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A Brief Annotated Bibliography on Baptist History

By admin | June 17, 2008

An Annotated Bibliography of Important Reading and Study Materials Concerning Particular Baptists submitted by James M. Renihan

Beddome, Benjamin. A Scriptural Exposition of the Baptist Catechism. Birmingham: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2006. A very useful doctrinal and practical exposition of the Baptist version of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Highly recommended.

Belcher, Richard and Anthony Mattia, A Discussion of the Seventeenth Century Particular Baptist Confessions of Faith. Southbridge, Mass.: Crown Publications, 1990. This book was written to demonstrate that there is no evidence to support the theory that the two 17th century London Confessions have differing positions on the Law of God. It is very well done, and is highly accurate. More could be said on this issue to support the conclusion, but this is the best available material on this subject.

Brown, Raymond. The English Baptists of the 18th Century. London: The Baptist Historical Society, 1986. This is the best introduction to this subject available.

Copson, Stephen, ed. Association Life of the Particular Baptists of Northern England 1699-1732. English Baptist Records, Vol. 3, London: The Baptist Historical Society, 1991. This transcript of the records of the Northern Association is carefully presented. It illustrates many of the ecclesiological perspectives of the Northern Particular Baptists. There is an excellent and lengthy introduction which describes many facets of their belief and practice. Highly recommended.

Coxe, Nehemiah and John Owen. Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ. (Owensboro: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2005. In most of the material that has been reprinted over the last half-century, Covenant Theology has been presented as if it necessarily implied the doctrine and practice of infant baptism. We could fill much space here simply listing the books that have taken this position. Many of us, however, have been unconvinced of this stipulation, believing that it is an unnecessary consequence of theological reasoning. We believe that it is very possible, even requisite, to formulate an exegetically based Covenant Theology that upholds the centrality and continuity of God’s plan of redemption through the ages without falling into the deduction that infant baptism must attend that doctrine. Sadly, there have been few works available that have wrestled with these issues at a profound exegetical and theological level. The books written from a paedobaptist perspective are often dismissive of the credobaptist (i.e. believer’s baptism) point of view, and those defending believer’s baptism have often failed to give sufficient effort to presenting a full-blown covenantal system. The end result is that paedobaptists have seldom, if ever, considered the possibility of a covenantal credobaptist position, and many Baptists are simply ignorant of the centrality of the covenant and its usefulness in defending their own beliefs. This book is an attempt to begin to rectify this deficiency.

Dix, Kenneth. Strict and Particular: English Strict and Particular Baptists in the Nineteenth Century. Didcot: Baptist Historical Society, 2001. This was Dr. Dix’s doctoral thesis. See my review: http://www.reformedbaptistinstitute.org/?p=72. A very useful book.

Estep, William R. The Anabaptist Story. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1975 revised edition. For those seeking a readable introduction to the Continental Anabaptists, this is the place to start. I disagree with Dr. Estep’s perspectives on the relations between the Continental Anabaptists and the English Baptists, as well as his assertions about the theological dependence of the Particular Baptists on the General Baptists. Nevertheless, this is a fine treatment of the subject.

Hayden, Roger, ed. The Records of a Church of Christ in Bristol, 1640-1687. Bristol: The Bristol Record Society, 1974. This work was also reprinted twice in the 19th Century. If you can find it, buy it. It is living church history. One of the elders of the Broadmead Bristol Church, Edward Terrill, set down a first hand account of the life of his church during this era. Especially interesting is his 12 step description of the process by which reformation came to Bristol. Starting with the events related to Luther and Calvin, he proceeds through a series of stages until he arrives at his own church. He believed that his own assembly was the logical and theological fruit of the reformation. Are Baptists Reformed? This 17th century Baptist knew that he was. The Broadmead church was represented at the 1689 London Particular Baptist General Assembly by its pastor Thomas Vaux.

Haykin, Michael A.G. One Heart and One Soul: John Sutcliff of Olney, His Friends and His Times. Darlington, Co. Durham, Evangelical Press, 1994. Dr. Haykin has written a compelling account of this often neglected but highly significant Particular Baptist leader from the end of the Eighteenth Century. Sutcliff, along with Andrew Fuller, John Ryland Jr., and others, were instrumental in bringing new life into the moribund testimony of the Particular Baptists during this era. The wide range of subjects handled in the book provides much food for thought in our contemporary situation. Very highly recommended.

Keach, Benjamin. Exposition of the Parables. Series One and Series Two. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1991 reprint.

________. Preaching from the Types and Metaphors of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1992 reprint. Few works of the 17th Century Particular Baptists have been reprinted, and this makes these three volumes all the more important. Keach (died 1704) was one of the most important, and controversial, pastors among the London churches. These works give us much insight into the theological mindset of our predecessors. These books should be on the shelf, and in the hands, of every Reformed Baptist pastor. You might not always agree with everything Keach says, (there are over 1900 pages here), but you will learn a great deal about the truly Puritan perspectives of the Particular Baptists.

Kiffin, William. A Sober Discourse of Right to Church Communion. Paris, Ark.: Baptist Standard Bearer, 2006 reprint. Few people know that John Bunyan was involved in a controversy with the Particular Baptists over the relation between baptism and church membership (‘church communion’ in the title refers to membership). William Kiffin, one of the great leaders of the Particular Baptist movement, wrote this work against Bunyan. It is a classic statement of the case for the historic Baptist (and really Protestant) position.

