Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Reformed Baptist Theology Isn't Perfect....

I remember one of my professors as Covenant Theological Seminary declaring in class one day that "Reformed theology isn't perfect; it is just the best we can do." Well, of course he was referring to Reformed Presbyterian theology, so I cannot agree that it is the best we can do. But I would say the same thing about my own Reformed Baptist theology. It is not perfect, but it is indeed the best we can do.

The reason it is not perfect is that it is our human attempt to systematize the various doctrines taught in Scripture and – as long as it is us doing the systematizing – we must humbly admit that it cannot be perfect. And we must also humbly admit, I think, that our system of theology has its problem passages just as does any other system of theology. But I would argue that our problem passages are much fewer in number and that we have much better answers for them than any other system of theology.

Our forefathers in the faith, the writers of the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, knew that the only perfect source of knowledge about God is found in the Scriptures, which is why they emphatically asserted that...

[t]he supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved. [1.10]
This means, of course, that the Baptist Confession of 1689 itself – and the system of theology contained therein – is also not to be elevated to a place of authority over or equal to Scripture. Reformed Baptists, then, with their strong commitment to the principle of Sola Scriptura and to the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, should of all people recognize the danger of allowing our confessions and traditions to take on an authority they do not and cannot ever possess.

Yes, we should respect our heritage and the teachings that have come down to us by the grace of God, but the best way to do that is by remaining humble before Scripture and recognizing that Reformed Baptist theology isn't perfect, even if we believe it is the best we can do.


  1. I agree completely.

    Any particular reason why this came up Pr. Throop?


  2. I was reminded of this as I was having coffee one morning with a man from Immanuel. We were discussing Calvinism over against Arminianism and various systems of theology that raise objections to Reformed Baptist theology. In this context I communicated basically what I have said in this post and reminded him that we don't have to act like we have all the answers just because we have the most answers or the best answers.

  3. Reformed Baptist tradition ( a. la. 1689) keeps the spiritual force of the Westminster divines without the ecclesiastical trappings. Our creed is not a rule to be enforced but a statement to be affirmed.