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DEFINITIONS

1596 True Confession: This was the Confession of an English separatist church, possibly written by its pastor Henry Ainsworth, which was published while in exile in Amsterdam.

Abingdon Association: An association of Particular Baptist Churches from Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, and Hampshire which began its existence in October, 1652. The records of the Association have been reprinted as Vol. 3 of the Association Records of the Particular Baptists (London: The Baptist Historical Society, 1974).

Affinity: designates a relationship by marriage.

Ames, William: (1576-1633) English theologian, educated at Christ’s College, Cambridge under William Perkins. Exiled in 1610, his writings are of immense importance for both English and American Puritanism.

Annihilationism: In opposition to the Orthodox Christian Doctrine of the eternal punishment of the wicked (1689, 31 and 32), Annihilationists are heretics who falsely claim that God punishes wicked men by ending their existence (annihilating them), not by tormenting them with unending suffering in Hell. Note well that the Bible clearly teaches that the error of denying eternal punishment is indeed a damning heresy, inconsistent with being a true Christian and with going to heaven (Rev. 14:9-11; 20:15; 22:19).

Asceticism: In oppostition to the Puritan doctrine of the dignity and sanctity of Christian marriage, and its propriety for all, even Christian ministers (1689, 25), the error of Asceticism wrongly claims that godliness comes through denying the legitimate appetites of the body for food, rest, and sexual fufillment, and therefore, that only celibate men and women can achieve the highest levels of godliness, and therefore, that all Christian ministers must live a celibate life.

Avouch: to put into words positively and with conviction.

Clarendon Code, The: A series of 6 penal acts, passed between 1661 and 1673, intended to re-establish the church of England and punish dissenters.

Commonwealth, The: The period from 1649-1660 when England was ruled by Oliver Cromwell and Parliament (Cromwell disbanded Parliament in 1655).

Consanguinity: designates a blood relationship.

Conversation: manner or way of life

Decisionism: In opposition to the Calvinistic doctrine of regeneration, or “Irresistible Grace” (1689, 10 and 20:4), the error of dicisionism, building on the error of prevenient grace, claims that a some men, of their own free will, use or cooperate with the divine enablement of prevenient grace and are saved, while others, also of their own free will, choose not to use or to cooperate with God’s prevenient grace and perish in their sins. Thus, according to the false doctrine of decisionism, the decisive factor in the conversion of a sinner is the sinner’s decision and cooperation, not God’s decision and regeneration.

Dispensational Error, The: In opposition to the covenantal doctrine (1689, 7) that since the fall, God only has one method of saving sinners, namely by grace, through faith in Christ, the dispensational error falsely claims that God has at times used various methods of salvation from sin, specifically, that under the law he saved the Jews by their works, and that now, under the gospel, he saves men by grace through faith. Note well that I do not mean to offer a general definition of what is commonly termed the modern dispensational movement. Further, note well, that many Christians today who call themselves “Dispensationalists” have properly abandoned and no longer hold what I have here termed the dispensational error, which was taught by early leaders of that movement and widely propagated by the notes in the old Scofield Bible.

Easy Believism: In opposition to the Orthodox Christian doctrine of saving faith and holiness (1689, 11:2, and 13), “easy believists” (or “carnal Christians”) are heretics who falsely claim that their verbal assent to the gospel is true and saving faith, even though their professed faith is not accompanied by any evangelical repentance toward God on their part, and even though their professed faith in Christ does not issue in any moral sanctification of their lifestyle.

Erastianism: In opposition to Baptist doctrine of the separation of church and state (1689, 25, omission of WC, pgh.4), and to the Reformed (Baptist and Paedobaptist) doctrine of the headship of Christ over all the churches in every nation under heaven, the universal church on earth (1689, 26:4), Erastianism wrongly asserts that the King of England, rather than the Pope of Rome, is the head of the universal church in England. Accordingly, the “Church of England” wrongly recognizes this false royal claim to ecclesiastical headship. Thus, in general terms, Erastianism promotes the erroneous notion that the head of state in each nation has authority to act as the head of the churches in that nation.

Gifted Brethren: A controversy arose in the 17th Century over who was properly eligible to preach and teach in the churches. Presbyterians argued that the office of preaching and teaching was limited to the ordained clergy, while most Independents and Baptists argued that it must not be confined in this way. The Particular Baptists resolved the problem by recognizing that some men were given gifts of ministry by Christ, though they were not necessarily to be called into full-time ministry. If it was suspected that a man might have such gifts, he would be asked to preach to the church in private, and if approved, would then be permitted to preach in public. These were the “gifted brethren”. This issue is described in Chapter 26, Paragraph 11 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. Some of these gifted brethren later were called into the ministry, while others were not.

Health-Wealth: In opposition to the Puritan doctrine that spiritual blessings and graces are the distinctive mark of God’s people under the new covenant (1689, 10 - 20), the Health-wealth movement erroneously believes that physical health and material prosperity always distinguish those who please God.

