(Ronald Kalifungwa was recently installed as pastor of Lusaka Baptist Church. This article was what he read out as his doctrinal position to those who attended the event)

There were four influences that combined to shape my doctrinal convictions. The first was the Calvinistic & expository preaching ministry of Pastor Joe Simfukwe. Although I did not sit under that ministry for a long time, it did enough to set me on the right path in those formative years. This was closely followed by the influence of books published mainly by the Banner of Truth Trust, and which espoused Reformation tenets. One book in particular, namely “A history of Christian doctrine” by Louis Berkhof was pivotal in carving my doctrinal convictions. The third influence was a series of tapes on Calvinism, which I had borrowed from Justo Mwale Theological College Library. The speaker (whose name I can’t remember now), eloquently expounded on the five points of Calvinism, and effectively demolished whatever Arminianism may still have been clinging to my natural self. At this point in my development I was given a kind of systematic theology at least in the realm of the doctrine of salvation. The final influence served to consolidate both my theological and ecclesiological positions. It came in the form of friends such as Marlon Banda, Conrad Mbewe, Choolwe Mweetwa and one or two other preachers. The combined effect of these influences formed me into what I may term as a Reformed Baptist.

WHY I CALL MYSELF “REFORMED”

But this doesn’t answer the question “why I am a reformed Baptist?” Below are my reasons and I‘ll begin with why I describe myself as being reformed. There are three reasons: The first is,

Because of my heritage

I stand, by and large, in the tradition of our Reformed forebears. And these included:

  1. The reformers. The likes of Martin Luther, John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli, to mention but a few. The movement that these men led and fought for in the 16th century is one that I am happy to identify myself with. It was a movement, as you know, that was aimed at reforming some doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church to the pattern of Scripture and it resulted in the establishment of the so-called Protestant churches and the transformation of the world and life view of many Christians, including non-Christians.
    1. The puritans. Men who fought for more reform in the Church of England, with the result that, when reform could not be instituted, they separated themselves from it to form independent churches.
    1. The particular Baptist fathers. Who included the likes of Spilsbury and founded a church based on Reformed, Puritan and Baptistic theology.

Because of my doctrine or theology

My theology is essentially the theology of the reformation. It is a theology that can be summarised under two broad headings, namely:

1. The five Solas of the Reformation which include

  • Sola Scriptura: Sola Scriptura means “Scripture alone”. Our Reformed forebears, acknowledged the supreme authority of Holy Scripture, in all matters of faith and conduct. Like them, I am committed to this principal. I believe that there must be Scriptural warrant for all we do. I also believe that the Scriptures are sufficient to meet our varying needs as individual Christians and as churches. As the Apostle Paul taught in 2 Timothy 3:16, I am persuaded that the Scriptures are given by inspiration (hence their authority) and are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (hence their sufficiency).

        I therefore choose not to be governed by traditionalism, or by the opinions of man, nor by sentiment, nor by pragmatism, but by the Word of God alone. I believe along with the Reformers in the primacy of preaching.I believe that the preaching of the Bible must have a central place in our services. I believe that nothing can and should take the place of the preaching of the Word.

  • Sola fide: This means “faith alone” and it is a reference to the fact that sinners are justified by faith alone without any need to work for their salvation. Martin Luther described this article as “the article of the standing or falling of the church”. What he meant was that a church that did not preach justification by faith alone was an apostate church, whereas one that preached this doctrine was sure to stand. I unashamedly hold to this central and defining doctrine,
    • Sola gratia: means, “grace alone”, and the point of this motto is that we are saved by grace alone, according to Paul’s emphasis in Ephesians 2:8. It is not by what we do or will do, but by the grace of God alone that we are saved. I therefore unashamedly declare my belief in those doctrines which are sometimes called the doctrines of grace. The Synod of Dort summarised them under five points, which were subsequently nicknamed “The five points of Calvinism, namely Total depravity, Unconditional election, definite (Limited) atonement, effectual calling (or Irresistible grace) and the Perseverance of the saints” (TULIP).

        The doctrines celebrate the glorious truths, which uphold the sovereignty of God in the salvation of totally depraved men, and which also gloriously affirm the great central reality that salvation is all of grace, and that that salvation is of the Lord.”

(d) Solus Christus: means “Christ alone”. I hold, in common with the Reformers, that Christ must be at the centre of all we preach and teach and do. Christ is the only name given under Heaven by which men may be saved in the fullest sense of the word salvation.

