Tuesday 27 September 2011

Articles of Faith

At the outset it must be acknowledged that this book may well not circulate widely outside of those of a particular Particular Baptist persuasion(!)  But a fresh treatment of the doctrinal position of the denomination called Gospel Standard (GS) Baptists is welcome to me.  And this is the first of what promises to be an excellent new series on the GS 35 Articles of Faith, reinvigorating the Gospel Standard Trust's publication list.  Ken Matrunola has a clear, easy to read style.  This is remarkable in view of the fact that his contribution to the book was originally given as a lecture in the late 1980's, and has been transcribed without being edited.  He addresses the subject of the need for Confessions of Faith initially, before going on to an examination of Article 1, regarding the Bible.  In a brief reference to the history of Particular Baptist Statements of Faith, and of the rise of the GS Articles, he notes that further research was desirable as to precisely how the latter came to be constituted in their present form.  This has been amply supplied in an Appendix which is longer than the lecture!  Here Timothy Abbott brings documentary evidence from an extensive enquiry into this matter.  Much is referred to, but more important matter has been reproduced, thus bulking out the Appendix.  This is good for those who desire to dig into it deeply - but it needs to be read selectively (at least at first go!) in order for the thread not to be lost.  A tip here is to focus on the italicized portions.  The clear stamp of William Gadsby's theology placed upon John Gill's initial contribution is conclusively shown to be fundamental to a correct understanding of the GS Articles.  This has considerable implications for the denomination as a whole, particularly in drawing a clear line of demarcation based upon doctrine rather than upon tradition.  It should cause major heart-searching for both young and old in GS churches, but probably won't.  Anyway the quote from William Gadsby at the end really is worth the modest price of the book alone!
'Articles of Faith. Why and where from?' by Ken Matrunola and Timothy Abbott. Gospel Standard Trust Publications. £5.50.  Just out now - they haven't yet got it showing on their website (as of today).

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