After frequently corresponding with one another, a convention of messengers from three Pennsylvania Baptist churches was held on Saturday, December 26, 1807, at the Abington log cabin home of Rev. John Miller for the purpose of forming a new Baptist association.1 Quite interesting to us is the confession of faith the Abington churches chose as their charter document of belief. The churches oddly but apparently sought little, if any, assistance in forming their association from what's now the oldest Baptist association in America, The Philadelphia Baptist Association, an association a full century in existence when the churches came together in 1807 to form the Abington Baptist Association.2
One reason which seems to support the claim that Abington messengers, or "delegates" as they were then called, overlooked, at least in some way, the assistance of Philadelphia rests in the confession of faith Abington churches chose. Rather than the sophisticated, high Calvinism of The Philadelphia Confession of Faith adopted by the Philadelphia churches in 1742 (almost identical to the 1689 London Baptist Confession), Abington unanimously adopted the brief statement below to serve as their confessional identity.
"Holding the doctrines of three persons in one Godhead, the same in essence, equal in power, but different in office — the total depravity of mankind in their fallen estate — the free grace of God manifested in the recovery of those that believe in Christ — final perseverance of saints from grace to glory — baptism by immersion — the resurrection of the dead — final judgment and the condemnation of the finally impenitent to as long duration as the happiness of the righteous."3
If Baptist historian, W.J. McGlothlin, is correct, and the later New Hampshire Declaration of Faith (1833) may be accurately described as "doubtful if it ought to be called Calvinistic, since it is non-committal on every point of difference" between Calvinism and non-Calvinism, what might we with warrant conclude about the charter confession adopted by Abington Baptists in 1807? Indeed what "Traditional Baptist" could not, if he or she chose, attach, without reservation, his or her name to the Abington faith statement?
The historical thesis Baptist Calvinists routinely put forth that strict Calvinism absolutely ruled 19th century Baptist life cannot survive the devastating assault the historical record delivers.
"Truth is unkillable" --Balthasar Hubmaier
1The History of Abington Baptist Association from: 1807-1857. Edward L. Bailey, 1863. Preface
2The website appears to be in error by claiming the "American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania became a part of America's oldest American Baptist organization, the Philadelphia Baptist Association in 1703." According to accounts I've consulted, the Philadelphia association formed in 1707.
3History, p. 15