April 9, 2012 by Michael Dewalt
Presbyterians will at times make the remark that London Baptist copied their confession. While layout and words are almost identical at times (chapters 1, 9, 16, and 32) there are additions, differences, and sections condensed throughout the whole of the LBC. If you do not agree, you can take a look at a Tabular Comparison of the WCF & 2nd-LBC for yourself. An issue at times I have heard from my close Presbyterian brothers (closer than my American-Baptist brothers) is that the London Baptist stole their outline, or copied their work. During the 17-century there were a number of issues in England that help bring about the change from the 1st 1644 LBC to the 2nd 1689 LBC, but more so that the Baptist and Presbyterians would be closer in work and deed than further a part like that we see in America today. A number of issues came about that brought the Second London Baptist Confession in it entirety, and in its likeness of its earlier cousin the Westminster Confession of Faith.
1. 1661 – The Episcopalians had recaptured the machinery and endowments of the Church of England and they were bent on achieving uniformity in England, and not accepting Presbyterians, nor the WCF-1646.
2. 1661 -1665 – A series of coercive acts which form the Clarendon Code were put into act effect to suppress the dissant, namely Presbyterians, but yet effecting Baptist as well, and other Congregationalists throughout England.
3. 1672 – King Charles favored the restoration of Roman Catholicism and issued a Declaration of Indulgence which suspended all penal laws of an ecclesiastical nature against all Protestant dissenters, Presbyterian and Baptist.
4. 1673 – England Parliament passed the Test Act which barred non-conformist from all military and civil offices.
These four key issues brought the Particular Baptist of London to show their agreement with Presbyterians and other Congregationalists through England by making the Westminster Confession their basis of a new (2nd) confession of their own. Thus the London Baptist purpose has been clearly stated,
Our (Baptist) hearty agreement with them (Presbyterians) in that wholesome protestant doctrine, which, with so clear evidence of Scriptures they have asserted.”
I believe one of the most evident “Presbyterian-friendly” areas the authors saw fit to change in the 1689 can be found in chapter 30 on The Lord’s Supper, that it is not restricted to scripturally baptized people, as in the 1644-LBC. The assembly writing the 2nd-LBC saw fit to work with the Presbyterians, for the sake of Protestantism during their time. While yes, yes, yes I understand their are differences (chapters 19-23), sections belittle some Presbyterians might add (chapter 7 & 25 ), and chapters done better by the Baptists (chapter 17), in all they often have more similarities in purpose than one may think.