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Particular Baptists

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Particular Baptists

John Calvin
 Calvinism portal

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 (1628–1688),[1] the theologian John Gill (1697–1771),[1] and the missionary William Carey (1761–1834).[1] Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892), 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, pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, 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]


Groups calling themselves "Reformed Baptist" are also differentiated from Strict Baptists and Particular Baptists, who share a Calvinist doctrine, but differ on ecclesiastical polity.[4]

Strict Baptists

Strict Baptists, also known as Particular Baptists, are Baptists who believe in a Calvinist or Reformed interpretation of Christian soteriology.[14] The Particular Baptists arose in England in the 17th century and took their name from the doctrine of particular redemption,[14] while the term "strict" refers to the practice of closed communion.

Groups calling themselves "Strict Baptists" are often differentiated from those calling themselves "Reformed Baptists." The latter share the same Calvinist doctrine, but differ on ecclesiastical polity.[15] Groups calling themselves "Strict Baptists" generally prefer a congregationalist polity.[15]

Sovereign Grace Baptists

Sovereign Grace Baptists in the broadest sense are any "Calvinistic" Baptists that accept God's sovereign grace[16] 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.[17]

All of these groups generally agree with the Five Points of Calvinism - Total 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 Mahan, who organised the first Sovereign Grace Bible Conference in Ashland, Kentucky in 1954,[18][19] 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,[20] including several hundred Landmark Independent Baptist churches.[21]

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.[22] The association is recognised as an endorsing agent for United States military chaplains.[23]

Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada

The Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada (SGF) is a fellowship for Baptist churches in Canada[24] holding to either the Baptist Confession of 1644 or 1689.[25] SGF had 10 member churches when it was formally inaugurated, located in New Brunswick and Ontario.[26] As of 2012, there were 14 churches, including the Jarvis Street Baptist Church in Toronto.[27] SGF is one of the Baptist groups associated with the Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College.[28]

Sovereign Grace Landmark Independent Baptists

Landmark in polity as well as Calvinist, there are several hundred Sovereign Grace Landmark Independent Baptist churches.[21]

See also


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