London to Philadelphia—you might think that this has to do with transatlantic flights. Well, it doesn’t. It has to do with confessions of faith—Baptist confessions of faith, to be exact. First, there is the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, also known as the Second London Baptist Confession, and then there is the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.
The Baptists came into being early in the 1600s in England. These were Puritans. They had all left the Anglican Church and were part of the larger group of people that we call Nonconformists, meaning they would not conform to the established church, the Church of England. These Baptists were not only separated out from the Anglicans, but these Baptists also believed in adult or believer’s baptism, which set them apart from some of the other Nonconformists. It set them apart from the Presbyterians and it set them apart from the Congregationalists.
In 1644, the Baptists gathered together and wrote the First London Baptist Confession. It was very much like the Westminster Standards, but of course it differed in the chapters on church polity or church government and on baptism.
In 1677, they gathered again to refresh this confession and had a number of people sign off on it, but there were also some who couldn’t sign off. This was a time of intense persecution in England, and there were many who were simply not able to align themselves with this statement.