Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Second Galatian Confession of Faith

Think your appeal to an Old Baptist confession carries any weight? Think again.


There has been a lot of ink spilled on the issue of confessions in the Baptist church in recent years, from a variety of different perspectives. There are those who appeal to the Second London Confession of 1689, others who look to the Fulton Confession of 1900, while still others point to a variety of other historic Baptist confessions such as the Midland Confession of 1655 or the Goat Yard Declaration of 1729. Stepping back to take in the vast landscape of confessions that have been written among Baptists, and the subsequent discussions of their relative merits, it occurs to me that one confession is conspicuously absent - The Second Galatian Confession of Faith (SGC). This oversight is particularly alarming when one considers that the provisions of this confession are explicitly spelled-out in the book of Galatians by the apostle Paul under divine inspiration. A closer look at the Second Galatian Confession of Faith yields two indisputable observations that must govern our attitude regarding all such creeds and confessions:





The Second Galatian Confession was the Creed of Some Old Baptist Churches


Paul's epistle is addressed to "the churches of Galatia." (Galatians 1:2) He makes it evident in his address that these were churches that were established on the gospel message of the apostle Paul - the message of salvation that is the result of "the grace of Christ." (Galatians 1:6) Before we get too far ahead of ourselves in examining the teaching of the SGC, we should pause for a moment to affirm one simple observation: The Galatian assemblies which affirmed the Second Galatian Confession were undeniably Old Baptist Churches. Stated another way, it is impossible to deny that these assemblies were established by Paul on the teaching of salvation by grace, or that he addresses them as true churches. Whatever Paul is saying to these churches regarding their profession is something said of a group of Old Baptist Churches by logical consequence.


The Second Galatian Confession is Wrong


In his epistle, Paul explicitly specifies the numerous false beliefs affirmed in the Second Galatian Confession. These false beliefs are the unavoidable result of the introduction of works into the biblical system of salvation which is based entirely on grace. (Romans 11:6) The numerous errors introduced by the Second Galatian Confession are truly staggering when one considers Paul's list of false doctrines that logically follow from their insistence upon works for eternal salvation. Let's take a look:



THE SECOND GALATIAN CONFESSION OF FAITH

  1. We do not believe that salvation is solely by the grace of Christ. (Galatians 1:6)
  2. We believe in “another gospel” distinct from the gospel of God's grace. (Galatians 1:6-7)
  3. This “gospel” is “of men” and not “of God.” (Galatians 1:11-12)
  4. There is a mixture of law and grace required for eternal salvation. (Galatians 1:14, 2:21)
  5. We believe in the frustration of grace through the insistence of law. (Galatians 2:21)
  6. Our beliefs are based on “bewitching” not on the teachings of scripture. (Galatians 3:1)
  7. While we begin eternal life in the Spirit, we are made complete by the flesh. (Galatians 3:1)
  8. They which are of faith alone are not blessed with faithful Abraham in an eternally saving sense, but they must also keep the law to have this eternal blessing. (Galatians 3:9)
  9. Christ has not redeemed us from the curse of the law by his own works, but rather through his work accompanied by our keeping of the law. (Galatians 3:13)
  10. Our inheritance in the Lord is by law and not by promise through the covenant. (Galatians 3:18)
  11. The law is involved in the giving of life. (Galatians 3:21)
  12. Righteousness is come by the law. (Galatians 3:21)
  13. The law is our schoolmaster to bring us to law-keeping for salvation, not to Christ. (Galatians 3:24)
  14. The work of adoption is not accomplished via adherence to a monergistic covenant promise through Christ’s redemption, but via works of the law. (Galatians 4:5-7)
  15. We desire and promote the return to legal bondage for salvation. (Galatians 4:9)
  16. We regard those who object to our doctrinal statement as enemies. (Galatians 4:16)
  17. Our desire is to be under the law for eternal salvation. (Galatians 4:21)
  18. We prefer the bondage of Sinai (the law) to the freedom of Jerusalem (grace). (Galatians 4:25-26)
  19. We embrace the bondwoman (the law) and cast out the freewoman (grace). (Galatians 4:30-31)
  20. The bondwoman is our mother. The freewoman is not. (Galatians 4:30-31)
  21. There is no salvation apart from the entanglement of the yoke of bondage under the law.(Galatians 5:1)
  22. The liberty of Christ is anathema. (Galatians 5:1)
  23. Circumcision is of eternal consequence in that it is a keeping of the law and is thus required for our eternal salvation. (Galatians 5:2)
  24. Our Justification is by the law and not by grace alone. (Galatians 5:4)
  25. We do not wait for the hope of righteousness by faith but rather acquire righteousness through deeds of the law. (Galatians 5:5)
  26. Though our calling be of Christ, our persuasion with respect to doctrine is from another source all together. (Galatians 5:8)
  27. The law is NOT fulfilled in loving thy neighbor as thyself, but in keeping all aspects of the law as defined by the Galatian council. (Galatians 5:14)
  28. The new creation availeth nothing without a rigid adherence to the law. (Galatians 6:15)

From this remarkable list of false doctrines promoted as "gospel truth" in the churches of Galatia, we establish our second undeniable truth - the Second Galatian Confession of Faith is DEAD WRONG.

Old Baptist Confessions Do Not Establish Biblical Truth


When we establish that the SGC was the confession of a real Old Baptist Church and that it was also dead wrong, it follows that proving that one's beliefs are in lock-step with some previous Old Baptist creed is NO PROOF WHATSOEVER that what one believes is in keeping with biblical truth. With that unavoidable observation, we likewise undermine any extra-biblical creed's reliability for establishing doctrine, regardless of the legitimacy of its church pedigree. In so doing, we find ourselves affirming a biblical precept that is more fundamental to our faith - namely that the bible is the only rule of faith and practice in the Old Baptist Church. This truth is taught in a number of passages of scripture:
"But he [Jesus] answered and said, 'It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4)
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (II Timothy 3:16-17)
The logical ramification of this truth is that while appeals to prior confessions may be helpful in demonstrating that one believes what some Old Baptist church believed in a previous era, it does precisely nothing to establish that what one believes is the rightly divided truth of the word of God. Churches are institutions composed of sinners and they are often beset by the manifold difficulties and imperfections that attend the institutions comprised of such. Even the earliest Old Baptist churches struggled with matters of doctrine and practice as evidenced by the bible's own testimony. As a result, truth is established through a proper understanding of the word of God, not through church history or written creeds. The plumb line is the word of God for which there is no substitute.


FINALLY


The Second Galatian Confession is no matter of mere speculation, but a matter of divine revelation given to us by the apostle Paul himself. It establishes that even Old Baptist churches can stray off into error and that they are capable of proselytizing others in their errors as a matter of creed. This should give all of us great pause when we attempt to establish the truth on what some Old Baptist church previously affirmed. If that is a legitimate means of establishing biblical truth, then one could well establish that salvation is by works through an appeal to the Second Galatian Confession of Faith. We know by inspiration that this was the creed of some Old Baptist churches - and we know that it was dead wrong.

2 comments:

  1. I like this post. Clever to the point of it. But, also, in proclaiming a particular denominational pedigree it seems it could risky business. How can one know all the fine print to which a particular group cheerfully subscribes.

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  2. The Confessions themselves are not irrelevant for any purpose, but are irrelevant in establishing truth apart from Scripture. They are very useful in determining what a group of folks say they believe and communicate whether fellowship in the doctrine of Christ is in that particular church.

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