Comparison Between Particular and General Baptists

I recently read this book which documents how Baptists throughout the past few centuries have been known as men of the 41HUukthTrL._SY300_book. Whether a man was a general or particular Baptist, a common thread through them was a high and proper regard for the Word of God. This is, one hand, a most encouraging book, as it shows how Baptists have been faithful to the Word of God in face of opposition from within and without the camp of Christ. On the other hand, it is a reminder that sin yet inhabits the saints of God and some will be led astray – and worse: there are false brothers within the camp and some will be shown by their works and doctrine to be no child of God. Heart-breaking as it is, such false ones must be treated as such and not as brothers. Perhaps God will yet bring them to repentance and faith. Our call is to be faithful to the message He has given us and not curry favor with men.

It is a very good book – I was surprised by it. One excellent tool in this book is the chart below, documenting the differences between these two main groups of Baptists: those who hold to the particular redemption that Christ applies only to the elect and those who hold to a general redemption in which Christ died for all men.

Comparison Between Particular and Genera – L. Russ Bush

6 thoughts on “Comparison Between Particular and General Baptists

  1. Manfred, thanks for the post and the book recommendation. I have long preferred the term “Particular Baptist” to “Reformed Baptist” as I find it to be theologically and historically more accurate description of Biblical Baptists. I will be getting this soon.

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  2. Thank you brothers for your kind comments. One short-coming with the term, particular, is that it is not a counterpart to “reformed” – only an alternative to “Calvinist”. Soteriology is critical, but “reformed and reforming” covers much more – and still important – ground.

    I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Very glad to have read and to have it on my shelf.

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  3. Manfred, does the book clarify the relationship between the debate between Particular and General baptists and the debate between Calvin and Arminius? Were they one and the same debate, was one an offshoot of the other, or were they parallel but independent developments?

    I think both sides oversimplify the second point in the table. One side errs by expanding “Christ died for the elect” it to mean that the Sacrifice of Infinite God has finite potential value. First, this is a mathematical absurdity. Second, it is a logical absurdity to assume that having one purpose, dying for the elect, excludes having other purposes. For example, Christ’s sacrifice glorifies the Father and Himself, so it would be correct to say that Christ died “for” glorifying God. Third, Christ’s sacrifice not only redeems the elect, but also, after the removal of the lost in the Day of Judgment, redeems the whole of creation. Yes, Christ died “for” the elect, but His sacrifice has far more value.

    The other side understands that the Sacrifice of the Infinite has unlimited potential value but errs by confusing unlimited value with universal application. Many denominations, the Roman Catholic Church among them, have fallen into forms of universalism. Pentecostals and Charismatics carry unlimited value to an absurd extreme by applying it to carnal desires.

    The error on the Particular side does not affect any critical points of the gospel, but the errors on the General side can be damning.

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  4. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Richard. Since none were called Baptist until the early 1600s, the ongoing debate between the particular and general Baptists must be considered to be an outworking of the Council of Dort within the Baptist community.

    I have no argument with you regarding the effect of Christ’s death beyond the elect persons, that being the restoration/recreation/resurrection of creation itself. Neither do I think any Particular Baptist would disagree, The chart speaks only about the persons for whom Christ died and how they are, by the death of Christ, reconciled to Holy God. It’s not that their entire view of His death is represented in the chart, only this one application of it – which is where men wear out their pens and tongues arguing.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

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