About Our Forefathers
Centuries before there ever was a
Calvin or a Puritan, the doctrine of grace had been set forth among pre-Reformation
groups, some of whom we would identify today as "baptistic." These anabaptist
"heretics" had bathed the Roman Catholic sword with their own blood and the
blood of their children.
By the seventeenth century in England, the term
"baptist" became a denominational title. The Seven Strict and Particular Baptist
Churches of London formed the first Baptist association and penned their doctrine in two
splendid confessions of faith, the First and Second London Confessions. These first
Baptists, denominationally speaking, were called "particular"
because they held
that the blood of Christ was shed particularly for His sheep; they were called
"strict" because they restricted communion to regenerated and biblically
baptized communicants. From this first Baptist association came Dr. John Clark, who left
England and founded the first Baptist church in America at Newport, Rhode Island. Thus the
first American Baptist church was a Strict and Particular Baptist Church.
From this humble beginning, the American Baptist church
spawned its first association and confession of faith at Philadelphia in 1742. The
Philadelphia Confession of Faith was in fact the Second London Confession of Faith writ
verbatim. Thus no one can dispute that the first American Baptist Church, the first
American Baptist association, and the first American confession of faith were
"Calvinistic," as were its great leaders throughout the nineteenth century
including the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention and their great seminaries. But
Baptists today hardly resemble their ecclesiastical ancestors. But (and we say this
humbly) we do!
We are the Strict and Particular Baptists of London; we are
the pioneers of American Baptist life. We are Benjamin Keach, John Clark, Isaac Watts,
John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, William Carey, Andrew Fuller, J.P. Boyce, B. H. Carroll, and
John Broadus. And though our preaching and practice may strike strange all who hear and
see them, we hold with history and the "faith of our fathers, living still."
By God's grace we endeavor to keep that faith of free and
sovereign grace "once delivered to the saints," the faith for which our
forefathers have died and for which our contemporary brethren would reject us as strange
and heretical. But let the undeniable voices of history attest--the doctrine of Christ's
free and sovereign grace is the truth of God's word, and to the perpetuity of this eternal
truth, we dedicate ourselves.