Baptist confessions are documents that proclaim the faith of the Christian believers of the Baptist faith. They use the Bible and have similarities and differences in their translation of the Bible. They live according to their confessions as revealed by the Reformed Reader (1999b).
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The different Baptist confessions include: Anabaptist confessions, English Baptist-Separatist confessions, English Baptist Associative confessions, and American Baptist confessions. They were written by different believers at different times.
They are in the form of teachings and instructions for righteous living. Thus, they are not inspired writings but are obtained from the Holy Scripture of the Bible. This paper will compare and contrast the English Baptist-separatist confessions with the American Baptist confessions.
Comparing and contrasting
In accordance with the Reformed Reader (1999a), the English Baptist-Separatist in the 16th and 17th century stayed out of sight from Elizabeth since they would receive capital punishment if they confessed the faith.
This is because, there were fundamental differences between the English Baptist-Separatist and the state concerning separation of church and state, conscience, baptism and doctrines of the church. Its followers and leaders were imprisoned and others fled. Those who fled managed to write the confessions, united and survived the faith.
On the other hand, the American Baptist confession originated around the 17th century and became established with the Philadelphia Baptist. They managed to spread the teaching in colleges despite the challenges of the changing world. In line with the Reformed Reader (1999b), the heritage declined as result of revolution and failure in the theological institutions among other reasons.
There is one and only true God in both confessions in the two confessions as indicated in the Baptist & Heritage Society (2010). God the father, The Son and The Holy Ghost are three in one. Jesus Christ is God’s true son. God is the ultimate creator of the entire world. God knows the past, the present and the future. He has allowed man to have free will and make choices. Among other things God is righteous and loving.
Sin of mankind, Death and Resurrection of Christ
The two confessions consider that Christ has the power to forgive sins. It is through his death that sin could be forgiven. Jesus was therefore conceived in the power of the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin and existed in the human body.
They also suppose that his death was for the forgiveness of mankind sins and brings eternity. They also see man to be struggling between good and evil as he has the free will to choose from the other (Baptist & Heritage Society, 2010).
Christ was sent by God to save mankind from sin. He died and resurrected on the third day. The American Baptist says that it is the blood of Christ that brought deliverance from sin. Moreover, the blood pardons all kind of sin. Christ was without sin but took the sins of mankind upon him-self in order to cleanse them.
The two confessions also hold that just like Christ resurrected, the dead shall resurrected both the sinful and the righteous. The American Baptist believes that when judgment will come, sinners will be punished while the righteous will join Christ in his kingdom. The English Baptist- separatist say that the sinners will burn as the righteous meet the bridegroom.
According to The Ministers Council (2005), the American Baptist holds that God created man in his likeness. He was given a free will to choose good and evil. His good relationship with God was permanently changed when he fell into sin.
Therefore, his generation carries on the sin and that even newborn children are with sin. Mankind can only be delivered from the sin through Christ whom they believe was another Adam. Those who do not get delivered from the sins from or through Christ will face condemnation.
William (1981) indicates that the English Baptist-Separatist confessions, like the American Baptist, believe that man is created in the creator’s image. They contradict with the American Baptist in that man was lured by Satan to commit sin hence God restored him and gave him eternal life. Thus children are born without sin and there is not condemnation for sins committed by the first man.
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Both confessions proclaim that the scriptures of the New Testament and the Old Testament contain the word of God. They are instructions given by God to the believers so that they can practice faith and have guidance. Judgment will be based on the scriptures (Baptist & Heritage Society 2010).
Salvation of mankind
Christ is the savior of mankind according to the two confessions. Both confessions also agree that salvation is free and can be accessed by all. The American Baptist does believe that God had already masterminded a plan before the world began to save a certain number of human beings. Therefore Jesus, Gods son, was sent to save them and thus would become the children of God through Christ.
The English Baptist-Separatist confesses that one can work for the state. They confess good deeds as opposed to evil. One must therefore uphold honor and obedience in accordance with the Gods word in every area. Believers thank God for them and pray for them. The faithful observe the law of the land; pay their dues including tax (Chris 2001).
