Savoy Declaration

The Savoy Declaration was a declaration and statement of faith prepared in 1658 by a conference of English Congregationalists who met at Savoy Palace, London. Its full title is A Declaration of the Faith and Order owned and practiced in the Congregational Churches in England. The declaration consisted of three parts: a preface, a confession of faith, and a platform of discipline. In matters of doctrine it was primarily a restatement (with some modifications) of the Presbyterian Westminster Confession (1646), but was specifically adapted to suit Congregational polity. The committee responsible for the declaration included Thomas Goodwin, John Owen, Philip Nye, William Bridge, Joseph Caryl and William Greenhill.

With respect to the WCF, the Savoy Declaration altered chapters 25 and 26, deleted chapters 30 and 31, inserted a new chapter 20, "Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace thereof," and added a platform of Congregational polity in the preface titled "Of the Institution of Churches, and the Order Appointed in them by Jesus Christ." The Savoy Declaration was designed to encourage agreement on important matters between churches; but, true to the nature of Congregational polity, it was not intended to be a legal or corporate instrument, as was the Westminster Confession.


The Westminster Confession was adopted by the General Assembly of the Scottish Church in 1647 and ratified by the Scottish parliament in 1649. These acts of the English and Scottish parliaments were then nullified at the restoration of the Anglican episcopacy together with the British monarchy in 1660. After the Revolution of 1688, in which the intolerable Roman Catholic King James II was replaced by William of Orange, the Scottish parliament again ratified the Confession without change in 1690, to which the royal sanction was promptly granted by the new King.

In 1658, just two years before the restoration of the monarchy, about 200 delegates from the Congregational churches of England gathered in the Savoy palace in London to compose a revision of the Confession in which the principles of congregational independence and legal toleration would replace the established Presbyterianism implicit in the Confession's statements touching Church government and discipline.

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