Baptist Confession Paper Comparison

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CONFESSION PAPER

New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith
vs.
Treatise of the Faith and Practice of the Free Will Baptists

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Presented to
Dr. Jerry Sutton
Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

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In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Course
CHHI 694-B04 History of Baptists

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by
Stephanie Byers
February 24, 2013

Introduction
When comparing the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith (NHBCF) to the Treatise on Faith and Practice of the Free Will Baptists (TFPFWB) the most significant observation is that the New Hampshire Baptists were Calvinists and the Free Will Baptists derive from the Arminian faith. The analysis of these two movements which are so closely related in time and foundational beliefs is enough to make one wonder what diverging ideas would distinguish one from the other and how are those differences are expressed in their Confession of Faith statements respectively. The New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith represents a diluted Calvinism version of the Baptists beliefs taken from the Baptist Church Manual. John Newton Brown credited with authoring The New Hampshire Baptist Confession was an ordained minister, teacher, publisher and influential Baptist in the nineteenth century. The 1833 statement of doctrine was adopted by the New Hampshire Convention and was broadly received by Baptists in the North, East and West. It has been characterized as being clear, concise and in sync with previous predated confessions but stated much more sedately. Benjamin Randall founded of the Free Will Baptist church having broken from the Calvinistic Baptists who became quite disapproving of his theological views. Essentially he denounced their views on predestination which is the theological doctrine belief that all events have been “willed” by God. At the core of this debate is the belief that God willed eternal damnation for some and salvation for others. Those who attempt to explain predestination often address the supposed “paradox of free will” whereby God's omniscience appears to be incompatible with human free will. He first joined the Arminian Baptists where he was ordained before establishing his own denomination. His Treatise on the Faith and Practice of the Free Will Baptists was adopted in 1834 fifty-five years after their inception. Initially the new denomination was opposed to the use of confessions of faith however that feeling changed and the General Conference decided a formal Free Will Baptist doctrine and practice was indeed needed. Similarities and Differences

The two Confessions begin similarly in that they both open with the acknowledgements of the Holy Bible and Scriptures being God’s revealed word, written by inspired men, free and leading man to salvation is its main objective. TFPFWB’s second statement is like John Newton Brown’s in recognizing there is only one true God however TFPFWB does not identify the Trinity of God like NHBCF expressly does. Additionally, The New Hampshire Baptists believed in an omniscient God who had determined the precise way he would affect people or allow them to do what they so desired to do. Thus, the idea of who God is in relationship to man for the New Hampshire Baptist was a totally sovereign deity over every aspect of their life. This is how they comprehended God’s election to redeem his people from a fallen humanity for eternal purpose. God’s basis for election is solely, ultimately, and chiefly based upon his own glory and this perfectly accords with his nature, for it is fitting for God to place the most infinite perfection, unending goodness, and utmost holiness above anything else. In comparison, the TFPFWB’s Divine Government and Providence article expresses their belief that God has given man the power of choice which means man makes his own decisions and God merely “governs by moral laws and motives and this power of free choice...
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