Confession of Faith (1689)

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The Confession of Faith (1689), also known as the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith,[1][2] or the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (to distinguish it from the 1644 London Baptist Confession of Faith), is a Particular Baptist confession of faith. It was written by English Baptists who subscribed to a Calvinistic soteriology as well as to a covenantal (yet non-Westminsterian) systematic theology. Because it was adopted by the Philadelphia Association of Baptist Churches in the 18th century, it is also known as the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.[3] The Philadelphia Confession, however, was a modification of the Second London Confession; it added an allowance for the singing of hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs in the Lord's Supper and made optional the laying on of hands in baptism.[4]


The Confession was first published in London in 1677 under the title "A confession of Faith put forth by the Elders and Brethren of many Congregations of Christians, Baptized upon Profession of their Faith in London and the Country.[5] With an Appendix concerning Baptism."[3] It was a revision of the Savoy Declaration (1658) with modifications to reflect Baptist theology.[3] Savoy is itself a revision of the Westminster Confession (1646) from presbyterian to congregational church polity. The Confession was published again, under the same title, in 1688 and 1689.[3][6]

The Act of Toleration passed by the Parliament of England in 1689 enabled religious freedom and plurality to co-exist alongside the established churches in England and Scotland. In response to the Act, representatives from over 100 Particular Baptist churches gathered in London from 3–12 September of 1689 to discuss and endorse the 1677 document. Thus, despite the fact that the document was written in 1677, the official preface to the Confession has ensured that it would be known as the "1689 Baptist Confession of Faith."[6]


The Confession consists of 32 chapters, as well as an introduction and a list of signatories.

  1. Of the Holy Scriptures
  2. Of God and the Holy Trinity
  3. Of God's Decree
  4. Of Creation
  5. Of Divine Providence
  6. Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof
  7. Of God's Covenant
  8. Of Christ the Mediator
  9. Of Free Will
  10. Of Effectual Calling
  11. Of Justification
  12. Of Adoption
  13. Of Sanctification
  14. Of Saving Faith
  15. Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation
  16. Of Good Works
  17. Of the Perseverance of the Saints
  18. Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation
  19. Of the Law of God
  20. Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace
  21. Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
  22. Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day
  23. Of Lawful Oaths and Vows
  24. Of the Civil Magistrate
  25. Of Marriage
  26. Of the Church
  27. Of the Communion of Saints
  28. Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper
  29. Of Baptism
  30. Of the Lord's Supper
  31. Of the State of Man After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead
  32. Of the Last Judgment


  • The law's continued value for Christians - while Christ "abrogated" the Levitical ceremonial laws, the Confession cites Christ to have "strengthened this obligation" which "for ever binds all."[7]
  • Forbids prayers for the dead, whether faithful or damned.[8]
  • Sabbatarianism - A weekly Sabbath day is prescribed and believed "to be continued to the end of the world" but a 7th year annual sabbath is ignored (cf. Lev. 25ff.)[9]
  • Marriage is a monogamous heterosexual ordinance.[10]
  • Intermarriage - Christians ought not intermarry with other religions, nor with any who believe "damnable heresies," but are to marry "in the Lord," and thereby not be "unequally yoked."[11]
  • Two church offices - (1) elders (also called "bishops" or "pastors") and (2) deacons.[12]
  • Eternal torment.[13]
  • An open view on the millennium. The Confession does not espouse a particular view on the millennium (cf. chapter 32).[13]


Particular Baptists were quick to develop churches in colonial America, and in 1707 the Philadelphia Baptist Association was formed.[14] This association formally adopted the 1689 Confession in 1742[14] after years of tacit endorsement by individual churches and congregational members. With the addition of two chapters (on the singing of psalms and the laying on of hands), it was retitled The Philadelphia Confession of Faith.[15] Further Calvinistic Baptist church associations formed in the mid-late 18th century adopted the Confession as "The Baptist Confession."[16]

Current usage[edit]

Baptist churches around the world continue to subscribe to the 1689 Baptist Confession as the fullest statement of their beliefs. Many 1689 churches are listed in directories like the Reformed Wiki, the Farese Church Directory and the 1689 Church Directory.


