The Baptist Confession of Faith

Chapter 1
Of the Holy Scriptures

Paragraph 9. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture which is not manifold, but one, it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.

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4 thoughts on “The Baptist Confession of Faith

  1. bapticatholic – I thank you for taking notice of the blog. I read the article you posted regarding John 20:21-23.
    There is no doubt this has been and is today one of the more controversial passages in the Word of God. I doubt very seriously it will be resolved by yours and my writings. I agree that Jesus was sending His apostles out with authority. Obviously, the question on the table; what is this authority? I believe we have to look at the scriptures as a whole.

    My answer is, the Lord Jesus Christ did not transmit what is peculiarly His only, the power to forgive sins. There is only one Mediator between God and men and it is the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 2:7-12, Luke 5:17-26, 1 Tim 2:5). This commissioning to forgive sins or retain sins is an authority to declare the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. The apostles were ambassadors (2 Cor 5:18-20) and He committed to them the word of reconciliation. So they went out and preached the Gospel and declared who is forgiven and who is not forgiven. They declared “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

    Look at the book of Acts for examples of this authority to forgive or not forgive sins. See Acts 2:37-41;
    “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”

    Also see Peter’s preaching in Acts 3: 19-23
    Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’

    There are other passages too; Acts 8:26-38, Acts 10:34-48, and Acts 13:14-41.

    There are no examples in Acts of men or women going into a booth and confessing their sins to one of the apostles. There are no instructions in the pastoral epistles of Timothy and Titus to sit in a booth and hear personal sins confessed and then absolve those peoples sins. For any man to assume such an authority is not only dangerous for that man but it is deceiving the people who place their trust in such an individual.

    I would remind you that “the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly”.

    Chuck

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  2. Thanks for your thorough response, Chuck! I am familiar with the argument you gave, but I must disagree, with all due respect. None of the passages you cited deal with the apostles themselves (as John 20 indicates) forgiving or retaining (not forgiving) people’s sins. All those had to do with the proclamation of the gospel. You and I agree that those who accepted the gospel would have their sins forgiven and those who didn’t would not. That still doesn’t deal at all with the apostles ability to forgiven and retain sins. It is also curious that the early Christians (pre-Constantine) also recognized the practice of confession and absolution. Early Christians such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origin, and the like all corroborate the practice. See more here: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/confession
    Also, just because we don’t find exact references to the confessional, etc, does not negate the practice. We also do not have exact details on the trinity, and indeed some who study scripture deny it, but that does not give us cause to doubt.

    On your last point about the Bible interpreting itself I would simply say that said rule hasn’t worked. Luther thought that the plain meaning of scripture would be evident to all, and yet his movement began to splinter before his death. An authoritative interpreter is essential. Otherwise, your interpretation is as good as mine. I remember growing up that my grandfather, a missionary baptist, would have friendly debates with a general baptist regarding salvation. My grandfather believed in once saved always saved and his friend believed you could lose your salvation. Both believed scripture promoted their view. I wrote about this issue today on my blog.

    Thanks for your willingness to discuss and may Our Lord bless you!

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