Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Articles of faith -- depravity

To compliment the blogs on Total Depravity and Some depravity verses, I am including the following articles of faith. These articles of faith are from the Anabaptist/Baptist faith tradition over a period of 5 centuries. They show a fairly consistent theology concerning the doctrine of depravity. They follow in chronological order, with the exception of John Smythe's Short Confession, which is pulled out for the last paragraph.

1520, Waldensian Confessions of Faith (according to some sources, this goes back to 1120)
4. The books above-mentioned teach us: That there is one GOD, almighty, unbounded in wisdom, and infinite in goodness, and who, in His goodness, has made all things. For He created Adam after His own image and likeness. But through the enmity of the Devil, and his own disobedience, Adam fell, sin entered into the world, and we became transgressors in and by Adam.

1596, A True Confession
4...first Eva, then Adam by hir meanes, did wittingly & willingly fall into disobedience & transgression of the commadement of God. For the which death reigned over all: yea even ouer infants also, which have not sinned, after the lyke maner of the transgression of Adam, that is, actually: Yet are all since the fall of Adam begotten in his own likenes after his image, beeing conceyued and borne in iniquitie, and soo by nature the children of wrath and servants of sinne, and subject to death, and all other calamities due vnto sinne in this world and for euer.

1632, The Dordrecht Confession of Faith
II. Of the Fall of Man - We believe and confess, according to the holy Scriptures, that these our first parents, Adam and Eve, did not continue long in this glorious state in which they were created, but that they, seduced by the subtlety and deceit of the serpent, and the envy of the devil, transgressed the high commandment of God and became disobedient to their Creator; through which disobedience sin has come into the world, and death by sin, which has thus passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, and, hence, brought upon themselves the wrath of God, and condemnation; for which reason they were of God driven out of Paradise, or the pleasure garden, to till the earth, in sorrow to eat of it, and to eat their bread in the sweat of their face, till they should return to the earth, from which they were taken; and that they, therefore, through this one sin, became so ruined, separated, and estranged from God, that they, neither through themselves, nor through any of their descendants, nor through angels, nor men, nor any other creature in heaven or on earth, could be raised up, redeemed, or reconciled to God, but would have had to be eternally lost, had not God, in compassion for His creatures, made provision for it, and interposed with His love and mercy.

1644 London Confession of Faith
IV. ...first Eve, then Adam being seduced did wittingly and willingly fall into disobedience and transgression of the Commandment of their great Creator, for the which death came upon all, and reigned over all, so that all since the Fall are conceived in sin, and brought forth in iniquity, and so by nature children of wrath, and servants of sin, subjects of death, and all other calamities due to sin in this world and forever, being considered in the state of nature, without relation to Christ.

1689 London Confession of Faith
9.3 Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. {The 1742 Philadelphia Confession of Faith is the same as the London 1689}

1729, Goat Yard Declaration of Faith (A Declaration of the Faith and Practice of the Church of Christ at Horsely-down, under the Pastoral Care of Mr. John Gill)
IV. We believe that God created the first man, Adam, after his own image, and in his likeness; an upright, holy, and innocent creature, capable of serving and glorifying him; but, he sinning, all his posterity sinned in him, and came short of the glory of God: the guilt of whose sin is imputed, and a corrupt nature derived, to all his offspring, descending from him by ordinary and natural generation: that they are by their first birth carnal and unclean, averse to all that is good, uncapable of doing any and prone to every sin; and are also by nature children of wrath, and under a sentence of condemnation, and so are subject not only to a corporal death, and involved in a moral one, commonly called spiritual, but are also liable to an eternal death, as considered in the first Adam, fallen and sinners; from all which there is no deliverance but by Christ, the second Adam.

1806, Mississippi Baptist Association Articles of Faith
3. We believe in the fall of Adam; in the imputation of his sin to all his posterity; in the total depravity of human nature; and in man's inability to restore himself to the favor of God.

1833, New Hampshire Confession
3. Of the Fall of Man - We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker; but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint, but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse.

1834 Treatise of the Faith and Practices of the Free Will Baptists
CHAPTER IV, SECTION II: Primitive Man, and His Fall
Our first parents, in their original state, were upright. They naturally preferred and desired to obey their Creator, and had no preference or desire to transgress His will until they were influenced and inclined by the tempter to disobey God's commands. Previous to this, the only tendency of their nature was to do righteousness. In consequence of the first transgression, the state under which the posterity of Adam came into the world is so different from that of Adam that they have not that righteousness and purity which Adam had before the fall; they are not willing to obey God, but are inclined to evil. Hence, none, by virtue of any natural goodness and mere work of their own, can become the children of God, but they are all dependent for salvation upon the redemption effected through the blood of Christ, and upon being created anew unto obedience through the operation of the Spirit; both of which are freely provided for every descendant of Adam.

Circa 1850, Providence Association of Primitive Baptists
ARTICLE 2nd - We believe that God created man good and upright - but that man by his sins and transgressions has become dead in trespasses and in sins and is utterly unable to change his own heart, or to deliver himself from the depraved state into which he has fallen, under the influence of the powers of darkness.

1925, Baptist Faith and Message Statement of the Southern Baptist Convention
3. THE FALL OF MAN - Man was created by the special act of God, as recorded in Genesis. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." (Gen 1:27) "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Gen 2:7) He was created into a state of holiness under the law of his Maker, but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, and are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.

1949, Articles of Faith of the General Association of General Baptists
We believe that we are fallen and depraved creatures, and cannot extricate ourselves from our fallen situation by any ability we possess by nature.

The articles of Waldenses, Anabaptists, General, Particular, Primitive and Missionary Baptists seem to be fairly consistent on the doctrine of depravity, though certain wording leaves room for diversity. The Short Confession of Faith in 20 Articles by General Baptist John Smythe explicitly denies original sin, asserting that all sin "is actual and voluntary" and that "infants are without sin." -- "(5) That there is no original sin (lit;, no sin of origin or descent), but all sin is actual and voluntary, viz., a word, a deed, or a design against the law of God; and therefore, infants are without sin."

Many of these confessions can be found at
Reformed Reader historic Baptist documents.

No comments: