The Fallibility of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith?

All men are fallible. The only infallible being is God. He has never made a mistake, and He has never apologised. He has given His Word, i.e., the Bible, to men as a revelation of Himself and of His will for them. His Son, Jesus said, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life; He also said no one can come to His Father except through Him. (John 14:6) If we accept and believe this, while confessing our sins before Him, obeying and following Him in faith, because of His atoning work on the cross, we can be counted as redeemed, along with myriads of His saints, past, present and future. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

It is essential, therefore, that we hear and take in the truth of Jesus Christ. The prime way of obtaining the truth is the study of His Word, which was written by willing writers ‘inspired’ by the Holy Spirit. They wrote in their own styles, but each was guided by the Holy Spirit. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20, 21)

Christian beliefs are determined by inwardly digesting biblical texts and appropriating them. It is therefore important to understand what the writers desired to communicate. The more the reader learns about the contents of the sixty-six books comprising the Bible, the better is his comprehension of them. The Bible alone is sufficient for man’s understanding of God’s desire for His creatures, and for their salvation, but not without regeneration brought about by the Holy Spirit, who imparts spiritual life to those who become believers. Without the life-giving Holy Spirit, all are dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:13) and those who remain as such, are condemned to eternal punishment in Hell. (Matthew 18:8; John 3:17, 18; Revelation 21:6-8)

Because men (and women) are fallible, they cannot be relied upon to tell the truth, even to know the truth, and yet Jesus said He was the Truth. (John 14:6) Jesus was the only man who could say truthfully He was the Truth. He could do this because He was God and man at the same time, yet without sin. If He is the Truth, He cannot lie.

Followers of Christ over the ages have wanted to clarify their beliefs and understandings of the Holy Scriptures, and to this end they have devised Creeds and Confessions of Faith. There are numerous versions of such. All Christians, whether they realise it or not, have their own confessions of faith. They may not write them down, but in their minds they have a framework of biblical understanding – sometimes very limited, because of only having been fed on milk (1 Corinthians 3:2). Others may be more mature through diligent study and by revelation of the Spirit. (John 15:26)

Whichever is the case, both may be flawed, because although seeking the truth, they are not the Truth! On this premise it is reasonable to suggest that men will not always get their Creeds and Confessions of Fatih right, so as to tally with God’s Word.

I have spoken to men who have a great desire to learn more of their Lord Jesus, and with this endeavour they have taken on studies at biblical seminaries. Quite rightly, before applying for a course, they have examined the seminary’s Statement of Faith, and, as is quite often the case, it subscribes to a particular Confession of Faith – perhaps the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, or the Westminster Confession of Faith. The applicant may say with some assurance, the reason for his choice of seminary is because its Statement of Faith subscribes to a particular Confession of Faith.

This indicates that the applicant wishes to discern between seminaries based on his knowledge of the Scriptures and the seminaries’ Statements of Faith, but there is a problem, because the applicant’s discernment is limited by his knowledge of the Scriptures, the very reason for him wanting to learn more of the Gospel of Truth. He may ask friends or church leaders to suggest or recommend a seminary, but they may be in the dark also. There is a further problem, in that the preferred Confession of Faith was written by fallible men; albeit, probably a consensus of Godly men who devoutly loved the Lord, and desired only to explain the truth of the Gospel.

Each one of us who worships the Lord has a responsibility to seek the truth contained within the Bible. We must use our reasoning in like manner to that of the Bereans who diligently searched the Scriptures to ascertain the truth. (Acts 17:11) The answer for us is to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth as we study the Bible. (John 16:13) By relying on fallible Confessions of Faith we can be led astray. We must rely on God’s Word alone; appropriate it and live it in the Truth, i.e. for Jesus to His glory. We must abide in Him. (John 15:4, 5) We should not put our faith in men, but trust Jesus and His infallible Word. (1 Timothy 4:10)

Are there Flaws in the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith?

In no way do I want to be judgmental about the 1689 (Second) London Baptist Confession of Faith. In all humility I recognise my own fallibility and my limited academic knowledge of the Scriptures. I also recognise I do not have a vast knowledge concerning their writers, their histories or their cultures, but according to what has been revealed to me through my study of the Bible, I believe I may have found flaws in the 1689 London Confession of Faith.

I would welcome your feedback, especially if you disagree with me, so that I may learn of errors on my part.

My Observations

My first point refers to the validity of a so-called ‘covenant’ mentioned in:

 Chapter 7: Of God’s Covenant

1. 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.

( Luke 17:10; Job 35:7,8 )

I ask the question, “Which Covenant?” See 2 below, which makes me equally perplexed.

2. 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 offereth 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.

( Genesis 2:17; Galatians 3:10; Romans 3:20, 21; Romans 8:3; Mark 16:15, 16; John 3:16; Ezekiel 36:26, 27; John 6:44, 45; Psalms 110:3 )

Again, I ask which of these supporting texts refers to a ‘covenant of grace’? God is indeed gracious by offering sinners life and salvation through Jesus, but He does not make a ‘covenant’ of grace’ with them.

