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Historic Baptist Documents

 

Those who do away with Christian doctrine are
...the worst enemies of Christian living."

Charles Spurgeon

 

WALDENSES CONFESSION OF FAITH, 1120 and 1544

Protestant religious sect of medieval origin, called in French Vaudois. They originated in the late 12th cent. as the Poor Men of Lyons, a band organized by Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant of Lyons, who gave away his property (c.1176) and went about preaching apostolic poverty as the way to perfection. Being laymen, they were forbidden to preach. They went to Rome, where Pope Alexander III blessed their life but forbade preaching (1179) without authorization from the local clergy. They disobeyed and began to teach unorthodox doctrines; they were formally declared heretics by Pope Lucius III in 1184 and by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. In 1211 more than 80 were burned as heretics at Strasbourg, beginning several centuries of persecution. The Waldenses proclaimed the Bible as the sole rule of life and faith. They rejected the papacy, purgatory, indulgences, and the mass, and laid great stress on gospel simplicity. Worship services consisted of readings from the Bible, the Lord's Prayer, and sermons, which they believed could be preached by all Christians as depositaries of the Holy Spirit. Their distinctive pre-Reformation doctrines are set forth in the Waldensian Catechism (c.1489).

 

SHORT CONFESSION OF FAITH IN XX ARTICLES, 1609

John Smyth is one of the significant early Baptist leaders. This is his personal confession, never officially published. The original document is located in the Mennonite Archives, Amsterdam. Smyth's purpose in composing this confession seems to have been to stake out a distinct theological position in relation to both the main body of English separatists, and the continental Anabaptists with whom he had thrown in his lot.

 

THE FIRST LONDON BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH, 1644

A CONFESSION OF FAITH of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London, which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.

 

THE FIRST LONDON BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH, 1646 Edition

The first edition was published in 1644. This second edition "corrected and enlarged" was originally published in 1646.

A confession of faith of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London, which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.

 

AN APPENDIX TO A CONFESSION OF FAITH, 1646, Benjamin Keach

Published for the further clearing of Truth, and discovery of their mistake who have imagined a dissent in fundamentals when there is none.

Matthew 10:27,.28

What I tell you in darkness,that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

LONDON, Printed in the year 1646.

 

A CATECHISM FOR BABES, OR LITTLE ONES, 1652

This production actually includes three separate catechisms plus a poetic summary of the first catechism.  Some sections within the catechisms designed for more advanced children are marked off by special indicators.  Suggested prayer for four occasions during the day conclude the work. 

Jessey's experience of tutoring dobtless aided his understanding of the learning processes of children.  Though aware of other catechisms for children, Jessey was not convinced of their facile utility for those of younger years and thus desired "to see one so plain and easie in the expressions, as that the very Babes, that can speak out stammeringly, and are of very week capacities, might understand what they say."

The major theological emphases are sin, redemption, law and gospel, and eternal destiny.  Both the second and third uses of the law find expression, but greater stress is placed on the evangelical use than on the sanctifying use.  In addition, the child's inability to perform good deeds and his utter dependence on grace clearly mark the soteriological development.

Thomas J. Nettles, Baptist Catechisms

 

THE MIDLAND CONFESSION OF FAITH, 1655

Early Particular Baptist doctrinal statement

 

THE SOMERSET CONFESSION OF FAITH, 1656

The seventh meeting of the Association took place at Bridgewater on September 5-6, 1656, at which time a Confession of Faith was approved. It was evidently the work of Thomas Collier, but the fact that decisions in favor of some of the positions announced in the Confession were made at this meeting, might indicate that he had help in preparing the Confession. It is evident from the Epistle Dedicatory that the Quakers were chiefly responsible for the appearance of the Confession in 1656. The authors said that two facts caused them to set forth their beliefs. First, they denied the "general charge" that their churches were not Calvinistic and so were out of accord with the London Particular churches, and owned both the London brethren and their Confession. Second, that they were:

"very sensible of the great distractions and divisions that are amongst professing people in this nation, the many ways and wiles of Satan to seduce and deceive souls, the great departing from the faith, and that under glorious notions of spiritualness and holiness."

