English Particular Baptists

Particular Baptists emerged from a separatist congregation that Henry Jacob gathered in London in 1616.  In 1633 several members left the "JLJ church" (identified by last initials of its first three pastors -- Henry Jacob, John Lathrop, and Henry Jessey) and formed a congregation that baptized only believers.  By 1638 the original "JLJ church" was also baptizing believers only.  By 1644 there were seven particular Baptist churches in London.  

Seventeenth century religious thought in England was deeply influenced by the theology of John Calvin.  Particular Baptists found it difficult to break away from the thought patterns of the culture in which they lived.  To distinguish themselves from General Baptists and Anabaptists, Particular Baptists issued the first Baptist confession of faith -- the London Confession of 1644.

Opposed to "General Baptists" like John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, who understood God's grace more in terms of love than power, "Particular Baptists" understood grace more in terms of power than in terms of love.  They adhered to the Calvinist doctrine of " limited atonement" and believed that Christ died only for certain "particular" persons who God predestined to be redeemed.  Corollary to this belief, though often unspoken in Baptist circles, is the conclusion that God predestined the unredeemed to damnation.

According to the logic of Calvin and Particular Baptists:

Major Premise:  God's power effects everything he desires.

Minor Premise:  All persons will not be redeemed.

Conclusion:  Therefore, God does not desire that all be redeemed and Christ did not die for all persons.

For Calvinists, if God did love everyone and Christ had died for all persons, then all persons would necessarily be redeemed.  Because, nothing has the power to prevent God from accomplishing anything that he desires.

Though Calvinists pledge allegiance to the authority of scripture, their doctrine of the atonement clearly subordinates the Bible's logic of sacrificial love to the worlds logic of absolute power.  General Baptists usually quoted John 3:16, 2 Cor. 5:14-15 and other scriptures to refute the flawed human logic of Calvinism.

 

 

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