You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Theology’ category.

Overall Structure of the Confession

  • First Principles (chs. 1-6)
  • The Covenant (chs. 7-20)
  • God-Centered Living (chs. 21-30)
  • The World to Come (chs. 31-32)

What is ‘Covenant Theology’?

  • Often viewed as the alternative to Dispensationalism (a system arising in the 19th century that sees a sharp distinction between Israel and the Church)
  • A tradition that was developed during the 16th and 17th centuries coming out of the Reformation
  • A way of putting the Bible together that uses the Bible’s own language and movement
    • Covenant = terms of a relationship
    • Two Categories of Covenants:
      • Covenant of Works = a relationship with God where our obedience earns blessings and our disobedience deserves curses
      • Covenant of Grace = a relationship based on God’s unconditional, unilateral promises
    • Biblical Covenants:
      • Adamic Covenant
      • Noahic Covenant
      • Abrahamic Covenant
      • Mosaic Covenant/Old Covenant
      • Davidic Covenant
      • Christ’s Covenant/New Covenant

Which Covenants Go in Which Category?

  • All Covenant Theologians agree that the Adamic Covenant was a Covenant of Works
  • Presbyterian and Reformed Covenant Theologians see all the other covenants as essentially part of the one Covenant of Grace under different administrations, thus stressing the continuity between the Old and New Covenants
  • Let’s see how Baptist Covenant Theology differs…

Paragraph 1: The Necessity of Covenant

The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to Him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

  • Creator/creature Distinction – The distance between God and the creature is so great…  (e.g. Ps. 113:5-6; Is. 40:13-14)  God is infinitely above us.
  • Obedience Owed – …that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to Him as their creator… (e.g. Ps. 100:2-3)  As rational creatures made in God’s image we are automatically obligated to serve him.
  • Obedience Not Innately Meritorious – …yet they could never have attained the reward of life… (e.g. Luke 17:10)  Our creaturely service does not obligate God to do anything for us.
  • Condescension in Covenant (of Works) – …but by some voluntary condescension of God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.  (e.g. Gen. 2:15-17)  God benevolently initiates a relationship that offers a reward if we obey.

Paragraph 2: The Complication of Sin

Moreover, man having brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace, wherein he freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, His Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.

  • Not Just Created, But Fallen – Moreover, man having brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall…  (e.g. Gen. 3:17-19)  The Covenant of Works didn’t work to bring about eternal life.
  • Covenant of Grace – …it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace…  (e.g. Lk. 12:32)  God mercifully initiates a relationship that promises a reward regardless of our obedience.
  • Made Possible by Christ – …wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ… (e.g. 2Tim. 1:9)  We sinners get out of punishment and get reward on account of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
  • Faith Is the Only Requirement – …requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved… (e.g. Eph. 2:8a)  We don’t have to do anything to get this salvation; we simply trust Christ.
  • Faith Itself Is a Gift – …and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, His Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe. (e.g. Eph. 2:8b)  We are unable to even meet the condition of faith, so God graciously supplies that too.

Thus far Reformed Baptists and other Reformed Traditions agree.  The 1689 basically follows the WCF up to this point.  But the next paragraph is completely re-written.

Paragraph 3: The Revelation of the Covenant of Grace

This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament; and it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency.

  • Gospel – This covenant is revealed in the gospel…  (e.g. Acts 20:24)  It’s good news that we can have a relationship with God not based on works but sheer grace and we would never expect this unless God told it to us.
  • Protoevangelium – …first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman… (e.g. Gen. 3:15) The gospel was announced in a basic form in the OT (see Gal. 3:8; Heb. 4:2), even right after the failure of the Covenant of Works.
  • Progressive Revelation – …and afterwards by farther steps… (e.g. Gal. 3:19)  The gospel came into clearer focus as time went on with each subsequent covenant building upon the next and moving towards Christ.

Noahic => Abrahamic => Mosaic/Old => Davidic =>

  • Covenant of Grace = New Covenant – …until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament… (e.g. Heb. 8:6-7)  The New Covenant enacted in Christ is not just a new administration of the Covenant of Grace, it is the full unveiling of the Covenant of Grace, which the previous covenants only hinted at.

“By farther steps, until the full discovery… was completed in the New Testament” is the key phrase that distinguishes Baptist Covenant Theology.  Compare with WCF:[1]

This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come, which were for that time sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation, and is called the Old Testament.

Under the gospel, when Christ the substance was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed, are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity and less outward glory, yet in them it is held forth in more fulness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; and is called the New Testament. There are not, therefore, two covenants of grace differing in substance, but one and the same under various dispensations.

This has significant implications for our understanding of the Church (the covenant community) and baptism (the covenant sign).

Were the previous covenants Covenants of Works or Grace?  (see Eph. 2:12)

Noahic = largely unconditional, but dealing with common grace to sustain the world within which the plan of salvation can carry on (Gen. 9)

Abrahamic = unconditional/conditional, dealing with the people of Israel within which the plan of salvation carries on (Gen. 15, 17)

Mosaic = conditional (Dt. 5)

Davidic = unconditional, narrowing down the line from which the seed of the woman and Abraham will come (2Sam. 7)

  • Eternal Covenant – …and it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect… (e.g. Tit. 1:2)  The establishment of the Covenant of Grace in history is due to the establishment of an intra-Trinitarian pact made before the beginning of time.
  • Only One Way of Salvation – …and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency. (e.g. Rom. 4:2-3)  Since Adam’s breaking of the Covenant of Works, the only way to eternal life is via the Covenant of Grace, which includes OT believers in the promise.

