Monday, November 11, 2019
Matthew C. Bingham on Reformed Baptists being "Reformed"
Image: CRBC baptismal service (11.10.19) [in the baptistery of Louisa BC]
In his article in the book On Being Reformed: Debates over a Theological Identity (Palgrave Pivot, 2018) [see WM 137] defending the propriety of Reformed Baptists to be considered “Reformed” and distinguishing Reformed Baptists from those who are merely Calvinistic Baptists, Matthew C. Bingham offers this succinct summary (pp. 47-48):
With the wider Reformed tradition, Reformed Baptists affirm monergistic soteriology, an appreciation of God’s meticulous providence, and a robust declaration that all things work “to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy” [2LBCF 5:1]. But alongside these things, and also in keeping with the wider Reformed tradition, Reformed Baptists affirm the regulative principle of worship, demand that a plurality of elders rule in the local congregation, and recognize the need that local churches not be isolated from one another but are instead called to hold “communion together” for their mutual “peace, union, and edification” [2LBCF 26:15]. With the wider Reformed tradition, Reformed Baptists embrace the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath, understand the Lord’s Supper to be more than a bare memorial but rather a means of grace given for our “spiritual nourishment” (2LBCF 30:1], and recognize that the Lord of the Decalogue has given therein a summary statement of his immutable moral law. And with the wider Reformed tradition, Reformed Baptists understand all of Scripture as covenantally structured, rejecting dispensationalism and seeing the New Testament church as properly and fully “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).
To this he then adds:
On these and other points, those Christians subscribing to the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of faith identity, not with the nebulous and ill-defined “Baptist” community, but rather with the Reformed tradition out of which their confessional document emerged. The fact that seventeenth century churchmen who drafted the confession would not have used the term “Reformed Baptists” to describe themselves was the result of political and cultural, rather than theological, considerations and should not dissuade contemporary Christians from embracing the term without embarrassment. Ultimately, then, if pressed as to why I would eschew terms like “Calvinistic Baptist” and stubbornly persist in calling myself “Reformed,” I would simply have to say that I agree with R. Scott Clark and others when they remind us that “Five Points” are not enough. A Calvinistic and Augustinian monergism does not exhaust the confessional heritage to which I subscribe; for that I need a better term: “Reformed.”