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Ecclesiology discuss Difference between Baptists and Reformed Baptists in the Theological Forum forums; The Old Baptist Forum thread got me thinking about the difference between the majority of Baptist churches and Reformed/Particular Baptist churches. I've noticed that even ...

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    Difference between Baptists and Reformed Baptists

    The Old Baptist Forum thread got me thinking about the difference between the majority of Baptist churches and Reformed/Particular Baptist churches. I've noticed that even Calvinistic (but not Reformed) Baptist churches maintain much of the same fundamentalist flavor of their synergistic brethren. These churches often look down on scholarship and confessional orthodoxy. There is little to bind them together regarding faith and practice except from a myriad of Baptist traditions rooted in 19th-early 20th century revivalism. Post-modern/egalitarianism is rampant in these churches.

    The smaller confessional group of Baptist churches, the Reformed and Particular Baptists, are of a different ilk. Faith and practice are held together by a common confession; the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession (although some recognize the earlier 1644 Confession). While each church has it's own personality and distinctives, confessional Baptist churches have less "swing" in their doctrine. They strive to observe the RPW and the Lord's Day. On the occasions I have visited non-confessional Baptist churches I have seen the difference.

    Interested in some thoughts and observations.
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    Here's an observation of mine:

    It seems that the Refomed Baptist churches I've visited in the past were much more strict in their subscription to and application of their confessional standards than virtually all the PCA churches I've visited.

    Another observation:

    I've never been to, or even heard of, a self-consciously Reformed Baptist church that was trying to be "cool." On the other hand, I can think of numerous PCA churches that seem to want to emanate "cool and sophisticated cultural relevance."
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    Last month we had to leave a non confessional (ABC) congregation because it was actually becoming a point of friction in our household. The lack of proper Church discipline was causing us to question "why are we still here?" There was little formative and no corrective discipline. In the long run, that puts us in harms way because I'm not perfect, my wife was my only accountability and nobody else was checking our blind spots.

    The doctrine was not solid. It was a hybrid of Reformed, Arminian and Dispensational depending on the topic. This can lead to some real confusion if someone wants to get serious and study systematic theology.

    As far as leadership, it had too much estrogen for us. We made mention of this and were told (not an actual quote, but the drift was...) that the men don't want to, so we will.

    The music during worship was a mix of hymns & choruses. The problem I have with the majority of the new choruses is that they are self/man centered, not praise to the LORD. In the 2 confessional congregations we are considering staying at, the music is God directed or doctrinally solid testimonial Hymns.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herald View Post
    The Old Baptist Forum thread got me thinking about the difference between the majority of Baptist churches and Reformed/Particular Baptist churches. I've noticed that even Calvinistic (but not Reformed) Baptist churches maintain much of the same fundamentalist flavor of their synergistic brethren. These churches often look down on scholarship and confessional orthodoxy. There is little to bind them together regarding faith and practice except from a myriad of Baptist traditions rooted in 19th-early 20th century revivalism. Post-modern/egalitarianism is rampant in these churches.

    The smaller confessional group of Baptist churches, the Reformed and Particular Baptists, are of a different ilk. Faith and practice are held together by a common confession; the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession (although some recognize the earlier 1644 Confession). While each church has it's own personality and distinctives, confessional Baptist churches have less "swing" in their doctrine. They strive to observe the RPW and the Lord's Day. On the occasions I have visited non-confessional Baptist churches I have seen the difference.

    Interested in some thoughts and observations.
    You've nailed it.

    While there is much to appreciate and admire in what God is doing among Baptists and fundamentalist communions generally, they cannot be reformed without a minimum:

    doctrines of grace ("five points") + covenant theology + confession of faith

    Many of the these communions are 3-5 points on the first part, dispensational, and have no binding confession of faith.

    In reformed theology, the unity of the church must be grounded in doctrinal agreement. This is unifying in terms of confession, growth in direction, and church discipline.

    It is a reformed distinctive, and reflects a higher view of the church than broad evangelicalism. It reflects the biblical view that God has, in fact, given some real authority to the church- not to control men's souls, but real power, "the keys to the kingdom," nonetheless.
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    There is a Calvinistic Baptist church in my neighborhood that would be so, so convenient for me to become a part of. (I have entertained the notion on several occasions.) The church is a mere five minute walk from my doorstep and they proudly affirm the Doctrines of Grace, have done since before I was born. Unfortunately, the church is also proudly fundamentalist and separationist to an almost semi-cultish degree, embraces 'Solo Scriptura', and is Dispensational in a rather over-the-top way. I could take the good with the bad; no church is perfect, and hey, they are five-pointers (a rarity in these parts, especially among Baptists). But the bad is pretty bad.

    Generally speaking, it is just sad to me to see a church that could be -- should be -- such a positive influence (preaching Sovereign Grace as they do) in the local evangelical community (99% Arminian) shut themselves off by way of a bizarre culture that is probably abhorrent to any Christian who has not been raised in it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Baptists are just Baptists. Reformed Baptists are former Baptists - now Presbyterian - recovering from being Baptist (hence, Reformed Baptists).

    The problem with my joke, though, is it cuts both ways (Reformed Presbyterian = Baptist).

