Reformed Baptist

From Academic Kids

The name Reformed Baptist does not refer to a distinct denomination but instead is a description of the church's theological leaning. Not all churches that are reformed in doctrine identify themselves as such. There are two associations of Reformed Baptist churches in the United States: the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America, which began in 1997, and the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals, organized in 2000. There are also associations in South Africa and New Zealand.

Reformed Baptist churches quite often adhere to either the First or Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1646 and 1689 respectively. These two statements are usually not considered exhaustive or completely accurate, but instead are convenient summaries of a church's belief. Reformed Baptists attempt to derive all of their doctrine directly from the Bible, which they see as the sole authority of faith and practice.

Reformed Baptist Churches are distinct in that they are both Reformed (adhering to and showing respect for much of the theology defined by John Calvin) as well as Baptists (believing in baptism for believers only, and that by immersion). Historically, the five points of Calvinism have been central tenets of the Reformed faith, which all Reformed Baptist churches agree with by definition. However, conservative Reformed theology is normally committed to Covenant theology, one application of which is the practice of infant baptism. For this reason more traditional Reformed branches of Christianity (Presbyterian, etc) sometimes refuse to accept their Reformed Baptist brothers as truly Reformed.

Modern Reformed Baptists usually consider themselves the spiritual heirs of English Baptists John Bunyan and Charles Spurgeon. The Calvinist theology of the Reformed Baptist is akin to if not descended directly from that of early English Particular Baptists.

Some common (though far from universal) traits of Reformed Baptists are:

  1. Credalism: historical creeds are considered useful, but not authoritative.
  2. Localism: each congregation is a fully independent church, which considers itself accountable directly to Jesus Christ rather than intermediately through an earthly organization such as a Convention, Synod or Presbytry.
  3. The Regulative Principle: the belief that "the acceptable way of Worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself; and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be Worshipped according to the imaginations, and devices of Men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way, not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures," (from chapter 22, paragraph 1 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith). This is usually manifested in a relatively simple liturgy.
  4. Plurality in Leadership: each local church has multiple Elders as well as a Pastor (also known as plurality of elders).
  5. Moderate Cessationism: the supernatural Gifts of the Holy Ghost in general, and Revivals specifically, are considered exceptional measures sovereignly bestowed by God, not to be searched as a common policy. Thus a rejection of Revivalism in general and Pentecostalism specifically.
  6. The idea of the Sunday as the Christian Sabbath.
  7. The centrality of the Word of God: the church takes no part on human schemes for church growth, nor searches for popularity, but sows the Word and trusts God will make it multiply.
  8. The reservation of the Pastor/Elder role for men.

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