2Quoted in The Unfettered Word, ed. Robison James (Waco: Word Books, 1987), p. 139. This work is quoted in a preface to an article entitled "Creedalism, Confessionalism, and the Baptist Faith and Message" I wrote for this book. The editor seeks to present a case for the "noncreedal inclinations of Southern Baptists." Some of those concerns are addressed in this article. With permission of the editor, Robison B. James, I hope to publish a slightly edited version of that article in the next issue of The Founders Journal.
3Robert A. Baker, A Baptist Sourcebook (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1966), p. 22.
4The Book of Common Prayer states:
So soon as children are come to a competent age, and can say in their Mother-tongue the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the ten Commandments; and also can answer to the other questions of this short Catechism; they shall be brought to the Bishop. And every one shall have a God-father, or a God-mother, as a witness of their Confirmation.5James, p. 139.
6Edward Farley, "The Modernist Element in Protestantism," in Theology Today XLVII. no. 2, pp. 141, 143. Farley is Professor of Theology, Vanderbilt University Divinity School. Two of the major burdens of Farley's article are the "revisability of confessions" and the "historical approach" to Scripture. He would like to see many more modernist themes inserted into Presbyterian confessions and seems modestly congenial to the Confession of 1967 because of its recognition that the Scriptures are "nevertheless the words of men" and conditioned by the language, thought forms, and literary styles of different cultures and historical situations. It is obvious that he recognizes that strong confessionalism tends to retard relativistic concepts of Scripture.
7See Thomas Scott, The Force of Truth. The edition I have used also contains his sermons "Growth in Grace," "Repentance," and "Election and Perseverance." (Halifax: William Milner, 1844) pp. 7-98. The book was first published in 1779. In the preface to the ninth edition published in 1812, Scott wrote, "[The Author] is more fully than ever confirmed in his judgment respecting the doctrine contained in it." Scott's account of the interaction between his reading of evangelical literature, his contemplation of the church's creed, and his personal Bible study form one of the most interesting studies of theological pilgrimage with which I am acquainted. He confesses that the doctrine of the Trinity of coequal persons in the unity of the Godhead had been no part of his creed and that he had "quarrelled with the articles of the established church about this doctrine" (p. 53). The universal witness of the creeds, however, plus reading contemporary literature constrained him to careful examination and intense meditation on the Scriptures eventually leading him to adopt the doctrine of a "Trinity in Unity." Likewise, his struggle toward the doctrines of grace involved the same interplay. Scott recalls:
Hitherto I had wilfuly passed over and neglected, or endeavoured to put some other construction upon, all those parts of Scripture which directly speak of them: but now I began to consider, meditate, and pray over them; and I soon found that I could not support my former interpretations. They would teach predestination, election, and final perseverance, in spite of all my wresting and expounding. It also occurred to me, that these doctrines, though now in disgrace, were universally believed and maintained by our venerable reformers; that they were admitted at the beginning of the reformation, into the creeds, catechisms, or articles of every one of the protestant churches; that our articles and homilies expressly maintain them; and consequently, that a vast number of wise and sober-minded men, . . . had upon mature deliberation, agreed, . . . that they were true, . . . useful, [and] . . . necessary articles of faith (p. 60).8Ibid., pp. 80-86. At one point Scott says, "We are likewise too prone, in availing ourselves of the labours of critics and expositors, to resign up ourselves implicitly to their guidance, and to imagine that we have proof enough of our doctrines, if we can produce the sanction of some great name that has espoused and maintained them, without carefully examining whether they be right or wrong: but that is to pay that deference to the human interpretation, which is due only to the divine book commented on."
9J. P. Boyce, "Three Changes in Theological Institutions," in Timothy George, ed. James Petigru Boyce: Selected Writings (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1989) pp. 55, 56.
10Baker, Sourcebook, p. 78.
11Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1964) trans. Theodore G. Tappert, p. 46.
12Jonathan Edwards, "A Divine and Supernatural Light," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 2:17. Italics mine.
13Edwards, p. 43.