    Okay, I'll quit.
    Whew! I was getting vertigo!
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    It seems like I pick on dispensationalism, but to me that's what causes many "Calvinistic" churches that are not reformed to suffer in some way. Most (maybe not all) dispensationalists take it so seriously that it seeps in to every other doctrine. It gets to the point that part of the bible is written to Jews and part of it to the Church. That drives me batty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herald View Post
    The Old Baptist Forum thread got me thinking about the difference between the majority of Baptist churches and Reformed/Particular Baptist churches. I've noticed that even Calvinistic (but not Reformed) Baptist churches maintain much of the same fundamentalist flavor of their synergistic brethren. These churches often look down on scholarship and confessional orthodoxy. There is little to bind them together regarding faith and practice except from a myriad of Baptist traditions rooted in 19th-early 20th century revivalism. Post-modern/egalitarianism is rampant in these churches.

    The smaller confessional group of Baptist churches, the Reformed and Particular Baptists, are of a different ilk. Faith and practice are held together by a common confession; the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession (although some recognize the earlier 1644 Confession). While each church has it's own personality and distinctives, confessional Baptist churches have less "swing" in their doctrine. They strive to observe the RPW and the Lord's Day. On the occasions I have visited non-confessional Baptist churches I have seen the difference.

    Interested in some thoughts and observations.
    Prior to being a member in this my first and only RB church I was a member in a 5 point Calvinist (SBC) church. Without going into detail I will attempt to say more by saying less. The congregation seemed to me to be Calvinistic on paper but their Calvinism did not touch their lives.

    In general Reformed Baptist Churches seek to be Reformed in heart, home, and as a Church.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbcbob View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Herald View Post
    The Old Baptist Forum thread got me thinking about the difference between the majority of Baptist churches and Reformed/Particular Baptist churches. I've noticed that even Calvinistic (but not Reformed) Baptist churches maintain much of the same fundamentalist flavor of their synergistic brethren. These churches often look down on scholarship and confessional orthodoxy. There is little to bind them together regarding faith and practice except from a myriad of Baptist traditions rooted in 19th-early 20th century revivalism. Post-modern/egalitarianism is rampant in these churches.

    The smaller confessional group of Baptist churches, the Reformed and Particular Baptists, are of a different ilk. Faith and practice are held together by a common confession; the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession (although some recognize the earlier 1644 Confession). While each church has it's own personality and distinctives, confessional Baptist churches have less "swing" in their doctrine. They strive to observe the RPW and the Lord's Day. On the occasions I have visited non-confessional Baptist churches I have seen the difference.

    Interested in some thoughts and observations.
    Prior to being a member in this my first and only RB church I was a member in a 5 point Calvinist (SBC) church. Without going into detail I will attempt to say more by saying less. The congregation seemed to me to be Calvinistic on paper but their Calvinism did not touch their lives.

    In general Reformed Baptist Churches seek to be Reformed in heart, home, and as a Church.
    Excellent point
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    Ben, I'm ignorant of the practices of most PCA churches. I do know that the broad evangelical movement has infiltrated all churches, including confessional Presbyterianism. It's a shame.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReformedWretch View Post
    It seems like I pick on dispensationalism, but to me that's what causes many "Calvinistic" churches that are not reformed to suffer in some way. Most (maybe not all) dispensationalists take it so seriously that it seeps in to every other doctrine. It gets to the point that part of the bible is written to Jews and part of it to the Church. That drives me batty.
    Adam, dispensationalism is certainly a problem, but modern revivalism is worse. I've seen preachers continue an altar call until someone comes forward, whether it be for salvation or re-dedication. I haven't seen that - even once - in RB churches.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herald View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ReformedWretch View Post
    It seems like I pick on dispensationalism, but to me that's what causes many "Calvinistic" churches that are not reformed to suffer in some way. Most (maybe not all) dispensationalists take it so seriously that it seeps in to every other doctrine. It gets to the point that part of the bible is written to Jews and part of it to the Church. That drives me batty.
    Adam, dispensationalism is certainly a problem, but modern revivalism is worse. I've seen preachers continue an altar call until someone comes forward, whether it be for salvation or re-dedication. I haven't seen that - even once - in RB churches.
    That way you can post some numbers and show how anointed you are
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolaScriptura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Baptists are just Baptists. Reformed Baptists are former Baptists - now Presbyterian - recovering from being Baptist (hence, Reformed Baptists).

    The problem with my joke, though, is it cuts both ways (Reformed Presbyterian = Baptist).

    Okay, I'll quit.
    Whew! I was getting vertigo!
    I fell off my balcony!
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    Even among "Reformed Baptists" there are some differences...
    - You have evangelical, confessional RBs, which I assume to be the majority of the Baptist PBers, here.
    - Then you have the fundamentalist-leaning RBs - especially those tied with Ian Paisley's FPC. Such churches are KJVO and somewhat prohibitionist and fundamentalist-leaning.
    - Let's also not forget about the new Calvinists. Although they are not technically RBs because they are non-confessing, they do adhere to the Doctrines of Grace.
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    I want us to make sure we have certain categories lined up. First I think we need to be careful when making distinctions between Baptists and reformed Baptist. Baptist indicated our view of baptism within the church and also has certain church government characteristics. It sort of like asking what the difference between Presbyterians and those in the PCA when we ask the question what are the differences between Baptists and Reformed Baptists?