Some Takeaways:

  • The Bible is an intricate, unfolding narrative culminating in Christ.
  • You can be Reformed, Confessional, Historically Rooted… and Baptist!
  • There are deep, theological reasons for not baptizing babies!
  • Praise God that we are in a covenant relationship with him based on grace.  The gospel is glorious!

[1] See www.proginosko.com/docs/wcf_lbcf.html for a helpful tabular comparison of 1689 vs. WCF

(available with footnotes and better formatting here)

Paragraph 1: The Nature of the Fall

Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honor; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given to them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.

  1. Original state of Adam and Eve
    God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof”
    1. Adam and Eve were created “upright and perfect”, i.e. “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
    2. God entered into a covenant relationship with Adam, establishing the Covenant of Works: 
      1. Although the word “covenant” is not found in Scripture’s account of Adam and Eve in the Garden, the concept is there. A covenant is “a divinely sanctioned commitment defining the relationship between God and another party.” It “provides blessings and benefits for man that would otherwise be unavailable by nature,” and it contains “sanctions or threats … to guarantee the fulfillments of the parties’ commitments.”
      2. Adam was given “a righteous law” that forbid him from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If he obeyed, he would be blessed. If he disobeyed, he would be punished. Hence, this is called the Covenant of Works.
      3. God promised a reward for Adam upon obedience (“a righteous law…unto life”). This reward was confirmed eternal life with God, where Adam and his posterity would be raised above the possibility of sinning and dying. 
      4. God threatened punishment for Adam upon disobedience. This punishment was death (“threatened death upon the breach thereof”).
      5. In addition, Adam was designated as the representative head (i.e. federal head) of the entire human race. The blessings and punishments of the covenant would apply to him and everyone he represented.
  2. The Fall
    yet he did not long abide in this honor…”
    1. Adam disobeyed and broke the covenant. The Confession summarizes the events of the Fall as recorded in Genesis 3:1-19 (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3).
    2. The Confession makes the assertion that the will of Adam was not violated in the Fall. He “willfully transgress[ed] the law” “without any compulsion.” This upholds the full responsibility and guilt of Adam for his sin.
    3. The Confession also makes the assertion that the Fall was within the “wise and holy counsel” of God, which He purposed “to His own glory.” As terrible as the Fall was, it did not catch God by surprise. In fact, it was all part of God’s plan, established from eternity past, to bring glory to Himself by redeeming those who have fallen in Adam.

Paragraph 2-3: The Results of the Fall and their Transmission

Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.

They being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.

  1. Results of the Fall
    1. Physical death (and temporal miseries): Adam and Eve’s physical lives became subject to weakness and disease, resulting in discomfort and pain. This culminated in physical death, the separation of body and soul.
    2. Spiritual death (and spiritual/eternal miseries): consists of guilt and corruption/depravity.
      1. Adam was found guilty of breaking the covenant and disobeying God’s commands.
        1. Guilt is a legal status.
      2. Adam and Eve’s human nature became corrupted/depraved so that it was completely opposed to God. The mind, will, and affections all became bent towards sin and away from God.
        1. With the mind, man actively suppresses the knowledge of God, exchanging the truth about God for a lie (Romans 1:18-25). Though he may be extremely intelligent, his mind is darkened (Ephesians 4:18) and cannot discern spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14).
        2. With the will, man is unable to choose or do spiritual good. Though he may do things that are outwardly good or good for society, he cannot do anything that would recover him from a sinful state or please God or satisfy God’s law (Matthew 7:17-18; Romans 5:6; 8:7-8; Titus 3:3).
        3. With the affections, man loves evil and hates good. Man lives in the passions of the flesh and carries out the desires of the body and mind (Ephesians 2:3). Man’s affections are disordered.
        4. This doctrine is commonly called “total depravity.” It does not mean that man is as evil as he can be. Instead, it means that every part of man is corrupted by sin. The Fall affects our whole person, not just certain parts. Said another way, the extent of man’s corruption is total, while the degree of our corruption is not. As the Confession puts it, man is “wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.”
      3. The culmination and completion of guilt and corruption is eternal death on the day of final judgment. This is where, on the last day, there is a final separation, and the “full weight of the wrath of God descends on the condemned.”
    3. If guilt and a corrupt nature are the results of Adam’s fall, how are those effects transmitted to the whole human race?
  2. The guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to us
    “the guilt of the sin was imputed”
    1. Adam served as the representative head (i.e. federal head) of all humanity in the Covenant of Works. As representative, Adam stood in our place. The results that he obtained from his obedience/disobedience would be counted as ours. Therefore, the guilt that he incurred due to his disobedience is counted as ours (i.e. imputed to us) as well. “In Adam’s fall, sinned we all.”
      1. An illustration of federal headship: a president represents the whole nation. If he decides to go to war, the entire nation (including every citizen) is now at war.
    2. How do we know this is true? Biblical proof: all humanity’s relationship to Adam is like the believer’s relationship to Christ. One man’s action affected many others.
      1. Romans 5:18-19 – “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
  3. The corrupt nature is conveyed to us
    …and corrupted nature conveyed”
    1. The Bible is not explicit about how the corrupt nature is conveyed from Adam to us.
    2. At the end of the day, what is clear is the fact that we do inherit a sinful, corrupt nature from Adam.
    3. Together, imputed guilt and conveyed corruption form a package that’s known as original sin. Original sin is what we inherit from Adam as a result of his fall.
    4. What is beautiful is that Christ’s work of salvation corresponds to our guilt and our corrupt nature. His righteousness is imputed to us, clearing us of our guilt (i.e. justification), and His Spirit then works in us, transforming our corrupt nature (i.e. sanctification). Justification is the solution to imputed guilt, and sanctification is the solution to conveyed corruption.
  4. Who does original sin apply to?
    to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation”
    1. This applies to those who are the natural offspring of Adam and Eve (i.e. descended through the normal means of reproduction). This qualification is important because it preserves the sinlessness of Christ, which is crucial for our salvation.
      1. Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, not by ordinary generation. Thus, Adam did not represent him as federal head in the Covenant of Works. As a result, guilt and corruption are not transmitted to Christ – He is sinless (Hebrews 7:26; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
      2. Christ must be sinless because a sinful human can never pay for the sins of another (Hebrews 7:26-27; 1 Peter 3:18). He must be sinless in order to secure our justification and sanctification, solving the problem of our guilt and corruption and reconciling us to God.
      3. Christ is the last Adam. He succeeds where Adam failed. He perfectly obeys God’s commands and earns eternal life for those He represents.

