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On Baptists and the Nicene Creed

When I was converted in Stanley Avenue Baptist Church, Hamilton, Ontario, in 1974 and subsequently baptized there and became a member, I wrestled with being a Baptist for a couple of reasons, one of which was the ignorance of my fellow Baptists about history: church history in general, Baptist history in particular, and even the history of the local church of which I was a member.

Baptists in the 17th and 18th century were confessional to the core. Click To TweetI recall speaking to one deacon whose great-grandparent had been a founding member of the church and he had no idea of where Baptists had come from. When asked about Baptist roots, he told me, “We are a people of the Bible.” To which I agreed that that was great. But surely, to my mind (ever a lover of history since I was old enough to read and write), surely there was more that was needed to know.

Reading some of the recent comments online and in social media about the recent motion to include the Nicene Creed in the Baptist Faith and Message(BFM), so much of it feels like déjà vu. I am amazed at the lack of knowledge about the Nicene Creed and its utterly vital importance as well as the failure to understand how Baptist historically have viewed this creed and other credal statements.

I am preparing a book, I hope, on this whole matter that will look at the Nicene Creed and its reception history among Baptists, but suffice it to say two things:

  1. Baptists in the 17th and 18th century were confessional to the core. The idea of “no creed but the Bible” was the watch-cry in that era of men and women who had lost their hold on the fundamentals of Christian orthodoxy.
  2. The distinction that is being made between a creed and a confession is to my mind utterly semantic. Both were understood as binding.

There is a lot more that can be said, but I shall leave that for the book I am preparing.

PS Incidentally, the reports that are circulating that the Southern Baptist Convention has rejected Nicene Trinitarianism are simply nonsense.


Originally posted on Michael A.G. Azad Haykin Substack

Michael A.G. Haykin

Michael Haykin (Th.D., University of Toronto) is the Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality and Director of The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of numerous books including Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the ChurchThe Missionary Fellowship of William CareyEight Women of FaithThe Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Love and Marriage in the Letters of Believers, A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards, and To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin’s Missional Vision and Legacy

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