Friday, December 22, 2017

The Goodchild Confession

At the Fundamentals Conference (Fundamental Fellowship) in Des Moines, Iowa, held preceding the Northern Baptist Convention in June 1921, a simple and general confession of faith was adopted. It is part of the history of the division of fundamentalists and conservatives from the more moderate and liberal majority of the Northern Baptists.[i]

The executive committee of the Fundamental Fellowship, chaired by Frank Marsden Goodchild (1860-1928),[ii] proposed “to restate the foundation doctrines of our faith in the following brief and simple confession which is but a re-affirmation of the substance of the historic Philadelphia and New Hampshire Confessions of Faith:”

1. We believe that the Bible is God’s word, that it was written by men divinely inspired, and that is has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
2. We believe in God the Father, perfect in holiness, infinite in wisdom, measureless in power. We rejoice that he concerns himself mercifully in the affairs of men, that he hears and answers prayer, and that he saves from sin and death all who come to him through Jesus Christ.
3. We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, miraculous in his birth, sinless in his life, making atonement for the sins of the world by his death. We believe in his bodily resurrection, his ascension in to heaven, his perpetual intercession for his people and his personal visible return to the world according to his promise.
4. We believe in the Holy Spirit who came forth from God to convince the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, and to regenerate, sanctify and comfort those who believe in Jesus Christ.
5. We believe that all men by nature and by choice are sinners but that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life;” we believe therefore that those who accept Christ as Savior and Lord will rejoice forever in God’s presence and those who refuse to accept Christ as Savior and Lord will be forever separated from God.
6. We believe in the church—a living spiritual body of which Christ is the head and of which all regenerated people are members. We believe that a visible church is a company of believers in Jesus Christ, baptized on a credible confession of faith, and associated in worship, work and fellowship. We believe that to these visible churches were committed, for perpetual observance, the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and that God has laid upon these churches the task of persuading a lost world to accept Jesus Christ as Savior, and to enthrone him as Lord and Master. We believe that all human betterment and social improvement are the inevitable by-products of such a gospel.
7. We believe that every human being has direct relations with God, and is responsible to God alone in all matters of faith; that each church is independent and autonomous and must be free from interference by any ecclesiastical or political authority; that therefore Church and State must be kept separate as having different functions, each fulfilling its duties free from the dictation or patronage of the other.

[Source: The Baptist, Vol. II, No. 22, July 2, 1921, Arthur W. Cleaves, editor; Chicago, IL: Northern Baptist Convention, p. 684]

[i] James Leo Garrett, Jr. says that the Goodchild Confession was adopted by Conservative Baptists in 1943 (The Collected Writings of James Leo Garrett Jr., 1950-2015: Volume 1, Baptists, Part I, Wyman Lewis Richardson, editor; Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2017, p. 68). It is not the current statement of CB America.
[ii] This confession would generally be known as the “Goodchild Confession.” According to Garrett, the confession was written by Goodchild, who was pastor of Central Baptist Church, New York City (Baptist Theology: a Four-Century Study, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2009, p. 331). Central Baptist Church is now a member of the Conservative Baptist Association of America.

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