Reformed Baptists

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Reformed Baptists (sometimes known as Calvinistic Baptists[1]) are Baptists that hold to a Calvinist soteriology.[2] They can trace their history through the early modern Particular Baptists of England. The first Reformed Baptist church was formed in the 1630s.[1] The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith was written along Reformed Baptist lines.[1]

In the United Kingdom

Reformed Baptist churches in the UK go back to the 1630s.[1] Notable early pastors include the author John Bunyan (1628–88),[1] the theologian John Gill (1697–1771),[1] and the missionary William Carey (1761–1834).[1] Charles Spurgeon (1834–92), pastor to the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London, has been called "by far the most famous and influential preacher the Baptists had."[3]

The 1950s saw a renewed interest in Reformed theology among Baptists in the UK.[4]

Peter Masters, pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, created the London Reformed Baptist Seminary in 1975.[4]

In the United States

In March 2009, noting the rise of Calvinism in the United States, Time listed several Baptists among current Calvinist leaders.[5] Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is a strong advocate of Calvinism, although his stand has received opposition from inside the Southern Baptist Convention.[6] John Piper, who was pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis for 33 years, is one of several Baptists who have written in support of Calvinism.[6]

While the Southern Baptist Convention remains split on Calvinism,[7] there are a number of explicitly Reformed Baptist groups in the United States, including the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America,[8] the Continental Baptist Churches,[8] the Sovereign Grace Baptist Association of Churches,[8] and other Sovereign Grace Baptists.[9] Such groups have had some theological influence from other Reformed denominations, such as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.[10] The Orthodox Presbyterian Church was also the source of the Trinity Hymnal, which was adapted for Reformed Baptist use.[11]

By the year 2000, Reformed Baptist groups in the United States totalled about 16,000 people in 400 congregations.[12]

In 1995, the Trinity Hymnal (Baptist Edition) was published for Reformed Baptist churches in America.[11]

In Africa

Notable Reformed Baptist figures in Africa include Conrad Mbewe in Zambia, who has been compared to Spurgeon.[13]

Continental Europe

There is a small but growing network of Reformed Baptist churches in Europe. The Italian churches are organized in the Evangelical Reformed Baptist Churches in Italy association; several French speaking churches sprung from the work of English missionary Stuart Olyott at the Église réformée baptiste de Lausanne, VD, CH, started in the 1960s.[14]


In Brazil there is a modest association, the Comunhão reformada batista do Brasil, sprung mostly from the work of US missionary Richard Denham at São José dos Campos, SP.[15]


Strict Baptists

Groups calling themselves Strict Baptists are often differentiated from those calling themselves "Reformed Baptists," sharing the same Calvinist doctrine, but differing on ecclesiastical polity;[4] "Strict Baptists" generally prefer a congregationalist polity.[4]

The group of Strict Baptists called Strict Particular Baptists are Baptists who believe in a Calvinist or Reformed interpretation of Christian salvation.[16] The Particular Baptists arose in England in the 17th century and took their name from the doctrine of particular redemption,[16] while the term "strict" refers to the practice of closed communion.

See also: Grace Baptist

Sovereign Grace Baptists

Sovereign Grace Baptists in the broadest sense are any "Calvinistic" Baptists that accept God's sovereign grace[17] in salvation and predestination. In the narrower sense, certain churches and groups have preferred "Sovereign Grace" in their name, rather than using the terms "Calvinism," "Calvinist," or "Reformed Baptist." This includes some who prefer the 1644 Baptist Confession of Faith to the 1689 Confession, and who are critical of Covenant theology.[18]

All of these groups generally agree with the Five Points of CalvinismTotal Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. Groups calling themselves "Sovereign Grace Baptists" have been particularly influenced by the writings of John Gill in the 18th century.[9] Among American Baptists who have revived such Calvinist ideas were Rolfe P. Barnard and Henry T. Mahan, who organised the first Sovereign Grace Bible Conference in Ashland, Kentucky in 1954,[19][20] though groups designated as Sovereign Grace are not necessarily connected to them.

