Friday, July 31, 2015

Loraine Boettner's Postmillennial Vision of Ecological Health and the Great Commission

Recently I was reminded of a portion of Loraine Boettner's work, The Millennium (1957), that I first read back when I was still a Calvinist.  Boettner held to both Calvinism and Postmillennialism.  Interestingly, I’ve learned that many (maybe most) of the early Arminians were also Postmillennialists (Link). It seems that eschatology may be one more area where early Calvinists and early Arminians had more in common than is usually noticed. 

Here is Loraine Boettner's Postmillennial vision of what could result if Christians took seriously our call to care for creation; although I do not personally hold to postmillennialism, I think his optimism here is exactly right (bold mine): [1]

In the Genesis account of the origin of sin we read that as a part of the penalty placed on man for his sin the ground was cursed (3:17,18). Thenceforth it would bring forth thorns and thistles, so that he would have a never-ending struggle to maintain his existence. The plants and animals and the forces of nature in general, which formerly were for his use and service, then came into a different relationship to him and became in a degree antagonistic to him. His previously pleasant task of dressing and keeping the garden then became ‘toil,’ irksome labor; and he must thenceforth earn his bread by the sweat of his face (3:19). And in reality is not much of the waste land condition of the earth the natural and inevitable result of man’s indolence, ignorance and generally perverted nature which has come about as a result of his fall into sin? The barren and unimproved stretches of land witness to his neglect. Proper irrigation and cultivation has made many a desert to blossom like the rose. One who has traveled through our arid southwest, particularly through New Mexico, Arizona and southern California, has had opportunity to see what great changes take place when water, fertilizer, improved plant varieties and cultivation are applied to the soil. The luxurious growths and beautiful landscapes that now are to be found in some limited areas are but a small sample of what can be done more efficiently and on a world-wide scale when man returns to the proper performance of the task that was assigned to him in Eden. A field that this year has a beautiful crop of wheat or corn may next year lie untilled, with the result that weeds and thistles take possession. Man’s proper management of the earth, the task assigned to him before the fall, will go far toward restoring a profitable plant and animal life. Remedy the sin condition in man and a marvelous transformation will take place in nature. Luther Burbank and others have done much to bring back toward their original condition many varieties of plants and fruits that in their wild and neglected state had degenerated until they were practically worthless.

His book also includes this powerful quote (bold mine):

That the progress of the Church through these years has been slow is due to the fact that Christians in general have not taken seriously Christ's command to evangelize the world. The Great Commission is addressed not merely to ministers and missionaries, but to all Christians everywhere... Roderick Campbell has well said:

"Some day the Christian church will learn to profit by the bitter experience of the church and nation of the Old Covenant. Two very pointed and useful lessons may be learned from the records of the past. Israel had been commanded by God to march in and take possession of the Promised Land. About one year after they left Egypt they reached the borders of the land. Then their faith and their courage failed. 'Let us make a captain,' they say, 'and let us return into Egypt.' What is the result? -- forty weary years of wandering among the rocks and the sand of the desert, and the death of that entire adult generation with the exception of two men of faith ( cf. Nu. 14; 32:10-13).

"The other lesson is equally profitable and clear. A new army under Joshua entered the land. It won its first signal victory at Jericho. It then met bitter and humiliating defeat. Why? Israel had sinned. The guilty party must be punished and every forbidden thing destroyed before victory could be achieved. When this was done Israel found itself on the side of the Almighty ( Joshua 7). God fought for Israel with a mighty hand. The fulfillment of prophecy awaits the day when the church will really believe that God will do all that He has promised to do, and when the church will sincerely aim at entire conformity to the revealed will of God. Then, by the agency of imperfect but faithful men, we may expect God to do what He has promised to do" (Israel and the New Covenant, p. 162).


Further Reading:

[1] Loraine Boettner, The Millennium (1957).