Paragraph 4: The Nature of Original Sin and its Fruits

From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

  1. What are the effects of guilt and corruption on our day-to-day lives?
    1. Are we sinners because we sin? Or do we sin because we are sinners?
  2. The Confession focuses on the corrupt nature that is conveyed to us, and reiterates the doctrine of total depravity.
  3. Then, the Confession draws a distinction between original sin and actual sins:
    1. Original sin is the state of guilt and corruption that all men are born into as a result of Adam’s sin; Adam standing as the representative of the entire human race.
    2. Actual sins are the individual sins that we commit (“act out”) as a result of our corrupt nature and total depravity. Actual sins spring forth from original sin.
    3. Matthew 7:17 – “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”
  4. The proper relationship between original and actual sin is important to understand because it shows us our need for a comprehensive salvation and our utter helplessness before God.

Paragraph 5: Sin and the Believer

The corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and the first motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

  1. As believers, our corrupt nature will remain with us.
    1. Christ forgives all of our sins, both original and actual, through His death on the cross.
    2. Christ also sanctifies our corrupt nature in this life by the power of His Spirit. However, the sanctification process will never be complete on this side of glory.
      1. This should cause us to reject any form of perfectionism that claims that Christians can be perfect and sinless in this life.
      2. 1 John 1:8 – “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
  2. Both the corrupt nature itself as well as its “first motions” are “truly and properly sin.”
    1. “First motions” are the first impulses/inclinations/desires of the heart towards sin, before they are acted upon by the will. These first impulses are truly sin and violate God’s law. 
    2. Romans 7:7-8 – “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.”
    3. Galatians 5:17 – “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
      1. Galatians 5:24 – “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
    4. Why does this matter?
      1. It has implications for how we think about sexual ethics in our current day and age.
        1. Is same-sex attraction/desire considered sin in and of itself? Or is it only sin when acted upon?
      2. It should give us a deeper understanding of our own corruption and sin.
      3. It should give us greater hope.
        1. Even our most deep-seated, hell-bent desires that we feel powerless to control and cause us to commit actual sins over and over again are not beyond the saving power of Christ.
      4. It should give us a greater love for Christ.

Luke 7:47 – “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Happy Thursday!

We just found out that we have another month of ‘stay-at-home’.

Just a reminder that you can listen to Nathan and Theo (and sometimes special guests!) discuss different topics on the Immanuel Pastors Podcast, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.

There are already 8 episodes:

· Why a Podcast?

· Online Church?

· What Goes on in Elders’ Meetings?

· What Is Family Worship? [and it’s not just for marrieds with kids]

· Why Read Books?

· What Has Nathan Been Reading Lately?

· What Has Theo Been Reading Lately?

· What Does Women’s Ministry Look Like at Immanuel?

Check it out! More to come…

And if you have an idea for a future topic, email the elders.

Secret Church is an intensive Bible teaching and prayer time. It was designed to raise awareness of persecuted Christians around the world who are often prevented from meeting regularly. When they are finally able to gather, they do so secretly and for several hours, as they are desperately hungry to soak up God’s Word.

During the season we find ourselves in, where we are feeling the lack of regular gathering, this event can take on new meaning. We can experience greater solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have had to deal with hardships all the time.

Last year was our first time participating in Secret Church. We were already planning to do it again via livestream on 4/24 from 6:00 PM to midnight. But due to the ‘stay at home’ order we will need to do this in separate locations.