The Quaker fire was burning menacingly around the Baptists when their Western (or Somerset) Association met in September, 1656, at Bridgewater. The Confession which the churches at that meeting decided to publish may have been originally drawn up before 1656, possibly in 1653 when it, like the Midland Particular Association Confession, would have served as a basis of union, for the authors said that "when the Lord set us first upon this work, we did not think of bringing it to public view," but meant it to "try our unity in the faith." In either case, Collier, who in 1654 was given the unique office of "General Superintendent and Messenger of all the Associated Churches," was its principal author.

The Confession bears the mark of careful preparation, and the impress of Collier can be seen at various points. While an effort is made to approximate the theological position of the London Confession, there is complete independence of expression, and there are some noteworthy omissions of material of the older document. Perhaps there was some ground for the saying that these Baptists did not quite have the same theological outlook as their London brethren. McGlothlin suggests that "some jealousy and fear" of the London churches prompted the setting forth of this Confession, but it seems improbable that this fear concerned the authority of the London churches as much as the theology of some London Baptists. The Calvinism of the Western Association was not of a rigid type.

 

A DECLARATION OF SEVERAL PEOPLE CALLED ANABAPTISTS, 1659

The radical faith of Anabaptists resulted in frequent persecution; thousands died gruesome deaths at the hands of their persecutors. Menno Simons encouraged the persecuted Christians in their faith by preaching and providing printed materials in support of their faith and way of life. The people to whom he ministered and provided leadership became known as "Mennonites."

 

A SHORT CATECHISM ABOUT BAPTISM, 1659 by John Tombes, B.D.

"Here is a rare glimpse into the baptismal debate that raged in England between the 1620's and, well, today. After questioning the infants interest in the covenant while delivering the 1627 catechetical lectures at Magdelan Hall, Oxford, John Tombes pondered his views for 15 years before he finally came to credobaptist (believer's baptism) convictions. For another Seventeen years, he championed the cause for credobaptism as a needed reform in the National Church. This Short Catechism was published as a distilation of 32 years of thought as regards baptism. Here is Tombes' mature, yet succinct presentation of the essence of baptism.

"During these 32 years, Tombes engaged the leading theological minds about this topic. He had a public debate with an ingenious Baptist who convinced him 1 Cor. 7:14 was no basis to practise infant baptism, he had a public debate with Richard Baxter on the subject, he exchanged polemics directly with Marshall and Ballie, and he wrote against more than thirty proponents of paedobaptism during his age. His writings are exegetically based, historically accurate, and theologically informed. Of all the men in the history of the Church who have written about baptism, Tombes' has more published pages than anyone. Yet, he has been lost to the modern reader. There are some anomalies in his thought. However, there is great profit to be found from time spent with a man who has become my friend, though dead, John Tombes, BD."

Mike Renihan, Grace Chapel, Editor, 1995

 

THE SECOND LONDON BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH, 1677, approved 1689 [English]

A circular letter was sent to particular Baptist churches in England and Wales asking each assembly to send representatives to a meeting in London in 1677. A confession consciously modeled after the Westminster Confession of Faith was approved and published. It has ever since born the name of the Second London Confession. The First London Confession had been issued by seven Baptist congregations of London in 1644. That first document had been drawn up to distinguish newly organized Calvinistic Baptists from the Arminian Baptists and the Anabaptists. Because this second London Confession was drawn up in dark hours of oppression, it was issued anonymously.