Related Posts:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

James M Rochford, "Biblical Defense of Arminianism"

On his website Evidence Unseen, James Rochford has provided some excellent resources challenging Calvinism and defending Arminianism.  Here is an excerpt from his article, "Biblical Defense of Arminianism":

God desires all people to be saved
Arminians point out that God desires all people to have a relationship with him—not just some. Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).[2] Paul writes, “[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Jesus said that he would “draw all men to [Himself]” (Jn. 12:32), and the Holy Spirit would “convict the world”—not just the elect (Jn. 16:8). In the OT, God makes it clear that he doesn’t desire people to be judged (Ezek. 18:23; Jer. 48:31; Isa. 28:21).[3] However, under the Calvinist view, God would not desire all people to be saved, and he would desire to judge some sinful people.[4]
God allows humans to resist his will
There are two different words used for God’s will in the NT: boulē and thelō. Humans are said to thwart both of these.
1. Boulē (pronounced boo-LAY)
Luke writes, “The Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose (Greek boulē) for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John” (Lk. 7:30; c.f. Acts 7:51). This is the same word used for God’s will in Ephesians 1:11 (“predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will (Greek boulē)”. Here, Luke explains that the Pharisees were capable of thwarting God’s will for them. Likewise, in 2 Peter 3:9, a derivative of boulē is used (boulomai), when Peter writes of God not “wishing for any to perish.” Since some ultimately do go to hell, this must mean that God’s will (boulē) is not fulfilled.
2. Thelō (pronounced THELL-oh)
Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted (thelō) to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling (thelō)” (Mt. 23:37).[5] Here, Jesus (God) wanted to do something, but this was thwarted by the religious leaders. Earlier in the same chapter, Jesus said, “[The King] sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling (thelō) to come” (Mt. 22:3).
Elsewhere, Jesus prayed that God’s “will” would be done on Earth, as it is in heaven (Mt. 6:10). This word (thelēma; pronounced THAY-leem-uh) is in the same word group as thelō. If God’s will could not be resisted, there would be no reason to pray for this. Moreover, Jesus claimed that we are permitted to line up our will with God’s (or choose not to). He said, “If anyone is willing (Greek thelō) to do His will (Greek thelō), he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself” (Jn. 7:17). These passages all imply that we are permitted to resist the will of God.
The full post is available here.

More resources from Evidence Unseen:

In another article, "Calvinism versus Arminianism ", Rochford provides the following links:
  • "TULIP The T.U.L.I.P. acronym explains the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism";
  • "Biblical Defense of Arminianism In this article, we make a hermeneutical case for a moderate Arminian view. We give hermeneutical principles for interpreting disputed passages and interpret many of these passages";
  • "Philosophical Defense of Arminianism Here we offer a philosophical critique of Calvinism and respond to common Calvinist objections to Arminian theology";
  • "Limited Atonement: A Critique Did Christ die for the entire world, or just the elect? We feel that many passages support the doctrine of unlimited atonement";
  • "Conclusions regarding Calvinism We offer some concluding concepts regarding this debate, including some of the positive components of Calvinism from our view";
  • "Further Reading for Calvinism-Arminianism We give a list of books and websites from both an Arminian and Calvinist perspective".

In "Biblical Defense of Arminianism" he provides links to explanations of the following passages:

Arminianism vs Calvinism as a "whole life theology" or a "one-sided theology"

William Birch, of I, Jacobus Arminius, begins his post “Is there more to Arminianism than its five points?”:

John Bugay of Triablogue posted a comment from Stephen Wolfe's Facebook page that suggests Roman Catholicism should be the Calvinist's greatest focus and opponent, not Arminianism; that the latter should be reduced merely to its five points, but, conveniently, Calvinism should not; and that Arminianism is not a way of life, as is Calvinism. (link) Is this even close to being accurate with regard to Arminianism? Not surprisingly -- at least not from the Calvinist's errant perspective of Arminianism -- the answer is no.

In the article to which Birch refers, Wolfe says “Calvinism is ultimately a comprehensive view of living in the world, just as Roman Catholicism is a comprehensive view of living in the world” and by engaging in “The ‘five points’ debate”, Calvinists “demote Calvinism to a pathetically limited set of doctrine.”

Wolfe's comments are interesting in the way that they challenge the “New Calvinism” mindset. It is a New Calvinist tendency, especially among Calvinist Baptists, to equate “Reformed Theology”/”Calvinism” with the 5-points, rather than embracing fuller Covenantal theology (which would exclude Baptist “Calvinists”). This mistaken understanding of what it means to be "Reformed" is also the reason so many Calvinists have a hard time understanding how one can be a "Reformed Arminian" (that is, a Classical Arminian).

