The Westminster Confession & Creedalism

Yesterday, Shawn suggested that I listen to a sermon by Jonathan Modene.:”(Sorry, I couldn’t determine whether or not Modene has his own website, so you get a link to the Calvinist Gadfly instead; enjoy!)”: In it, he was supposed to be describing Reformed Baptists, who they are, what they believe, where they came from, and how they are taking over church after church with supposedly damnable doctrines. In the midst of tirades against why churches that aren’t old fashioned must be given themselves over to something evil or why churches which don’t exclusively use the King James Version actually have no final authority, he expressed shock that Reformed Baptists would sometimes make use of the Westminster Confession of Faith. I’m by no means a member of the Church of England nor am I a Presbyterian, but I have often found encouragement and edification in the Confession.

What Modene seemed to insinuate was that creedalists — those who believe things like the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Westminster Confession, or the London Baptist Confession — deny the final authority of the Bible. He made sure to point out that he wasn’t a creedalist but was rather a biblicist. I wonder if he has ever read the Westminster Confession. You can’t believe even the first chapter if you aren’t a biblicist! The two go hand in hand!

You may call me a creedalist. I enjoy reading the old creeds, and they make for great summaries of biblical teaching. Sure, there are creeds that aren’t wholly biblical,:”(The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Mormon Articles of the Faith come to mind.)”: but do we not encounter the same thing with preachers and authors? By saying I believe the Apostles’ Creed, it is no different than saying that I believe a certain sermon or other work. I ascribe importance to either only insomuch as they agree with the Bible, and both serve to summarize and explain biblical content and theology.

If I were asked to explain Christian theology with someone, perhaps a new believer, to tell them to go read the Bible and to hope for the best would be overwhelming for them, and it likely would end in discouragement. However, if I gave them the Apostles’ Creed, several key truths have been presented in summary form in a manner that is very easy to digest. That “diet” then may be supplemented with enriching milk from the Word.

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a large creed, to be sure, spanning 33 chapters on topics ranging from the Scriptures to “lawful oaths and vows” (chapter 22). I admit I have no read the whole thing; I have referenced chapters as needed during my studies. The Bible references contained in my e-Sword version of the confession have been invaluable.

I’m going to start blogging through the Westminster Confession of the Faith, for a few reasons:

  1. It will allow me to more fully understand the confession, as well as the doctrines held by Presbyterians. I’m attending a Presbyterian church now, and a fuller understanding of their faith is bound to be beneficial.
  2. It will allow me to explore a wide breadth of Christian doctrine from both a creedal as well as biblical perspective. I’ll be copying & pasting portions of the creed, but the Scripture references I’ll be typing up myself to make sure I not only know which verses are being made use of but also what those verses actually say.
  3. It will, when this series is all said and done, provide hopefully a great deal of introductory material for new believers or for those who otherwise do not yet have a firm foundational knowledge and belief in the Word of God.

I have no idea how long the series will be or how long it will take me. However, I do want to approach the confession a little bit at a time so that individual entries do not get too long. These will be quick & easy references for any who are interested!

5 thoughts on “The Westminster Confession & Creedalism”

  1. Yeah, I saw this attack on Reformed theology in AOMinistries. James White had given me a good little introductory. :)

    Rick, I look forward to this discourse. I have the Westminster Confession in my room, but I haven’t gotten around to reading the whole thing. The only articles of faith concerning Reformed theology that I’ve gotten through are the Canons of Dort and the Heidelburg Catechism. I have read portions of the London Baptist Confession, and I tried to get through some of the Westminster Catechism. I should probably start to read through these. It would be pretty interesting, plus, I could use them in papers and when talking to people, such as my friends over on HPANA. Anyway, best of luck with this, Rick. I might even be spurred to do the London Baptist Confession, however I doubt it because I wouldn’t have the slightest clue as to what to say. Hahaha!

  2. Hi, Pastor Modene’s Church is about 5 minutes from my House. I live in Perrysburg Oh. I attend a Reformed Baptist Church here in Toledo Oh. When a brother from church e-mailed everyone the link to Modene’s sermon which really was an attack on good Bible believing, Christ loving people, it really struck a chord in me and it was saddening to My heart. Modene has recently attacked R.C Sproul as well. It is clear that throughout all his preaching on everyone else not preachin/teaching from the bible, he is doing exactly what he is preaching against. Some people like this approach to preaching and call it “Not afraid to speak the truth”. In reality, this is perversion in many aspects. We cannot “not be afraid to speak the truth” at the expense of attacking other fellow Christians, no matter their denomination, division or theological perspective. His overall lack of Reformed Baptist theology and Christian history leaves something to be desired. It is scary to know people are listening to this and stand in agreement. These people are learning from a Man, Rather than from the Bible, Rather than from the History of Christianity to understand how we got where we are today. Something Modene is preaching against, he is practicing. We need to come together and Pray for Pastor Modene and his Congregation. We also need to forgive Pastor Modene, Support and encourage Him in his repentance and Love and embrace Him as a brother in Christ. For we are all sinners saved by Grace.

    – Michael

  3. Michael, welcome to Timothy’s Burden, first of all!

    Thank you for this post. I will embrace and support him, but only when he repents.

    “For we are all sinners saved by Grace.”

    Amen, brother.

  4. Hahaha! I find that funny that I am called sir. Sorry, but I’m still a teenager, so when people call me sir it just sounds ackward. :)

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