Baxterianism Denied

We reject the doctrine called “Baxterianism”; that is to say, that while all the elect shall assuredly be saved, there is a residuum of grace in Christ for the rest, or any of the rest, if they will only accept it.

Scripure References:
John 3:27; 1st Corinthians 2:14

The name “Baxterianism” is very little known in the present day. Richard Baxter (1615 – 1691), was a Puritan.  He was a prolific writer and, although the author of many books, is perhaps best known today for his treatise entitled ‘The Saints’ Everlasting Rest.’ He was a famous man in the days in which he lived and his teaching, although seriously unorthodox in many ways, had considerable influence in the religious world. This influence persisted even to the time the ‘Gospel Standard Articles of Faith’ were formulated.  Hence the need for our godly brethren to make this positive stand against a form of teaching which they recognised as being very dangerous.

Baxterianism is an erroneous system of theology based on the doctrine of universal atonement and the ability of man to do something towards his own salvation.  It claims that there is a “residuum” of grace for the non-elect and that redemption is available to all who will accept Christ as their Saviour.

Baxter also denied the imputed righteousness of Christ and in several other parts of his writings it would be true to say that where there is not clear error there are many dangerous half-truths.  Half-truths are often more dangerous than open error.

There is little doubt that Andrew Fuller (1754 – 1815), against whose theology William Gadsby contended so strongly, was among those who suffered from the influence of Baxter’s teaching.

Unhappily, although Baxter is now mostly forgotten in particular baptist circles, the influence of his views still prevails in many sections of the religious world and his writings are frequently quoted favourably in religious periodicals. False charity and an unwillingness to accept the Biblical doctrines of predestination and election lies at the root of much of its popularity.

Perhaps if we were formulating new Articles of Faith today we would say something to this effect:

We reject Arminianism, Baxterianism, Fullerism and every other form of religious belief which is based on good works to merit salvation; or on the free will of man to accept or reject the Gospel.

In full agreement with those who formulated this, we firmly believe that salvation is by grace alone, as the Scriptures so plainly declare:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

Gerald D. Buss

“When God telleth us as plain as can be spoken, that Christ died for and tasted death for every man, men will deny it, and to that end subvert the plain sense of the words, merely because they cannot see how this can stand with Christ’s damning men, and with his special Love to his chosen. It is not hard to see the fair and harmonious consistency: But what if you cannot see how two plain Truths of the Gospel should agree? Will you therefore deny one of them when both are plain? Is not that in high pride to prefer your own understandings before the wisdom of the Spirit of God, who indicted the Scriptures? Should not a humble man rather say, doubtless both are true though I cannot reconcile them. So others will deny these plain truths, because they think that all that Christ died for are certainly Justified and Saved: For whomsoever he died and satisfied Justice for, them he procured Faith to Believe in him: God cannot justly punish those whom Christ hath satisfied for, etc. But doth the Scripture speak all these or any of these opinions of theirs, as plainly as it saith that Christ died for all and every man? Doth it say, as plainly any where that he died not for all? Doth it any where except any one man, and say Christ died not for him? Doth it say any where that he died only for his Sheep, or his Elect, and exclude the Non-Elect? There is no such word in all the Bible; Should not then the certain truths and the plain texts be the Standard to the uncertain points, and obscure texts?”

(Richard Baxter – Universal Redemption of Mankind – Pages 282-283)

“Now I would know of any man, would you believe that Christ died for all men if the Scripture plainly speak it? If you would, do but tell me, what words can you devise or would you wish more plain for it than are there used? Is it not enough that Christ is called the Saviour of the World? You’ll say, but is it of the whole World? Yes, it saith, He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole World. Will you say, but it is not for All men in the World? Yes it saith he died for All men, as well as for all the World. But will you say, it saith not for every man? Yes it doth say, he tasted death for every man. But you may say, It means all the Elect, if it said so of any Non-Elect I would believe. Yes, it speaks of those that denied the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And yet all this seems nothing to men prejudiced.”

(Richard Baxter – Universal Redemption of Mankind – Pages 286-287)

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