

5. The Hiedleberg Catechism (1562)

6. The Canons of Dort (1618)

C. The Immediate Predecessors of the 1689 Confession of Faith

1. The First London Confession of Faith (1644)

2. The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646)

3. The Savoy Declaration (1658)

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