Do Calvinistic Baptists belong within the Reformed community of churches?


Through the years, I have had a few conversations with members of Reformed churches about the wish of Calvinistic Baptists to be identified as “Reformed,” as in “Reformed Baptist.” Some of those Reformed or Presbyterian people have rejected as an oxymoron the name “Reformed Baptist” because Baptists do not follow a presbyterial polity or baptize the infant children of believers. We insist, rather, that only believers should be baptized.

In proof of the inappropriateness of Baptists calling themselves “Reformed,” I have heard both Baptists and pedobaptistic Reformed people assert that no Baptists were included in formal associations of Reformed churches. I too had thought this to be true. I did not think that this automatically eliminated the legitimacy of Reformed Baptist churches, but it did seem quite significant. Consequently, I was pleasantly surprised to learn today through a news item from Bonner Querschnitte that my assumption was incorrect. In fact, Baptists are welcome and present as members of the World Reformed Fellowship alongside many Presbyterian and Reformed church associations. This is because the London Confession of 1689 is included among the creedal formula acceptable for membership in WRF.

WRF logoAs the news item says:

 The World Reformed Fellowship is an international Protestant association which unites theologically conservative Reformed denominations (including Presbyterian, Anglican, and Reformed Baptist churches), along with national churches and individual congregations, colleges and seminaries, mission agencies, and certain key individuals.


In the list of denominational members of WRF, I find, for instance, “The Reformed Baptist Churches in North America” (cf. the Wikipedia article on “Reformed Baptists”).

I took a quick look at the statement of faith of the WRF, paying particular attention to the statement on the Church. I saw nothing in what I read which I would not be able to sign personally. If this quite extensive doctrinal statement is what it means theologically to be a member of the worldwide community of Reformed Christians, I fit.

I find this very interesting, and I consider it rather good news. Out of respect for more traditionally Reformed people, I have been somewhat reluctant to identify myself as “Reformed Baptist,” thinking that “Calvinistic Baptist” might be better. But I now lay aside my previous hesitation and happily declare myself a Reformed Baptist in the tradition of the World Reformed Fellowship. This is particularly significant for me because, in the hierarchy of my doctrinal commitments, being Reformed is more important than being Baptist, and I expect that I probably have more in common theologically with members of the WRF than I do with many of my fellow Baptists.


By Terrance Tiessen

I am Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, Canada.

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