Dr Roger Olson has noted that this is really an American phenomenon (link):

Except in the United States, “Reformed Theology” has largely turned its back on Calvin’s (and Beza’s, Edwards’, and Hodge’s) views of God’s sovereignty without abandoning God’s sovereignty as in process theology. This is what makes the American habit of equating Reformed theology with traditional Calvinism ironic. The rest of the Reformed world has by-and-large shifted away from “decretal theology” and divine determinism to a highly modified, often paradoxical (dialectical) view of God’s sovereignty that leaves room for human freedom. British Reformed theologian (who taught also in Germany) Alasdair Heron (d. 2014) stated in his article on Arminianism in The Encyclopedia of Christianity that much Reformed theology has come around to embrace the basic impulses of Arminianism.

Personally, I wonder if American Calvinism’s continued focus on T.U.L.I.P. is a result of the individualism of American culture painting our reading of the Scripture (so that, for example, we read individualism into words like "election" in the New Testament, rather than seeing it corporately as the early church did, and as we do through the Old Testament--for more on this, see: Paul Eddy and Greg Boyd Explain the Corporate View of Election).

Is Arminianism a “whole life theology”?
It’s true, in a sense, that Arminianism might be reduced to its five points: it is a theology of salvation.  Often Wesleyanism (John Wesley) or Covenant theology (Jacob Arminius) are added to it.  However, even as a theology of salvation, it is a “whole life theology” in the sense that it forces us to wear a “Gospel-lens” over all of our interactions, and thereby becomes a "theology of practice". Birch points out (link):
Arminianism, and especially Wesleyan-Arminianism, is missional in nature.  […] Arminianism very naturally gives expression to missionary endeavors, as God loves each and every person, and desires, according to Scripture, the salvation of each and every person. This biblical truth motivates the believer to witness to her or his faith in Christ toward the salvation of others. Evangelism is the heart of God and of Arminian theology.

Or, as Omar Rikabi, a United Methodist Pastor, has written (link), “the gospel doesn’t discount anyone from grace and salvation[…] If we believe in prevenient grace—that Jesus is pursuing every person—we can only know what he’s up to by entering into their story through holy love.”

Arminianism, then, is a whole life theology in that it drives us, everyday and with every part of our lives, to engage those around us with the Gospel, knowing that God is already seeking them and we are cooperating in His pursuit.

What About the 5-points of Calvinism?

Could 5-point Calvinism be a “whole life theology”?  On this point I think Wolfe is correct in so far as he argues that, when reduced to it's 5-points, it cannot. For the Remonstrants, I do not think the 5-points of Arminianism were ever intended to cover the whole of the Christian life; recall that the Remonstrants were Reformed in the broad sense, embracing Covenant Theology.  The five points they introduced in the “Articles of Remonstrance” were the areas where they disagreed with the Reformed Church at the time. In the other areas, as I understand it, they had unity.

Those who make the 5-points of Calvinism the whole of the Christian life--sometimes even equating them with the Gospel--are really basing their worldview on the one area where the Reformed Church disagreed rather than the areas where the church was in unity.

Five-point Calvinism might be considered a “comprehensive view of living in the world” in the sense of accepting a determinist worldview; that God has caused all that happens, whether the utmost evil or good, but as I’ve suggested before, I believe this amounts to a “theological system [that] leads inexorably to ethical blindness, comprise, duplicity, and evil. […A] view of God [that] lead[s the Calvinist] to live falsely in the world” (link).

The only true “whole life theology” is Jesus

If 5-point Calvinism and the 5-points of Arminianism should really only be considered a “whole life theology” in so far as they affect your worldview--5-point Calvinism towards a deterministic worldview, and Arminianism towards an evangelism worldview (at least that's been my experience, first as a Calvinist and now as an Arminian)--then how do we assess them?

I think both sides would agree that the only true “whole life theology” is Jesus.  He is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb 1:3); He is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15); He is the only One who could say, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).  Moreover, He is the one we are to imitate: “whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

Which worldview, then, is more Christ-like, and more like Christ’s?  

As far as an evangelism worldview, I would hope both sides could agree: the Lord himself said "the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10; cf Matthew 18:11--though Calvinists may disagree on whether Jesus' mission includes all people or only the elect).  

