The Philadelphia Confession of Faith

Discussion in 'The Confession of Faith' started by jawyman, Oct 26, 2009.

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  1. jawyman

    jawyman Puritan Board Junior

    Is anyone familiar with this Confession? What I know of it is this:

    The Philadelphia Confession is identical to the Second London Confession of Faith (1689), except that chapters 23 and 31 have been added (with other chapters appropriately renumbered). This confession was first issued by the Philadelphia Association in 1742.

    Does anyone have the historical background to this Confession and is it still adhered to by anyone today?
  2. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    JM that is the coolest link! All the colors and the italics and so forth. How did anybody do theology before the internet? :D
  3. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Sadly, more in the breach than in the observance.

    One of the retired ministers in my retirement community is a scholar of Baptist history. He had a high estimate of the Philadelphia Association and their efforts at doctrinal integrity. Unfortunately, their northern heirs (aka ABCUSA) have traveled far afield, despite having their national office near Philadelphia in Valley Forge.
  4. NRB

    NRB Puritan Board Freshman

    I am a former SBC member...I had a very close relationship with my former pastor at the SBC church I attended.
    Unfortunately it seems according to him, the Philadelphia CoF(as well as the historic London Confession) isn't being taught except as "elective" status at some of the southern baptist seminaries nationwide in the past 2 decades. He got his Divinity degree in the mid nineties.

    It's a wonderful confession for study In my humble opinion.


    I'm new take my opinion for what it's worth. lol
  5. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Philadelphia Baptist Catechism | The Reformed Reader

    Q. 64. If men are such sinners, then how may any man have everlasting happiness?
    A. By believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Scr. “And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” — 1 John 5:11 See also John 5:24; 3:36; 16:3 1

    Q. 65. What is the Gospel?
    A. The Gospel is good news about Christ.
    Scr. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved,” — 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2. See also 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:14

    Q. 66. Why is the news of the Gospel such good news?
    A. Because it reveals that there is a Mediator between God and sinful men.
    Scr. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” — 1 Timothy 2:5. See also Hebrews 9:15; 8:6
  6. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    Starting in January we will begin teaching Spurgeon's Baptist Catechism to our children. Should be interesting.
  7. Bodigean

    Bodigean Puritan Board Freshman

    Here is Cathcart's summary of the confession:

