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Written by John R. Respess   


Charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.—2 Tim. ii.

On the 3d of July, 1689, upwards of one hundred Baptist churches of England and Wales met in London, and after a session of eight days, published what is now known as the London Confession of Faith. This was over 200 years ago. On the 25th of September, 1742, the Philadelphia Baptist Association, the oldest Baptist association in America, adopted the London Confession as its Confession of Faith; and from that day to the present, the London Confession has been regarded as expressing, in the main, the doctrinal sentiments of all Primitive, or Old School Baptist churches in the United States.

We do not hold the London Confession of Faith responsible for the Arminian institutions that have since sprung up among so-called Baptists, because their institutions are so plainly contrary to the sentiments of that Confession that none sincerely holding and understanding it could be led into them. And we are satisfied that the churches that published that Confession in 1689 sincerely held the sentiments as published, and would, therefore, have repudiated the Arminian institutions of the present day, as the Primitive Baptist churches now do. For it is since that day that Fuller arose, teaching, in one breath, a special and universal atonement, upon which is founded the Arminian institutions of the so called Mission Baptists of this day.

Upon Predestination, that Confession publishes as the Baptist faith, that “God hath decreed in himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin, nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature.”

This enunciation of the Baptist faith upon Predestination, all parties of Primitive, or Old School Baptists of this day consent to; and though there has been much controversy (and some of it bitter), upon the subject yet all sides accept the above declaration of faith as sound and scriptural. The Signs of the Times does, and Eld. Anderson, of Dutton, Ark., does, and says, in reference to it, that “there is no reason to belie that any one in this country, at the present time, is more predestinarian than the London Confession.”

Now, then, it being true that all Primitive, or Old School Baptists accept the London Confession upon this point, why should there be any further controversy about it? If there is not peace upon this point, with all parties accepting the scriptural sentiment upon it, as published in the London Confession, it must be a truth that the controversy is a carnal one, and a strife about words to no profit, but to the subversion of the brotherhood. And this is expressly and emphatically forbidden in the scriptures. It is a sin, and is as much forbidden as it is to steal, get drunk or to commit adultery. But if a brother should be guilty of stealing, drunkenness or adultery, the church would deal with him.

Charging them before the Lord! It is a solemn charge; charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, because it subverts the hearers. That is the great evil of it—it subverts, it overthrows from the foundation, it corrupts and turns the mind from the truth. Declarations of non-fellow ship have been passed by individuals upon their own personal authority, and even churches have declared non-fellowship, and churches that agree, too, upon the point as published in the London Confession.

How is this? Is there not a fault somewhere? Can it be that the controversy has so subverted us that we are, to a certain extent, like Israel was once, when the prophet of the Lord warned them?—that they were without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law.—2 Chron. xv. Are we without the true God, or the spirit and law of Christ, in our dealings, one with another. Of course we do not mean that brethren should not write or preach on Predestination, but that it should not be a strife of words.—R.


As to Eld. Rowe’s pamphlet on predestination, while it was an able argument, there were expressions in it that gave offense to many brethren, and that is why the church asked him to withdraw his offensive expressions, which he did. And that was as far as the church felt it necessary to notice the matter. Eld. Rowe’s doctrine has always been satisfactory to the church here; of it there has never been any complaint, and he has continued to preach among us since the Signs of the Times trouble until he moved off and got a letter, some two years ago, and has visited us and preached with us several times since moving off. But about five months ago he wrote the church here asking to return his letter; and in that letter to the church he declared non-fellowship for all believing the doctrine of the predestination of all things, and stated that if we would receive him with that declaration he hoped to live and die with us. The church wrote him in reply that she could not receive him upon any new conditions, conditions that did not exist at the time the letter was granted. And thus the matter passed until recently, and now we are informed that Eld. Rowe has visited Tennessee and joined some church there upon confession of faith, thus withdrawing himself from the church here as unworthy of his fellowship; and in contempt of church authority. And now we as a church—but few and feeble in every respect—ask to be remembered by our brethren everywhere in their prayers, and that they counsel us in the matter before us.

Read and approved in conference, with request that OUR CHURCH TROUBLE be published in the MESSENGER.

Z. A. FOWLER, Clerk.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 17 September 2006 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.