But did Jesus also have a determinist worldview? Dr Greg Boyd writes (link):
How can you, and why would you, revolt against something you believe can’t be other than it is?   
I suggest that Jesus had a very different mindset, as did most of the early Church fathers.  
When Jesus encountered people who were physically, socially or spiritually oppressed, he never once encouraged them to resign themselves to their situation as being part of God’s mysterious plan. He rather viewed their various afflictions as the direct or indirect result of Satan’s will – and he revolted against them.   
For example, when Jesus confronted a Jewish woman with a deformed back, he asked, “should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free …”(Lk 13:16, emphasis added)? This is what we consistently find throughout the Gospels. Peter summarized Jesus entire ministry by saying he “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil…” (Ac. 10:38, emphasis added).   
Far from supposing that things like diseases and deformities were part of a great divine plan or that they glorified God, Jesus revealed God’s will and glorified God by coming against these things! Jesus ministry was not about helping people accept the world as it is – as though it now reflected God’s will. His ministry was about helping people revolt against the world as it now is – in order to bring about God’s will.

One-Sided Theology

Responding to the fellow Calvinists of his day who would equate the 5-points of Calvinism with “the faith of God’s elect”, the early dispensationalist Calvinist CH Mackintosh (1820 – 1896) wrote (link), “We believe these five points, so far as they go; but they are very far indeed from containing the faith of God's elect. There are wide fields of divine revelation which this stunted and one-sided system does not touch upon, or even hint at, in the most remote manner.”

Commenting on some of the Scriptures which should challenge us to question 5-point Calvinism, he wrote (bold mine):
Then again we rarely find a mere disciple of any school of doctrine who can face scripture as a whole. Favourite texts will be quoted, and continually reiterated; but a large body of scripture is left almost wholly unappropriated. For example; take such passages as the following, "But now God commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30.) And again, "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2.) So also, in 2 Peter, "The Lord .... is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9.) And, in the very closing section of the volume, we read, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."  
Are these passages to be taken as they stand? or are we to introduce qualifying or modifying words to make them fit in with our system? The fact is, they set forth the largeness of the heart of God, the gracious activities of His nature, the wide aspect of His love. It is not according to the loving heart of God that any of His creatures should perish. There is no such thing set forth in scripture as any decree of God consigning a certain number of the human race to eternal damnation. Some may be judicially given over to blindness because of deliberate rejection of the light. (See Rom. 9:17; Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26, 27; 2 Thess. 2:11, 12; 1 Peter 2:8.) All who perish will have only themselves to blame. All who reach heaven will have to thank God.  
If we are to be taught by scripture we must believe that every man is responsible according to his light. The Gentile is responsible to listen to the voice of creation. The Jew is responsible on the ground of the law. Christendom is responsible on the ground of the full-orbed revelation contained in the whole word of God. If God commands all men, everywhere to repent, does He mean what He says, or merely all the elect? What right have we to add to, or alter, to pare down, or to accommodate the word of God? None whatever. Let us face scripture as it stands, and reject everything which will not stand the test. We may well call in question the soundness of a system which cannot meet the full force of the word of God as a whole. If passages of scripture seem to clash, it is only because of our ignorance. Let us humbly own this, and wait on God for further light. This, we may depend upon it, is safe moral ground to occupy. Instead of endeavouring to reconcile apparent discrepancies, let us bow at the Master's feet and justify Him in all His sayings. Thus shall we reap a harvest of blessing and grow in the knowledge of God and His word as a whole.  
A few days since, a friend put into our hands a sermon recently preached by an eminent clergyman belonging to the high school of doctrine. We have found in this sermon, quite as much as in the letter of our American correspondent, the effects of one-sided theology. For instance, in referring to that magnificent statement of the Baptist in John 1:29, the preacher quotes it thus, "The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the whole world of God's chosen people."  
Reader, think of this. "The world of God's chosen people!" There is not a word about people in the passage. It refers to the great propitiatory work of Christ, in virtue of which every trace of sin shall yet be obliterated from the wide creation of God. We shall only see the full application of that blessed scripture in the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. To confine it to the sin of God's elect can only be viewed as the fruit of theological bias. There is no such expression in scripture as "Taking away the sin of God's elect." Whenever God's people are referred to we have the bearing of sins — the propitiation for our sins — the forgiveness of sins. Scripture never confounds these things; and nothing can be more important for our souls than to be exclusively taught by scripture itself, and not by the warping, stunting, withering dogmas of one-sided theology.  
NOTE It is deeply interesting to mark the way in which scripture guards against the repulsive doctrine of reprobation. Look, for example, at Matthew 25:34. Here, the King, in addressing those on His right hand, says, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Contrast with this the address to those on his left hand: "Depart from me ye cursed [He does not say 'of my Father'] into everlasting fire, prepared [not for you, but]for the devil and his angels." So also, in Romans 9. In speaking of the "vessels of wrath," He says "fitted to destruction" — fitted not by God surely, but by themselves. On the other hand, when He speaks of the "vessels of mercy," he says, "which He had afore prepared unto glory." The grand truth of election is fully established; the repulsive error of reprobation, sedulously avoided.