    Confession of Faith, The Philadelphia. — The London Confession of
    1689 was the basis of our great American Articles of Faith, and its composition
    and history are worthy of our careful consideration.
    It was adopted “by the ministers and messengers of upwards of one hundred
    baptized congregations in England and Wales, denying Arminianism.” Thirtyseven
    ministers signed it on behalf of the represented churches.
    The sessions of the Assembly which framed it were held from the 3d to the
    12th of September, 1689.
    The Confession of the Westminster Assembly — the creed of all British and
    American Presbyterians, — was published in 1647; the Savoy Confession,
    containing the faith of English Congregationalists, was issued in 1658. The
    Baptist Assembly gave their religious beliefs to the world in 1689. This was
    not the first Baptist deliverance on the most momentous questions.
    It was styled by its authors, “A Confession of Faith put forth by the Elders and
    Brethren of Many Congregations of Christians Baptized upon Profession of
    their Faith, in London and the Country, with an Appendix concerning
    Baptism.” The authors of the Confession say that in the numerous instances in
    which they were agreed with the Westminster Confession, they used the same
    language to describe their religious principles.
    The Appendix to the London Confession occupies 16 octavo pages, and the
    Articles 52. The former is a vigorous attack on infant baptism, apparently
    designed to give help to the brethren in defending the clause of Article XXIX.,
    which defines the subjects of baptism as believers. Dr. Rippon gives the
    Minutes of the London Assembly which adopted the Confession. These
    include the topics discussed, the residences of the signatory ministers, and the
    Articles, but not the Appendix. f58 In addition to his “Narrative of the
    Proceedings of the General Assembly,” as the London Convention was called,
    Rippon issued a pamphlet edition of the Articles without the Appendix, with
    an advertisement of his Register on the cover. Crosby does not give it in his
    Confession of 1689. No one ever questioned the right of either to drop the
    Appendix. It was not one of the Articles, but chiefly a mere argument in favor
    of one of them.
    The Appendix has this statement:
    “The known principle and state of the consciences of divers of us that have
    agreed in this Confession is such that we cannot hold church communion with
    any other than baptized believers, and churches constituted of such; yet some
    others of us have a greater liberty and freedom in our spirits that way.”
    This refers to the admission of unbaptized persons to the Lord’s Table by some
    churches, and their rejection by others.
    Within a few years, an effort has been made in this country to prove that our
    Baptist fathers of the Philadelphia, and other early Associations, practised
    “open communion” because of this item in the Appendix of the London
    Confession. The learned “strict communion” author of “Historical
    Vindications” f59 has contributed to this error, by making the grave mistake that
    the Appendix was Article XXXIII. of The Philadelphia Compression of Faith.
    And he gives as his authorities for this extraordinary statement the Hanserd
    Knollys Society’s copy of the Confession of 1689, and the Pittsburgh edition of
    The Philadelphia Confession of Faith. In the former, it is not placed as an
    Article, but as an Appendix. In the latter, it is not to be found in any form. It
    never appeared in any edition of The Philadelphia Confession of Faith, from
    Benjamin Franklin’s first issue down to the last copy sent forth from the press.
    And this could have been easily learned from the title-page. In the end of the
    title in the Hanserd Knollys Society’s copy of the Confession of 1689 are the
    words, “With an Appendix concerning Baptism.” The portion of the title
    covering the Appendix, and the Appendix itself, cannot be found in any copy
    of our oldest American Baptist creed. That the honored writer acted in good
    faith in this part of his valuable work, I have no doubt; but that he was led
    astray himself, and that he has drawn others into a grave mistake, I am
    absolutely certain.
    The Appendix admits that “open communion” existed among the English
    Baptists. It does not assert the truth of it; the “strict communion” members of
    the body which adopted the Confession would tolerate nothing of that nature.
    And as no such practice existed in the Philadelphia Association when its
    Confession was adopted, or at any other period in its history, such an
    admission would have been destitute of a fragment of truth. The Cohansie
    church, in 1740, sent a query to the Philadelphia Association, asking if a pious
    Pedobaptist, who declined to have his children baptized, might come to the
    Lord’s Table without being baptized; and they wished also to know from the
    Association if the refusal of such a request would not betray a want of charity.
    The Association unanimously decided that the man should be refused a place
    at the Lord’s Table in the Cohansie church, and that such action showed no
    lack of charity. Their action, and their reasons for it, read:
    “Given to vote, and passed, all in the negative. Nemine contradicente.
    Reasons annexed.
    First. It is not for want of charity that we thus answer. Our practice shows the
    contrary; for we baptize none but such as, in the judgment of charity, have
    grace, being baptized; but it is because we find, in the Commission, that no
    unbaptized persons are to be admitted to church communion. <402819>Matthew
    28:19, 20; <411616>Mark 16:16. Compare <440241>Acts 2:41; <461213>1 Corinthians 12:13.
    Second. Because it is the church’s duty to maintain the ordinances as they are
    delivered to us in the Scripture. <530215>2 Thessalonians 2:15; <461102>1 Corinthians
    11:2; <230820>Isaiah 8:20.
    Third. Because we cannot see it agreeable, in any respect, for the procuring
    that unity, unfeigned love, and undisturbed peace, which are required, and
