For the Vindication of the Truth: Baptist Symbolics Volume 1 (eBook)

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In this scrupulously researched and carefully argued book, Professor Renihan uncovers the faith that lies behind the most famous of the Particular Baptist confessions and shows why it matters today. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the roots of the Particular Baptist movement and the contribution it has made to the formation of Reformed theology. 

Crawford Gribben | Professor of Early Modern British History, Queen’s University Belfast.




For the Vindication of the Truth: Baptist Symbolics Volume 1

by James Renihan
©2021 Founders Press
Printed in the United States of America
ISBN: 978-1-943539-28-4

Additional information





The Basics

The Introduction: Article 1

The Doctrine of God: Articles 2–6

Scripture: Articles 7–8

The Doctrine of Christ: Articles 9–20

The Blessings of Salvation: Articles 21–32

The Church: Articles 33–47

The Civil Magistrate: Articles 48–52

The Resurrection: Article 52 and Conclusion

Appendix A: The Title Pages and Prefaces to the Editions of the First London Confession

Appendix B: Heart Bleedings for Professors Abominations

Appendix C: John Spilsbery’s Confession of Faith

Appendix D: Robert Steed, A Plain Discovery of the Unrighteous Judge and False Accuser

Appendix E: ‘BOUND TO KEEP THE FIRST DAY’: Covenant Theology, the Moral Law and the Sabbath among the first English Particular Baptists

Appendix F: Covenant Theology in First London Confession

Appendix G: An Examination of the Possible Influence of Menno Simons’ Foundation Book upon the Particular Baptist Confession of 1644


Scripture Index 


 Dr. James Renihan has produced a masterly commentary on the First London Baptist Confession of Faith. Anyone with an interest in Baptist history or theology will enjoy and benefit from this work. Dr. Renihan’s exposition of the text of the confession draws on his deep immersion in the theology and writings of Baptists and others of the time, but this volume provides far more than that: by exploring the sources used by the framers of the confession, as well as the different editions through which it passed, the reader is introduced to the historical context in which the Confession was produced, which in turn helps to understand it and its role in the development of Baptist life and thought in the seventeenth century. Dr. Renihan’s work is a most valuable contribution to the recovery of Baptist theology and heritage, so needed in our day.

Robert Strivens | Pastor, Bradford on Avon Baptist Church

 It is a happy combination that brings together Jim Renihan (one of the premier historians of seventeenth-century Baptists) and the First London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1644/46 (the warm and Christ-centered formal expression of the faith of seven young Particular Baptist Churches in London). The conjunction of Jim’s scholarship with this important document makes for an extremely insightful historical and theological investigation into the early history of Calvinistic Baptists. Renihan has provided us with an exposition of the 1644 Confession that explores its historical context, its confessional and literary sources, its delights as well as its deficiencies, its reception and its critics, its revisions, and its relationship to the later and fuller Second London Baptist Confession of 1677/1689. The appendices add to the historical value of the book and, with the body of the text, render the volume not only a study in historical theology but also a mini course in biblical and systematic theology. This study is worthy of the attention of all who are interested in Baptist history and theology. I highly recommend it. 

Terry A. Chrisope | Former Professor of History and Bible, Missouri Baptist University, Legacy Baptist Church of Northwest Arkansas

I have longed to see a critical exposition of the First London Confession of Faith in print, one that provides a detailed examination of the provenance, structure, theology, editions, and impact of this notable text. This is that! As I read through this new work by Professor Renihan, it was obvious that here was a scholar who had mastered this area of Baptist history, had long pondered the nooks and crannies of its terrain, and was able to compact all his study of this text within the scope of a monograph such as this. In sum: this is a fine work, one that is eminently judicious in its conclusions and, I trust, will be eminently useful for the people of God.

Michael A. G. Haykin | Chair & Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

I truly wish I had held this publication in my hands a decade earlier. At that time, I was writing my master’s thesis on the First London Baptist Confession of Faith. It wasn’t an easy task back then to sift through the available sources to examine the historical circumstances of its genesis and theological nuances. Dr. Renihan, whom I know personally and hold in high esteem, has done an extraordinarily elaborate job for anyone with a serious interest in studying the beginnings and doctrinal convictions of early confessional Calvinistic Baptists in England. Dr. Renihan takes us on an exciting and highly educational journey back in time to the first and very few Calvinist Baptist congregations in London, who hold their ground in the face of enemies and persecutors. May this work not only meet with academic interest but also be a means to deepen our own convictions so that we also might stand firm in the faith, especially in a time of growing opposition.