Further Reading:
  • Don Thorsen, Calvin vs Wesley: Bringing Belief in Line with Practice (Find in a library). You can read a review from Seedbed here, and one from Dr Olson here.

Related Posts:

Sunday, July 26, 2015

What have Baptists traditionally believed about Prevenient Grace?

In “Prevenient Grace: Why it Matters”, Dr Roger Olson (who is himself a Baptist) writes:

What have Baptists traditionally believed about prevenient grace? Well, of course, Particular Baptists (who appeared about forty years after the Baptist founders Smyth and Helwys and were Calvinists) have always emphasized the necessity of supernatural grace for the beginning of salvation. That’s not in debate. The question is: What have non-Calvinist Baptists believed about prevenient grace (which includes the question what have they believed about the incapacity of the will apart from it)?

It very may well be that the majority of Southern Baptists have believed and do believe that Adam’s fall did not result in the incapacitation of anyone’s will to respond to the gospel apart from supernatural grace. I have argued for a long time that semi-Pelagianism is the default theology of most American Christians of most denominations. The Baptist Faith and Message (1925, 1963) does not settle the issue as it does not speak directly to it.

So, let’s look back at the most important statement of faith of early General Baptists. (“General Baptist” is a term traditionally used for non-Calvinist Baptists.) The Orthodox Creed was written in 1678 in response to Second London Confession of Particular Baptists in 1677. The Orthodox Creed was written and signed (initially) by fifty-four messengers, elders and brethren of General Baptist congregations in England. (See W. L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith [Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1959], pp. 295-334)

Most scholars consider The Orthodox Creed a relatively reliable guide to what General, non-Calvinist Baptists believed in the first century of Baptist life. (Or its second century if you count Anabaptists such as Mennonites as baptists and forerunners of Baptists which I do.)

The Orthodox Creeds says that “man,” as a result of the fall of Adam, “wholly lost all ability, or liberty of will, to any spiritual good, for his eternal salvation, his will being now in bondage under sin and Satan, and therefore not able of his own strength to convert himself nor prepare himself thereunto, without God’s grace taketh away the enmity out of his will, and by his special grace, freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, enabling him to will freely and sincerely, that which is spiritually good….” (XX. Article “Of Free-Will in Man” Lumpkin, p. 312)
Clearly, unequivocally, 17th century Baptists believed in the incapacitation of the will due to sin and the necessity of special (supernatural) grace for the first movement of the will toward God.

Why? The consistent, constant testimony of Scripture is that human beings do not seek after (the true) God: Psalm 14 and Romans 3 are stand out passages to this effect. At the heart of Paul’s message is that all boasting is excluded because the person has nothing good that he or she has not received (from God). (1 Corinthians 4:12)

Theologically, semi-Pelagianism is shallow and opens the door to Pelagianism; it does not take seriously enough the helplessness of humanity or humanity’s total dependence on God for everything good. It also attributes an autonomy to the human being that elevates the person too high in relation to God. It also reduces the gift nature of salvation and opens the possibility that salvation can be at least partially earned or merited.

Only the doctrine of prevenient grace matches what Scripture says about the human condition and about salvation and protects the gospel from humanistic dilution.

