Disagreements with the WCF

Recently I had to sit down and write the differences I saw between The London Baptist Confession and The Westminster Confession of Faith. I figured that I would go ahead and post it as well for others to read as well.

Disagreements with The Westminster Confession of Faith

My wife and I am Confessional Baptist, like that of Confessional Presbyterians (The Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger & Shorter Catechisms) or Confessional Dutch-Reformed (The Three-Forms of Unity). There are not many differences between us at all, besides three areas: Church Sacraments, Church Magistrate, and Church Polity (which is not an confessional issue). The five Baptist confessions we adhere to are the following:

  • 1644 London Baptist Confession of Faith
  • 1698 London Baptist Confession of Faith
  • 1742 Philadelphia Confession of Faith
  • 1833 New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith
  • 1858 Abstract of Principles

There are a few differences within these confessions, like that from The Westminster Confession of Faith to the Three-Forms of Unity, they are both reformed, but yet have small differences within them. My wife and I agree mostly with that of the 1644 London Baptist Confession, 1833 New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith, and the 1858 Southern Baptist Abstract of Principles. I feel the need at this time to make it known that all three of these (nor any of the Baptist Confessions) is not Dispensational in any means. Due to American Baptist history within the last 150-years, not one of these have Dispensational roots, nor leanings.

Sacraments

Baptism – It is most obvious that we disagree upon the Westminster Confession of Faith chapters 28 and 29, from that of the London Baptist Confession chapters 29, and 30. The London Baptist Confession although short in explanation compared to the Westminster, is what I believe and hold to be true.

Lord’s Supper – The Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 29 and the London Baptist Confession chapters 30 and 32, I see that they agree and I have no difference here. I do believe that the Westminster Confession of Faith has done a better job and see that it is more in-depth in explaining.

Church Magistrate – I do not agree with the original Westminster Confession of Faith, I do agree with the American Version of the WCF chapter 23 and the London Baptist Confession Chapter 24.

Church Polity – Unlike the Westminster Confession of Faith chapters 30 and 31, The London Baptist Confession of Faith has left it open to individual congregational church to determine the censures, synods, and councils to the churches belief of the Scriptures. Thus however is much debated in the American modifications that are made to the Reformed Confessions today, namely the American Presbyterian churches (PCUSA, PCA, OPC, ARP) and American-Dutch-Reformed churches (RCA, CRC, URC, FRCNA, HNRC, NHRC, PRC). I give examples below.

  • American Presbyterian – Scotland Presbyterian State Free Church
  • American Dutch-Reformed  – Netherlands State Church

There may be some minor differences between Presbyterian and Congregational Church polity, however I do not see that major, or an issue that would be brought up in teaching Bible at Chamberlain-Hunt. The differences here lie in how the church is govern, mainly in church discipline, meaning that I believe the church denomination/association does not exercise control over the member but the individual church in which one is a member of, better known as an Congregationalist, (like that of Robert Brown, Jeremiah Burroughs, John Owen, John Bunyan, and the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Colony). The main difference is that Congregationalist churches are to remain completely independent in principle, but yet I do believe it is best for Congregational churches to invite members of the associative churches to ordain their called pastor.

I do not see this being an issue being that I have been a member of an Orthodox Presbyterian Church for over a year. I have submitted to their church order and never once publically, nor in secret went against their church order and law. I have taught in the OPC for the past year in theology classes and in Sunday-school classes and would never once go against the Westminster Confession of Faith. The reason why, is that I would never for the sake of the Gospel and being Christ-centered make this minor issue an importance. The gospel and the center of it are far superior to that of minor issues like that of church polity and the magistrate.

Differences in Confessions

The application asks that I make mention/list of the differences in areas that I disagree upon and to explain why on a separate sheet of paper. Below are the minor exceptions that I disagree or issues on which I have not yet formed an opinion or conviction upon dealing with The Westminster Confession of Faith. I have taken the time over the past week to sit down and read through the Westminster Confession and Baptist Confessions, so that I can properly explain the minor differences. The differences that a confessional Baptist, like myself has from that of the Westminster Confession of Faith are the following.

Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment thereof: The London Baptist Confession has added wordage to this section, not to disagree, but yet better explain the fall of mankind and the punishment to come. Although the London Baptist does not include the Westminster 6.6, I do however fully agree when it states,

Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth in its own nature bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries, spiritual, temporal and eternal.”

Chapter 7 Of God’s Covenant (with man): The London Baptist has lessen in confession the “covenant of works” and how the covenant of grace is set forth in Scripture. I am in fully agreement in how the Westminster Confession of Faith has described the covenant with mankind through its history in particular with 7.2-7.6.

Chapter 8 Of Christ the Mediator: The Westminster’s most beautiful chapter by far. Yet I believe the London Baptist Confession has done an addition in adding 8:9 and 8:10, that it brings addition in saying how the office of Jesus Christ may not be given to any other (8.9) and in how man’s ignorance, mankind stands in need of a mediator (8.10).

Chapter 17 Of the Perseverance of the Saints: I believe that the London Baptist Confession has done a great addition to explain in how the believer is brought through and from this world, being kept by God, where they will keep their inheritance and being engrave upon the palm of His hands (LBC 17:1).

Chapter 20 Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace Thereof: An addition that was not in the Westminster Confession of Faith, exampling the broken covenant of works, the promise of Christ, and the revelation of Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit that will effect their conversion to God.