"This little volume, is not issued as an authoritative rule, or code of faith, whereby you are to be fettered, but as an assistance to you in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness. Here the younger members of our church will have a body of divinity in small compass, and by means of Scriptural proofs, will be ready to give an account for the hope that is in them. Be not ashamed of your faith; remember it is the ancient gospel of martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints. Above all, it is "the truth of God", against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail. Let your lives adorn your faith, let your example adorn your creed. Above all live in Christ Jesus, and walk in Him, giving credence to no teaching but that which is manifestly approved of Him, and owned by the Holy Spirit. Cleave fast to the Word of God which is here mapped out for you."                  Charles H. Spurgeon

 

SECOND LONDON BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH FOR WINDOWS by Mark Smith (U. of Sydney)

zip.gif (934 bytes)Zipped 1689 Baptist Confession [41kb] TRR

London Baptist Confession of Faith Help, Mr M. Smith

This Windows Help version of the London Baptist Confession of Faith is intended as a study tool for anyone interested in the study of this church record dating from 1689. The Confession was primarily designed as a statement of the governing principles, doctrine, and beliefs of the 17th century Christian Church. This Help file version can be quite useful as a way for contemporary churches to compare their present doctrine and dogma to that practiced over 300 years ago. It is well organized and makes liberal use of hypertext links to scriptural references and other parts of the document. It includes all 32 chapters, with scriptural references and appendix materials found in the original document.

download.gif (150 bytes) Windows 3.1x/95/98 | Compressed Size [686639bytes]

1. Download the bcfh11.exe file
2. Copy the bcfh11.exe file to an empty directory/folder on your Hard Disk
3. Double Click on the bcfh11.exe file. This file is a compressed or packed file. Double clicking on it will unpack the file and result in several files in the directory on your Hard Disk.
4. Double Click on the install.exe file. This will run the Installation program which will place BCFHelp on your system.
5. Once this program is installed you can copy all the files in the original directory (except the bcfh11.exe file) onto a floppy disk then delete them from your Hard Disk.
6. The installation can be run from a floppy disk, so keep the floppy disk as a back up or pass it onto a friend!

BCF Assistant:

The BCF Assistant is an extended version of BCFHelp, some of the additional features include:

Original 1677 Confession text.
The opening letter to "the Judicious and Impartial Reader" from the 1677 text.
The Appendix to the 1677 text in which the authors defend their Baptistic Principles and Convictions.
Chapter Outlines taken from Samuel E. Waldron's book, A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, (Evangelical Press, 1989).
A section on the Doctrine and Theology of the Confession (various authors included Pastors Sam Waldron and Greg Nichols, Grand Rapids, MI, USA).
A section outlining some of the Historical Background of the Confession and how it came to be, including some biographical information on some of those who were signatories to the Confession in 1689. This section principally comes from Dr James Renihan (Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies, Escondido, CA, USA.).

The BCF Assistant is copyright, however, it is distributed as FREEWARE. This means that you are free to copy it, distribute it and give it to others etc., as much as you like without legal restriction, as long as the product is distributed "as is", that is, that it is not modified or changed in any way. As far as I am aware, both the KJV Bible and the 1677/89 London Baptist Confession of Faith are not copyrighted materials, therefore, the copyright does not extend to these texts, only to the form and organisation in which they are found in BCF Assistant. All the contributed materials (mentioned above) remain the property of the individual authors and permission must be obtained for their reproduction.

download.gif (150 bytes) A 16 bit version designed for Windows 3.1.
1. Download the bcfa16.exe file (~955k)
2. Copy the bcfa16.exe file to an empty directory/folder on your Hard Disk
3. Double Click on the bcfa16.exe file. This file is a compressed or packed file. Double clicking on it will unpack the file and result in several files in the directory on your Hard Disk.
4. Double Click on the setup.exe file. This will run the Installation program which will place The BCF Assistant on your system.
5. Once this program is installed you cant copy all the files in the original directory (except the bcfa16.exe file) onto a floppy disk then delete them from your Hard Disk.
6. The installation can be run from a floppy disk, so keep the floppy disk as a back up or pass it onto a friend!

