'The Principles of the Congregational Independents'
prepared by the committee of
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Preface to the 1995 reprint by Rev D. O. Swann, BA, BD, Cardiff.
Chapter 1 Who are the Congregationalists?
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Published on behalf of
An Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches
Printed and Bound in at The Bath Press, Avon.
Further copies may be obtained from the E.F.C.C. Administrative Secretary, P.O. Box 34, Beverley, North Humberside HU17 8YU.
It is twenty-seven years since an Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches was first formed, and nearly fourteen years since Evangelical & Congregational first saw the light of day. This second reprint is a sure sign that Evangelical Congregationalism is very much alive. Orders for the book go regularly to Australia. New Zealand, South Africa and America, and as far afield as the Philippines. Increasingly people are becoming concerned to discover more about their historical roots, which go back to the early seventeenth century, and to stand firm on the excellent foundation laid down by our forefathers.
In an age when subjectivism is continuing to dominate our secular culture and to percolate through into the religious realm, it is good to have the clear doctrinal objectivity of the Savoy Declaration of Faith and Order printed alongside our Congregational Principles.
While we highly prize our Congregationalism, and thank God for our noble past, we are twentieth century Christians. We are, first and foremost, Evangelical Congregationalists, not Congregational Evangelicals. We are glad to stand shoulder to shoulder with all other Evangelicals who seek to preach 'the glorious gospel of the blessed God' (1 Tim. 1:11).
May the Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Head of the church, continue to make the Gospel to prosper everywhere.
Some Relevant Dates
It is a privilege to be asked to write a foreword to this publication by the committee of an Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches.
The Ecumenical Movement has not only confronted evangelical ministers and people with the need to determine afresh what the Gospel is but also what the church is. To attempt to do the first while refusing to do the second is tantamount to maintaining that there is no necessary connection between the Gospel and the church, and that one's evangelicalism can be justly restricted to the Gospel and not allowed to bring its effects to bear on the nature of the church and its life.
Congregational Independency in its origin and early years would not tolerate any hiatus between the Gospel and the church. John Owen wrote a treatise on The True Nature of a Gospel Church. This book seeks to make the same link and it argues for the Biblical nature of its distinctive ecclesiology in an earnest but responsible manner. Intensity of feeling is revealed but no intolerance of spirit. This book should be read by all who are concerned that our churches today should be to the glory of God.
Hywel R. Jones
Orange Street Congregational Church