Why Confessing Theology is EssentialPosted: October 8, 2010 Filed under: Systematic Theology 7 Comments
A confession is also officially adopted by the Church. The Church accepts these creeds as expressions of her faith (doctrine of faith). For this reason we do not ask “what does this writer say about this issue?” but, “what do the confessions say about this issue?” The writers, Guido de Bres or Ursinus, are not important. The fact that the Church has officially adopted these confessions, is what is important. The confessions have ecclesiastical authority. We are free to differ with a certain author. But we are not free to differ with the confessions for than the Church would be opened up to all kinds of false doctrine and confusion. The Church would than deteriorate into a cult or sect in which all kinds of individual views would be tolerated. The Synod of Dordt understood this properly. At this synod, they stipulated that every minister had to sign the confession of the Church, as in ALL things agreeing with God’s Word.
The existence of the Reformed Church is depended upon the Reformed creeds. If the creeds are denied, the Church will degenerate. For instance, at the synod of Dordt in 1618 submission to the confessions was demanded because they agreed with God’s Word. At the synod of 1816 in The Hague where liberalism and rationalism took its toll, it was stated that we submit to the confessions as far as they agree to God’s Word. The discernment as to what extent the confessions agreed with God’s Word, was left to the individual. According to that principle, the confessions have no validity. One can even reason against a precise meaning of the confessions. With this view, liberalism was formerly endorsed in the Church. The succession of the 19th Century was born from the desire to submit to the full confessions of the church. This constitutes that the dutch succession was not a separatistic movement, but agreed in everything to the doctrine of the Reformed Churches. It was a return to the original Reformed Church.
We are to hold on to the binding authority of the confession. No one in church has the right to teach a view that contradicts the confession because then one would contradict God’s Word.
There are some who disagree with this point of view. They consider this binding of the confessions to be an intrusions on one’s personal freedom of conscience. They consider confessions to be a hindrance for the subjective experience of faith. The freedom of speech in Church would be hindered. These objections flow forth from the desire to promote liberalism: anyone can teach what he likes. This point of view will destroy the Church of Christ. True liberty in the Church is found in being subject to the confessions for they promote the freedom of God’s Word; the true Christian deliverance. This is again something different than confessionalism. In confessionalism, one swears by the confession and desires to have nothing but the confession. Then the confessions are viewed independent of the Word of God.
I agree that confessions are essential, but how can you say “We are to hold on to the binding authority of the confession. No one in church has the right to teach a view that contradicts the confession because then one would contradict God’s Word.” when many reformed confessions contradict each other? The confessions are Not scripture and the authors of various confessions had different interpretations of certain part of the scripture.
Which Reformed Confessions contradict each other?
The Lutheran Augsburg Confession states: “Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God’s grace.They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism.” The Anabaptists are another reformed church who’s Schleitheim Confession states: ” Baptism shall be given to all those who have learned repentance and amendment of life, and who believe truly that their sins are taken away by Christ, and to all those who walk in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and wish to be buried with Him in death, so that they may be resurrected with Him and to all those who with this significance request it (baptism) of us and demand it for themselves. This excludes all infant baptism”
Another example of two reformed confessions that contradict each other The Augsburg Confession which states: “Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed” When the Westminster Confession of Faith states: “That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common-sense and reason; overthroweth the nature of the sacrament; and hath been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross idolatries.”
Lutherans aren’t Reformed.
I was waiting for someone to say this… hence the four confessional categories are 1. catholic, 2. Eastern Orthodoxy, 3. Lutherans, and 4. Reformed.
What about the Socinian confession? 🙂
I was giving the four “major” camps that actually confessed/wrote down what they believed.
Didn’t think we had to deal with Nontrinitarianism….