    I think we also need to draw a line between Calvinistic Baptists and Reformed Baptists. Reformed goes farther in reformed thought like the RPW compared to Calvinsitic Baptist. Also Calvinistic Baptists have the tendency closer to dispensatism. Also another major difference is the fact that reformed Baptists do hold to a common confession of faith (1689 SLBC), unlike a Calvinistic Baptist or non SBC Baptist Churches. I say that because SBC churches are confessional technically.

    I have noticed that Calvinistic Baptists tend to lean also more on a fundamental end on certain issues compared to Reformed Baptist has a whole, such as with drinking. But with this point it is probably a hit or a miss. So I cannot say to much on the issue of fundamentalism compared to the other material I have posted.

    I think it is a mistake to call Reformed Baptists “former Baptists - now Presbyterian - recovering from being Baptist”. They are still Baptist confessionally, and hold to the faith of the particular Baptists of the past; unless you want to call them Presbyterians, which I doubt you would.

    So let try to keep are systematics straight in this conversation dealing with Baptists as a whole, so that there is no misrepresentation of them. Including the differnces between those baptist that are calvinistic and those that are reformed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmson View Post
    I want us to make sure we have certain categories lined up. First I think we need to be careful when making distinctions between Baptists and reformed Baptist. Baptist indicated our view of baptism within the church and also has certain church government characteristics. It sort of like asking what the difference between Presbyterians and those in the PCA when we ask the question what are the differences between Baptists and Reformed Baptists?

    I think we also need to draw a line between Calvinistic Baptists and Reformed Baptists. Reformed goes farther in reformed thought like the RPW compared to Calvinsitic Baptist. Also Calvinistic Baptists have the tendency closer to dispensatism. Also another major difference is the fact that reformed Baptists do hold to a common confession of faith (1689 SLBC), unlike a Calvinistic Baptist or non SBC Baptist Churches. I say that because SBC churches are confessional technically.

    I have noticed that Calvinistic Baptists tend to lean also more on a fundamental end on certain issues compared to Reformed Baptist has a whole, such as with drinking. But with this point it is probably a hit or a miss. So I cannot say to much on the issue of fundamentalism compared to the other material I have posted.

    I think it is a mistake to call Reformed Baptists “former Baptists - now Presbyterian - recovering from being Baptist”. They are still Baptist confessionally, and hold to the faith of the particular Baptists of the past; unless you want to call them Presbyterians, which I doubt you would.

    So let try to keep are systematics straight in this conversation dealing with Baptists as a whole, so that there is no misrepresentation of them. Including the differnces between those baptist that are calvinistic and those that are reformed.
    David raises a good point here. Today's Reformed Baptists, holding to the 1689 LBCF are more like the men who hammered out a distinct ecclesiology in 17th century England. Men such as Benjamin Keach and Hanserd Knollys. These men, who were Particular Baptists, were very conversant with and largely sympathetic with the Westminster Confession and the men that produced it.

    Even Abraham Booth and Andrew Fuller in the 18th century continued to stand for this Reformed and Baptistic ecclesiology.

    What happened in the 19th century was that certain men in the Baptist Union, men such as Robert Hall Jr., began to back away from Calvinistic Soteriology and with it Reformed principles in other areas.

    By the time of John Dagg in the U.S. and Spurgeon in Briton there was little remaining of the Particular Baptist distinctive. General Baptists took the ascendancy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmson View Post
    I want us to make sure we have certain categories lined up. First I think we need to be careful when making distinctions between Baptists and reformed Baptist. Baptist indicated our view of baptism within the church and also has certain church government characteristics. It sort of like asking what the difference between Presbyterians and those in the PCA when we ask the question what are the differences between Baptists and Reformed Baptists?

    I think we also need to draw a line between Calvinistic Baptists and Reformed Baptists. Reformed goes farther in reformed thought like the RPW compared to Calvinsitic Baptist. Also Calvinistic Baptists have the tendency closer to dispensatism. Also another major difference is the fact that reformed Baptists do hold to a common confession of faith (1689 SLBC), unlike a Calvinistic Baptist or non SBC Baptist Churches. I say that because SBC churches are confessional technically.

    I have noticed that Calvinistic Baptists tend to lean also more on a fundamental end on certain issues compared to Reformed Baptist has a whole, such as with drinking. But with this point it is probably a hit or a miss. So I cannot say to much on the issue of fundamentalism compared to the other material I have posted.

    I think it is a mistake to call Reformed Baptists “former Baptists - now Presbyterian - recovering from being Baptist”. They are still Baptist confessionally, and hold to the faith of the particular Baptists of the past; unless you want to call them Presbyterians, which I doubt you would.

    So let try to keep are systematics straight in this conversation dealing with Baptists as a whole, so that there is no misrepresentation of them. Including the differnces between those baptist that are calvinistic and those that are reformed.
    David,

    Josh was joking in his thread when he said Reformed Baptists were now Presbyterians. Reformed Baptists have much in common with their Reformed Presbyterian brethren. But for all our similarities there are still stark differences. There are ecclesiastical and doctrinal divides that are both real and substantial. Even within Presbyterianism there is a growing liberal component (see Ben's comments in post #2).

