A vaccination against Roman Catholicism

 

I’ve noticed several changes in my thinking over the past year, having officially left my Baptist roots and become a moderately high-church Presbyterian. One of the most notable is a growing aversion to Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology, particularly with regards to justification, the atonement, and worship.

When my family moved away my senior year in college, I was forced to come to some more substantial beliefs. My first major flirtation was with Roman Catholicism. I attended worship there and was impressed by the earnestness and reverence with which they worshiped. Earlier in my life I appreciated charismatic theology and their appreciation for the ministry of the Holy Spirit. All of that to say I’ve studied several branches of Christendom, in addition to the different Baptist denominations. But as I moved closer to liturgical worship, I joined what is the most simple form of worship I’d ever been a part of: the Primitive Baptists (PB’s). It was an odd union in some senses, but they were the only Calvinistic Baptists in our county. I began preaching in the church early on, but continued learning from the same authors I had been learning from before (most of whom were Reformed, a few of whom were Baptists).

I came with an appreciation of liturgy (1). I didn’t know how different I was from Primitive Baptists, and I didn’t fully understand the sectarian nature of Primitive Baptists, i.e. closed communion and landmarkism. I thought that since each church was independent, each church could do it’s own thing. To a large extent we did, for a Primitive Baptist church, but I still struggled. I am not intending to complain about the Primitive Baptists. Those I knew best were godly, Bible-saturated, and wholesome people. But they were also true to their beliefs and I differed with those beliefs in the areas of closed-communion, rebaptism for all outsiders, and liturgical structure.

During the time I was the co-pastor of a PB church, I was forced to acknowledge that I was different than most of the congregation in liturgical beliefs. Those differences became too big to ignore when my beliefs on covenant theology and paedobaptism became concrete. There were many other issues in the church that led to my resignation and my difference in belief was not the most important one. However, after my family and I joined Trinity Presbyterian in Birmingham, something else came into focus. (more…)

Accepting tradition

Confessing our Faith: why we need the creeds

This Tuesday evening begins a summer series on Church history. We will look at how the Church has fought and defeated heretics throughout history and the documents that have come to pass as a result. Before we can do that, we must establish a foundation. This will be from a Protestant perspective. I know many have been taught that we’re not Protestants, because we were never a part of the Roman Catholic church. But the Protestant reformers viewed themselves as restoring what had been lost, not starting a new movement. Tonight I want us to see why we should embrace Protestant tradition. (more…)

Are Baptist Protestant?

Recently our church has been studying the London Baptist Confession of 1689.  In addition to gaining a renewed appreciation of the sound biblical stances taken by our forefathers in the faith, I was struck by something they wrote in the introduction.  When speaking of how they borrowed the language of the Westminster Confession, they wrote, ” this we did the more abundantly to manifest our consent with both in all the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, as also with many others whose orthodox Confessions have been published to the world on the behalf of the Protestant in diverse nations and cities. ”  Do you catch that?  These  Baptists are saying that they used the language of the Westminster Confession to show the way they were in the line of other Protestants.  They wanted all the readers of this Confession to know they were Protestant. 

But lest I take that statement out of context, they say it again.   “But [we] do readily acquiesce in that form of sound words which hath been, in consent with the Holy Scriptures, used by others before us; hereby declaring, before God, angels, and men, our hearty agreement with them in that wholesome Protestant doctrine which, with so clear evidence of Scriptures, they have asserted.”  These Baptists are declaring the teachings they profess in the London Confession to be “wholesome Protestant doctrine.”  In other words, justification by faith, the sovereignty of God over all things (including salvation), and the perseverance of the saints, just to name a few, are Protestant (not just Baptist) teaching.

This may not be a big deal to some, but it contradicts the teaching that Baptists are not Protestants.  If you read the rest of this document (as well as the appendix), you get a feel for the spirit of these men.  They were not sectarian; rather they were striving for unity in all possible areas with their Christian brothers.  Oh that the Church today would display such a spirit.