Just like the American Baptist, English Baptist-Separatist call for separation of the church from the state. Thus the ministers in the church shall not be a state official.
Therefore believers confess that there should be no participating in the states offices. The American Baptist also confesses that war shall not be advocated for and that they will enhance peace instead. They declare that instead, the gospel will be taught to all states and to human beings.
The American Baptist further confesses that the state is supposed to give the church protection and the freedom to practice their faith without favors. By being independent, no penalties will be imposed in the church or there be any form of support to the church inform of taxation.
Ordinance covers the topic of baptism, the Lord’s Supper and servant hood. Both confessions argue that baptism is a symbol of faith. Those who become bishops, clergy or elders among other church leaders must have been baptized. They lead the believers in the reading of scriptures and are of service to all, including the orphaned, widows, and those in need.
Just like Christ washed the disciple’s feet, they are servants. They baptize the believers and lead them in remembrance of Christ when taking the Lord’s Supper. The English Baptist-Separatist believes that the ministers, word of God, Lord’s Supper, service to the needy is ordained by God.
Lords supper and Baptism
The two confessions claim that baptism is a symbolically death in transgressions and the resurrection which is being alive with Christ. The Lord’s Supper is the symbolism of Christ’s death. The baptism is done in the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Those with sin should not partake of the Lord’s Supper..
The last supper and the baptism are supposed to be held and continued as both confessions declare. The American Baptist confesses that baptism must be undertaken by those who confess. Thereafter, they can be eligible for partaking the lords supper, be ordained and participate in the church. In baptism there must be immersion of water. Believers can also participate in singing and psalms as well as reading of the scripture.
Other doctrinal differences
As the reformed readers (1999a) mentions, the English Baptist- Separatist views the church as a body with different parts. The different parts make a whole when every part plays its role. This confession justifies the ordination of the ministers which is done systematically. After being appointed, then they do work that they are assigned as per their office.
It may be necessary to engage in fasting for divine direction. The church must also uphold righteousness. Believers who revert back to sinful living can be excommunicated. They remain excommunicated as long as they remain in their sin and cannot take the lords supper.
The American Baptist together with the English Baptist- Separatist has confessed marriage as ordained by God. They advocate for one man for one wife. Marriage is a reflection of Christ and his church. The American Baptist has confessed that the family is the foundation of society. The husband is therefore to love the wife and the wife submits to the husband. The children must obey their parents. Before God all are equal.
The American Baptist has lost their heritage and has called for reformation to restore the confessions as revealed by the Ministers Council (2005). The England separation succeeded in their efforts to encourage separation of the church from the state. They also managed to stay united (The Reformed Reader 1999b).
The English Baptist-Separatist and the American Baptist confessions have similarities. They agree that there is one God, who is three in one (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit).
They believe in the scripture as their guide. Salvation is obtained only through Christ’s death and it is free. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are also found in the confessions. The church ministers are ordained and must be baptized. God has given man a free will to choose good or evil.
There are also areas of contradiction. The English Baptist-Separatist believes God created man in his image and was lured to sin by Satan. The death of Christ pardoned the sin hence children are not born with sin and there is no condemnation. They confess that the church be separate from state and that the believers must obey, honor and pay taxes. They advocate for excommunication of those who go astray in faith.
On the contrary the American Baptist confessions say that God created man without sin and became sinful. The sin committed by the first man is therefore extended to the offspring who are born with sin and will be condemned if they do not believe in Christ whose blood cleanses the sin. Ask for church to be independent and to discourage war as they encourage peace.
Baptist & Heritage Society. 2010. An affirmation of common Baptist themes. On-line. Web.
Chris, Traffanstedt. 2001. A primer on Baptist history. On-line. Available from Internet. Web.
The Ministers Council. 2011. American Baptist: A unifying vision study document. On- line. Web.
The Reformed Reader. 1999a. English Baptist confessions. On-line. Web.
The Reformed Reader. 1999b. The Historic Baptist Documents. On-line. Web.
William, Lumpkin. 1981. Baptist confessions of faith. Judson press. On-line. Web.