    Reformed Baptists also share commonalities with other Baptist churches; namely in the area of polity (congregational), and doctrine (nature of the New Covenant and baptism). But we have sharp differences in other areas ranging from soteriology to covenantalism. To be sure there are individuals who hold to Reformed Baptist tenets who attend SBC, Calvinistic, or independent churches; but those churches are not "Reformed."
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    By the time of John Dagg in the U.S. and Spurgeon in Briton there was little remaining of the Particular Baptist distinctive. General Baptists took the ascendancy.
    Which is why the Reformed Baptist movement in the United States is a rather recent development. Particular Baptists never left the European continent, although their number precariously dwindled. If I have my facts correct the first Reformed Baptist church was founded in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbcbob View Post

    By the time of John Dagg in the U.S. and Spurgeon in Briton there was little remaining of the Particular Baptist distinctive. General Baptists took the ascendancy.
    Just a word of clarification. When I say that by the time of Dagg and Spurgeon there was little left of Particular Baptist distinctive I mean to emphasize in respect to ecclesiology. These men had not budged from Calvinistic Soteriology.

    A matter for prayer is that in our own day, with respect to RPW and biblical church rule, there does seem to be some amount of wavering. And this just forty years after the rise of Reformed Baptists.
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    I've never been to, or even heard of, a self-consciously Reformed Baptist church that was trying to be "cool." On the other hand, I can think of numerous PCA churches that seem to want to emanate "cool and sophisticated cultural relevance."

    I have to agree with this statement, though I've noticed broad differences in the PCA even in my own presbytery. There are also broad difference (at least what I've observed) in the reformed Baptist churches. While I've never seen a church labeled reformed Baptist ever try to be cool and sophisticated, I have seen a broad spectrum of beliefs and standards within the RB churches. Some strictly adhere to the 1689 Confession while others don't seem to notice that it exists. On my way to becoming a presbyterian, I regularly attended a reformed Baptist church that was neither confessional nor reformed. The only doctrine I heard preached that sounded anything close to reformed was the doctrine of election.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herald View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ReformedWretch View Post
    It seems like I pick on dispensationalism, but to me that's what causes many "Calvinistic" churches that are not reformed to suffer in some way. Most (maybe not all) dispensationalists take it so seriously that it seeps in to every other doctrine. It gets to the point that part of the bible is written to Jews and part of it to the Church. That drives me batty.
    Adam, dispensationalism is certainly a problem, but modern revivalism is worse. I've seen preachers continue an altar call until someone comes forward, whether it be for salvation or re-dedication. I haven't seen that - even once - in RB churches.
    Amen. I see that way too often in my current church (not reformed or Calvinist).
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    This is all very interesting. Although the church I am currently ministering to was planted by a Presbyterian, he left it deliberately open on church government, baptism, and so forth. So the inheritance is a church that is solidly calvinistic by confession and baptist by common consent - but not reformed.

    And to this reformed baptist, it can be an uneasy tightrope walk sometimes!
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    I realize that the Reformed Baptist churches are bound together by a common confession, but I would like to see more effort to bind together in more visible ways for outreach and fellowship together. I'm not sure what the best ways to accomplish this would be, perhaps others can contribute some application.
    Taylor W. Otwell
    Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA), Little Rock, AR



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    Bill,

    Thanks for thoroughly depressing me on the Lord's Day!

    The relative paucity of the RB generally, and the tendency of some so advertising to carry with their profession cultural baggage that seems too alien to me, leaves me despairing of ever finding a true fit for my next church.

    It is tough enough to be an "ex pastor" in a church (trying NOT to second guess the pastor's judgments). Particularly when my last congregation was a bit larger than the one we are in now (525 vs. 400-425 avg.). But, when the church is broadly evangelical with both dispensational and strongly Arminian tendencies . . . yikes! I have not been pre-trib in nearly 40 years. Yet, my pastor often works his notions of the rapture as an aside into his sermons.

    My guess is that my next church will be Presbyterian (regardless of where I end up on the baptism issue after reading that "impossible to answer" book recommended yesterday in another thread ).

    I think that you have nailed the issue with your reference to confessional subscription. In this day of Piper, it is relatively easy to find a pastor who gives lip service to the doctrines of grace. But, unless there is a recovery of the confessional aspect, it will never be a complete reformation (IMO).
    Dennis E. McFadden, Ex Mainline Baptist (in Remission)
    Atherton Baptist Homes, Alhambra, CA, President/CEO
    Emmanuel Lutheran Church, LCMS

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    Taylor, Josh gave you the only real answer to your question. The problems come with personality clashes and there just isn't any recourse without some form of hierarchical or representative court of higher appeal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBaldwin View Post
    [
    I have seen a broad spectrum of beliefs and standards within the RB churches. Some strictly adhere to the 1689 Confession while others don't seem to notice that it exists.
    I said this early that we need to be careful not to confuse Reformed Baptist churches with Calvinistic Baptist churches. A major difference is that reformed Baptist holds to a historical confession of faith, such as the Second London Baptist Confession. If they do not hold to that or the First, then I may give some leeway to even perhaps the Philadelphia confession of faith; if they are not confessional they are not reformed. In fact I can not name you a single reformed Baptist Church off the top of my head that does not hold to the Second London Baptist Confession. So as far as am aware if they claim to be a RB church then they will know of the existence of the 1689. And even they can fall into category errors, especially if they new to Calvinistic and Reformed teaching.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TaylorOtwell View Post
    I realize that the Reformed Baptist churches are bound together by a common confession, but I would like to see more effort to bind together in more visible ways for outreach and fellowship together. I'm not sure what the best ways to accomplish this would be, perhaps others can contribute some application.
    The best way? Become Presbyterian.

