Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia

Democratic Declarations of Faith.

Under this head are included the creeds evolved by Prot. denominations after the period of conf. writing based on involved theol. thought had come to an end; they are considered exhibitions of unity rather than binding symbols. In gen., these creeds are less theol., more popular, and more permissive of private judgment. Many are of the nature of a covenant and emphasize voluntary agreement for the achievement of a common purpose.

1. Creeds of this type may be traced to such Anabaptist statements as the Schleitheim Confession, entitled Brüderlich Vereinigung etzlicher Kinder Gottes sieben Artikel betreffend (adopted 1527 by Swiss Anabaptists); Rechenschafft unserer Religion, Leer und Glaubens (drafted 1540 by Peter Riedemann*); the Waterland Confession entitled Korte Belydenisse des Geloofs (1577); and the Dordrecht* Confession. (See also Mennonite Churches, 2)

2. Congregationalists weaken gen. creeds and emphasize particular creeds. Each cong. has the right to formulate its own creed. Prominent among their gen. declarations: Savoy Declaration (1658; first 2 parts: preface, and revision of the Westminster Confession [see Presbyterian Confessions, 3, 4]; the pref. emphasizes “a forbearance and mutual indulgence unto Saints of all persuasions, that keep unto, and hold fast the necessary foundations of faith and holiness, in all other matters extra fundamental, whether of Faith or Order”; the 3d part is a Platform of Discipline); Declaration of the Faith, Church Order, and Discipline of the Congregational or Independent Dissenters (also called Declaration of Faith and Order; summary of leading Cong. doctrines of faith and order; adopted 1833 by the Congregational Union of Eng. and Wales). In Am. the following are noteworthy: Cambridge Platform (1648; approved in substance the doctrinal parts of the Westminster Confession but not its articles on discipline); Declaration of Synod of Boston (also called Confession of 1680; modified Savoy Declaration; approved Cambridge Platform in substance); statements of the Synod of Saybrook (1708; approved the Confession of 1680; adopted Heads* of Agreement; drew up the Saybrook Platform of discipline) and of the National Council of Boston (1865; adopted the “Burial Hill Declaration,” which expressed adherence to faith and order substantially as embodied in the Cambridge Platform and in the Confession of 1680, and a brief statement of polity). (See also United Church of Christ, I A 1, 2)

3. Two large bodies emerged in early 17th c. Bap. hist. in Eng.: Arminian (also called Gen. because they believed in gen. or universal atonement) and Calvinist (also called Particular, because they believed in particular redemption). (See also Baptist Churches, 2). Baptists do not consider creeds as tests of orthodoxy, but as portrayals of unanimity. Creeds of Particular Baptists include: London Confession (“The Confession of Faith of those Churches Which are Commonly [though falsely] called Anabaptists”; adopted by 7 Bap. chs. 1644); Somerset Confession (“A Confession of the Faith of Several Churches of Christ in the County of Somerset, and of Some Churches in the Counties Neer Adjacent”; 1656); Second London Confession (“Confession of Faith Put Forth by the Elders and Brethren of Many Congregations of Christians [Baptized Upon Profession of Their Faith] in London and the Country”; 1677; reprinted 1688; reaffirmed 1689; sometimes called Confession of 1688; based on Westminster Confession [see Presbyterian Confessions, 3]); Philadelphia Confession (Second London Confession with the addition of Art. XXIII and XXXI; pub. authorized 1742 by the Philadelphia Bap. Assoc., organized 1707; printed 1743). Some early important declarations of Arminian (Gen.) Baps.: Short Confession of Faith in XX Articles by John Smyth, ca. 1609; A Declaration of Faith of English People Remaining at Amsterdam in Holland (1611; election conditioned by foreknown faith; reprobation by foreknown unbelief; perseverance denied); The Faith and Practise of Thirty Congregations, Gathered According to the Primitive Pattern, adopted 1651 by congs. of Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, and adjoining counties; Midland Association Confession (“Sixteen Articles of Faith and Order Unanimously Assented to by the Messengers Met at Warwick, the 3rd Day of the 3rd Month, 1655”); The Standard Confession (also called London Confession; “A Brief Confession or Declaration of Faith,” adopted 1660 at London); An Orthodox Creed (“An Orthodox Creed, or A Protestant Confession of Faith, Being an Essay to Unite and Confirm All True Protestants in the Fundamental Articles of the Christian Religion, Against the Errors and Heresies of Rome”; endorsed 1678; approaches Calvinism). More recent statements by Baps.: Declaration of Faith (drawn up by J. N. Brown* and others ca. 1833; pub. by New Hampshire Bap. Conv.; widely accepted in Am.); Abstract* of Principles; and Statement of Committee on Baptist Faith and Message (adopted by S Bap. Conv. 1925).

4. Quakers acknowledge no platform or creed of binding authority. Some follow R. Barclay's* Catechism and Confession of Faith and Apology. See also Friends, Society of.

5. Moravians have no confession of faith as such but endorsed the AC An expression of their theol. is found in A. G. Spangenberg,* Idea fidei fratrum. See also Moravian Church.

6. Meth. creeds allow for development. In addition to the Bible, Methodists recognize 3 classes of confessional guides or standards: a. Twenty-five Articles of Religion (adopted 1784 at Baltimore; prepared by J. Wesley from Thirty-nine Articles [see Anglican Confessions, 6]); b. Wesley's Sermons and Notes on the New Testament; c. Book of Discipline and several catechisms (1852, 1868). See also Methodist Churches.

7. Practically all groups that reject creeds have statements of principles (e.g., Articles of War of the Salvation* Army and T. Campbell's* Declaration and Address [see Disciples of Christ, 2 a, 3]).

W. Walker, The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism (New York, 1893); P. Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, 6th ed., 3 vols. (New York, 1931); T. B. Neely, Doctrinal Standards of Methodism, Including the Methodist Episcopal Churches (New York, 1918); J. C. Wenger, The Doctrines of the Mennonites (Scottdale, Pennsylvania, 1950); W. L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Chicago, 1959); Creeds of the Churches, ed. J. H. Leith (Chicago, 1963). EL

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

Stay Connected! Join the LCMS Network:

Contact Us Online
(Staff Switchboard)
(Church Info Center)
1333 S Kirkwood Rd
Saint Louis, MO 63122-7226 | Directions


Featured Publication

The Lutheran Witness

LCMS Communications

Interpreting the contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.
Visit TLW Online