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The 1689 Confession and Premillennialism

Truth Community Church holds to The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 to express its doctrinal position for reasons we have expressed here. In holding to the 1689, we are identifying the doctrines which we consider the sine qua non of our existence.

(We recognize that some have suggested that 1689 is too detailed to serve as a church’s confession of faith, but we believe those concerns have been specifically refuted by Sam Waldron and more broadly answered by Carl Trueman in his crucial book The Creedal Imperative.)

We do not claim that the 1689 is an exhaustive presentation of our teaching. We teach that the Church started on the day of Pentecost. We also teach that the Church is distinct from Israel and that God’s Old Testament promises to the nation of Israel will be fulfilled in a literal, earthly millennium before He ushers in the eternal state.

We acknowledge that the 1689 does not explicitly affirm those doctrines. We understand that some would question whether it is consistent for us to hold to the 1689 with those views. We offer this brief justification for our position.

We believe the 1689 gives room for our approach because it does not deny those doctrines. It is silent on the present theological significance of Israel. (It only mentions “Israel” twice, with both occurrences coming in its discussion of the three-fold nature of the Law). The 1689 does not equate Israel with the Church nor assert that the Church has replaced Israel. It does not explicitly deny a future for Israel or a future millennium.

For those reasons, we do not believe we are contradicting 1689 or its brief expression of eschatology. In that regard, we think it is significant that the definitive exposition of 1689, which explicitly rejects premillennial theology, nevertheless concedes that “the Confession says nothing specific about premillennialism,” and “It may be true that the authors of the Confession did not wish to denounce explicitly a doctrine held by some whom they may have regarded as brethren” (Sam Waldron, A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, 416).

Consequently, we believe that it is consistent for us to hold to a dispensational (carefully defined), premillennial position on eschatology in the broader framework of the 1689 Confession. In making that assertion, we seek to identify with the spirit of S. Lewis Johnson, who said:

It is necessary for us to have a great deal of humility when we seek to interpret the many details of the prophetic Word. We are studying a very difficult subject in which we are trying to put together a number of passages from the Word of God. To put it together into one coherent whole is a very difficult task (“Premillennial Calendar of Future Events,” 7). 

Charles Spurgeon spoke with similar restraint when he said:

I am no prophet, nor the son of a prophet; neither do I profess to be able to explain all the prophecies of this blessed Book. I believe that many of them will only be explained as the events occur which they foretell (Kerry James Allen, Exploring the Heart and Mind of the Prince of Preachers, 144).

Our primary concern is to be faithful to Scripture and to live with integrity before the broader body of Christ. We consider the affirmations of 1689 on eschatology to be primary and our premillennialism to be an important but secondary matter. We believe our position is consistent with Scripture and the language of 1689, holding it with the desire to honor God in the ministry of His Word.