Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Reformed Baptists, whatever next?

William Kiffin (1616-1701) - A Reformed Baptist?
Stateside some of the big beasts of the Calvoblog jungle have been clashing over whether Baptists can can justifiably identify themselves as 'Reformed'.
James White says, yes!
R. Scott Clark says, no!
Michael Haykin says, yes!
For what it's worth, I say "yes" too.
Baptists subscribing to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith are Reformed Baptists, especially so since we reject paedobaptism on biblical grounds. Being Reformed involves a commitment to semper reformanda. We should be continually reforming our beliefs and practices in the light of Holy Scripture. On that basis the Independents were correct to revise the Westminster Confession of Faith in their Savoy Declaration. And Baptists were justified in further reforming the teaching found in Westminster and Savoy.
I commend Henri Blocher's essay, Old Covenant, New Covenant in Always Reforming: Explorations in Systematic Theology, A. T. B. McGowan (ed). Baptism is not his primary focus. But his discussion of the relationship between the old and new covenants is highly relevant to the subject. Following Blocher's reasoning it can be convincingly argued that unlike circumcision, baptism as the sign of the new covenant is applicable only for those believe in Christ. In other words, when properly understood, the key tennet of the Reformed faith that is covenant theology is baptistic. Reformed Baptists? Oh yes!


Jonathan Hunt said...

Love it!

A british friend also weighs in at

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your post.
I have only recently come across this line of reasoning that Reformed Baptists are not truly "Reformed." Having come from an Arminian Pentecostal background (I am still recovering, but I have not touched a drop of Arminianism for about 6 years), this argument seems a bit odd (perhaps petty would be a better word).
I thought the foundation of “always reforming” was the Bible alone. Scripture alone is the foundation that lead to the Reformation, not whether you are an infant baptizer or not. I freely acknowledge that I am not an expert on the subject of baptism, and I understand those who want to keep their distinctives clear, but our Presbyterian brothers, for example, have yet to make their case from their Bibles for baptizing pre-regenerate sinners (sorry, I don’t mean that as a dig).
So from the Reformed Baptist's perspective, infant baptism is not what would primarily be identified as a “Reformed” perspective; if it were, believe me, we would not call ourselves “Reformed.”
Is infant baptism the issue that John Hooper, Rowland Taylor, Hugh Latimer and others were willing to be burned for (and were burned)?

I am sure there are more sophisticated arguments for this whole issue than I am addressing, but it seems a little small to exclude Reformed Baptists from the term “Reformed.” Reformed Baptist’s hold to most everything in the Westminster Confession of Faith; it seems to lack perspective and seems a little unbrotherly, to distance Reformed Baptist folks (especially those Reformed Baptists who hold to the 1689 Confession due to its doctrinal proximity to the WCF) from using the term “Reformed.” We get the differences, but it is what we see as our commonality that causes us to call ourselves “Reformed.”
Frankly, excluding RB from the term "Reformed" seems a little elitist; I appreciate the long heritage for the “strictly Reformed.” For pointing out that heritage, I do not blame them, but “sola scriptura” and our like-minded understanding of the Scriptures is the cause I would rather unite around.

Your, still-has-a-lot-to-learn, Reformed Baptist,

John Foxe said...

The issue is due to Scott being part of a church from a Dutch background where the only baptists around are Arminian Anabaptists. It's difficult to find Dutch Reformed baptists to this day.

Things look a bit different from the viewpoint of British presbyterianism where our credobaptists took their starting point from the same confessions used by their paedobaptist brethren.