An Orthodox Creed
An Orthodox Creed: or, A Protestant Confession of Faith, which Dr Olson referenced above, is available online for free in PDF from The Center for Theological Research at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, including a 2006 Editor's Preface by Madison Grace.  Article XX reads in full (link, bold mine):

Of Free-will in Man.

God hath endued the Will of Man with that natural liberty and power, of acting upon Choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of Nature determined, to do Good or Evil:196 But Man in the state of Innocency, had such power and liberty of Will, to chuse and perform that which was acceptable and well pleasing to God, according to the requirement of the First Covenant;197 but he falling from his state of Innocency, wholly lost all ability, or liberty of Will, to any Spiritual Good, for his eternal Salvation,198 his Will being now in bondage under Sin and Satan;199 and therefore not able of his own strength to Convert himself, nor prepare himself thereunto, without God’s Grace taketh away the enmity out of his Will, and by his special Grace, freeth him from his natural Bondage under Sin, enabling him to will freely and sincerely, that which is spiritually good,200 according to the tenure of the new Covenant of Grace in Christ, though not perfectly according to the tenure of the First Covenant;201 which perfection of Will is only attainable in the state of Glory, after the Redemption, or Resurrection of our Fleshly Bodies, Rom. 8.23. Ephes. 4.13.
196  Mat. 17.12.
197  Eccles. 7.29.
198  Rom. 5.6. & 8.7, 8.
199  Joh. 8.44.
200  Ephes. 2.8, 9, 10.
201  Rom. 7.14, 15, 16.

Thomas Helwys congregation's Declaration of Faith

The first English Baptist confession was Thomas Helwys congregation's Declaration of Faith. A copy is available at the Society of Evangelical Arminians' website, including an introduction containing the following excerpt from The Life and Writings of Thomas Helwys:

After breaking with John Smyth in 1610, Thomas Helwys wrote A Declaration of Faith of English People Remaining at Amsterdam in Holland in 1611. Recognized by the majority of Baptist scholars as the first true English Baptist confession of the faith, the purpose of A Declaration of Faith was to differentiate the beliefs of Helwy’s congregation from that of Smyth’s. The confession contains twenty-seven articles. Despite their separation, the confession illustrates Smyth’s and the Mennonites’ influence on Helwys’s doctrine in the denial of limited atonement and the ability for a Christian to fall from grace. A significant difference from Smyth and the Waterlander Mennonites, however, is discernable in Helwys’s Calvinistic insistence on original sin and what was referred to in his time as “free will.” Other difference include Helwys’s denial of succession, which he referred to as Old Testament doctrine, his acceptance of some oaths it they did not compromise one’s Christian life, the bearing of arms in self-defense, and the ability for a church member to participate in the government. The only original copy known to exist is in the York Minister Library.

It is available in PDF here: Thomas Helwys' Confession of Faith - The First Baptist Confession.  Article 4 states (bold mine):
That notwithstanding this, men are by nature the Children of wrath, (Ephesians 2:3) born in iniquity and in sin conceived. (Psalm 51:5) Wise to all evil, but to good they have no knowledge. (Jeremiah 4:22). The natural man perceives not the things of the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:14). And therefore man is not restored unto his former estate, but that as man, in his estate of innocence, having in himself all disposition unto good, & no disposition unto evil, yet being tempted might yield, or might resist: even so now being fallen, and having all disposition unto evil, and no disposition or will unto any good, yet GOD giving grace, man may receive grace, or may reject grace, according to that saying; (Deuteronomy 30:19) I call Heaven and Earth to record. This day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: Therefore choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.

(Also note Article 5 on predestination, election and reprobation).

Other General Baptist Confessions
In their presentation, "Baptist Confessions & Theology” (available from NOBTS here), Dr Rex D Butler and Dr Lloyd A Harsch, both from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, list two other early General Baptist confessions in addition to the Orthodox Creed (1678) and Thomas Helwys' Declaration of Faith (1611): Faith and Practice of Thirty Congregations (1651) of which they note article 25 "Rejects free will unaided by God", and Standard Confession (1660).
Article 25 of the Faith and Practice of Thirty Congregations (1651) states, "That there is not, neither ever was any man endued with any abilities and power to do the revealed will of God, but it was given him from above. Jam. 1. 17." (link).

Further Reading:

Related Posts:

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