Stuart Brogden has given us an excellent resource on what it means to be a Reformed Baptist in his book Captive to the Word of God: A Particular Baptist Perspective on Reformed and Covenant Theology.
This book has the perfect title. Though Baptists are not the only one’s who affirm Sola Scriptura, in my opinion, they are the most consistent in following out this principle when it comes to the liberty of conscience.
In fact, liberty of conscience is at the heart of what it means to be a Baptist. Liberty of conscience requires a separation between church and state, and this separation requires a distinct view of covenant theology. Historically, Baptists have rightly understood that the church, the Kingdom of God, and the covenant of grace consists of believers and believers alone. This understanding impacts their doctrine of the local church and its authority. That is, God has not subjected the government or the doctrine of the local church to any higher authority than the Word of God. These distinctives impact the membership and discipline of the local church. And, these distinctives, as Brogden explains, even impact the practice and worship of the local church.
Baptists do not simply have a few distinct and unrelated doctrinal beliefs that distinguish them from other denominational traditions, but rather their distinctives—that identity them as Baptists—are interconnected and flow from their belief in Sola Scriptura.
Brogden masterfully explains and builds a Scriptural case for these important distinctives. Along with several helpful appendixes, the book is divided into four sections: Section 1 explains what Baptists believe on the ordnances and the nature of the church. Section 2 explains what it means to be Reformed. Section 3 explains the distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology. Section 4 concludes with how these Baptist distinctives influence the everyday life of the local church.
Though Brogden covers a lot of ground, he remains thorough. This book is not an overview or an introductory work. Each section is well argued and defended. In this book you will find a formidable defense of credobaptism, Baptist Covenant Theology, liberty of conscience, the five solas, and the purpose and use of confessions. These could have easily been stand alone books, but having them grouped together makes for a valuable resource.
After reading this book, I have become more grounded in my own beliefs and more grateful for our Baptist heritage. As I say in my endorsement, “In my opinion, this helpful work needs to be required reading for all Baptist seminary students. In fact, everyone who wants to know what it means to be a Baptist should read this book. Since I love the historic Baptist faith, I love this book.”
You can order the book here.