The Baptist Pillar © Brandon Bible Baptist Church 1992-Present www.baptistpillar.com
"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Taken from the book, Baptist Principles, 1912
One distinguishing characteristic of the Baptists through the centuries has been their absolute allegiance and unflinching loyalty to the Scriptures. It has been their age long contention that the Bible and the Bible alone could be accepted as an unerring rule of faith and practice. But let us see.
The earliest published confessions of faith among our forefathers contained no article on the Scriptures. The first of these published declarations of faith was that of the Anabaptists in Germany and Moravia, dated 1527. Then followed the English Baptists in 1580.
In 1644, some Elders, Deacons and Brethren gathered in London, issued a statement of their beliefs in which was the following, "The rule of this, knowledge, faith and obedience, concerning the worship and service of God and all other Christian duties is not man's opinions, devices, laws, constitutions but only the word of God contained in the Holy Scriptures."
In 1660, another convocation of elders, deacons and brethren representing, as they claimed, upwards of 20,000 members, was held in London and they signed a declaration of faith which said, "That the Holy Scriptures is the rule whereby saint both in the matters of faith and conversation are to be regulated."
This confession of faith was presented to King Charles the Second on July 26th, 1660. It was widely published and circulated. It was printed on attractive sheets, which were framed and which adorned the walls of many homes. The introduction of the confession of faith contained these words, "After the way which men call heresy, so worship we the God of our fathers; believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets."
Another confession of faith was issued in 1689, which was and is yet known as the London confession. The article on the Scriptures is that they are the only infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience. The books of the Bible 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, making the 66 as we still have the Bible were then named and these words added, "All which are given by the inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life."
"The whole council of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scriptures." Again, "not only the learned but the unlearned in a due use of ordinary means may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them."
American Baptists began publishing and proclaiming their faith in 1724 when the Association of Baptists in and around Philadelphia referred to the London Confession of faith, and on September 25, 1742, this same association printed and distributed a new edition of the London Confession of Faith with commendation and approval.
On June 24th, 1830, there was issued what is now known as the New Hampshire Confession of faith, so called on account of the place of its origin. It is perhaps the most widely circulated of all among American Baptists.
On the Bible it says:
"We believe. that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction for it has God for its author, salvation for its end and truth without any mixture of error for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian Union and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and opinions should be tried."
The "orthodox creed" of 1678, said "And we do believe that all people ought to have them (The Holy Scriptures) in the mother tongue and diligently and constantly read them."
The London Confession contained the following words:
"But because these original tongues (The Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New) are not known to all people of God, who have a right unto and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar, (common) language of every nation, unto which they come, that the word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope."
From these quotations out of the published confessions of the faith of Baptists, it may be seen that their relation to and attitude toward the Scriptures has always been that of unflinching loyalty and unwavering devotion. They have always believed and still believe:
(1) that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God;
(2) that it is the only authoritative rule of faith and practice;
(3) that it should be an open book to be read, interpreted, believed and obeyed by all alike;
(4) that it should have the widest possible circulation in the native language of the people.
Let us consider briefly these four points from our published confession of faith:
1. Baptists regard the Bible and the Bible alone as, the divinely inspired word of God. But is this a distinguishing characteristic in which Baptists differ from others? It is. There are great and growing organizations among us whose founder and leader claimed to have received divine revelations and which revelations have superceded the Bible among their followers. There are still others who say that Moses and David and Paul wrote inspired religious truth, only in the sense in which Plato, and Darwin and Shakespeare were inspired in their chosen and respective work.
We believe that the faith of the Bible was "once delivered unto the saints," (Jude 3) by "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," (2 Peter 1:21) and that nothing is to be added thereto or taken there from, (Rev. 22:19).
2. Naturally and logically following the first statement is this: "believing the Bible and it alone to be the divinely inspired word of God, Baptists accept it and it alone as authoritative rule for their faith and practice. Whatever teaching conforms to the teaching of the Bible, Baptists accept as true and whatsoever has no confirmation in the word of God they reject.
3. Just as naturally and necessarily comes this: that the Bible should be an open book, read and interpreted, believed and obeyed by all and each severally and singly. It is not a book for the classes and casts, but for the masses. Each individual soul has a right to read it for himself, to be guided by its precepts, illuminated by its principles and saved by its Savior.
4. These confessions of our faith show, as does also the conduct of our people, that Baptists have ever stood for the widest possible circulation of the Bible. Their brain, brawn and money have been given to this end. They would give the word of God the wings of the morning and let it fly to every nation and kindred and tongue and people in their own language.
John Wycliffe (1320-84), who was in all essentials a Baptist, sealed his faith in this Baptist principle, with his own blood. For the translation and circulation of the Scriptures he was persecuted unto death and his Bibles were burned. His bones were afterward exhumed and burned and the ashes scattered to the waters, of the Avon. But every atom of his ashes have borne a new Bible to the people.
William Carey, the Baptist founder of modern missionary activities, had in 1832, two years before his death, issued over 200,000 copies of the Bible in forty different languages and dialects.
Adoniram Judson, Baptist missionary (1788-1850), translated the Bible into the language of the Burmese and with a devout prayer sent thousands upon thousands of copies of it on their glorious mission of mercy.
William Hughes, a Baptist minister of England, formulated the plans upon which the great British Bible Society, which has sent out millions, yea tens of millions of Bibles, was organized and promulgated.
Baptists would put this blessed Book in the hands of every boy and girl and in the home of every, living soul, the wide, wide world around. They would have every humble cabin home and every palace, every little meeting house and every great church building and cathedral, every school and college and university, adorned with a copy of this blessed word of God. They would have men and women everywhere to make it the "man of their council", the light unto their feet and the lamp unto their path.
Baptists everywhere join in one hallelujah chorus:
"This precious book, I'd rather own Than all the gold and gems, .
That e're in Monarch's coffers shown, Than all their royal diadems.
Nay were the sea's one Chrysolite, The earth a golden ball,
And diamonds all the stars of night, This book were worth them all."