3. 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.
( Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 11:6, 13; Romans 4:1, 2, &c.; Acts 4:12; John 8:56 )

God never made a covenant with Adam. He simply commanded him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:17) In this same verse we note that God warned Adam of the consequence of disobedience in this matter – he would ‘surely’ die. Genesis 3:15 states there would be ‘enmity’ between the serpent’s seed and the woman’s Seed who would ‘bruise’ the serpent’s head, and the serpent would bruise the heel of the Seed. This is both a promise and a decree. It is not a covenant. God cannot lie, and He is Sovereign; therefore what He said would take place, and it did take place! Jesus, the Seed, overcame the serpent (satan) at the cross. He triumphed over him by rising from the dead, having fulfilled the Prophets (Luke 24:44; Matthew 26:56; Acts 13:27) and by bringing into effect the New Covenant in His blood. (1 Corinthians 11:28; Hebrews 8:13; 9:15; Matthew 26:28)

Regarding the eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect’, as far as I am aware, there is no mention in the Bible of a covenant being made between the Father and Son. A covenant cannot be made with oneself. There must of needs be more than one party involved in making a covenant. God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29); therefore He cannot make a covenant with Himself.

Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator

4. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which that he might discharge he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfil it, and underwent the punishment due to us, which we should have borne and suffered, being made sin and a curse for us; enduring most grievous sorrows in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified, and died, and remained in the state of the dead, yet saw no corruption: on the third day he arose from the dead with the same body in which he suffered, with which he also ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father making intercession, and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.

( Psalms 40:7, 8; Hebrews 10:5-10; John 10:18; Gal 4:4; Matthew 3:15; Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Matthew 26:37, 38; Luke 22:44; Matthew 27:46; Acts 13:37; 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4; John 20:25, 27; Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9-11; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24; Acts 10:42; Romans 14:9, 10; Acts 1:11; 2 Peter 2:4 )

The body of Jesus after His resurrection had ‘different’ properties, in that it could appear and disappear (Luke 24:31) and it could pass through shut doors. (John 20:26) In that sense, it was not the ‘same’ body.

Before his resurrection His body was just like yours and mine, and yet He walked on water, (Mattherw 14:25) but so did Peter. (Matthew 14:29) Both events were miraculous. At the mountain where Jesus was transfigured (Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2) His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. This too, was a miraculous event.

At all times before His resurrection, Jesus, although fully God without loss of deity, was fully man. He was born of the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:20, 23), but was conceived of the Holy Spirit. In order to be Spirit and ascend to His Father, who is Spirit (John 4:24), of necessity, His resurrected body and present-day body had to be transformed into a spiritual body. The substance of His new body must therefore be different to what it was when He was fully man. It is not the ‘same’ body.

Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling

3. Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who worketh when, and where, and how he pleases; so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
( John 3:3, 5, 6; John 3:8 )

As far as I am aware, nowhere does Scripture state that infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit. The nearest text I can find to one supporting this view is where Jesus says, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God,” (Mark 10:14) but this was purely an illustration showing how believers must trust and depend on Jesus. Without faith and trust in the Lord, no one can enter Heaven. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

The supporting texts of John 3:3, 5, 6 and 8 are irrelevant because, only those who have faith and who have repented (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21) of their sins are justified by Christ. (Galatians 2:16; Acts 13:39) That’s not to say that God can’t or won’t save infants or those with impairments that make them incapable of understanding and having trust in the Saviour. He is Sovereign and He does whatever He pleases, but as far as I can see, He makes no positive statement in His Word, the Bible, to the effect that infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit.’

Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith

2. By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word for the authority of God himself, and also apprehendeth an excellency therein above all other writings and all things in the world, as it bears forth the glory of God in his attributes, the excellency of Christ in his nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in his workings and operations: and so is enabled to cast his soul upon the truth thus believed; and also acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come; but the principal acts of saving faith have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, and resting upon him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.

( Acts 24:14; Psalms 27:7-10; Psalms 119:72; 2 Timothy 1:12; John 14:14; Isaiah 66:2; Hebrews 11:13; John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Galatians 2:20; Acts 15:11 )

by virtue of the covenant of graceWhen, and with whom did God make a, ‘Covenant of Grace’? As I said when referring to Chapter 7: Of God’s Covenant, the Bible does NOT mention the making a covenant with Adam and with his offspring, He simply commanded Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. [See Chapter 7, above.] The penalty for doing so was death. (Genesis 2:17)

Chapter 19: Of the Law of God

1. God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience written in his heart, and a particular precept of not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

( Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:10, 12 )

None of the supporting texts show what is highlighted to be the case. Indeed Galatians 3:10, 12 says of things written in the ‘book of the law’ to do them. The Book of the Law constitutes the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, also known as the Pentateuch, which includes the Ten Commandments which were specifically given to Old Testament Israelites at Mount Sinai. (Exodus 20:3-17).

