Doctrinal Position of Some Kentucky
Baptist Associations---Original Confessions.
The following documents are reproduced as nearly as possible as they appear in the original minutes with inconsistences of spelling, punctuation, etc. They reveal the great influence of the Philadelphia Confession of Faith in the early history of Kentucky Baptists, but at the same time the freedom they felt in modifying this venerable document so as to bring it into harmony with their actual beliefs and practices. Incidentally is revealed their attitude toward the imposition of hands upon the newly baptized as a required ordinance and of the lawfulessness of the oath, so long debated questions among the Baptists. At first imposition of hands is required, then freedom is granted and finally the practice disappears.
ElkhornIs the oldest Association west of the Alleghenies. The original minute has been lost, but the action was copied into a later minute and according to that copy the action was as follows:
A Baptist Conference was held at South Elkhorn Church in Woodford county, June 25, 1785, when it was "agreed that the Philadelphia Confession of Faith be strictly adhered to as the rule of our communion'' in forming the body. This ''Conference" resulted in the organization of an Association at Clear Creek church, September 30, 1785, when the following action was taken as to their doctrinal basis, viz.:
"Being assembled together and taking into our serious consideration what might be the most advantageous for the glory of God, the advancement of the kingdom of our Dear Redeemer and the mutual comfort and happiness of the Churches of Christ, having unanimously agreed to unite in the strongest bonds of Christian fellowship and love, and in order to support and keep that union, do hereby adopt the Baptist Confession of Faith first put forth in the name of the Seven Congregations met together in London in the year 1643 , containing a system of the Evangelical doctrines agreeable to the Gospel of Christ, which we do hereby believe in and receive, but something in the third and fifth chapters in said book we do except if construed in that light which makes God the cause or author of sin; but we do acknowledge and believe God to be an Almighty Sovereign, wisely to govern and direct all things so as to p:romote his own glory.
''Also in chapter 31 concerning the laying on of hands on persons baptized as essential in their reception into the church, it is agreed on by us that the using or not using of that practice shall not affect our fellowship to each other, and as there are a number of Christian professors in the country under the Baptist name in order to distinguish ourselves from them, me are of opinion that no appellation is more suitable in our profession than that of 'Regular Baptist,’ which name we profess.”
In the above statement the brethren are mistaken as to the confession to which they are refer[r]ing. The English Confession of 1644, or 1643 as they have it, makes no references to laying on of hands. They are actually referring to the Philadelphia Confession, which is the American edition of the English Baptist Confession, published by the Assembly, in 1689, and which was a Baptist revision of the Westminster Confession.
Their attitude towards this confession is further defined in 1793 when negotiating for a union with the South Kentucky Association. This document follows:
"Monday, October 14, 1793.
Terms of union with the South Kentucky Association:
We agree to receive the Regular Baptist Confession of Faith, but to prevent; its usurping a tyrannical power over the conscience of any, we do not mean that every person is to be bound to the strict observance of every thing therein contained, yet that it holds forth the essential truths of the Gospel and that we do believe in those doctrines relative to the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the sacred authority of the Scriptures, the universal depravity of human nature, the total inability of man to help himself without the aid of divine grace, the necessity of repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the justification of our person entirely by the imputed righteousness of Christ, believers baptism by immersion only and self-denial. And that the Supreme Judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and, all decrees. of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men and private spirits are to be examined and in whose sentence we are to rest can he no other than the Holy Scriptures, delivered by the Spirit, unto which Scripture so delivered our fathers finally resolved.”
Was constituted of four Regular Baptist Churches, met at Cox's Creek, in Nelson county, Saturday, October 29, 1785. The original records of this meeting have been lost, but a summary of the action then taken was copied into a later book by the Clerk of the Association. According to this summary the Association made the following statement as the doctrinal position of that body:
"4th. The report of the several delegates being read [on Monday, October 31], and attended to; Resolved, That the Churches have adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith and treatise of discipline thereto annexed and hold ourselves in full fellowship with the Philadelphia, Ketocton and Monongahela Associations, and proper measures be endeavored to obtain assistance from and correspondence with the same." - Minutes Salem Association.
Long Run Association
Was constituted at Long Run meeting-house, September 16, 1803, with twenty-four churches and 1,619 members. With regard to their doctrinal basis it was
“Agreed unanimously, that this Association he Constituted, on the Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith, Excepting Something Contained in the third and fifth Articles; if construed so as to make God the author of Sin. Also, in the Thirty-first article, respecting laying Hands: on newly Baptized persons; that the using, or not using that Ceremony be no bar to fellowship. And that an Oath Before a Magistrate Be not considered a part of Religious Worship, as contained in the Twenty-fourth Article of the Same.” - Minutes Long Run Association.
North Bend Association
Was constituted of nine Churches at Dry Creek Church, in Campbell county, on Friday, July 29, 1803. The first article of the constitution was upon the doctrinal position of the newly organized body and is as follows:
''1st. We do agree to unite and Constitute upon the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the only infallible criterion of faith and practice and (in general) upon the Philadelphia baptist Confession of faith, except the third and fifth
chapters, if so construed as to make God the Author of sin, and a clause in the twenty-third chapter respecting legal oaths being part of Religious worship.''
Middle District Association
Was organized on Friday before the fourth Sunday in July 1837, at Mount Moriah Church, in Shelby county, and was composed of five churches. They adopted a constitution, of which the seventh article is their confession of faith. It reads as follows:
"7. We believe in the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures, of the old and New Testaments, as the complete and Infallible rule of Faith and practice, and that they teach the Unity of God, and the Existance of three equal persons in the Godhead - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; these three are one, equal in Glory, Dignity, Eternity and power: The total depravity of all mankind, in consequence of the fall of Adam, and their consequent Just condemnation. We believe in the Doctrine of Election, as held forth in the Scriptures: Atonement for sin, by the Death of Jesus Christ, and its Special relation to the sins of the Elect; Effectual calling and Regeneration, by the Immediate Influence of the Holy Spirit; Justification by the Righteousness of God in Jesus Christ, received by Faith; Christian Baptism, that is, the Immersion of Believers only, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; the Divine obligation to strictly observe the Lord's day, and to maintain the Worship of God in Public. and in private; the perseverance of the Saints, the Resurrection of the body, and General Judgment. The end1ess happiness of the Righteous, and the endless misery of the wicked, and the obligation of every rational Intelligent person to love God supremely, to Believe what God says, and practise what God commands."
[From W. J. McGlothlin, Editor, Publications of the Kentucky Baptist Historical Society, Number Two, 1911, pp. 5-31; via E-Text Collection of SBTS, Louisville, KY; Adam Winters, Archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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