Campbellism was a movement that not only taught baptismal regeneration, but also against the use of creeds or confessions, arguing that creeds ended up being a kind of replacement for the Scriptures. Baptists reacted strongly against this, with the Kentucky brance of the American Baptist Association writing in the 1820’s,
“Creeds formed or enforced by the civil authority, are usurpatious, leading to persecution and to despotism; while those formed by voluntary Associations of Christians, enforced by no higher penalty or sanction, than exclusion from the membership in the society are not only lawful, but necessary, in the present state of the religious world. To deny any religious society the privilege of expressing their views of the Bible in their own words and phrases, and of denying admission to those who reject their views, is a violent interference with the rights of conscience–it is tyranny.“By a creed we mean an epitome, or summary exhibition of what the Scriptures teach. Are we to admit members into the church and into office, are we to license and ordain preachers, without enquiring for their creed?” (from A Sourcebook for Baptist History, edited by McBeth).
This last paragraph introduces an important question for American Baptist churches today: Do we place enough importance on the “creed” of those seeking to be members in our churches?