    There currently is an effort now to of reformed Baptist churches to “bind together”. We see that with the following associations:
    Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA)
    Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of Quebec
    Fellowship of Reformed Baptist Churches in New Zealand
    International Fellowship of Reformed Baptists

    And perhaps many more.

    The purpose of such associations as can be observed with the Abingdon Association included communion with other churches, stronger base for giving to the poor and needy, training and providing pastors, discussion of scriptural issues, help each other in outreach/evangelism/church plant, and to pray for one another. So we do see historically particular Baptist churches be more visible in fellowship and out reach. RB want to follow this legacy, which is why the ARBCA has been formed to keep such a model in play. Personally I think associations like this are better then just becoming Presbyterians.

    Perhaps the reason why you do not see this is you do not know the efforts right now that are in play.

    There are some inward reforms in RB such as a plurality of Elders to protect the local church as well, which most Baptist churches as a whole do not hold to.

    Quote Originally Posted by TimV View Post
    Taylor, Josh gave you the only real answer to your question. The problems come with personality clashes and there just isn't any recourse without some form of hierarchical or representative court of higher appeal.
    Associations can construct this representative court. In fact according to the 1781 Philadelphia Association minutes Robert Morris was accused of and excommunicated on “gross immoralities and departure from the faith held by” such a court. The appeal was from the church itself and the association made the final decision as a group of representative churches.

    I realized that Josh was joking at the two posts of this thread/string, but there are people who will look at that as really being the answer. Who see Reformed Baptist as really being Presbyterians. It was an issue I had to deal with many times by those a part of the SBC.

    Also another thing I want to say is that there are SBC churches that are reformed, because they hold to the 1689 Baptist Confession of faith and the Baptist faith and Message, who have plurality of eldership rule. Just because your in a SBC church doesn’t mean that your not part ARBCA as well, for there are some within the Founders movement that are.

    I hope these answers some questions/issues in your mind.
    David Jolley
    Broadway Baptist Church of Escondido, CA
    Confessions: 1689-SLBCF/ 2000-BFAM
    Winslow, AZ

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    Quote Originally Posted by TaylorOtwell View Post
    I realize that the Reformed Baptist churches are bound together by a common confession, but I would like to see more effort to bind together in more visible ways for outreach and fellowship together. I'm not sure what the best ways to accomplish this would be, perhaps others can contribute some application.
    Taylor, this one one such endeavor: ARBCA
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMcFadden View Post
    Bill,

    Thanks for thoroughly depressing me on the Lord's Day!

    The relative paucity of the RB generally, and the tendency of some so advertising to carry with their profession cultural baggage that seems too alien to me, leaves me despairing of ever finding a true fit for my next church.

    It is tough enough to be an "ex pastor" in a church (trying NOT to second guess the pastor's judgments). Particularly when my last congregation was a bit larger than the one we are in now (525 vs. 400-425 avg.). But, when the church is broadly evangelical with both dispensational and strongly Arminian tendencies . . . yikes! I have not been pre-trib in nearly 40 years. Yet, my pastor often works his notions of the rapture as an aside into his sermons.

    My guess is that my next church will be Presbyterian (regardless of where I end up on the baptism issue after reading that "impossible to answer" book recommended yesterday in another thread ).

    I think that you have nailed the issue with your reference to confessional subscription. In this day of Piper, it is relatively easy to find a pastor who gives lip service to the doctrines of grace. But, unless there is a recovery of the confessional aspect, it will never be a complete reformation (IMO).
    Dennis, sorry to be such a downer on the Lord's Day. I certainly don't want to provide the impression that Reformed Baptists have the room to be smug, as though we are a higher brand of Baptist. I only meant to compare the differences between Reformed Baptists vs. other Baptists. If we boast it should be only in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:29).
    Bill Brown
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    Grace Baptist Church
    Student at Midwest Center for Theological Studies


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    I said this early that we need to be careful not to confuse Reformed Baptist churches with Calvinistic Baptist churches. A major difference is that reformed Baptist holds to a historical confession of faith, such as the Second London Baptist Confession.
    The problem is they all have "Reformed Baptist Church" on their sign out front. How can you tell the difference unless you walk in the door and talk to them?
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBaldwin View Post
    I said this early that we need to be careful not to confuse Reformed Baptist churches with Calvinistic Baptist churches. A major difference is that reformed Baptist holds to a historical confession of faith, such as the Second London Baptist Confession.
    The problem is they all have "Reformed Baptist Church" on their sign out front. How can you tell the difference unless you walk in the door and talk to them?
    Well, a lot of them aren't obviously Reformed Baptists (or Reformed, or Baptist) by their names. There are many great 1689'er RB churches that go by names like 'Hope Assembly of Bible Christians' and 'Grace City Church'.
    N.F. Tyler, Hon. B.A. with Distinction (St. Michael's College, Toronto)
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBaldwin View Post
    I said this early that we need to be careful not to confuse Reformed Baptist churches with Calvinistic Baptist churches. A major difference is that reformed Baptist holds to a historical confession of faith, such as the Second London Baptist Confession.
    The problem is they all have "Reformed Baptist Church" on their sign out front. How can you tell the difference unless you walk in the door and talk to them?
    What is a Reformed Baptist Church?
    Substance of a Sermon Preached by the Late Pastor William Payne of Burlington, Ontario, Canada

    If I were to be asked, "What kind of a church are you?" I would not hesitate to reply, "We are a Baptist church!" We hold to those truths which have sometimes been referred to as "Baptist Distinctives." I would also reply that we are a "Reformed Church" inasmuch as we hold to the great doctrines of the Reformation in the areas concerning the salvation of men. In this sense, I am not at all averse to our church being referred to as a "Reformed Baptist Church" and I want to speak on the subject, "What is a Reformed Baptist Church?"