Peter Schild | Pastor, Evangelical Reformed Baptist Church, Frankfurt, Germany

Dr. James Renihan has given us a major study of the Baptists’ First London Confession 1644, which was an apologia justifying the emergence of orthodox independent churches practicing believer’s baptism in very dangerous and uncertain times. Ongoing debate and defense necessitated minor adjustments over the next decade. Because of the recent remarkable worldwide emergence of Baptist churches acknowledging the 1677/1689 confession, the earlier document has passed somewhat into the background and has sometimes been misunderstood and its teaching even set over against that of its better known successor. By a careful study of the historical context and the sources behind the 1644 statement, Dr. Renihan has shown that both statements emerge from the Puritanism of the age and bear witness to historic Christianity. He has also made it clear that the men behind both confessions found it necessary to explain and defend their application of the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura to their ecclesiology. One is filled with admiration of the men of the 1640s given the limitations of their background. 

Robert Oliver, PhD | Retired Pastor and Scholar

With trademark thoroughness and historical awareness, our guide paces steadily through the landscape of the First London Baptist Confession, analyzing each aspect with careful deliberation. The definite contours of the document are made clear, illuminated by splashes of light from contemporary sources. We are left with a fine view of the Baptists’ home territory. With this to help us, we can better appreciate the faith and life of our spiritual forefathers, together with the context in which they labored and the challenges they faced. For their successors, this will prove a genuinely helpful resource.

Jeremy Walker | Pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Preacher and Author

This book is a contribution of inestimable value to the study of the history, faith, and influence of the Particular Baptists. Dr. Renihan provides an exposition of the first confession of faith of the Particular Baptists from an objective perspective that does not paint their actions through rose-colored glasses but explains them in a transparent and honest way. The richness of his sources and the clarity of Dr. Renihan that invites the reader to interact with them, along with the clear and coherent structure of his exposition and the pertinence of his explanations, make this work an invaluable resource for anyone who seeks to better understand the roots of our faith. This book is the result of a lifetime of study, a passionate heart, and a scholarly mind capable of clearly expressing the history of our glorious Baptist legacy. Likewise, his exposition will serve to ignite a flame of devotion and faithfulness to God’s Word and an appreciation for the richness of our Particular Baptist heritage in the hearts of generations to come—including those arising in distant lands like Latin America.

Jorge A. Rodríguez Vega | Pastor of Iglesia Bautista Gracia Soberana in Santo Domingo, Ecuador, Director of Seminario Bautista Confesional del Ecuador and Executive Director of the Publisher Legado Bautista Confesiona

Imagine a small foreign country known only to a very few people, and most of them, not very well. This country is so remote you cannot make the trip yourself, but for some important reason you need to familiarize yourself with it. Then you discover one man, so thoroughly conversant with the place and its people, including their manner of thinking, their habits of expression, their beliefs, and even how surrounding communities have impacted them, that he deserves a reputation among the highest rank in this sphere of knowledge. And it did not come easily. This man has spent a great portion of his lifetime virtually among these people, listening carefully to their conversation, and learning from them with a great deal of sympathy. Finally, to your delight, the expert is willing to take the time to sit with you and, with much less effort and time on your part, bring you up to speed in a clear, convincing way. Listening, you find he is a tour guide par excellence.

Such a guide has Dr. James Renihan been to me, and the metaphorical country is the seventeenth-century Particular Baptist world. This book, Dr. Renihan’s first volume in Baptist Symbolics, is an exposition of the First London Baptist Confession of Faith—and so much more. From a firm foundation of primary sources of the period, with his own original research, he presents some of the most significant documents along with interpretations of the language consonant with the vocabulary and connotations, theological and ecclesiastical, of that people and their times. In an expeditious way that cost me little, I have been enriched as a student of historical theology in this special area of interest by reading his book. Such knowledge also contributes to a more responsible assessment of general church history as well as Baptist history. Further and importantly, our study of the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1677/89 is surprisingly enhanced by an accurate knowledge of the First, as provided in this book. A triumph of Baptist scholarship!

D. Scott Meadows | Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed), Exeter, New Hampshire

In this scrupulously researched and carefully argued book, Professor Renihan uncovers the faith that lies behind the most famous of the Particular Baptist confessions and shows why it matters today. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the roots of the Particular Baptist movement and the contribution it has made to the formation of Reformed theology. 

Crawford Gribben | Professor of Early Modern British History, Queen’s University Belfast.

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