download.gif (150 bytes) A 32 bit version designed for Windows 95/98 and NT4.0.
1. Download the bcfa32.exe file (~510k)
2. Copy the bcfa32.exe file to an empty directory/folder on your Hard Disk
3. Double Click on the bcfa32.exe file. This file is a compressed or packed file. Double clicking on it will unpack the file and result in several files in the directory on your Hard Disk.
4. Double Click on the setup.exe file. This will run the Installation program which will place The BCF Assistant on your system.
5. Once this program is installed you cant copy all the files in the original directory (except the bcfa32.exe file) onto a floppy disk then delete them from your Hard Disk.
6. The installation can be run from a floppy disk, so keep the floppy disk as a back up or pass it onto a friend!

download.gif (150 bytes) An HTML version which can be be used on any computer which has a Web browser.
1. Download the bcfahtml.zip file (~410k)
2. Copy the bcfahtml.zip file to an empty directory/folder on your Hard Disk
3. bcfahtml.zip is a compressed or packed file in the PC ZIP format. You will need a program to extract all the files out of this package onto your hard disk. Several free Expander packages are available from Aladdin Systems which you can download.
4. After you have installed the Expander program follow the instruction to decompress or extract all the files contained in the bcfahtml.zip file into a new folder on your hard disk.
5. To "run" the HTML version of The BCF Assistant load the index.htm or toc.htm files (these two file are identical) in your Web Browser using the standard File/Open Menu item.
If you wish to post the entire BCF Assistant on a Web server, please contact the author by e-mail prior to doing so. The BCF Assistant is free, however, the author would like to know where and by whom it is being deployed. Thank you for your cooperation.

The HTML program can be viewd at:  Christian Classics Ethreal Library [CCEL]

 

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1677, approved 1689 [English]
wpe3.jpg (900 bytes) The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith,
The text for The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1677, approved 1689 was provided by Sam Hughey. HTML by Sam Hughey, The Reformed Reader, reformedreader@msn.com; July 14, 1999.

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [Pilipino, Tagalog]
philipines.jpg (1013 bytes) Pagpapahayag ng Pananampalatayang Baptist ng 1689

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [Spanish]
spain.gif (1028 bytes) La Confession De Fe De Londres De 1689
The text for La Confession De Fe De Londres De 1689 was provided by Sam Hughey. HTML by Sam Hughey, The Reformed Reader, reformedreader@msn.com; July 10, 1999.

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [German]
germany.gif (135 bytes) Confession mit 1689 Baptisten des Glaubens
The text for Confession mit 1689 Baptisten des Glaubens was provided by Sam Hughey. HTML by Sam Hughey, The Reformed Reader, reformedreader@msn.com; July 5, 1999.

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [Italien]
italy.gif (171 bytes) La Confessione Di Fede Battista Del 1689
The text for LA CONFESSIONE DI FEDE BATTISTA DEL 1689 was provided by Andrea Ferrari. HTML by TFE Webservant, mrbill@iserv.net. April 8, A.D. 1999.

 

For further study:

"Baptist Roots in America: The Historical Background of Reformed Baptists in America", Samuel E. Waldron, Simpson Publishing Co. (1991)

"A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith", Samuel E. Waldron, Evangelical Press, 1989

 

Translation projects underway:   French | Japanese | Chinese | Korean
(see the TRR UPDATES for finished translations)

 

BENJAMIN KEACH'S CATECHISM, 1677

This Catechism was originally published to clarify the theology of the Second London Baptist Confession that was written in 1677 and published after the Glorious Revolution in 1689. This particular edition of Keach's Catechism appears to have been edited at some point without changing its essential message.

