When comparing one item to the other there will always be differences and similarities this is the essitanial aspect of comparing. For purposes of this paper, the two Anabaptist confessions, which will be looked at, are as follows. The New Hampshire Baptist Confession and the Free- Will Baptist Confession. The Basis of the New Hampshire Confession rests on the Calvinistic view of theology verses the Free-Will Baptist whose foundation is rooted in the Armenian aspects of theology. The very core of the differences between these two confessions lies in the positions of Armenian and Calvin theology, which will be the focus of this paper.
An added difference, which warrants a little time is the stance the Free Will, took from the New Hampshire on the view of Ordinances of the church. Wrapping up will focus on how doctrinal differences between the two will affect the movements in their spheres of influence. Doctrine on God The focus of theology starts with a look at God, who He is and how He responds to those He has created. The view of God a person chooses will direct the flow of the flow of the person’s theology. This being said the discussion would start with God.
The New Hampshire Baptist (NHB) believed that God knew all things and therefore new exactly what would happen even before it happened because He determined it that way. The NHB looked at God as having complete and utter sovereignty over all creation. It is under this notion the NHB believed that God knew those who would chose to become His elect from the sinful nature of humanity. The NHB looked at this as an outpouring of God to all that would choose to live for Him. The NHB looked at this as God’s “eternal purpose. One of the areas this confession does not mention is why God chooses one over another. God election is solely based upon His goodness and holiness, that He would be glorified according to His nature. God places His glory above all things in so much He commands there will be no other God before Him. On the other hand, the Free-Will Baptist (FWB) believes God does not preordain people to be called to Him. FWB believes God only ordains the ends, not the middle, or the means. The FWB believes God gives humankind a sort of power.
This power would be considered free will. Free will or the power to choose and therefore determine what things may come by the hand of man. The FWB believe God governs by” moral law and motives” men were thought of as having the ability to bring about the ends He desired. FWB could not understand how a man could be responsible for his action if he does not have the freedom to create possibilities of his own choosing. FWB attempts to break down the concept of the NHB and the idea of God having foreknowledge of all things verses His foreordination of all things.
The FWB believes that all things are with God from the beginning to the end. The FWB believe God’s knowledge of the events does not cause them to happen, the FWB also believe that not all the things God knows will happen. FWB knows that God is omniscience but they deny His foreordination of all things such as the HHB does. The FWB have an understanding to which makes God in some very dependent of the creature or creation. They also have an issue with God’s foreknowledge and His foreordination and could not break apart the bond between them. Although both needed to define God’s omnipotence.
God knows what will happen and what will cause thing to happen, therefore while He knows some of the happenings, He also knows what will be needed should we need a way out. FWB focuses on God’s willingness to act on certain things or react and allow history to unfold as it would. The Nature of Man The NHC confession of Faith believes the fall of man from a state of joy and communion with God is due to the free will of man. Due to this fall, humanity is separated from God and therefore doomed to an eternal death without excuse because of its own choice.
This idea follows along with Calvinism’s doctrine of Total Depravity. Although the NHC falls along the lines of Calvinism there are quite a few aspects of the doctrine they did not follow such as man’s spiritual deadness, black minds dark hearts, and shackles to sin, as well as man’s incapability to change. On the other hand, the FWB builds their faith upon the presupposition that God gives every man free will. FWB believe that although this free will caused men to fall that by the same free will men can choose to change their present state by Christ.
The FWB anthropology is closely linked within their outlook on Christology, with its focus on Atonement of Jesus. Atonement The NHB hold strongly to the foundation of “full atonement. ” The NHB believe that atone was a two part concept which involved a universal and a limited area. The universal part took the stance that Christ atonement was sufficient for the salvation all humankind. The limited area was efficient for only the elect of God. NHB held that Christ knew whom He was giving His life for, and these few were by far and large secure in their salvation.
The FWB held a special place in the confession of faith when speaking of salvation. The idea can be summed up in the following words “The call of the Gospel is co-extensive with the atonement to all me, birth by word and the striving of the Spirit, so that salvation is rendered equally possible to all; and if any fail of eternal life, the fault is wholly his own”. The FWB held to the belief men would be changed to a point where they would be able to choose for themselves salvation. When Christ gave His life this supplied the salvation to those that would believe, but the atonement would not be applied to this salvation.
The only way the application of Christ’s atonement would be placed on a man once he believed in Christ as Lord and savior then through the Spirit the atonement would apply to this person. The Influence of the Holy Spirit NHB hold fast to the belief that God’s grace begins the regeneration process through the workings of the Holy Spirit within the person. The gift is given freely to those who choose a relationship with God. God decrees in order for many people to hear the word of God and thus hear of salvation to all that would accept this call by the Holy Spirit.
The NHB also adhere to the fact that those who will continue to reject the promoting of the Spirit upon their hearts would not be forced to live for God. One of the doctrines of the HNB would follow that God does not care to follow people in this way. FWB have an outlook such that to say God loves those of His elect different than those outside His elect would strike up an argument. The FWB believe God’s atonement is equal for all people and therefore His calling upon the hearts of man are equal.
God would place people in places where they are faced with the decision to call upon Him for atonement but the actual turning away from self and acceptance of atonement is men alone. God cannot choose the right decision or the wrong decision in the doctrine of the FWB. Perseverance of the Saints The NHB like any other denomination will follow its doctrines to their logical conclusions. Believing is “wrought in our souls” because of the regenerating Spirit of God’s work within His elect is “wholly of grace” then the preservation of those elect in a state of salvation is entirely based on the power of God.
If God wants, you saved then you will be saved. On the other hand, the FWB hold fast to their doctrine to which if the act of believing comes from a man’s few will then his choice to remain in the salvation state is also from his free will. A blurb from their doctrine defines it clearly” future obedience and final salvation are neither determined nor certain, since through infirmity and manifold temptation they are in danger of falling. ” The Sacraments The NHB state in their confession there are only two ordinances they hold to. The first being the Baptism and the second being the Lord’s Supper.
However, the FWB also holds the Lord’s Supper and the Baptism of its members but adds a third, which is washing the feet of the Saints. Conclusion In conclusion of the findings between these two different groups is very clear. The doctrines to which govern these groups are first and for most deep-rooted, and secondly quite different. It would be interesting at the very least to see a debate between these groups. It is quite clear the Free Will Baptist doctrine focus is centered on the man. The man makes up his own mind, the man continues to follow his own decision or not.
This idea of man focused is can be seen not only in Christianity but also in new age and many other religions worldwide. While on the other hand the focus of the New Hampshire Baptist is solely, focus on God. Their entire doctrine is focused on a position of humility, peace, love, and joy from the man towards his creator. Though both have their many differences, the bottom line is both were different from the norm of their time and were hunted because they sought many differences from the power of the state-church at that time.
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