Bill Payne’s “What is a Reformed Baptist Church?” back in print [Solid Ground] + English & Spanish PDF

Back in print at Solid Ground Christian Books, part of the ARBCA Publications:


Describes five characteristics of a Reformed Baptist Church, namely The Scriptures, Preaching, The Doctrines of Grace, Evangelism and Worship.

PDF in English:

Download (PDF, 254KB)

PDF in Spanish:

Download (PDF, 542KB)

Pastor William E. Payne (1938 - 1997)
Pastor William E. Payne (1938 – 1997)

William E. Payne was pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Burlington,  Ontario, Canada, and editor of Reformation Canada, a Baptist magazine designed to assist the recovery of the cause of Reformed doctrine and practice in Canadian evangelical Baptist churches.

5 Replies to “Bill Payne’s “What is a Reformed Baptist Church?” back in print [Solid Ground] + English & Spanish PDF”

  1. If you guys will allow it, here’s a mini-review of this mini-book.

    Bill Payne was a leading Reformed Baptist in Canada during the first generation of the North American Reformed Baptist movement. That detail might not say much to some today, but it is critical to understand exactly what it means.

    In the early days of the movement, there were already a number of Calvinistic Baptists in Canada. At the first (1966) conference of Reformed Baptists, two professors from Toronto spoke: George Fletcher and Bob Strimple. Why, then, is Canada not known for a strong Reformed Baptist movement? The answer is that the Canadian movement never adopted the Confession but instead moved in a very different direction. Strimple, of course, became a Presbyterian, but Fletcher was a Sovereign Grace (non-Sabbatarian) man, and his theology proved to be dominant among the Calvinistic Baptists in Canada. As New Covenant antinomianism grew, it found its earliest home in Canada.

    Payne, however, affirmed the confession and argued in favor of a confessional Reformed understanding in Canada. That is the context in which he wrote “What Is a Reformed Baptist Church?” It was not merely a statement of broadly Calvinistic and Baptistic principles, but instead an affirmation of genuinely Reformed ideas.

    The chapter headings indicate the manner in which he approached the question. The first chapter on “the Scriptures” is really a brief statement of the sufficiency of Scripture, rejecting the growth of charismatic experientialism. The second chapter on “Preaching” is actually a defense of the centrality of preaching. The third and fourth chapters make the argument that Reformed Baptists are thoroughly Calvinistic in their soteriology while at the same time thoroughly evangelistic. And the final chapter on “Worship” is actually a statement of the Regulative Principle.

    In other words, this very brief book is written for people coming into a Reformed Baptist church who are likely to have misunderstandings about what exactly a Reformed Baptist church will be. Payne’s answer may be expressed as a series of negatives: we are not charismatic, not focused on entertainment, not only vaguely Calvinistic, not hyper-calvinistic, and not progressive in our worship. Arguably the third and fourth points were aimed at evangelicals, but the others were written in a context in which “Calvinism” often fell well short of confessionalism.

    Yet Payne, always a very engaging and agreeable person, writes simply and concisely. Anyone entering our churches should be able to read and understand his points. It does not feel like a polemic. That was Payne’s gift.

    In light of this, is it not evident how helpful this little book will be in our own, current, American situation? We still face a broadly evangelical landscape which misunderstands Calvinism, but in addition we are in the midst of a Calvinistic resurgence which is most assuredly not confessional. New Covenant theology – popularized and mainstreamed by Canadian (!) D.A. Carson, is at the heart of the New Calvinism.

    We recently reviewed “What Is a Reformed Baptist Church?” in my congregation, wondering if it was still the best thing to hand out to
    visitors. After that review, we ordered the first hundred copies of this new printing to place in our visitor packets. I would encourage confessional Reformed Baptists to give this little booklet a second look.

    1. Thanks for the helpful background information. As I was reading it I was like, “Hm, sounds like it will still be very relevant today.” And now I have the “Blame Canada” song stuck in my head :-/ :D

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