Theology Gals | Episode 3 | Catechism and Confession

On this episode of Theology Gals Coleen and Ashley discuss confessionalism, the purpose and benefits of Confessions and Catechisms.

Episode Resources:

A creed is a brief statement of faith used to list important truths, to clarify doctrinal points and to distinguish truth from error. Creeds are usually worded to be easily memorized. The word creed comes from the Latin word credo, meaning, “I believe.” The Bible contains a number of creed-like passages. For example, Jews used the Shema, based on Deuteronomy 6:4-9, as a creed. Paul wrote simple creed-like statements in 1 Corinthians 8:6; 12:3 and 15:3-4. 1 Timothy 3:16 also appears as a creed, a concise statement of belief

“God’s Word as confessed (theology, piety, and practice) by the Reformed churches.” R. Scott Clark

Regarding the reformed confessions:

“These are the ecclesiastical summaries of the Christian faith in the Reformed tradition. In these documents, the churches expressed their official interpretation of God’s Word on those things they considered most essential. This is how the churches intend for you to learn theology (doctrine), piety (prayer, worship), and practice (the Christian life). Start with the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the Belgic Confession (1561), and the Canons of Dort (1619). See also the Westminster Confession (1648), the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1648), and the Westminster Larger Catechism (1648).” (This link offers resources on discovering the reformed confessions.)

“The Latin slogan sola scriptura means “by Scripture alone,” not “Scripture alone” (solo scriptura)5 For example, both Lutheran and Reformed churches regard the ecumenical creeds, along with their own confessions and catechisms, as authoritative and binding summaries of Scripture, to which they are all subordinate” – Michael Horton, The Christian Faith

“As Reformed Christians, we profess to believe that the confessions (for me, the Three Forms of Unity equally with the Westminster Standards) are a faithful summary and interpretation of the main tenets of the Word of God. The confessions are our roadmaps for the sometimes rugged biblical terrain. If so, we should never shelve the confessions as an obstacle to unity or evangelism or whatever we want to do without those pesky old documents getting in our way–all of these things are both ‘doctrinal’ and ‘practical’ issues.

“Maybe one good way to avoid noncofessionalism among the contemporary Reformed is to cultivate an appreciation for the theology of the confessions as they relate the historic Reformed understanding of Scripture to what we actually- individually- believe. For one thing, the confessions are consensus documents agreed upon by the Church, yes, but they are my confession of faith, too. They don’t contain everything I believe to be contained in the Christian faith, and of course they’re not perfect (they aren’t Scripture itself), but they hit all of the most important things dead on, and in a powerful and engaging way, and they call upon us to do the same…which is one of their most important functions.Another function, as John Webster suggests above, is that when we personally and as a community affirm the confessions, we testify clearly to the redeeming work in history which God has accomplished in Christ and applies to us by the Holy Spirit. By confessing we claim that this basic biblical content, summarized faithfully but not perfectly by this Spirit-led community on our pilgrim journey, answers the questions, “What must I believe to be saved? What is my proper response to so great a salvation?” It is our communal (covenantal) ‘answering back’ after God calls us to himself in Christ by the same Word that we confess in summary in the confessions. It is also our clear and united testimony before a watching world, and within a Church badly in need of biblical and theological grounding.

“The Westminster Confession and Catechisms were drafted by “Puritans.”  From these documents one cannot detect any internal conflict between a high view of the church’s ministry (Word, sacrament, and discipline) and a clear delineation of the need for personal conversion and piety.  It was not a “church-within-a-church”—the truly regenerated remnant within the institutional church—that these divines encouraged, but a visible church truly reformed according to God’s Word.  Anyone looking for a clear line between confessional orthodoxy and concern for personal piety will not find much support in these writers.  The body of their work, from Perkins to John Owen, exhibits a fuller range of interest than “pietism versus confessionalism” might suggest.” White Horse Inn blog.

Books Mentioned

The Lost Soul of American Protestantism by DG Hart

Recovering the Reformed Confessions by R Scott Clark

Episode Music from Castle Pines

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