Adam, the first human, was created by God at least 1,400 years before Moses was born; therefore if Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, Adam could not have been held responsible to keep the laws therein. [The general accepted date of the Sinai Covenant and the giving of the Ten Commandments was 1445 BC.] Therefore Adam could not have been placed under a covenant of which he was not aware, and he was not subject to the Ten Commandments that Moses delivered to the elders of the people at Mount Sinai.

2. The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the fall, and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables, the four first containing our duty towards God, and the other six, our duty to man.
( Romans 2:14, 15; Deuteronomy 10:4 )

It is obvious the same law was not written in the heart of man from the time of Adam, as explained above. However, I concede that God could have given Adam a law or code of conduct for him and his posterity to follow, but we are not told of it in the Bible. Adam at the time of his creation was perfect and good (Genesis 1:31). God walked in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8), and there Adam had no need of a law, because there was no evil or sin. Indeed, he could not have committed adultery (Genesis 20:14), because there was no other woman than Eve. He simply had to obey one command given to him by God, i.e., not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

3. Besides this law, commonly called moral (the Ten Commandments – my interjection), God was pleased to give to the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties, all which ceremonial laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are, by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only law-giver, who was furnished with power from the Father for that end abrogated and taken away.

( Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:17; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Colossians 2:14, 16, 17; Ephesians 2:14, 16 )

The Bible never describes God’s laws as ‘moral’ or ‘ceremonial’.

4. To them also he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of moral use.
( 1 Corinthians 9:8-10 )

The Bible never describes God’s laws as ‘judicial’.

5. The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it; neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.
( Romans 13:8-10; James 2:8, 10-12; James 2:10, 11; Matthew 5:17-19; Romans 3:31

The Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, the Pentateuch – none of them ‘bind’ believers who are freed under the Law of Christ through the New Covenant! Salvation is by grace through faith, not by works. (Ephesians 2:8, 9) Jesus fulfilled the law on the part of believers, His elect, both Gentiles and Jews. (Matthew 5:17)

6. Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against, sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unallayed rigour thereof. The promises of it likewise shew them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works; so as man’s doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace.

( Romans 6:14; Galatians 2:16; Romans 8:1; Romans 10:4; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7, etc; Romans 6:12-14; 1 Peter 3:8-13 )

The law has no power to ‘restrain’ from ‘corruptions’. The only ‘release’ from ‘corruptions’ is forgiveness through Christ who paid for the sins of repentant believers. His sacrifice and atonement is sufficient for all, but only believers are the full beneficiaries.

Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day

7. As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God’s appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.

( Exodus 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10 )

The early church did come together on the first day of the week to break bread, but this does not mean that Christians must do so. (Galatians 4:10, 11; Colossians 2:16, 17)

There has never been a ‘perpetual’ commandment, binding on all men to keep holy one day in seven as a sabbath. The sabbath for a Christian is his perpetual rest in Jesus (Hebrews 4:10). Every day and every moment he is enveloped in this rest.

As for the Old Covenant Jewish Sabbath on the last day of the week, this was commanded of God at Sinai (Exodus 20:8), but for partakers of the New Covenant, i.e., true believers with faith and trust in Jesus, their Sabbath of rest is perpetual.

8. The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

( Isaiah 58:13; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Matthew 12:1-13 )

Believers under the New Covenant are not subject to keeping the whole of one day set aside for worshipping God, i.e., the Jewish Sabbath, for the reasons stated above under paragraph 7.

Chapter 23: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

1. A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein the person swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgement, solemnly calleth God to witness what he sweareth, and to judge him according to the truth or falseness thereof.
( Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 10:20; Jeremiah 4:2; 2 Chronicles 6:22, 23 )

Under the New Covenant, Christians should not swear oaths. (James 5;12; Matthew 5:34)

Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead

2. At the last day, such of the saints as are found alive, shall not sleep, but be changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the selfsame bodies, and none other; although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.
( 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Job 19:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 15:42, 43 )

Logic dictates that ‘selfsame’ bodies cannot have ‘different’ qualities. Also, please see my appended note to Chapter 8, verse 4, regarding the nature of the resurrected body of Jesus.

Conclusion

It is my hope that having studied my critical notes, you will have done so with an unbiased view with the objective of finding the truth. This attitude will have enabled you to compare the use of biblical texts from both sides, i.e., those of the 37 members who signed up to the Confession of Faith, and mine in response.

The ratio of 37 people to 1 proves nothing. Only the truth counts.
I would welcome your feedback.


Web lInks

1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith www.reformedreader.org/ccc/1689lbc/english/1689econtents.htm

Westminster Confession of Faith https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Confession_of_Faith

About thebiblicalway

I am a Christian by the grace of God. Ephesians 2:8, 9 Jesus loves me and I love Him. I love my wife, my family and my larger family, the true Church of God.
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