In the last couple of weeks I've been studying the early confessions of Baptists. I find it humorous that on most Calvinist websites, they point to the London Confession of 1644 as "the First Confession" of Baptists. Conveniently they ignore the first true Baptist confession put together by Thomas Helwys in 1611. (See www.generalbaptist.net/resources/confessions/helwys.htm ) The reason they claim the 1644 London Confession is that it bolsters their claim that the first Baptists were actually calvinist/Paritular. Not so...
Helwys had led a group of English Baptists back to England and planted a church, and wrote this declaration of faith, clearly identifying the first "Baptists" to see the atonement as general (for all mankind) and to understand that man -- though totally depraved -- retains free will, that when called by the Holy Spirit through prevenient or precedent grace, is enabled to receive or reject God's grace unto salvation.
I hope to post much more on this subject in the coming weeks -- though I am on my way to teach a class at the moment. I look forward to exploring this subject further.
J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.