Jared Smith On Various Issues

Covenant Theology And The Particular Baptists

[The following piece appeared in The Baptist Particular newsletter dated 9 February 2024]

The Reformed Baptist denomination, a section of which has amped up its claims to be the modern day representatives of the English Particular Baptists (PB’s), subscribe to a seventeenth century covenantal framework reflective of the Westminster Confession and that of Presbyterianism. In their view, (1) the covenant of redemption is relegated to the backdrop of an ‘eternity past’ with (2) a conditional covenant of works God made with Adam before the Fall (requiring of him perfect obedience to the heart-law) and (3) a conditional covenant of grace God made (or promised to make) with sinners after the Fall (requiring of them saving faith in Christ). Because they have adopted the 1689 Baptist Confession as their denominational statement of faith, they believe this entitles them to the heritage and legacy of the PB’s. However, the PB’s (which continue as a separate denomination to this day) of the seventeenth to twenty-first centuries never used the 1689 confession as a benchmark for orthodoxy. In fact, as early as 1692, the PB’s began to repudiate the covenantal framework of the 1689 confession, believing a conditional covenant of grace God makes with sinners after the Fall to be unscriptural and responsible for a number of grave errors. Henceforth, the PB’s of succeeding centuries took the view that the covenant of redemption drawn up between the TriUne Jehovah from eternity is the covenant of grace. Seldom did they refer to it as a covenant of redemption, but frequently called it an everlasting covenant, a covenant of peace and a covenant of grace. While the Reformed Baptists are quite sure of themselves and their teachings, they have actually discarded the historic reforms of the PB’s, subscribing to a view that has long since been abandoned.