Savoy Declaration

   The Savoy Declaration was the doctrinal confession of those British Puritans who followed a congregational church polity.
   On September 29, 1658, toward the end of the Commonwealth (when Puritans governed England), prominent Puritans who supported a congregational form of church organization (as opposed to the presbyterian polity advocated by most British Puritans) gathered for a synod at the Savoy Palace in London. The synod adopted a "Declaration of Faith and Order, Honored and Practiced in the Congregational Churches," popularly called the Savoy Declaration.
   The new statement followed the Westminster Confession but included a section on churches, which stated, "These particular churches thus appointed by the authority of Christ, and entrusted with power from him . . . are each of them . . . the seat of that power which he is pleased to communicate to his saint or subjects in this world, so that as such they receive it immediately from himself. Besides these particular churches, there is not instituted by Christ any church more extensive or catholic entrusted with power for the administration of his ordinances, or the execution of any authority in his name."
   These three sentences essentially detail the rationale of congregational polity while denying the authority of bishops, synods, and presbyteries. Along with the Cambridge Platform, the declaration survives as one of the primary statements of Congregationalism, and manifests its essential ties to the Calvinist theological tradition.
   The Savoy Declaration later provided a rationale for the organization of Baptist churches.
   Further reading:
   ■ R. Tudur Jones, Congregationalism in England 1662-1962 (London: Independent Press, 1962)
   ■ The Savoy Declaration of Faith and Order (1656; reprint, London: Evangelical Press, 1971)
   ■ Williston Walker, The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism (New York: Scribner/The Pilgrim Press, 1893, 1991).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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