If you would like to participate, please reply to this email by the end of next Wednesday (4/8). IBC will then pay for your registration which includes a simulcast link and a booklet which will be mailed to your address so you can follow along from home on Friday the 24th.

IBC Sunday School – 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith

Introduction

 

  1. Purpose of this study
    1. Three perspectives to approaching Scripture:
      1. Redemptive-historical / Christocentric: what has God done in history? How do God’s acts in history point towards and culminate in God’s ultimate revelation to us in the person of Christ?
      2. Ethical / exemplary: what should I do?
      3. Theological: what should I believe?
    2. Our study of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (“1689 Confession,” also known as the “Second London Baptist Confession”) will be primarily theological.
      1. We will go through the 1689 Confession and explore its teaching chapter-by-chapter, paragraph-by-paragraph.
      2. The Confession summarizes the Biblical teaching on a wide range of topics, one topic at a time, allowing topics to mutually inform each other. Thus, by walking through the Confession in this way we will be engaging in systematic theology: making sense of all the Biblical data on individual topics.
        1. Sometimes the confession will be explicit about connections between doctrines. Other times, connections between doctrines are implicit. As much as we can, we will try to spell out these connections in our study.
      3. The theological perspective will have ethical and Christocentric implications. Right doctrine should lead to right living (Romans 12:1-2). As well, a systematic understanding of Biblical covenants will help us see the Christocentric nature of redemptive history.
  2. What is a confession of faith?
    1. Creed: short, concise statement of the essential truths of the Christian faith
      1. “Credo” means “I believe” in Latin.
      2. E.g. Nicene Creed (381), Chalcedonian Creed (451)
    2. Confession: longer, more extensive statement of Christian doctrine
      1. E.g. 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, New Hampshire Confession of Faith (1833)
    3. Creeds/confessions serve two purposes: define truth, isolate falsehood.
      1. Different groups throughout church history have issued creeds/confessions to define what they believe, in contrast to error.
    4. Biblical warrant for confessions
      1. The church is a “pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). It is an institution designed by God to preserve the truth, defend it against error, and pass it on to future generations.
      2. One way that the church has been able to carry out its duty is by publishing confessions of faith. This is in keeping with Paul’s instruction to Timothy to “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:13-14).
      3. Examples of creeds in Bible
        1. Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
        2. 1 Timothy 3:16 – “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
  3. Practical uses and benefits of confessions
    1. Systematic and condensed theological reference
    2. Tool for discipleship
    3. Public standard to promote church unity and fellowship
    4. Public standard for church discipline
    5. Standard for evaluating elders
    6. Historical connection to Christians who have come before
  4. Historical background of the 1689 Confession
    1. The development of the 1689 Confession took place in the context of 17th century England. The Confession had three main influences.
    2. First London Baptist Confession of Faith (first ed. 1644, second ed. 1646)
      1. Published by seven Particular Baptist churches.
      2. The primary purpose of this confession was for the English Baptists to disavow any ties with the Anabaptists of Continental Europe and instead show that they shared the same basic theological perspectives as the Puritan churches around them.
      3. The Confession taught the doctrines of grace, believer’s baptism and congregationalism (among others), and repudiated the Anabaptist view of free will and of civil government.
    3. Westminster Confession of Faith (1646)
      1. Published by the Westminster Assembly, a council of theologians called by Parliament to restructure the Church of England. The council was mostly comprised of Puritans of the Presbyterian persuasion.
      2. The Confession taught a Presbyterian view of church government, a Presbyterian state-church, and infant baptism, among others.
    4. Savoy Declaration (1658)
      1. Published by six Puritans of the Congregational persuasion (including John Owen).
      2. The Confession was a modest revision of the Westminster Confession. The revision rejected the Presbyterian form of church government and instead insisted on the independence of each local congregation. It also rejected the idea of a state-church and approached the idea of religious freedom.
    5. Second London Baptist Confession (published 1677, adopted 1689)
      1. Published in 1677 by elders William Collins and Nehemiah Coxe of the Petty France Church in London. Adopted by 100 Particular Baptist churches in 1689.
      2. The Confession combined extracts from the First London Baptist Confession, Westminster Confession, and Savoy Declaration. Of the 160 paragraphs in the Confession, 146 are derived from the Savoy Declaration (which often reflects Westminster), 8 are derived from the First London Confession, and 6 originated from elder Collins.
      3. The Confession adopted the Congregational view of church government and religious freedom. It rejected infant baptism in favor of believer’s baptism (with an Appendix explaining its reasoning), and also adopted a distinctive view of covenant theology.
  5. Significance of the 1689 Confession
    1. It stands in line with Christian orthodoxy
      1. In particular, it teaches the classical doctrine of God and Christology.
    2. It stands in line with the Reformation tradition
      1. It is in substantial agreement with the Westminster Confession and the Savoy Declaration, and upholds the doctrines of grace, the Reformed doctrine of Scripture, justification by faith alone, etc.
    3. It articulates Baptist distinctives
      1. In particular, believer’s baptism, covenant theology, and congregational church government
    4. It exerted a wide-ranging influence on (American) Baptist life
      1. The 1689 Confession “quickly became the standard of Calvinistic Baptist orthodoxy in England, North America, and today, in many parts of the world.”
  6. Overview/outline of the 1689
    1. Part 1: First Principles (chapters 1-6)
      1. Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures
      2. Chapter 2: Of God and the Holy Trinity
      3. God’s Decree
        1. Chapter 3: Of God’s Decree
        2. Chapter 4: Of Creation
        3. Chapter 5: Of Divine Providence
      4. Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the punishment thereof
    2. Part 2: God’s Covenant (chapters 7-20)
      1. Chapter 7: Of God’s Covenant
      2. Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator
      3. Setting of the Covenant
        1. Chapter 9: Of Free Will
      4. Blessings of the Covenant
        1. Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling
        2. Chapter 11: Of Justification
        3. Chapter 12: Of Adoption
        4. Chapter 13: Of Sanctification
      5. Graces of the Covenant
        1. Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith
        2. Chapter 15: Of Repentance unto Life and Salvation
        3. Chapter 16: Of Good Works
        4. Chapter 17: Of the Perseverance of the Saints
        5. Chapter 18: Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation
      6. Means of the Covenant
        1. Chapter 19: Of the Law of God
        2. Chapter 20: Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace thereof
    3. Part 3: Christian Liberty (or, God-centered Living – Freedom and Boundaries) (chapters 21-30)
      1. Chapter 21: Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
      2. Religious Worship
        1. Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day
        2. Chapter 23: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows
      3. Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate
      4. Chapter 25: Of Marriage
      5. On the Church
        1. Chapter 26: Of the Church
        2. Chapter 27: Of the Communion of Saints
        3. Chapter 28: Of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
        4. Chapter 29: Of Baptism
        5. Chapter 30: Of the Lord’s Supper
    4. Part 4: Last Things (chapters 31-32)
      1. Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead
      2. Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment
  7. Concluding remarks and resources
    1. We commend the 1689 Confession to you as an accurate summary of Scriptural truths. But the Confession is a fallible human document and may be wrong. Ultimately, the teachings of the 1689 Confession should be tested against Scripture itself, which is our only infallible standard for all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience – the Confession even says as much.
      1. If you find yourself in disagreement with a teaching in the Confession, I would urge you to humbly examine the Confession’s teaching and any alternative teachings by the standard of Scripture. Do not dismiss the Confession’s teaching lightly – as the most influential Baptist confession ever written, it has the weight of history behind it.
    2. Resources
      1. Online
        1. Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA), https://www.arbca.com/1689-confession
        2. Founder’s Press, “The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith in Modern English,” https://founders.org/library/1689-confession/
      2. Apps
        1. iOS: “Christian Creeds & Confessions,” https://apps.apple.com/us/app/christian-creeds-confessions/id359513722
        2. Android: “Creeds and Confessions,” https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nz.co.conglomo.confessions
      3. Books
        1. Samuel E. Waldron, A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, (Welwyn Garden City: EP Books, 2016), 5th edition.