Impugn: call into question, challenge

Insuperable: that which cannot be overcome or got over.

Landmarkism: In opposition to the Reformed (Baptist and Paedobaptist) doctrine of the church universal (1689, 26:1, 2), the error of Landmarkism denies the existence of any universal church on earth.

Libertarian: In opposition to the Puritan doctrine of the Christian Sabbath (1689, 22:7, 8), the Libertarian error claims that the observance of the Lord’s day as a day of rest and worship is a matter of Christian liberty, not a matter of Christian duty or moral obligation.

Oaths: solemn promises made before the Lord, but to men.

Open/Closed Membership: A strong dispute arose in the 1660s and 1670s over the necessity of believer baptism for membership in a local church. Some churches, such as John Bunyan’s Bedford church, and Henry Jessey’s London church, argued that it was unnecessary, and are thus called “open-membership” churches. Others, like William Kiffin, Hanserd Knollys, and Benjamin Keach, were pastors of “closed-membership” churches. The vast majority of Particular Baptist churches were closed membership, although the Broadmead, Bristol Church, which sent representatives to the 1689-92 General Assemblies, and whose pastor, Thomas Vaux subscribed the Confession in 1689, was open-membership.

Pietism: In opposition to the Puritan doctrine of the propriety of Christian involvement in civic, political, and military activity (1689, 24), the error of Pietism wrongly asserts that gospel holiness mandates that a Christian withdraw from any involvement in political, civic, or military action.

Prevenient Grace: In opposition to the Calvinistic doctrine of total inability (1689, 6 and 9), the error of prevenient grace claims that God, by an act of “prevenient grace”, removes the moral disability and bondage to indwelling sin from all men, and thus morally enables all men to come to Christ in repentance and faith. This error serves as the foundation for the companion error of Decisionism.

Propitiation: the turning away of the wrath of God by sacrifice.

Protectorate, The: The period from 1653-58 during which Oliver Cromwell was known as the Lord Protector.

Restoration of 1660: The return of King Charles II from exile.

Sovereign Grace: The Sovereign Grace movement, although it openly adheres to Orthodox Christian, Calvinist, and Baptistic doctrines, nevertheless errs in its opposition to the open confession of the 1689’s covenantal teaching, ecclesiastical polity, and Puritanism, especially, its Puritan doctrines of the regulative principle and Christian Sabbath (1689, 22:1, 7 ,8). Note well, that while some advocates of the Sovereign Grace movement personally hold to the1689, the distinctive beliefs of the Sovereign Grace movement are defined, not by the 1689 Confession, but by a fifteen point doctrinal statement, which does not adhere to the 1689’s Covenantal (1689, 7), Puritan (1689, 1020, 22), and Savoy Church Polity (1689, 26:515) distinctives. Practically speaking,. if we replace the 1689 Confession with the 15 point Sovereign Grace doctrinal statement, the result will be the watering down of the things most surely believed among us, by eliminating covenant theology, Puritanism, and Savoy polity from our defining and distinctive beliefs as Reformed Baptists.

Supererogate: to do over and above what God requires or expects. In Roman Catholic theology supererogate works are meritorious and can avail for the benefit of others (eg. in the case of saints).

Theonomy: In opposition to the Puritan doctrine of the priority of experiential religion and spiritual things, both in the Christian life and in the Christian church (1689, 10 - 20), the theonomy movement errs by pursuing the priority of societal religion and material things. Their wrong priorities are based on their erroneous belief that the prime mandate of Christians and churches is to move their society to adopt and implement Mosaic moral and civil law in every realm, whether political, sociological, economic, cultural, educational, judicial, or religious. Accordingly, in opposition to the biblical doctrine that God’s kingdom is spiritual and ecclesiastical, and comes when Christians and Christian churches keep God’s law evangelically, Theonomists erroneously think that God’s kingdom, or rule, is national, and comes when a whole society formally adopts God’s law in its national life. Accordingly, Theonomists typically, yet vainly, hope for materialistic millennium (Theonomic Postmillennialism), in which every nation in the world, as a society, for an extended period of time, approximately 1000 years, adopts and implements God’s moral and civil law in every realm of its national life.

Universalism: In opposition to the Orthodox Christian Doctrine of the eternal punishment of the wicked (1689, 31 and 32), universalists are heretics who falsely claim that all men, even atheists, go to heaven, and that here is no such thing as hell or eternal punishment. Note that the word “universalism” sometimes refers to a similar but distinct error, not a damning heresy, held by some Christians, namely, the erroneous notion that all God does with a view to salvation from sin he does to and for all men alike. I refer here, not to evangelical universalism, but to heretical universalism.

Vows: solemn promises made to the Lord.

Vulgar: common or every day

Vouchsafed: given or granted in a condescending or gracious manner.

Western Association, The: An association of churches in the western counties, including Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Cornwall, Somerset & Devon which began its existence in Nov. 1653. The records of the Association have been reprinted as Vol. 2 of the Association Records of the Particular Baptists (London: The Baptist Historical Society, 1973).

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