Updating and Refining the 1689 Baptist Confession: Adding Important Doctrinal Affirmations
Creeds and confessions are usually born out of circumstances that threaten the doctrinal and practical integrity of the church. Historically, they have been the church’s response to erroneous or heretical teachings that arise from within or without the church. In the Early Church, the debates focused largely on Christology. Hence, the great Christological creeds of Nicene and Chalcedon. During the Reformation, the Lutheran and continental Reformed symbols addressed questions related to religious authority, divine sovereignty and human responsibility, the nature and means of justification, and the nature of the sacraments contra Roman Catholic tradition. The English Puritans brought further refinements to the Reformed tradition in addressing issues related to church government and corporate worship in response to what they perceived to be errors in the Anglican Church.
So the historical creeds and confessions addressed the doctrines and issues most under attack or needing clarification in their day. We shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, if these older creeds, including the 1689, fail to address clearly and explicitly some of the controversies or needs that face the twenty-first century church. In the next four posts, I’ll highlight four particular areas that need to be addressed at a confessional level.1