The contents of this book report were shared at the October Table Talk – “Neither Chauvinism Nor Radical Feminism”

Courtney Reissig, The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 176 pages.

Review by Matina Bishop, October 2017

Introduction:

I’m very grateful for reading this book and being able to share it with you guys. There’s a lot of good insight that Reissig drives home on the issue of feminism and womanhood. So let’s jump right into it.

The Author’s Thesis

I believe the author has two points that make up her main purpose for writing the book:

1. Radical Feminism – She seeks to point out how radical feminism has negatively influenced us and how we view womanhood. By titling her book – The Accidental Feminist – she uses some wordplay to explain that basically every American Christian woman in our generation is an accidental feminist since we have in some way held to or still hold to some feministic teaching. Although we may not flat out call ourselves feminists, we have embraced much of its teaching without even realizing it. Therefore, we are accidental feminists.

2. Radical Delight – As a result of this reality, the author’s second point is to restore our delight in God’s good design for us as women. Hence the subtitle. She uses Scripture to point us back to God’s design for women in the home and in the church, both single and married. And she highlights the fact that not only is God good, but His purpose in creating us as women (different but equal to men) is also good. So, as women in Christ we are blessed beyond measure, not because we are women but because we are women saved by the grace of God!

I want to share some details from the book that the author uses to strongly support why she would call us accidental feminists.

Passages in the Book that Strongly Support Premise #1 (Radical Feminism)

1. A brief history of American feminism:

First-wave feminism – Feminism started as a movement seeking to give women good options and rights including:

A. The right to vote

B. The right to own property

C. The right to make independent decisions

It started as a rebellion against men oppressing women by giving them an unequal footing in society. But the author quickly goes on to point out that “the movement wasn’t just about true oppression.” She references Carolyn McCulley’s book – Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World – saying, “The first wave of feminism, also known as the suffragist movement, cared about additional issues, like the reformation of Christianity and a woman’s property rights in marriage. For many first-wave feminists, men were a problem. This attitude led to rebellion” (p.17).