    ought to be in and among Christian communities. f60 <460110>1 Corinthians 1:10;
    <490403>Ephesians 4:3.”
    This wise decision, supported by solid reasons, shows, that two years before
    the formal adoption of the Confession of 1689, as the greater portion of the
    Philadelphia Confession of Faith, the Philadelphia Association was
    unanimously opposed to an “open communion” proposition. Thirty-three years
    after the Association was, formed, and while the Confession of 1689 was
    “owned” as a Baptist creed, without the special adoption which it afterwards
    received, one of the oldest churches in the Association would not admit a pious
    Pedobaptist to the Lord’s Supper without consulting the Association. And that
    body voted as a unit against the practice.
    The declaration of the orthodox London brethren, in reference to themselves,
    could have been used by the Philadelphia Association about all its churches, at
    any period in its past history: “The known principle and state of the
    consciences of us all is such that we cannot hold church communion with any
    other than baptized believers, and churches constituted of such.” And hence
    the truth required the exclusion of the Appendix from the Confession of the
    Philadelphia Association.
    The London Confession of 1689, in Article XXVI., section 6, says,
    “The members of these churches are saints by calling, … and do willingly
    consent to walk together according to the appointment of Christ, giving up
    themselves to the Lord and one to another, by the will of God, in professed
    subjection to the ordinances of the gospel.”
    And in Article XXVIII., section 1, it says, “Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are
    ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus,
    the only Law-giver, to be continued in his church to the end of the world.” And
    in Article XXIX., section 2, it says, “Those who do actually profess repentance
    towards God, faith in and obedience to our Lord Jesus, are the only proper
    subjects of tiffs ordinance;” and in section 4, “Immersion, or dipping the
    person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.”
    In Article XXX., “On the Lord’s Supper,” f61 there is no clause giving the
    unbaptized authority to come to the Lord’s Table. Their existence in
    connection with this institution is not noticed by a single word. And as the
    Articles declare that the members of the churches which adopted them lived in
    “professed subjection to the ordinances of the gospel;” that baptism and the
    Lord’s Supper were “ordinances appointed by the Lord Jesus, to be continued
    in his church to the end of the world;” and that repentance, faith, and
    immersion are necessary to baptism, the Articles describe orderly believers
    only, who lived in professed subjection to the ordinances of the gospel. There
    is not a word in them which the strictest Baptist on earth might not heartily
    receive. The men who avow that “The known principle and state of the
    consciences of divers of us, that have agreed in this Confession, is such, that
    we cannot hold church communion with any other than baptized believers, and
    churches constituted of such” — men like Hanserd Knollys and William Kiffin
    — were the last men to sign a Confession favoring “open communion.” The
    Philadelphia Association, while avowing the most stringent “close
    communion” doctrines in 1740, owned, in a general way, the Confession of
    1689. The Charleston Association, S.C., adopted the London Articles, and
    imported two hundred copies of them; and yet was restricted in its communion.
    In 1802, in answer to a question in reference to the consistency of Baptists
    inviting pious Pedobaptists to the Lord’s Table, that body replied, “We cannot
    but say it does not appear to be consistent with gospel order.” f62 In England
    and America, churches, individuals, and Associations, with clear minds, with
    hearts full of love for the truth, and with a tenacious attachment to “restricted
    communion,” have held with veneration the Articles of 1689. The Article, “On
    the Lord’s Supper,” needs safeguards, and the Philadelphia Confession of
    Faith furnishes them.
    Almost every writer on this question falls into the mistake of supposing that it
    is, and he proceeds to prophesy evils, if he is a scriptural communionist, or he
    begins forthwith to whip us with the supposed liberal scourge of our fathers, if
    he is a tree communionist. The London Creed has thirty-two Articles, and an
    Appendix; the Philadelphia has thirty-four, and, instead of an Appendix, it has
    “A Treatise of Discipline,” which was held in as great regard as the Confession
    for many years. Thirty-two of the thirty-four Articles in the Philadelphia
    Confession are taken from the English fathers of 1689. One of the two new
    Articles is on Singing in the Worship of God, — a practice which it commends
    as a divine ordinance. This Article would have entirely changed the character
    of the Confession of 1689 to some of the churches that adopted it; for they
    looked with horror upon such a custom. But in Article XXXI. in the new
    Confession, “On Laying on of Hands,” the Lord’s Supper receives its
    appropriate safeguards. In section 1 we read,
    “We believe that laying on of hands, with prayer, upon baptized believers, as
    such, is an ordinance of Christ, and ought to be submitted unto by all such
    persons that are admitted to the Lord’s Supper.”
    According to the compilers of this Article, no man should come to the Lord’s
    Table without baptism and the imposition of hands. It has been declared, with
    an air of victory, that the Philadelphia Confession of Faith requires no
    ceremonial qualification before approaching the Lord’s Table. This jubilant
    spirit is the result of carelessness in examining the venerable Confession: “All
    such persons that are admitted to partake of the Lord’s Supper” should be
    baptized believers, who have received the imposition of hands, with prayer. So
