Confessions and creeds, in some places within the global church, have been forgotten and that should sadden us. Creeds and confessions are important to help us keep our understanding of theology within the realm of orthodoxy and to help us discern good theology from heresy. Without confessions and creeds the church is more susceptible to walk off into territory of ‘new teachings’ or to be swept up by the latest fad within the Christian Church. Here’s what B. H. Carroll (1843-1914), the first president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary said about the importance and need for creeds and confessions;
“The modern cry: ‘Less creed and more liberty’, is a degeneration from the vertebrate of the jellyfish, and means less unity and less morality, and it means more heresy. Definitive truth does not create heresy–it only exposes and corrects. Shut off the creed and the Christian world would fill up with heresy unsuspected and uncorrected, but none the less deadly.”
Quite important, eh? So, let me intoroduce you to a new exposition of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.
Being a book reviewer means that I read a lot of new books and not a lot of old stuff, so when I’m sent a theology book that I can geek out on I absolutely love it. Let me tell you, I certainly geeked out on this! I hope you will too.
At the start of the book Austin Walker gives a historical overview of the London Baptist Confession (LBC), where it was written, why it was written and who it was signed by. The 1689 Confession was adopted by 108 churches of ‘baptised churched’ (churches with members who were baptised as adults by full immersion) in England and Wales. They declared the Confession to contain the doctrine, faith and practices of their churches and thus the London Confession of 1689 came into being. Walker takes the reader through the rationale and sources of the Confession and the identity of the church who accepted it as their confession of faith.
The book then is divided into 32 chapters that, as the title says, expound what the LBC says giving Bible references to support the Confession and drawing in quotes from other historical figures as well. The chapters are written by different authors under the leadership of Rob Ventura, the general editor. Each chapter is evidently the result of each man wrestling with the key doctrines of the Christian faith. The men have written in a way that will encourage you, make you think, help you reflect on deep theology and be in awe of our Lord and how amazing the gospel is.
This book is part of the Mentor imprint from Christian Focus Publications, which are books written for Bible College and seminary students, pastors, and other serious readers. The imprint has a ton of good resources including commentaries, books about key doctrines, examination of current issues, and church history. Being a Mentor imprint it is more academic than your average book, but I didn’t find it a particularly hard book to read, but actually quite enjoyable.
I’m not a baptist, so there are things in this book that I wouldn’t agree with, as I’m sure there will be things that you won’t agree with either. But as Ian Hamilton writes in his endorsement of the book (Hamilton is a convinced Presbyterian) “You do not need to agree with every sentence in this 1689 Confession to benefit greatly from its exposition by men of theological orthodoxy and pastoral integrity. Martin Bucer’s maxim, ‘True theology is not theoretical but pastoral; the end of it is to live a godly life’, is richly expounded throughout this fine volume.”
This book has been written by men who have been Pastors or who are still Pastors. I do wonder if it would have benefitted from some female voices and their academic work on the LBC 1689. If you’re a Baptist, or part of a Baptist-like church, I recommend this book to you, it will help you stand firm on historical orthodoxy and push you to Scripture. But I’d also recommend even if, like me, you just love theology and want to dive deeper into some of the Confessions.
Get your copy here and let me know what you think.
*** I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not change the way I rate the book. My views are my own. ***