    I. THE SCRIPTURES

    First of all, a Reformed Baptist Church is a local church which acknowledges the supreme authority of Holy Scripture. In all matters of faith, that is in the things we believe, and of practice, that is the things which we do, our sole authority is the Word of God. If something, whether of faith or practice, is contrary to the Bible then no matter who pleads for it, no matter what clever arguments are produced in favor of it, we cannot endorse it.

    We recognize that in the operation of a local church there may be items introduced for which there may be no specific Biblical warrant; for instance, I am thinking of a church secretary as an illustration. It would be hard to find chapter and verse which states that we ought to have one, but we recognize that such things are necessary, and in accordance with the Biblical principle that all things should be done decently and in order.

    However, we would state emphatically that when there is no express Biblical warrant for something we are not going to look upon it as sacred and binding. When the Word of God does not warrant something we are not going to be brought under bondage to it; but where the Scriptures clearly call for something, no consideration ought to make us do without it. We desire to have our conscience bound to the Word of God, for there we believe is true freedom. It is my opinion that a number of items in present day Baptist churches have no true Biblical warrant; they are a part of the church because they were introduced some years ago and are now "Baptist tradition." Perhaps many people take it for granted that they are Scriptural, but if they were challenged to produce Scriptural evidence for these practices they would be hard pressed to find any.

    In other areas there are things which Scripture clearly calls for which have dropped out of most modern Baptist churches, and we ought to call for them to be brought back. The eldership would be an example of this point. Baptist churches used to have an eldership years ago; in most Baptist churches today you cannot find it. But we believe that if we are going to be truly patterned on the New Testament churches we need to return to the concept of eldership. The Scriptures present it; we ought to have it!

    So Reformed Baptists are to be governed by not tradition, not by the opinion of men, not be sentiment, nor by pragmatism, but by the Word of God alone. We believe in the authority of Scripture, and we desire in our church life to be patterned after and conformed to the Word of God. We should always be seeking for God to deepen our understanding of His Word, and we should always be ready to reform any of our practices if it becomes apparent that we are out of line with the Scriptures. The attitude which says, "It doesn't matter what the Bible says, this is the way we have always done it," is to us frightening, indeed sinful. It must be "to the law and to the testimony" or "what saith the Scriptures?"

    II. PREACHING

    Secondly, Reformed Baptists believe in the pre-eminence of the preaching of the Word of God. We believe that the preaching of the Bible must have the central place in our services. We believe that nothing can or should take the place of the preaching of the Word!

    Our conviction is that the church of Christ has suffered because she has downgraded the preaching of the Word. We believe that seminaries and Bible Colleges ought to be pre-eminently places where preachers are produced and encouraged. We believe that God's people everywhere ought to be encouraged to pray that God would endow men with gifts of preaching, and that He would give to His churches preachers, great preachers, many preachers. We believe that there is a need in the churches of Christ for a fresh realization of the importance of the preaching of the Word of God, and that young men ought to be encouraged to study theology, church history and the sermons of great preachers of the past; that they ought to work hard to become good preachers of the Bible.

    III. THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE

    Thirdly, Reformed Baptists unashamedly declare their belief in those doctrines which are sometimes called the doctrines of grace. By this expression we mean in particular the doctrines of total depravity, unconditional election, definite atonement, effectual calling, and the perseverance of the saints. We rejoice in those glorious truths which uphold the sovereignty of God in the salvation of men, and which so gloriously affirm the great central reality that salvation is all of grace, and that salvation is of the Lord!

    We rejoice that the doctrines of grace are clearly set forth in the Second London Confession of Faith of l689, and in many other historic Baptist creeds. We note that in l861 when Charles Spurgeon opened the great Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England, that he celebrated the occasion by having sermons preached by esteemed guests on each of those distinctive doctrines. And yet it is not because Spurgeon, or any other Baptist preached these doctrines that we believe them. It is not just because these doctrines are found in the historic Baptist creeds, though we rejoice that that is the case, but it is because the doctrines are so clearly presented in the Holy Scriptures that we believe them.

    We recognize that we live in an age when these great fundamental truths are ignored, and even blatantly denied by many professing the name "evangelical" and the name "Baptist." We know that they are unpopular truths, but truths they are, and we receive them and rejoice in them.

    We would like to emphasize also that we not only believe them but we further believe that they ought to be clearly preached and taught from the pulpit!

    We have a tragic situation today when men in the pulpits say that they believe the doctrines of grace but they refuse to preach and teach them to their people.

    The result is that the churches are full of people uninstructed in the great truths of the Scriptures (and of the historic Baptist faith), and these people then imbibe the very opposite doctrines--which they easily receive over the radio and via religious periodicals. Often when a man comes into such a congregation and preaches the truths of grace, uproar and opposition ensue. This is tragic, but common. We believe that our day needs the doctrines of grace, and that our people need to be instructed in them.

    IV. EVANGELISM

    In the next place, we would like to affirm that Reformed Baptists believe in the necessity and responsibility of evangelism. We have no more liking for Hyper-Calvinism than we have for Arminianism.

