Please check out the “What is a Reformed Baptist?” Poll on the right sidebar on this page (the red box with white type). I intend to conduct the poll for one year, and I am interested in how the Reformed Baptist community might answer this question. I have given four options for answers that I think basically sum up the various groups or individuals that I have found to be using the term.
Notice that for the sake of this poll I regard “substantial adherence” to the Baptist Confession of 1689 as adherence to the theology contained in it, but not so strictly that modifications or refinements are not welcomed if deemed Scripturally appropriate. I recognize that there is a fair amount of debate as to what “substantial adherence” should mean, but I hope I have phrased the question in such a way as to clarify what is intended for the purpose of this poll. The word substantial is taken here primarily to mean being largely but not wholly that which is specified, but it is also intended to emphasize agreement concerning essential doctrinal matters while allowing differences on some matters deemed less essential to Scriptural orthodoxy. Thus one may be willing to modify the confession with regard to such things as the proper understanding of the Regulative Principle of Worship, Divine Impassibility, or the proper nature of Sabbath observance. The term modify is used here simply with the meaning make one or more partial changes to. I have included the example of impassibility in the text of the question below since that is a current topic of debate, in which some are arguing that a modification in the statement of the doctrine — not a rejection of it — should be allowed, and some are arguing against it. Here is how the question, along with the four possible answers, appears on the poll widget:
To regard oneself as a Reformed Baptist, one must …
1) adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology.
2) adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology and to Covenant Theology.
3) adhere substantially to the Baptist Confession of 1689 (e.g. modify regarding Impassibility).
4) adhere strictly to the Baptist Confession of 1689.
I would appreciate the blog’s readers weighing in and letting me know where they stand on this question. As for myself, although Immanuel Baptist Church, where I serve as the primary teaching elder, has adopted an amended form of the Baptist Confession of 1689 and essentially practices the third point of view, I personally think that all that should be required to adopt the label Reformed Baptist is to adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology and to Covenant Theology, the second point of view. For an explanation of why I call myself a Reformed Baptist, see here.
I previously conducted a similar poll that finished back in February of 2008, and you may read the results here. If you read those results, you will also discover why I think that one may adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology and to Covenant Theology and properly call oneself a Reformed Baptist.