(e)   Soli Deo Gloria. To God alone be the glory. Reformed theology is a God-centred theology. It endeavours to focus all things on God in the spirit of Rom 11:36.

2. The doctrines as expressed in the 1689 Baptist confession of faith. And one or two other historic Calvinistic Baptist creeds. Here, we have a fuller expression of what I believe. All the doctrines there are, of course, in harmony with Reformation theology.

Because of my desire to continue reforming

I am committed to the principle of semper reformanda. Saying that I am Reformed does not mean I have arrived. Rather, it is a declaration that I am committed to progressively reform myself and my flock to the pattern of Scripture. If, for example, I find that certain of our doctrines and practices do not conform to the pattern of Scripture, I will endeavour to give myself to reasonable immediate change.

WHY I CALL MYSELF A REFORMED “BAPTIST”

Why do I refer to myself as a Reformed “Baptist”? I do so because I hold to the basic tenets commonly held by all Baptists, and they include the following:

Tenets related to the Ordinances

Baptism

  •  I believe in believer’s baptism. I hold that only true believers should be baptised. (Mark 16:16, Acts 8:13, Acts 2:41, Acts 8:36).
  • I believe that baptism must be administered by immersion. In my view, baptism is an immersing or dipping in water. I believe that immersion is essential to the rite and pouring and sprinkling water upon a person is not and cannot be baptism. (Matthew 3:6, Acts 8:38, Colossians 2:12).
  •  I believe in the obligation of baptism, that is to say, that all believers in Christ are bound to obey their Lord’s command and confess Him before men in baptism. It is not a question as to whether a man can be saved without baptism, but whether he can be a true disciple and refuse or neglect to obey and confess his Saviour. (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16).

The point here is that baptism may not be essential to salvation, but it is essential to obedience. I believe that as an act of obedience to Christ, the reception of this ordinance usually brings peculiar light, joy and comfort to the soul.

The Lord’s Supper

I believe that the Lord’s Supper is to be administered to all believers who are in good standing with the Lord and his church. Like baptism, it is commemorative (it commemorates the death of Christ for human redemption—1Cor 11:24, 25), it is predictive (it points to the triumph and glory of Christ’s second coming), and it is emblematic (it proclaims the love of Christ to the believer as a seal of the covenant in his blood).

Tenets related to church government

By “church” I don’t mean it in the Episcopal or Presbyterian sense, that is to say, hierarchical or connectional. Rather I hold to the principals of independency and autonomy. Basic to these principles is the idea that each particular and individual church is actually independent in the exercise of all its church rights, privileges and prerogatives; independent of all other churches, individuals, and bodies of men whatsoever, and is under the law of Christ alone (Matt 18:15–17; Rev 2,3); and that these churches are run here on earth through Christ’s under-shepherds (Acts 20:28).

Tenets related to worship

In regard to worship (general & specific), I am not just reformed but also puritanical. I believe in what is known as the regulative principle of worship. The regulative principle states that we may use in worship only what is expressly or implicitly commanded. (Lev 10:1–3; Deut 12:29–32; John 4:24, 25; Col 2:23).

 

Conclusion

The above is why I am a Reformed Baptist. I wish to end this testimony by stating that I have every intention of building a church that is biblically-based, with a mission to promote a biblical worldview, a passion for evangelism and missions, an emphasis on a devotional and experimental Calvinism, and a church that is keen on inter-church co-operative activities in our bid to saturate this nation and beyond with a healthy Biblicism that will hopefully shape our culture and place us on the path to prosperity.

             Our forbears have laid the doctrinal and practical landmarks for us (Proverbs 22:15). We mustn’t remove them by bringing new doctrines and practices into our church order. Let us “Stand in the way; and see, and ask for the old paths, which is the good way, and walk therein” and we shall find rest for our souls (Jeremiah 6:16). Let us stick to the rudiments of Reformed Baptist thinking as espoused by our Reformed, Puritan and Baptist forebears to the glory of God and of the Lamb.

(continued from page 8)

III. Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy profession of the gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the church, if they should suffer his covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.

I Cor. 5:1-13; 11:27-34; I Tim. 1:20; 5:20; Matt. 7:6; Jude 1:23

IV.  For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the church are to proceed by admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season; and by excommunication from the church; according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of the person.

I Thess. 5:12; II Thess. 3:6, 14-15; I Cor. 5:4-5, 13; Matt. 18:17; Titus 3:10