Second-wave feminism – As feminism won women the right to vote it had grown into an ideology promoting personal autonomy and freedom from men. Feminists continued to rebel against cultural expectations of women. More women were rebelling against the ‘typical’ housewife image. “In the 1950s and 1960s, the rebellion was against the caricature of the ‘typical’ housewife (think June Cleaver). By the 1970s, women were entering the workforce in droves, demanding equal pay for work, and further seeking to make a mark for themselves as autonomous beings” (p.17).

You can start to see more negative language there. but the author is careful not to leave out the positive advances of second-wave feminism, like:

A. Equal pay for work

B. Sexual harassment laws put in place in the workplace

Ultimately, women came out of the home and into the workforce, seeking purpose and identity outside of a husband and children. The author says consequentially, “What feminism did was slowly erase the differences between men and women.” Asserting that “equality now means sameness. If men and women are truly equal, then, according to feminism, that equality assumes no distinction in how they live. In today’s society, the equality of men and women means there are very few differences when it comes to what they can or should do. Now that equality means sameness, it doesn’t matter who’s the leader in a relationship.” Today “women can vote, own property, and have their own credit cards, but that is not all that feminism accomplished for women. The idea that women have complete control over their own lives is what led to the seminal Roe v. Wade case, effectively legalizing abortion-on-demand in America.”

Third-wave feminism – The second wave of feminism moved into third-wave feminism, which the author describes as a “hyper-rebellion.” Now, feminism not only embraced autonomy, but also sexual freedom. The author says, “Feminism began as an ideology that promised equality and freedom from the control of men. It has become an ideology that tells women they can use their power, sexuality, and freedom to influence men.­”

2. The Result of the Feminist Movement:

A. More ways for women to express and fulfill their personal desires

B. Moving away from the importance of the home to the importance of a career

C. Women can have it all: a successful career and a happy family (if they desire to have one)

D. Most importantly, the result of radical feminism is this new idea that since women are equal to men they can therefore do anything that men do (maybe even better)

3. How and why we are all accidental feminists:

We are accidental feminists because “in our hearts we want autonomy, independence, and freedom from authority.” The author says of herself, “I wanted to be the master of my own destiny. I wanted to do something I defined as meaningful, and keeping a home and raising a family was not on my list of world-changing life goals.” You see how feminism can be found in some dark corner of our hearts. The author says she used to think keeping a home and raising a family was NOT a world-changing goal, but it really is! In feminism we find a lot of backward teaching that’s unbiblical at its core.

Ultimately we are bucking up against authority. Without Christ’s work in our lives we don’t want to submit to anyone, not even God. The author points out the fact that “feminism is in the core of our hearts apart from the saving work of the shed blood of Christ, and not simply because we are militant against male authority, but primarily because we are opposed to the greatest authority of all, our Creator.”

This is why we must recognize how radical feminism has influenced us and return to a biblical understanding of womanhood.

Passages that Strongly Support Premise #2 (Radical Delight)

Seeing how feminism has had negative effects on us we need to be restored to a biblical understanding of our gender as females. It’s important to note that our identity is not found in our gender, but rather in the God who created us as women. As Christian women we find our identity in Christ. When we try to define our own identity apart from Christ and God’s Word we always come up short and empty handed.

The author points out that the Bible teaches that our gender as women is described in our roles as helpers and lifegivers. In Genesis we find the first woman in the Bible being called a helper and ‘the mother of all living.’ And these two characteristics have implications for all women: married, single, with or without children, young, and old.

Women as helpers – I really like the example that the author gives when explaining women as helpers. Listen to what she says, “The Holy Spirit exists to make the Father look great and to support and strengthen the work of the Son. To be defined as a helper in these terms is in no way derogatory. It is in fact showcasing further our value as image-bearers. We image God by being a helper to our husbands. We image God by being a helper in our churches. We image God by being a helper with our roommates and coworkers.” She goes on to explain that to be a helper is to encourage, strengthen, comfort, and support others, especially those in authority over you.

Women as lifegivers – As we nurture life both inside and out of the womb. The author quotes Susan Hunt, who says, “Mothers give life, not just birth… we impact life in a myriad of mothering roles.”

These distinctions set us apart as women and carry weight as they have significance for how we live. If God’s good design for women is for us to be helpers and lifegivers, it’s to the praise of His glory and for our good. We are created in God’s image and this fact affects every area of our lives especially our gifts and desires.

Biblical understanding of feminism and the gospel – So we have to approach the ideology of feminism with the gospel and that’s exactly what the author does. She says, “Feminism claims to be the answer for the oppression of women, but nothing frees women like the gospel of Jesus Christ. Restoring our delight in God’s design means nothing if we aren’t trusting in Christ alone for he forgiveness of our sins and our only hope for righteousness. A biblical woman is rooted in the finished work of Christ. A biblical woman knows that the only way she is going to live for God and live as his image-bearer is through the merit of his Son.” So she concludes that “the ultimate mark of womanhood is hoping in God alone.” Therefore, the gospel is feminism’s greatest foe!

