Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Comparing Two Statements of Faith: Part Two


Similarities
          Upon close examination of these two confessions, one immediately notices the many areas of agreement.  Both hold that justification is by faith alone, the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that man cannot by reason alone produce faith apart from grace.  There are others.
Scriptures
          Both the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith (1834)[1] and the Treatise on the Faith and Practice of the Free Will Baptists (1834)[2] agree that the Scriptures were written by men divinely inspired.  Both also affirm that the Scriptures are inerrant and are a suitable and proper guide for Christian living.  The Free Will Baptists elaborate and include history, geography, and science in their confession.[3]  Though lacking such detail, the New Hampshire confession no doubt also affirms these positions.  Nevertheless, both groups clearly and rightly understand inerrancy and inspiration and that God is capable of creating such a book as the Bible and preserving it through the ages for His people.[4] 
Attributes of God
          As with the Scriptures, both confessions are in agreement about the attributes of God.  Though it would be easy to argue that both confessions place limits on God, this is not the case.  By attempting to define water, one does not limit the power of Niagara Falls![5]  Nor do these confessions seek to limit the power of God.  Rather, both agree that they understand God to be the true living God who is Spirit.  The New Hampshire Baptist Confession elaborates on the triune Godhead identifying each of the three persons while the Free Will Baptist confession states that the mode of God’s existence is above the understanding of man.  Both completely and fully affirm that God is worthy of all possible praise and is the only appropriate object of worship.
The Fall of Man
          Both confessions are in agreement that man was created upright and holy.  The Free Will Baptist confession elaborates on this adding that there was no desires in man transgress God’s will.  Prior to being tempted into disobedience, man’s tendency was to do righteousness.[6]  Then the tempter arrived on the scene followed by the voluntary transgression of Adam whereby he fell from his previously holy and happy state.  As a consequence of the fall, the posterity of Adam comes into the world in a far different state than that of Adam.[7]  Both confessions go on to make clear that because of the fall, man is inclined towards evil and under just condemnation.  The ramifications to all of humanity are affirmed in both the New Hampshire Baptist and Free Will Baptist confessions.  Once sin has been committed, it cannot be undone.[8] 


[1] New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith (1833), full text in Grudem, Wayne. “Appendix 1: Historic Confessions of Faith.”  Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 1196. 
[2] Treatise on the Faith and Practice of the Free Will Baptists, 1834 full text, http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/tfwb.htm.  [Last accessed September 26, 2011] Chapter I.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology, Vols. 1 & 2. (Grand Rapids: Kregal Publications, 1948, 1976), 62-63.
[5] Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 492.
[6] Treatise on the Faith and Practice of the Free Will Baptists, 1834 full text, http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/tfwb.htm.  [Last accessed September 26, 2011] Chapter IV, Section II.
[7]  Ibid.
[8] Ryrie, Charles C. Basic Theology. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1986, 1999), 235.

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