 

THE ORTHODOX CATECHISM, 1680

The Orthodox Catechism of 1680 by Hercules Collins virtually reproduced the Heidelberg Catechism of the Dutch Reformed Church.  Eager that the Baptists of his generation be "established, strengthened, and settled on that sure rock and Foundation of Salvation, Christ's Merits", Collins presented to his contemporaries one of the noblest of Protestant Catechisms.  Collins follows the order and wording of the Heidelberg Catechism until he arrives at the Baptismal questions.  At that point he departs radically and inserts fourteen question and answer exchanges clearly expressing the Baptist view.   The longest of these is listed here.

Tom J. Nettles (Baptist Catechisms, To Make Thee Wise Unto Salvation)

 

THE PHILADELPHIA CONFESSION, 1742

 

 

THE GOATYARD DECLARATION OF FAITH, 1792

A Declaration of the Faith and Practice of the Church of Christ at Horsely-down, under the Pastoral Care of Mr. John Gill, &c.

"Having been enabled, through divine grace, to give up ourselves to the Lord, and likewise to one another by the will of God; we account it a duty incumbent upon us to make a declaration of our faith and practice, to the honour of Christ, and the glory of his name; knowing, that as with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, so with the mouth confession is made unto salvation--our declaration is as follows":

 

THE NEW HAMPSHIRE BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH, 1833

This Confession was drawn up by the Rev. John Newton Brown, D. D., of New Hampshire (b. 1803, d. 1868), about 1833, and has been adopted by the New Hampshire Convention, and widely accepted by Baptists, especially in the Northern and Western States, as a clear and concise statement of their faith, in harmony with the doctrines of older confessions, but expressed in milder form. The text is taken from the Baptist Church Manual, published by the American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia.

 

A PURITAN CATECHISM, 1855

I am persuaded that the use of a good Catechism in all our familieswill be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times,and therefore I have compiled this little manual from the Westminster Assembly's and Baptist Catechisms, for the use of my own church andcongregation. Those who use it in their families or classes mustlabour to explain the sense; but the words should be carefullylearned by heart, for they will be understood better as years pass.

May the Lord bless my dear friends and their families evermore, isthe prayer of their loving Pastor.
C. H. Spurgeon

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth notto be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15

Published about Oct 14, 1855, when Spurgeon was 21 years old. OnOct. 14, Spurgeon preached Sermon No. 46 to several thousand whogathered to hear him at New Park Street Chapel. When the sermon waspublished it contained an announcement of this catechism. The textthat morning was, "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in allgenerations." Ps. 90:1.

 

THE ABSTRACT OF PRINCIPLES, 1858

When the original charter of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was adopted in 1858 it contained the following statement which constitutes as a part of the "fundamental laws." "Every professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist Church; and all persons accepting professorships in this Seminary shall be considered, by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid down, a departure from which principles on his part shall be grounds for his resignation or removal by the Trustees."

The following is an excerpt from the Fundamental Laws of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary written into its charter on April 30, 1858: Every Professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist Church; and all persons accepting Professorships in this Seminary, shall be considered by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid down." (Mueller: History of Southern Seminary; BROADMAN PRESS: P. 238).

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A CATECHISM OF BIBLE TEACHING, 1892 by John Broadus

That John A. Broadus would be selected by both the American Baptist Publication Society and the Sunday School Board to write a Baptist Catechism should come as no surprise.  Called by A. Ho. Newman, "perhaps the greatest man the Baptists have produced," he was the most highly respected Baptist of his day, and in scholarship was without peer.  Even as early as 1859, J.P. Boyce recognized the strength of Broadus' influence and implied that his presence was needed for the successful founding of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Broadus' Catechism includes 15 lessons and a section of suggested biblical passages for memorization.  Each lesson consists of two types of questions:  the first set is for all students and the second is for advanced students.