Chapter 21 Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience: The Westminster adds a section (21:4) dealing with the Christian liberty that I agree.

Chapter 22 Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day: There are some differences here from the Westminster Confession of Faith from that of the 1644 & 1689 London, Philadelphia, and New Hampshire. However I am in full agreement the Westminster.

Chapter 23 On Singing Praise: The Philadelphia Confession adds a section that sees the importance of singing to worship God as an ordinance of the church. Further more in chapter 23 of The Westminster Confession of Faith dealing with the Civil Magistrate, there is much debate between the original confession, American and London Baptist Confession (20:2-4). I discussed this earlier.

Chapter 24 Of Marriage and Divorce: The London Baptist Confession does not take a stance upon the covenant of marriage being broken. Unlike that of the Westminster Confession of Faith, it does upon the issues of adultery and desertion.[1]

Chapters 26 & 27 Of the Church: I believe the London Baptist has done a great job (addition to the Westminster) in describing the role of the church, in particular with the role of the pastor (28:4-15).

Chapters 28-30 Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: I have discussed this earlier.

Chapter 31 On the Laying on of Hands: The Philadelphia Confession makes additions in addition to explain the ordinance of the laying on of hands to believers in the church. This I am in agreement with, which is not made mention in the Westminster.

Chapters 30 and 31 Of Church Censures and of Synods and Councils: (of the Westminster confession of Faith) I have discussed this earlier.


[1] I did a study during my Th.M. under Dr. James Grier on a biblical theology of Divorce. During that study I came to the conclusion that the covenant of marriage is unbreakable, no matter what the issue may be. I am not set in stone upon this issue, but at this point I do not agree with the Westminster in that a marriage can be broken because of their two reasons, adultery and desertion. This is not a major issue of the gospel.

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Can a “non-christian” Do Good Things?

Assuming that God is the creator of the universe (and I do)…

Can a non-christian Do Good Things? IS A great quesiton that mankind at times may think or feel that he has the answer to. However, God has already given an answer to that… And the The Westminster Confession Chapter 26:7 states it at its best,

“Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others:[23] yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith;[24] nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word;[25] nor to a right end, the glory of God,[26] they are therefore sinful and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God:[27] and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.[28]

Be sure to click on the numbers above that provide the Scriptural references for your reading.


Christ did not lay down His life to atone for the sins of all of mankind!

8:7 Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself;[37] yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.[38]

Thoughts: Christ did not lay down His life to atone for the sins of all of mankind, nor for an indefinite number of saints. His sacrifice was indeed sufficient to save the whole world, had it been designed to do so; but in the purpose of God and in the undertaking of Christ, it was determined that He should make atonement for those who were elected in Him to everlasting life; these only He represented, and these only shall be saved through His redemption. This truth is commonly called limited atonement or what seems to be a better term in my book, particular redemption.


Christ fulfills and applies the Covenant of Grace

8:5 The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father;[34] and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him.[35]

It is in the office of mediator that Christ fulfills and applies the Covenant of Grace, and in doing so, accomplishes the Covenant of Works.


Deny ANY teaching that places anyone between Christ and man

8:4 This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake;[22] which that He might discharge, He was made under the law,[23] and did perfectly fulfil it;[24] endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul,[25] and most painful sufferings in His body;[26] was crucified, and died,[27] was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption.[28] On the third day He arose from the dead,[29] with the same body in which He suffered,[30] with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of His Father,[31] making intercession,[32] and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.[33]

 

 


REJECT ANY teaching that denies or obscures the truth that Jesus is both God and man in two distinct natures

8:3 The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, above measure,[15] having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;[16] in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell;[17] to the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth,[18] He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety.[19] Which office He took not unto Himself, but was thereunto called by His Father,[20] who put all power and judgment into His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same.[21]

Thoughts: The safest way of going with this is, to REJECT ANY teaching that denies or obscures the truth that Jesus is both God and man in two distinct natures and one person forever. It only leads to apostasy.


Be Thankful for The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity

8:2 The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature,[10] with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin;[11] being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance.[12] So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion.[13] Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.[14]

What This Means: Jesus Christ, as Head over all things for the sake of the Church, rules in perfect wisdom and justice over all parts of His creation including wicked men and devils. He makes them, and all their counsels and efforts, serve God’s glory in the plan of redemption.


It pleased God to ordain His Son for what reason?

8:1 It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man,[1] the Prophet,[2] Priest,[3] and King,[4] the Head and Savior of His Church,[5] the Heir of all things,[6] and Judge of the world:[7] unto whom He did from all eternity give a people, to be His seed,[8] and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.[9]

Here G.I. Williamson in his study of the WFC summarizes saying,

“This section of the Confession teaches us (1) that God has, from eternity, chosen a definite number of Adam’s posterity to be saved through the redemptive work of Christ, (2) that he also, from eternity, promised to give these elect persons to Christ as the reward for his suffering, (3) that Christ engaged to perform and suffer all that was necessary to that end, (4) that this messianic work required Christ to be the prophet, priest, and king of his elect people as head and Savior of the Church, and (5)that he must also be heir and judge of the world.”

What does this mean? is that Jesus, the Mediator, governs over all creatures and all their actions for His own glory. Submission is due to Him from all men and angels. All men, in every possible relation and condition, are under obligation to promote His gracious purposes according to His law. The hole angels minister, under His direction, to the heirs of salvation.