    We do NOT believe that there is an inconsistency between God's sovereignty in the salvation of His chosen people and His command to us to preach the gospel to every creature. If there seems to be a difficulty in our minds reconciling any of the truths of His Word, we see it as the result of the darkness of our own understanding, and we believe that our duty is to obey the Word whether we understand it all or not. We believe in evangelism!

    Now it is true that we do NOT believe in much that goes under the name of evangelism in this twentieth century. We believe that much that is called evangelism today is little more than psychology and salesmanship; we are appalled by the superficial work which goes under the name of evangelism; we are appalled by the pressures, gimmicks and schemes all calculated to produce "decisions" and impressive statistics but which work havoc in the souls of men. No!

    Because we believe in evangelism does not mean that we are going to cooperate with every scheme which bears that name. We believe that in evangelism as in everything else, as we said earlier, we must be governed by the Word of God. The message of evangelism must be according to the Scriptures, and the method of evangelism must be governed by the Word of God! nevertheless, we repeat that we do believe in evangelism, and our prayer is that God would ever keep us mindful of the need to evangelize. May God ever give us a burden to evangelize, knowing that it is for His glory and for the salvation of men.

    We believe that it is our responsibility to make known the gospel first in our own community, and in the United States at large, and indeed in all the world. We believe in missions, home and foreign and we believe that we ought to seek the souls of men in every way that is consistent with the Word of God.

    V. WORSHIP

    Finally, let me say that a Reformed Baptist Church is a local church with a serious approach to worship. The God we worship is a God of majesty, glory and holiness. And the God of the Bible is One before Whom the angels of heaven constantly cry, "Holy, Holy, Holy" they worship Him day and night; He is great and greatly to be praised. We believe that when we come together to worship this great and glorious God of the Bible we ought to do so with reverence and with godly fear. We believe that there ought to be a sense of AWE in our hearts when we gather to worship this God!

    You say, "But surely there must be joy as well." Yes, indeed, we agree, but equally surely it must be a joy which is a joy in God; a joy not arising from some natural "good feeling" but a joy arising out of the knowledge of the Lord, and a joy tempered and controlled by reverence.

    We believe that there is a world of difference between a "dead" service and a serious, spiritual service. The first is not desired; the second is. Now because of this desire for serious worship, we believe that anything which would detract from that ought not to be allowed among us. Frivolity and childishness seem to us to be out of place and incongruous with the worship of God.

    We also believe that our music in the church ought to be governed by the great central fact of the One whom we worship. So much of the music invading the churches today seems little more than carnal imitation of the world. There is very little difference between that which is presented on the church platform and that which is presented on the television or the worldly floor show--except of course, that "religious" words are uttered rather than "secular" ones. But the spirit is of the world; the appeal is to the flesh. This we abhor and reject as having no place in the worship of God. That which is sacred ought not to be prostituted and used as entertainment. If men want to be entertained let them be honest enough to go to some secular hall of amusement and be entertained; let them not pretend to be worshiping or in a service when entertainment is the order of the day. No! When we gather to worship, we want to keep the world out; we want to appeal not to the flesh but to the spirit; we want not the sophistication of the world but the simplicity of Christ. Oh that when we worship we might feel the awe of God in our souls; Oh that we might see something of the glory seen by Isaiah and by the servants of God of old!

    This, then, is the kind of church we are seeking to build. Other things could be said, but we have sought to touch on some of the basic points. May God raise up many such churches all over the land and all over the world which desire the same things and strive towards them. May God be pleased to visit His people again with showers of blessing that God might be glorified in and through His Church!
    Bill Brown
    Elder
    Grace Baptist Church
    Student at Midwest Center for Theological Studies


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    Reformed Baptists believe in Covenant Theology, but other Baptists don't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TaylorOtwell View Post
    I realize that the Reformed Baptist churches are bound together by a common confession, but I would like to see more effort to bind together in more visible ways for outreach and fellowship together. I'm not sure what the best ways to accomplish this would be, perhaps others can contribute some application.
    I'm not sure about other parts of the world, but here in NJ they seem to be far apart. The commute would eat up much valuable time and $ to make it a regular thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Koster View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TaylorOtwell View Post
    I realize that the Reformed Baptist churches are bound together by a common confession, but I would like to see more effort to bind together in more visible ways for outreach and fellowship together. I'm not sure what the best ways to accomplish this would be, perhaps others can contribute some application.
    I'm not sure about other parts of the world, but here in NJ they seem to be far apart. The commute would eat up much valuable time and $ to make it a regular thing.
    There are several annual and/or regional pastors conferences for Reformed Baptists. There have been as well in the past annual family conferences but the economy has put a pinch on that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmson View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    The best way? Become Presbyterian.

    There currently is an effort now to of reformed Baptist churches to “bind together”. We see that with the following associations:
    Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA)
    Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of Quebec
    Fellowship of Reformed Baptist Churches in New Zealand
    International Fellowship of Reformed Baptists

    . . .

