Introduction: Of The Civil Magistrate and Religious Liberty


Chapters XXIV-XXV of the Second London Confession

As we continue our exposition of the Second London Confession, we dig into the confession’s treatment of two issues that are not only  biblically and doctrinally important, but strategic for the well-being of any culture, for the stability of society, for the flourishing of humanity, even in its fallen state. I contribute an article on chapter 24 “Of the Civil Magistrate.” Timon Cline contributes an article that gives a deep look into the issue of Baptists in their contribution to religious liberty. We cover some of the same ground, but Timon’s work contains a broader sweep of the issue, is thoroughly documented with valuable footnotes, and has links to a large and informative supportive literature. Reagan Marsh, founding pastor-teacher of Reformation Baptist Church in Dalton, Georgia, has given a carefully documented and exegetically sensitive discussion of chapter 25, “Of Marriage.” His scholarly attention to the whole range of literature and the footnotes supporting his discussion will be an education for those who will carefully look into them. Ryan Denton contributed a review article of David Hall’s The Puritans: A Transatlantic History. Ryan’s clarity and careful interaction gives an inviting overview of Hall’s work. The Puritan background is immensely important for the way in which Baptists expressed their view on the magistrates and on family. This review reminds of the providential contexts in which all of us pursue our callings and seek the most faithful stewardship of our gifts.


Tom J. Nettles

Louisville, KY

April 2020

Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman, and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.
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