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What I Read Online – 11/05/2013 (p.m.)

06 Nov
    • The purpose for this method was to show, wherever possible, the continuity of faith which existed between the Particular Baptists and their other reformed brethren in Great Britain. Today Reformed Baptists hold the Second London Confession in high esteem and many of the churches continue to regard it as their official statement of faith.
    • Sadly we live in a non-creedal, even an anti-creedal, age marked by existential relativism, anti-authoritarianism, and historical isolationism.
    • Horatius Bonar said, “Every new utterance of scepticism, especially on religious subjects, and by so-called ‘religious’ men is cheered as another howl of that storm that is to send all creeds to the bottom of the sea; the flowing or receding tide is watched, not for the appearance of truth above the waters, but for the submergence of dogma. To any book or doctrine or creed that leaves men at liberty to worship what god they please, there is no objection; but to anything that would fix their relationship to God/ that would infer their responsibility for their faith, that would imply that God has made an authoritative announcement as to what they are to believe, they object, with protestations in the name of injured liberty.”
    • The cry is often heard, “No creed but the Bible.” In some cases this affirmation is worthy of respect, for some appear genuinely to be motivated by the recognition that the Bible has a unique place in the regulation of the church’s faith and life. Nevertheless, it is naive to believe that the church wholly discharges its duty as the pillar and ground of the truth by proclaiming that it believes the Bible. Most heretics will be willing to say the same thing. One writer proclaims: “To arrive at the truth we must dismiss religious prejudices . . .We must let God speak for himself… Our appeal is to the Bible for truth.” The problem with this statement, of course, is that it is drawn from Let God be True, published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.2
    • A confession of our loyalty to the Bible is not enough. The most radical denials of biblical truth frequently coexist with a professed regard for the authority and the testimony of the Bible. When men use the very words of the Bible to promote heresy, when the Word of Truth is perverted to serve error, nothing less than a confession of faith will serve to publicly draw the lines between truth and error.
    • “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men” (1.6). The great reformed confessions do not claim to make anything truth that was not truth before; nor do they propose to bind men to believe anything which they are not already obligated to believe on the authority of Scripture.
    • A. A. Hodge observed, “The real question is not, as often pretended, between the Word of God and the creed of man, but between the tried and proved faith of the collective body of God’s people, and the private judgment and the unassisted wisdom of the repudiator of creeds.”5
    • “Men are seldom opposed to creeds, until creeds have become opposed to them.”
    • There is a great diversity of sentiment in the world concerning morality, as well as doctrine: and, if it be an unscriptural imposition to agree to any articles whatsoever, it must [also] be to exclude any one for immorality, or even to admonish him on that account; for it might be alleged that he only thinks for himself, and acts accordingly.
    • A church with a little creed is a church with a little life. The more divine doctrines a church can agree on, the greater its power, and the wider its usefulness. The fewer its articles of faith, the fewer its bonds of union and compactness.
    • A confession is a useful means for the public affirmation and defense of truth.
    • A confession serves as a public standard of fellowship and discipline
    • The biblical model of the local church is not a union of those who have agreed to differ but a body marked by peace and unity
    • As noted earlier, all churches have a creed, either written or understood by its members. And every wise man, before joining, will desire to know what that creed is. He has a right to know what the church believes and the church has a right to know what he believes. Now, to have an unpublished creed as a test of fellowship is disorderly, if not dishonest. Each man is left to discover the creed of the church for himself. And the church itself has no easy way to discern if those who apply for membership are in harmony with the common faith of its members, since the essentials of their common faith are nowhere particularized. A published confession greatly facilitates the evaluation of the doctrinal position of the church by a prospective member, and vice versa.
    • A published confession of faith also provides a concise doctrinal standard for use in church discipline
    • And what is true of life within the local church is also true of fellowship between local churches
    • The object of articles [of faith] is to keep at a distance, not those who are weak in the faith, but such as are its avowed enemies
    • A creed serves as a concise standard by which to evaluate ministers of the Word
    • We cannot obey these admonitions simply by receiving the confession that a man believes the Bible. We must know what he believes the Bible teaches on the great issues. A confession of faith makes it relatively simple for the church to inquire about a man’s doctrinal soundness over the broad field of biblical truth
    • Confessions contribute to a sense of historical continuity
    • How do we know that we and our people are not an historical anomaly, that we are not the only ones in history who have believed this way?
    • An unwillingness to define with precision the faith that it professes to believe is a symptom that something is desperately wrong with a church and its leadership. It is impossible for such a church to function as “the pillar and ground of the truth,” for it is unwilling to define or defend the truth which it professes to hold. The reality of the current situation is that it is not so much the confessions as the churches that are on trial in our day.
    • If in our day we engage in the revision of our confessions, of course we must be determined to go against the spirit of much of modern confessional construction. Modern doctrinal statements are constructed for a different purpose than the old confessions. Machen observed in his day: “The historic creeds were exclusive of error; they were intended to exclude error; they were intended to set forth the biblical teaching in sharp contrast with what was opposed to the biblical teaching, in order that the purity of the church might be preserved. These modern statements, on the contrary, are inclusive of error. They are designed to make room in the church for just as many people and for just as many types of thought as possible.”19
    • Alongside of our appreciation for the great reformed confessions, we must remember that each generation must ground its faith in the Bible. People’s faith must not be. rooted only in an allegiance to the confession. In our churches we must seek to make followers of Christ, not just Baptists, or Presbyterians, or Reformed. The confession must not become simply a tradition held without personal conviction rooted in the Word of God
    • “When any generation is content to rely upon its theological heritage and refuses to explore for itself the riches of divine revelation, then declension is already under way and heterodoxy will be the lot of the succeeding generation.”20
    • When a church departs from the old paths, if it will not return, let it publicly disavow its confession. While it may grieve us to see such defection from truth, and though the enemies of truth may seize the opportunity to slander and rail, surely it is better and more honest than for the church to continue in hypocrisy.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 06/11/2013 in Current Issues

 

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