    that two ceremonial prerequisites to the Lord’s Supper — baptism and the
    laying on of hands — are demanded by the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.
    In 1742, the Philadelphia Association adopted the Confession which bears its
    name. Some deny that the Association ever formally adopted it; or if it did they
    assert that we know nothing of the time when such action took place. This
    statement is based upon a certain amount of recognition which the London
    Articles undoubtedly received in the Philadelphia Association before 1742;
    and also upon the fact that the Association simply voted to “reprint” the
    London Confession. When a publishing house resolves to reprint an English
    work now it adopts it; it makes the work its own. The Confession of 1689, in
    1742 had never been printed in America; the Philadelphia Association voted to
    reprint it, that is, to adopt its Articles; and they also added two Articles to it,
    and A Treatise on Discipline. And every copy printed since Benjamin
    Franklin’s first edition appeared in 1743, bears on its title-page, “Adopted by
    the Philadelphia Association, Sept. 25th, 1742.” This statement on the titlepage
    would have been canceled at the next meeting of the Association after its
    appearance if it had not been true. The Warren Association makes the same
    record about the date of its adoption; f63 Morgan Edwards gives 1742 as the
    date of its adoption, on page 5 of his “Materials towards the History of the
    Baptists, etc.,” published in Philadelphia, 1770, and the act cannot be
    reasonably doubted, nor the date called in question.
    The Kehukee Association, founded in 1765, adopted the Philadelphia
    Confession. f64 The Ketockton Association of Virginia, founded 1766, adopted
    the Philadelphia Confession. f65 The Warren Association of Rhode Island,
    organized 1767, adopted the same Confession. f66 The General Association of
    Virginia received the Philadelphia Confession in 1783 with explanations, none
    of which favored “open communion.” f67 The Elkhorn Association of
    Kentucky, formed in 1785, adopted the Philadelphia Confession. f68 The
    Holston Association of Tennessee, established in 1788, accepted the
    Philadelphia Confession. f69 The Charleston Association of South Carolina was
    established by Oliver Hart in 1751, fresh from the Philadelphia Association,
    and full of admiration for its principles and its usefulness. It adopted the
    Articles of 1689, and a Treatise on Discipline, prepared by Oliver Hart, and
    Brethren Pelot, Morgan Edwards, and David Williams. This Association,
    though not adopting the Philadelphia Confession, followed its spirit and plan,
    and it practised “restricted communion.”
    There was not one of the original Baptist Associations of this country that
    invited the unbaptized to the Lord’s Table. Once we have seen the statement
    rashly made, and Asplund given as its authority, that there was one early
    Baptist Association that held “open communion,” — evidently referring to the
    Groton Conference, Connecticut. But the writer omitted to state that Asplund
    gave an account, in the same list of Associations, of Six Principle Baptists,
    Free-Will Baptists, and Seventh-Day Baptists. The “open communion” body of
    which he speaks was not composed of Regular Baptists, nor were the Seventh-
    Day brethren named by Asplund as members of our denomination. They did
    not assume the name of an Association, — they called themselves the Groton
    Conference. And Asplund says that “they keep no correspondence,” f70 — that
    is, they were not recognized as Regular Baptists. They neither enjoyed, nor
    were they entitled to, such recognition.
    Asplund mentions several other early Baptist Associations that adopted THE
    Confession of Faith, — that is, the Philadelphia. But further reference to this
    question is needless. Nearly all the original Associations of America adopted
    the Philadelphia Confession of Faith; and not one of these bodies held “open
    communion.” There were “open communionists” outside of our organizations,
    when our early Associations sprang into life, — especially in New England, —
    whose erring judgments soon learned the way of the Lord more perfectly, and
    they united with Regular Baptist, communities.
    If the Philadelphia Confession of Faith had been accepted in England, as the
    legitimate successor of the Confession of 1689, the Strict Baptists of Norwich
    would never, by a just legal decision, have been deprived of their church
    edifice for the advantage of “open communionists.”
    The Philadelphia Association never had an “open communion” church in its
    fellowship; and it has repeatedly declared the practice to be unscriptural. Its
    Confession of Faith as adopted in 1742 never was repealed or modified in any
    of its parts. The latest edition is an exact reprint of the first, and “open
    communion” cannot even find a shelter in it.
  8. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    I've never been a real advocate for the Philadelphia Confession. My reasons are twofold.

    First, it is only a minor revision of the Second London Confession (which I esteem to be lacking in nothing). It adds two additional (& awkwardly incongruent) chapters (23 & 31). They added an article on the singing of "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs," as well as one on laying hands on the newly baptized (which were both hotly debated topics among Baptists in the 17th & 18th centuries and the later is virtually an unheard of practice among Baptists today). These additions are unnecessary and stick out like a sore thumb from the masterfully written Second London Confession.

    Secondly, I do not affirm the 31st chapter of the Philadelphia Confession which asserts that "laying on of hands (with prayer) upon baptized believers, as such, is an ordinance of Christ." Any church that adopted this confession today would be obliged to perform this odd practice following any baptism.

    Its not heretical, its just not as good as the BCF 1689. :2cents:
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