Wednesday, February 14, 2007

God is a Rock

Yesterday, having said this,

"We must not be afraid to fix that which is broken or to build upon that which is foundational. Whether they be Confessions, Catechisms, or Ecclesiastical Structures."

Today, I must qualify.

I do think these issues are about reformed and reforming, about a cultural clash, protecting sacred ground. So, let me be clear. I am not opposed to sacred ground. Like it very much. And, I readily agree that the Westminster Confession of Faith is sacred ground. But it is not the same kind of sacred ground as Scripture.

None of our men, nor this one, are in a hurry to remodel. We like the building we are in and think it is quite a good one from which to launch attacks on the enemy. The devil, by the way, not other Presbyterians. In fact, most of our men only take a few standard exceptions from the Westminster Confession. The pope is not THE antichrist, some family or church related recreation is permissable and even good on the Lord's Day, and the exception of more substance, that very small children ought to be allowed to the Lord's Table. Basic stuff. Not the kind of exceptions heretics are made of. We readily agree that the Confession of Faith is a good guide for orthodoxy and a ready, at hand, starting point for finding dissent or even heterodoxy. That is, if used properly.

In the discussions that I have had with anti-FV Presbyterians, I have found them to be less confessional than myself. They don't like the fact that baptism confers (Westminster's word) grace, for instance. But we do. Who should take an exception here? This struck me as odd, as the main accusation against our men is that they are not faithful to the confession. It is we FV-ers that are arguing for the right to differ from the confession, as long as we do so Scripturally. We also believe that the Confessions, in theory, can and should be improved. But while arguing for this right, we really don't take it very much. That is good because the men at Westminster were brilliant and gave us a wonderfully crafted document. But it was for their time, for their day, for their issues. It is amazing that it has withstood the test of time and church issues this long. Brilliant.

But think about the answer to Shorter Catechism #4, for instance. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice , goodness and truth.

I like this answer. It is all true. But does it define God very well or give us much insight into His character? Especially to a four or five year old? But more biblical language does this for us. "God is a rock, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of the great tree of His Church." This is a quick start, just looked up a few verses as I wrote. It could be much better written but I propose that even this simple attempt says more about God, not less, than the abstract ideas and doctrines, represented in the shorter catechism. And it does so, in Biblical language. Is this somehow, not being confessional?

Rich Lusk has written a Shorter Catechism-like work with more biblical language answers. However, as far as I know, no one in the CREC or FV-leaning PCA circles has sought to formally add any changes or updates to Westminster. Why? Because we do not have substantive differences. But the Bible has much more to say about God, doctrine and practice than the Confession of Faith was ever intended to say. So, we ought to be able to add. And if it comes to it, we can even subtract. No sin there. No necessary heresy. Just plain old reformation.

Since we are presbyterians, even CREC men, then we should not make changes to a church document willy-nilly or in our own little vacuum. We should seek to do so, as we can, as the broader church. That church is getting harder to find in the micro-p's, split-p soup we call TR Land.

So, where does this leave us? In my opinion, the ones arguing for the culture to be more Scriptural than confessional are more confessional than the true confessors.

Truth is stranger than fiction.

1 comment:

Rick said...

I've always thought it would be nice if we could cut down all the trees, and keep the seeds in little jars. Full grown trees are so messy and asymmetrical. It's better for us all if we keep them small and under glass.

By the way Pastor, where's my link?