Efforts have been made in recent years to modernize the language of the 1689 Baptist Confession to make it more accessible to contemporary readers. Some approaches are rather free, such as SM Houghton's A Faith to Confess, while others, such as Jeremy Walker's Rooted and Grounded, are more conservative. Still others, like Stan Reeve's The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith In Modern English lie somewhere between. A comparison from the first paragraph demonstrates this:

". . . which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased." (Banner of Truth, 1689)[17]

"And as the manner in which God formerly revealed His will has long ceased, the Holy Scripture becomes absolutely essential to men." (A Faith to Confess, 1975)[18]

"This means that the Holy Scriptures are most necessary, because God’s former ways of revealing his will to his people have now ended." (Rooted and Grounded, 2021)[19]

"Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are absolutely necessary, because God's former ways of revealing His will to His people have now ceased." (The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith in Modern English, 2017)[20]

Modern expositions[edit]

Several expositions of the 2LBCF have been published in recent years.

A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession, by Samuel Waldron, first published in 1989, was one of the first influential expositions of the confession in recent years.[21] It has remained an influential work ever since, going through several editions, revisions, and corrections. Since it was first published, reformed Baptist scholarship has matured in several respects, particularly regarding covenant theology.[22] Nevertheless, it remains a respected source for understanding the theology of the 2LBCF.

A New Exposition of the London Baptist Confession of Faith, edited by Rob Ventura, is a collection of essays written by various reformed Baptist pastors and scholars expounding upon the theology of the 2LBCF.[23]

To the Judicious and Impartial Reader, by James Renihan is part of a multi-volume series covering 17th century reformed Baptist documents.[24] Renihan's work is much larger than that of Waldron or Ventura.


  1. ^ The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Documents, Reformed
  2. ^ 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith . 1689 – via Wikisource.
  3. ^ a b c d Schaff, Philip (1877). "The Baptist Confession of 1688 (The Philadelphia Confession)". The Creeds of Christendom (entry). Vol. 3 - The Creeds of the Evangelical Protestant Churches. New York: Harper & Bros. pp. 651–. ISBN 978-1-61025-039-9.
  4. ^ Leonard, Bill J (2012). Baptists in America. ISBN 9780231501712.
  5. ^ James Leo Garrett, Baptist Theology: A Four-century Study, Mercer University Press, USA, 2009, p. 72
  6. ^ a b J. Gordon Melton, Faiths Across Time, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2014, p. 1258
  7. ^ "The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 19 Of the Law of God, Paragraph 3, 5". 14 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Chapter 22 of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day, Paragraph 4". 11 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Chapter 22 of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day, Paragraph 7". 11 May 2017.
  10. ^ "Chapter 25 of Marriage, Paragraph 1". 8 May 2017.
  11. ^ "Chapter 25 of Marriage, Paragraph 3". 8 May 2017.
  12. ^ "1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 26 Of the Church, Paragraph 9, 11". 7 May 2017.
  13. ^ a b "The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 32 Of the Last Judgement, Paragraph 2". May 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  14. ^ a b Reid, DG; Linder, RD; Shelley, BL; Stout, HS (1990), Dictionary of Christianity in America, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  15. ^ "The Philadelphia Confession of Faith". The Spurgeon Archive. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  16. ^ William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia - Volume 2, The Baptist Standard Bearer, USA, 2001, p. 573
  17. ^ The Baptist Confession of Faith. 6 September 2018.
  18. ^ "SGCB | A FAITH TO CONFESS: The 1689 London Baptist Confession in Modern English". Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  19. ^, Thought Collective. "Rooted and Grounded by Jeremy Walker". Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  20. ^ Reeves, Stan (2017). The 1689 Baptist Confession in Modern English. Cape Coral, FL: Founder's PRess. ISBN 978-1-943539-04-8.
  21. ^ Waldron, Samuel (2016). A modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (5th ed.). Welwyn Garden City, UK, AL7 1TS: EP Books. pp. cover page. ISBN 978-1-78397-187-9.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  22. ^ Waldron, Samuel (2016). A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (5th ed.). Welwyn Garden City, UK, AL7 1TS: EP Books. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-78397-187-9.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  23. ^ Ventura, Rob (2022). A New Exposition of London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, IV20 1TW, Scotland, UK: Mentor. ISBN 978-1-5271-0890-5.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  24. ^ Renihan, James (2022). To the Judicious and Impartial Reader. Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press. ISBN 978-1-943539-34-5.

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