This method arose from much earnest contemplation on the part of Broadus.  Originally the publishing houses sponsoring the project desired separate catechisms for three different age levels.  Settling, however, for two different levels within one catechism, this format appeared to pose special problems.   As Broadus struggled with the problem confronting him, he set forth a tri-fold qualification serving as his guideline.  His marvelous implementation of this set of criteria should certainly aid anyone in evaluating the usefulness of catechisms.  In December of 1891, he wrote:

"Notwithstanding various interruptions this morning I finished Lesson 1. for the "Catechism."  It is, of course, an extremely difficult task to make questions and answers about the existence and attributes of the Divine Being, that shall be intelligible to children, adequate as the foundation for future thinking, and correct as far as they go."

 

A BRIEF CATECHISM OF BIBLE DOCTRINE, by James P. Boyce

The author of this brief Doctrinal Catechism knows of no work of the kind in circulation among Baptists. Keach's Catechism, generally called the "Baptist Catechism", is scarcely used at all. No reason can be assigned for this, except that it is too difficult for children. In the present work, an attempt has been made to simplify, as far as possible, without sacrificing important truth. The teacher may have to give some further aid, by explaining a few words here and there. The aim has been to bring the truth taught within the comprehension of children of ten to twelve years old and upwards. The desire has been felt to promote catechetical instruction in the family and the Sunday School. It is believed that there are many who appreciate its value as a means of teaching the truth of God. To the attention of such, this little work is commended, with the hope that it may meet their wants. At the same time, Pastors of churches, Superintendents and Teachers of Sunday Schools, and pious parents, are urged to consider how far a partial recourse at least to catechetical instruction may tend to restore the vigorous piety of bygone days.

 

BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE, 1925

The 1925 Statement recommended "the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, revised at certain points, and with some additional articles growing out of certain needs . . . ." Your present committee has adopted the same pattern. It has sought to build upon the structure of the 1925 Statement, keeping in mind the "certain needs" of our generation. At times it has reproduced sections of the Statement without change. In other instances it has substituted words for clarity or added sentences for emphasis. At certain points it has combined articles, with minor changes in wording, to endeavor to relate certain doctrines to each other. In still others-e.g., "God" and "Salvation"-it has sought to bring together certain truths contained throughout the 1925 Statement in order to relate them more clearly and concisely. In no case has it sought to delete from or to add to the basic contents of the 1925 Statement.

 

BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE, 1963

On May 9, 1963, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a revised summary of the Southern Baptist faith. The committee's report says in part:

Baptists emphasize the soul's competency before God, freedom in religion, and the priesthood of the believer. However, this emphasis should not be interpreted to mean that there is an absence of certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified. It is the purpose of this statement of faith and message to set forth certain teachings which we
believe.

On June 9, 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention added an eighteenth section, "The Family," to the seventeen sections adopted in 1963. The complete text of the committees' reports and the entire Baptist Faith and Message can be found below.

Report of Committee on Baptist Faith and Message, May 9, 1963
Report of the Presidential Theological Study Committe, June, 1994
Report of Committee on Baptist Faith and Message, June 9, 1998

 


 

Please read these additional sources for the importance of Catechisms:

cover(1).gif (5735 bytes)An Encouragement to Use Catechisms Part 1, Thomas J. Nettles (Founders On-Line)
An Encouragement to Use Catechisms Part 2, Thomas J. Nettles (Founders On-Line)
An Encouragement to Use Catechisms Part 3, Thomas J. Nettles (Founders On-Line)
BOOK REVIEW:  Baptist Confessions, Covenants, and Catechisms, edited by Timothy and Denise George

 

READ THE REVIEW OF THESE BOOKS CONCERNING BAPTIST CONFESSIONS OF FAITH THROUGH THE AGES

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note.gif (869 bytes) TRR Editor's Note:  I cannot knowingly recommend a book of greater historical and doctrinal Baptist importance than Tom Nettles' book, "Baptist Catechisms, To Make Thee Wise Unto Salvation".  This is one of the finest examples of the rich heritage of Baptists that has either been long forgotten or brushed aside as having no importance.  I challenge you to read and discern for yourself its importance in your and your family's life!

 

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS PROJECT

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