    Perhaps the reason why you do not see this is you do not know the efforts right now that are in play.
    Hi, Mr. Jolley. Oh, I'm aware of such efforts. The problem is, my friend, such efforts are ultimately futile due to the persistence of congregational autonomy. I was blessed to formerly be a member of a Baptist congregation that was led by a plurality of elders, godly men. But what beyond that? To whom could I appeal, then, if justice was not met in their ruling (which it would have been, but we can't know the hearts of every local session throughout the world). Due to pervasive forms of autonomy, ultimately a local church may do what it likes, without fear of any permanent reprisal. Why? Because it has no higher accountability. If a local session wants to conspire against a family or an individual member not for any biblical reason, but because of some other reason, to whom may the family or individual go? It just breaks down. All the "Associations" in the world do not equal an ecclesiastical court body that can handle appeals and matters of the church at large.

    Just my
    Josh, dear brother, do you not see that your argument is self defeating. Reformed Baptists, qua Baptists understand the Scriptures to place final FALLIBLE HUMAN authority in the elders of the particular flock, not in a FALLIBLE HUMAN authority yet above them.

    Let me reword your argument that you may see this:

    To whom could I appeal, then, if justice was not met in their ruling (which it would have been, but we can't know the hearts of every LOCAL SESSION throughout the world). Due to pervasive forms of autonomy, ultimately a LOCAL CHURCH may do what it likes, without fear of any permanent reprisal. Why? Because it has no higher accountability. If a LOCAL SESSION wants to conspire against a family or an individual member not for any biblical reason, but because of some other reason, to whom may the family or individual go? It just breaks down. All the "ASSOCIATIONS" in the world do not equal an ECCLESIASTICAL COURT BODY that can handle appeals and matters of the church at large.

    To whom could I appeal, then, if justice was not met in their ruling (which it would have been, but we can't know the hearts of every PRESBYTERY throughout the world). Due to pervasive forms of autonomy, ultimately a PRESBYTERY may do what it likes, without fear of any permanent reprisal. Why? Because it has no higher accountability. If a PRESBYTERY wants to conspire against a family or an individual member not for any biblical reason, but because of some other reason, to whom may the family or individual go? It just breaks down. All the PRESBYTERIES in the world do not equal an COLLEGE OF CARDINALS or THE POPE that can handle appeals and matters of the church at large.
    Bob, elder, RBC Louisville. 1689 LBCF

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    Just because there is a higher church court above the local eldership does not keep a congregation, or even a denominational group, orthodox. Not in the least.
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    It's not self defeating, being my whole point that there is appeal beyond the mere local level. Beyond the parties involved. I've never said or implied that human courts are infallible. I'm aware that they are not. I'm aware that there are rogue denominations who have done wickedly upon individuals, families, and even local churches. My point is that local autonomy gives no room for appeal beyond the local session.
    I appreciate the attempt to clarify, truly I do, but it still misses the point. Understanding that there is no Scriptural human authority beyond the elders who rule the local church, Baptists recognize that it then rests in the hands of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. To appeal to other bodies, however sincere and impartial they may be, is both to move beyond biblical constituted authority as well as subject ourselves to an infinite process of appeal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rbcbob View Post
    . . . Understanding that there is no Scriptural human authority beyond the elders who rule the local church . . .
    Not all of us understand it that way. Of course, I suppose that's for a different thread. We Presbyterians also believe that ultimate decisions lie in the hands of the Great Shepherd as well, lest it be thought otherwise.

    Of course, I'll stop sidetracking and hijacking this baptist thread anyway.
    Josh, you gotta be one of my favorite presbys!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmson View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    The best way? Become Presbyterian.

    There currently is an effort now to of reformed Baptist churches to “bind together”. We see that with the following associations:
    Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA)
    Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of Quebec
    Fellowship of Reformed Baptist Churches in New Zealand
    International Fellowship of Reformed Baptists

    . . .

    Perhaps the reason why you do not see this is you do not know the efforts right now that are in play.
    Hi, Mr. Jolley. Oh, I'm aware of such efforts. The problem is, my friend, such efforts are ultimately futile due to the persistence of congregational autonomy. I was blessed to formerly be a member of a Baptist congregation that was led by a plurality of elders, godly men. But what beyond that? To whom could I appeal, then, if justice was not met in their ruling (which it would have been, but we can't know the hearts of every local session throughout the world). Due to pervasive forms of autonomy, ultimately a local church may do what it likes, without fear of any permanent reprisal. Why? Because it has no higher accountability. If a local session wants to conspire against a family or an individual member not for any biblical reason, but because of some other reason, to whom may the family or individual go? It just breaks down. All the "Associations" in the world do not equal an ecclesiastical court body that can handle appeals and matters of the church at large.

    Just my
    Josh,

    i don't see the cooperation among RB churches as ultimately futile. I'm somewhat biased in my comments because I am favor of our church joining ARBCA. I am impressed with the cooperation among ARBCA churches, even while each church remains congregational. Congregationalism has inerent weaknesses that need constant attention; not unlike similar problems at the presbytery level in Presbyterian denominations. These weaknesses should keep us humble and ever dependent on God.

    I will make the argument that RB churches should seek each other out. Cooperation and support on doctrinal positions, missions, pastoral/elder training, common practices etc. will strengthen each church without a loss of scripturally-bound autonomy. But RB churches need to learn from their larger SBC brethren. Founders churches are trying to recapture the prominence their beliefs once held in the SBC, but they are fighting a battle against entrenched churches that are resisting change tooth and nail. Every human institution is subject to these problems to greater or lesser extents. RB associations are no exception. Semper Vigilans.
    Bill Brown
    Elder
    Grace Baptist Church
    Student at Midwest Center for Theological Studies


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