In Light of the Author’s Purpose, Here Are the Issues That She Addresses

1. The impact feminism has on our relationships with men and children and how the Bible views our relationship with them

2. God’s design for marriage including headship, submission, and why marriage is good

3. Biblical purity and modesty in an overtly sexual society

4. The home and why the Bible’s command for a woman to be busy at home matters

5. Jesus’ finished work on the cross as our hope for living according to his calling for us as women

6. Women’s roles in the church

As the author addresses these things, she also points out a number of lies:

1. Womanhood is culturally learned, not something inherent to us as created beings

2. Men and women are interchangeable in their functions on the earth

3. Gender is irrelevant to the practical outworkings of our daily lives

4. Submission is a means to make women brainless doormats; it takes away a woman’s voice and removes her ability to have opinions; therefore, a woman is always compelled to obey her husband, praise her husband, and never utter a critical word to her husband regardless of his treatment of her

5. Submission as limiting a woman’s personality – if she’s more of an outspoken person being submissive will only stifle her ability to freely speak her mind

As I read the book I thought of some other lies that can creep into our minds:

1. It’s not fair that the husband gets to have the final say

2. I will be unhappy a lot when I get married because I won’t get to make my own decisions or get what I want

3. Therefore, God is not really good to me if He made me a woman and I have to deal with and endure these unfair situations

4. Therefore, marriage is not worth it; it’s not freeing, it’s demeaning

It is personally important for me to combat these lies with the truth of Scripture in order to honor God by upholding God’s Word in spite of our culture today or even what I may feel at any given moment.

Additionally, I want to show a watching world how living according to the Bible is good for me and those around me and that it brings blessing.

Detailed Negative Implications of Feminism (the statements below are excerpts from the book along with my own words)

1. Feminism has changed the way women relate to men by mainly moving women (specifically wives) from a place of dependence to independence. This idea often muddies the waters of what it looks like for a wife to be a helpmate to her husband and to submit to him in a loving manner.

2. Feminism has also confused women in their attempts at relating to men.

3. Feminism gave women options, and with those options came the ability to ‘control’ fertility. Or, at least, seemingly control it. Our culture now views children as an obstacle to true happiness and success. [But] God values children, and he values the family.

4. Feminism told women they could have it all. They could have the husband, kids, career, nice house, and anything else they wanted. It even promised them that they could have it on their own timetable.

5. One of the subtle ways feminism has affected our psyches, even the most conservative among us, is in our ‘just wait until you’re ready for kids’ mentality.

6. Betty Friedan [a feminist] wanted women to be free of the mess of marriage caused by isolation, lack of self-awareness, and bondage to their husbands and children. When Friedan and other second-wave feminists stated that attachment to a man was a hindrance to personal autonomy and self-awareness, marriage became a lower priority for the impressionable women who were coming up after them.

7. Sexual freedom as defined by third-wave feminism was the last great frontier for women’s issues. You may not even realize it, but the complete redefinition of sexuality, gender, and morality is in part a product of third-wave feminism. Freedom of choice now means the freedom to choose any expression of love and morality and not be judged for it.

8. “While Friedan’s diagnosis of misplaced identity was correct, she simply replaced one idol with another. Now the workplace is the identity. What a woman accomplishes in society is what defines her. The issues lie in the fact that these things [motherhood or career success] were never meant to fulfill us.

9. Feminism says that women want something more. Women don’t want to be just housewives or just moms.

10. Feminism promised to give women options that were better than what they had been previously offered. This has led to women believing they should be able to do anything they want in the local church. And when confronted with the biblical pattern for church leadership or service in the church, feminism pushes women to do more and assert their rights.

11. Just as feminism has told women that anything a man can do, women can do just the same, it has encouraged women to clamor only for what men do, and to belittle ‘traditional’ women’s activities. In the church, women often conclude that the gifts of service are not as important as the gifts of teaching. In the same way that the message of feminism sometimes maligns motherhood and marriage, the message of feminism in the church sometimes maligns the gifts of service that so many of God’s people joyfully possess.

12. Feminism maintains that equality necessitates role interchangeability – a woman cannot be a man’s equal unless she can assume the same role as he does. This philosophy of egalitarianism is well on its way to thorough acceptance in the evangelical church.

Marriage & Motherhood Restored

1. Motherhood is a good thing and a blessing from God. It is a good desire to want children. The very fact that you were created as female means that you were designed to be a mother or to use your mothering abilities. As Christian women, we are uniquely given the great opportunity to train the next generation to love God, his Word, and his people.

2. You are never ready for marriage and children. Getting married and having kids are the most life-altering, soul-enriching, exhausting, sanctifying, crazy, wonderful things you will ever do. And they are gifts from God.

3. The marriage relationship exists to tell a story about the pivotal event of human history – our salvation.

4. Your heart should be oriented toward the home. That will look different due to the season of life that you’re in.

5. Any understanding of our role in the home must first be in the fact that our identity is never to be found there. It is to be found in Christ. Being a stay at home mom isn’t supposed to completely satisfy us either. It’s a matter of identity and we must find our identity in Christ alone.

6. There’s purpose in a life of domesticity. The home is a place where the family works together to accomplish God’s purposes.

Biblical Submission Restored

1. Submission is strength under control, it’s bridled strength. It’s a willing decision to bridle your strength out of respect for your husband, but ultimately out of obedience to God and reverence for his Word.

2. It’s important to note that everyone is called to some form of submission. When men lead their wives like Christ, they are sacrificing their desire for the good of another. When wives submit, they are sacrificing their ‘rights’ in obedience to Christ.

