The Use of Confessions

Yesterday I posted the Cathcart Baptist Encyclopedia entry on “Confessions of Faith.” I was thinking about the subject for a couple of reasons. Today, Steve Weaver concluded his three part series on “The Use of Confessions of Faith in Baptist History.” He explained that historically Baptists have used doctrinal statements in three ways. “Baptist leaders in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries promoted the use of Confessions of Faith as summaries of essential Biblical beliefs, expressions of unity, and protection from error.

Steve’s article served as a timely encouragement for me since our church plans to officially adopt a statement of faith next month. While we do use the Baptist Faith & Message as our confession of faith, we have never adopted it formally. Our desire to do so now springs from the fact that we also plan to reaffirm our church covenant and begin to take it more seriously. In our covenant we promise “to strive for the advancement of this Church in knowledge… and to sustain…its doctrine.” In order to fulfill that promise we must be able to point to a particular statement of faith or else the affirmation becomes nothing more than a nebulous ascent to nothing. We have selected The Baptist Faith & Message and The Abstract of Principles to serve us in this capacity.

Lakeshore Baptist Church holds to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which states that scripture and scripture alone stands as our only infallible rule of faith and practice. Although we affirm that no man-made creed or document can be set on equal footing as the authoritative Word of God, we feel that the following text of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and the 1858 Abstract of Principles serves as a relatively accurate reflection of our core beliefs.

In an effort to keep these statements of beliefs before us, we will begin in October, to print one article each week in our Sunday morning bulletin. We will give each church member a copy of the two doctrinal statements as well as our church covenant. We pray that this renewed emphasis on our statements of faith and our covenant relationship with each other will strengthen the body of Christ and reflect the glory of God through His church.

In addition to Steve’s articles I mentioned above, let me also recommend three other online resources; “The Role of Confessions in Baptist Faith” by Dr. Tom J. Nettles, “Baptists, the Bible and confessions – The need for statements of faith” by Gregory A. Wills, and Don’t just do something, stand there! – Southern Seminary and the Abstract of Principles by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.


More Baptist pastors should boldly take a stand and work to pass a doctrinal statement, BF&M 2000 at least. What I really appreciate about your post is your desire to take that statement (your covenant based on your doctrinal statement) seriously. If we don’t constantly put it before us and seek to live by its standards, what is the use of having it?

May the Lord bless your efforts and may your people absorb a sense of direction and understanding.

I have just started taking our church through the 1689 Second London confession, on Wednesday nights. We are currently working on our by-laws, constitution, etc. I think it is important to expose the church to the idea of adopting some form of statement of belief (BF&M, Abstract of Principles, Revised New Hampshire 1853, etc.)to protect against the very tendencies toward heretical thought that exist in some churches today.

Mike Beach