Current status

Calvinistic baptist groups presently using the term Sovereign Grace include the Sovereign Grace Baptist Association,[8] the Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada, and some among the growing Calvinist strand of Independent Baptists,[21] including several hundred Landmark Independent Baptist churches.[22]

Sovereign Grace Baptist Association of Churches

The Sovereign Grace Baptist Association of Churches (SGBA), which was organized in 1984,[8] sponsors an annual national conference and churches cooperate in missions, publications, retreats, camps and other activities. The Missionary Committee serves under the Executive Committee to screen candidates and recommend them to the churches for support. They currently (2009) are supporting one missionary endeavour. The Publication Committee reviews and approves submissions, and supplies literature to the churches. Grace News is published quarterly. A Confession of Faith was adopted in 1991. Membership in the SGBA is open to any Baptist church subscribing to the Constitution and Articles of Faith. There are 12 member churches, half of which are located in Michigan.[23] The association is recognised as an endorsing agent for United States military chaplains.[24]

Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada

The Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada (SGF) is a fellowship for Baptist churches in Canada[25] holding to either the Baptist Confession of 1644 or 1689.[26] SGF had 10 member churches when it was formally inaugurated, located in New Brunswick and Ontario.[27] As of 2012, there were 14 churches, including the Jarvis Street Baptist Church in Toronto.[28] SGF is one of the Baptist groups associated with the Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College.[29]

Sovereign Grace Landmark Independent Baptists

Landmark in polity as well as Calvinist, there are several hundred Sovereign Grace Landmark Independent Baptist churches.[22]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Ward, Rowland; Humphreys, Robert (1995). Religious Bodies in Australia: A comprehensive Guide (3rd ed.). New Melbourne Press. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-646-24552-2.
  2. Leonard, Bill J. (2009). Baptist Questions, Baptist Answers: Exploring the Christian Faith. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-664-23289-4. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  3. Parsons, Gerald (1988). Religion in Victorian Britain: Traditions. Manchester University Press. p. 107. ISBN 0-7190-2511-7. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Weaver 2008, p. 224.
  5. Van Biema, David (12 March 2009). "The New Calvinism". Time Magazine. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  6. 1 2 Wills, Gregory (2009). Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859–2009. Oxford University Press. p. 542. ISBN 0-19-983120-3. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  7. Lawless, Chuck (2010). The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God's Mandate in Our Time. B&H. p. 73. ISBN 1-4336-6970-6. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Jonas, William Glenn, ed. (2006). The Baptist river: essays on many tributaries of a diverse tradition. Mercer University Press. p. 273. ISBN 0-88146-030-3. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  9. 1 2 Weaver 2008, p. 220.
  10. Brackney 2009, p. 473.
  11. 1 2 Music, David W; Richardson, Paul Akers (2008). "I will sing the wondrous story": a history of Baptist hymnody in North America. Mercer University Press. p. 491. ISBN 978-0-86554-948-7. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  12. Johnson, Robert E. (2010). A Global Introduction to Baptist Churches. Cambridge University Press. p. 358. ISBN 0-521-70170-8. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  13. Old, Hughes Oliphant (2010). The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church. 7. Our Own Time. William B Eerdmans. p. 228. ISBN 0-8028-1771-8. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  14. Église réformée baptiste de Lausanne [Lausanne Reformed Baptist Church] (in French).
  15. Comunhão reformada batista do Brasil [Brazilian Reformed Baptist Communion] (in Portuguese).
  16. 1 2 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1910). "Baptist". The Encyclopaedia Britannica. 3 (11 ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 370–78 [372].
  17. Stevenson, William R (1999). Sovereign Grace: The place and significance of Christian freedom in John Calvin's political thought. Oxford University Press. p. 10. ISBN 0-19-512506-1. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  18. Brackney 2009, p. 472.
  19. McBeth, H. Leon (1987). The Baptist Heritage: Four Century of Baptist Witness. Broadman Press. p. 771. ISBN 0-8054-6569-3. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  20. Mead, Frank Spencer; Hill, Samuel S.; Atwood, Craig D. (2001). Handbook of Denominations in the United States (11th ed.). Abingdon Press. p. 62. ISBN 0-687-06983-1. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  21. Crowley, John G. (1998). Primitive Baptists of the Wiregrass South: 1815 to the Present. University of Florida Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-8130-1640-5. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  22. 1 2 Wardin, Albert W. (2007). The Twelve Baptist Tribes in the United States: A historical and statistical analysis. Baptist History and Heritage Society. ISBN 1-57843-038-0. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  23. "Sovereign Grace Baptist Association Website: Churches". Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  24. "Armed Forces Chaplains Board Endorsements". US Department of Defense. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  25. Bramadat, Paul; Seljak, David (2009). Christianity and ethnicity in Canada. University of Toronto Press. p. 2008. ISBN 0-8020-9584-4. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  26. "Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada Website: Constitution". Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  27. "Introduction". Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  28. "Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada Website: Member Churches". Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  29. "Mission". Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College. Retrieved 17 November 2012.


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