3. Christ is our perfect model of submission. Christ had every right to exert his power and extol his competency as God, yet he humbled himself, bridled his strength and authority, and submitted to the Father (Ph. 2:6-8).

4. At the end of the day your submission is ultimately to God, not your husband. God has given him the responsibility of leadership, and sometimes it means he makes a decision you don’t agree with.

Women in the Church

1. The church is a place where God’s people work together, each individual in accordance to their role and calling, to accomplish God’s purposes.

2. When we hear Paul’s command for women to be silent, it does not apply to all aspects of the church, but only one office – the office of pastor/elder. This office is not restricted to men; it is restricted to ‘qualified men’. That means that many men will not quality for this kind of service too.

3. However, women can share their teaching gifts in the church in a number of biblical ways: by leading a small group Bible study, leading a prayer ministry, writing Bible study curriculum, teaching children’s Sunday school, training other women in Bible study, teaching at a women’s conference or retreat, mentoring younger woman, and the list goes on.

4. How we relate to one another as men and women and carry out our distinctive roles in the local church speaks volumes about the gospel and about God’s Word.

5. There is a place for all of us in our local church. And not just a place, but a necessary purpose. Women matter in God’s economy, whether you teach in front of others or serve quietly behind the scenes.

Conclusion

Yes I like the book! I was personally encouraged by the way the writer laid out the negative results of radical feminism (especially on Christian women) while using Scripture to expose the lies and share what “Thus sayeth the LORD” on the matters at hand.

As this book addresses women in the church, the author highlights why the restriction to teach from the pulpit to men is freeing for women, not debilitating. It frees us to intentionally seek to teach other women and our children.

As for women’s roles in the home, though the world has experienced an upside down kind of change to these roles, godly women can hold firm to God’s truth seeking to glorify Him and bless their families and extended Christian family. As Christian women we don’t need to shy away from seeking to be workers at home but must not find our identity or worth in it (i.e our husbands and children).

God’s design for the roles of men and women in the home and the church are good and able to bless the body as a whole and honor God!

Reading this book has helped me to see my own tendencies to act as an accidental feminist and to recognize it for what it is, sin (namely pride and selfishness). I was also encouraged in knowing that I can confess my sin and God is faithful to forgive! And that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.

On the third Sunday of every month there’s free food for everyone after our worship service! Please plan to stick around.

Table Talks in October, January, and April will have optional seminars added on.

This Sunday (10/18) the seminar topic will be “The Reformation: Why We Are Protestant.”

After about 30 minutes of eating, Pastor Nathan will give a 15-20 minute historical and theological presentation on the Reformation followed by Q&A and open discussion.

Happy Reformation Day today!

On Saturday there will be Pilates at 7:00 AM at The Meeting Place, Men’s Breakfast at 8:00 AM at Phil Wagler’s, Prayer Meeting at 8:00 AM at The Meeting Place, Worship Team Rehearsal and Sound Training from 9:15 AM to noon at The Meeting Place.

Sunday at 10:45 AM is of course the high point of our week! Don’t forget to set your clock back one hour on Saturday night!

ec·cle·si·ol·o·gy – the doctrine of the church

This is perhaps the most important issue for our time. Watch Peter Ferris’ excellent treatment of this topic in this week’s featured video from the Summer Retreat –

For this week’s featured video from the Summer Retreat, watch Mike Erington answer the question, “Why Does A Confession of Faith Matter?”

 

Our Small Groups will begin going through the New Hampshire Confession of Faith this week. We’re praying and hopeful that each article will spark good discussions around what we believe, why we believe it, and how it affects our hearts and lives.

We’re also using the New Hampshire Confession of Faith because the Elders are thinking of recommending to the Members that this becomes our church’s Statement of Faith after we’ve had time to study it. Therefore, we want everyone to become familiar with it and investigate it for themselves.

Why are we considering a change? There are several reasons:

· Our current Statement of Faith is theologically sound, but it’s generic and we’re not even sure where it came from.

· We want to hold to a Confession that is used widely by many churches, not just ours.

· We want to hold to a Confession that is historic and has passed the test of time, not just written in the last 25 years.

· We want to hold to a Confession that is theologically robust, while still being concise.

Why did we choose the New Hampshire Confession?

· We are convinced that it accurately and elegantly summarizes Scripture’s teaching.

· It is a beloved statement of Baptist belief that many churches have and still hold to, such as Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

· It is old. It was revised in 1853, but originally written in 1833. It will situate us clearly and firmly in a stream of historic Christianity that runs back through the English Reformation and finds its fountainhead in the ancient Creeds of the Church.

· Since it was written in an earlier day, it retains the theological seriousness and precision that has been lost in much of the contemporary church, and yet it is not as narrow or verbose as something like the 2nd London Confession (1689).

If you’re interested in researching this more, here is an article that we found helpful in our thought process.

We pray you’ll enjoy the study in your Small Groups this year. Jeremiah Hill will be working on writing the discussion questions for each article as part of his Moody internship. Each week he will also be posting further thoughts on the covered subject at www.immanuelblog.wordpress.com if you want to dig deeper. Let an Elder know if you have any thoughts or questions along the way.

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

Archives