Lumpkin, W.L. Baptist Confessions of Faith. Valley Forge, Penn.: Judson Press, 1969 revised edition. I have a touch of hesitation in recommending this book. The documents contained in it are excellent, and are worth the price of the volume. Lumpkin’s comments, however, are not always accurate, and mar the usefulness of the book. I have found that he just does not understand the 17th century, and as a result makes some serious errors in his statements. His section introducing the Second London Confession (1689) contains many mistakes, and has been used by some as scholarly support for the notion that the 1689 Confession’s theology was more a matter of political expediency than theological conviction. I cannot say strongly enough that this is not in any way true. There is substantial agreement between the two London Confessions. Three pastors, William Kiffin, Hanserd Knollys and Henry Forty, publicly signed both. So far as I can tell, they were, in 1689, the only surviving subscribers to the 1644 or 1646 editions of the First London Confession. More interestingly, of the seven churches that originally subscribed in 1644, five had representatives sign the 1689. What about the other two? In the decades between, these churches had either died out or been assimilated into other churches. Every surviving individual and church subscribed the 1689 at the General Assembly. In order to support the antinomian theory, one must demonstrate that all of these significantly changed their views over those decades. There is no evidence to sustain such a notion. So, buy the book for the value of its documents, but take Lumpkin’s comments with a grain of salt.

McGoldrick, James Edward. Baptist Successionism: A Crucial Question in Baptist History. Metuchen, N.J.: The American Theological Library Association, 1994. This is another must buy book. There is a popular notion that true Baptist churches have existed in succession from the New Testament era until today. This view is often associated with Landmark Baptists, but it also occurs in others as well. Dr. McGoldrick once held this view, and here demonstrates that it is utterly untenable. Most of the groups commonly called into the Baptist family bear little or no resemblance to what we believe Baptists to be. Some were outright heretics, while others were Godly persecuted Christians, but hardly Baptists. Dr. McGoldrick does not argue against the perpetuity of the church, he simply shows that the notion of Baptist Successionism has no historical support. In my understanding, it is bad history, driven by shoddy exegesis and worse theology. I wish that every Reformed Baptist pastor would get this book and read it carefully. I have met several people in different churches who have been exposed to the successionist doctrine in one of its forms, and have wondered about its validity. This book will help to prepare you to give a wise and reasoned pastoral answer to a subject that is very delicate with some.

Nuttall, Geoffrey F. Visible Saints: The Congregational Way 1640-1660. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1957. Dr. Nuttall’s book is an excellent treatment of the principles of Congregationalism, or Independency, during this era. It is well worth careful study.

Oliver, Robert. History of the English Calvinistic Baptists, 1771-1892. Everything that Dr. Oliver writes is worth reading! See my review: http://www.reformedbaptistinstitute.org/?p=72.

Renihan, James M. True Confessions: Baptist Documents in the Reformed Family. (Owensboro: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2007). Dr. Crawford Gribben writes, “The whole book is full of surprises, but effectively demonstrates that the Calvinistic Baptist confessional and catechetical documents emerge from the mainstream of English Reformed life.”

Tibbutt, H.G. ed. Some Early Nonconformist Church Books. Bedford: The Bedfordshire Historical Record Society, 1972. H.G. Tibbutt has transcribed sections of eight 17th Century church books, including two important Particular Baptist churches, Kensworth and Stevington. This is fascinating reading.

Tolmie, Murray. The Triumph of the Saints: The Separate Churches of London 1616-1649. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977. Tolmie provides an excellent background study of the circle of churches out of which the Particular Baptists developed.

Waldron, Samuel E. Baptist Roots in America. Boonton, N.J.: Simpson Pub. Co., 1991. A good introduction to the subject.

Watts, Michael. The Dissenters From the Reformation to the French Revolution. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978. This is the best, and most comprehensive, treatment of this era. It is not faultless, so be careful, but it is very good, especially in its portrayal of historical circumstances. A second volume, carrying on the story from the end of the 18th century, was published in 1995.

White, B.R. ed. Association Records of the Particular Baptists of England, Wales and Ireland to 1660. 3 Vols. London: The Baptist Historical Society, 1971,73,74. Very valuable. These records describe the process by which theological and practical issues were hammered out among the Particular Baptists. Dr. White’s skilled editorial notes make the volumes even more valuable. There is also a separate index to these volumes, compiled by K.W.H. Howard, published by the B.H.S. in 1977. It is of real help in using the material.

________. The English Baptists of the 17th Century. London: The Baptist Historical Society, 1983. Though brief, this is very helpful. Dr. White is probably the world’s foremost authority on the English Baptists of the 17th century. His articles on related topics, published in many journals and periodicals, are excellent.

Wilcox, Thomas. Honey Out of the Rock. Pensacola, Fla.: Chapel Library, n.d. This sermon by Wilcox, who died in 1687, is one of the few Particular Baptist works that are easily obtainable.

Topics: Baptist History, Church, Confessions, Covenant Theology, Crawford Gribben, Faculty Books, John Owen, Puritanism, Puritans, Reformed Theology, Uncategorized | Comments Off

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