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Westminster Confession of Faith

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					Associated with the Shorter and Larger Catechism


WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF
FAITH
Historical Framework

Westminster Assembly was commissioned\in
  1643 as a result of a promise made by
  Parliament: We will reform the English
  Church along the Scottish lines if Scotland
  will help Parliament overthrow Charles I
  (1600-1649).
Charles I wanted to impose Anglicanism as the
  religious framework of England. Civil war
  broke out in 1642.
 121 divines and 30 laymen completed the Form
  of Presbyterian Church Government and the
  Directory of Public Worship in 1644.
 This Directory was intended to replace the Book
  of Common Prayer
 Confession was accomplished in 1646, and the
  Shorter Catechism and Larger Catechism were
  written by the next year. The documents
  produced by the Westminster Assembly are
  known as the Westminster Standards. It was the
  Parliament that required Scriptural proofs for
  each theological statement.
 Both the governments of England and Scotland
  approved the Confession by February 1649.
 Confession provides the big picture. Its purpose
  can be compared to Calvin’s (1509-1564)
  intentions for the Institutes as a GUIDE and
  RESOURCE when his commentaries were read.
  Both Calvin and the divines pointed to Scripture
  as the sole AUTHORITY.
 Some chapters are more broadly accepted (e.g.
  by Catholics), others have evangelical emphasis,
  while a third category of chapters covers
  Presbyterian Calvinistic doctrine. A quote by
  Spurgeon should be noted: “Calvinism is a
  nickname for Christianity.”
 Complexity of Divines
 The Episcopalians (who supported an episcopacy) included
  such figures as James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh. The
  Episcopalian group usually did not attend the sessions,
  because the king had not authorized them.
 The Presbyterians (who supported an assembly-based
  structure found in Puritanism), the largest group, included
  figures such as Edward Reynolds, George Gillespie and
  Samuel Rutherford.
 A small group of Independents (of the various
  Congregationalist views including baptists) were present
  and had the support of Oliver Cromwell, and these
  included Thomas Goodwin.
 The Erastian representatives, such as John Lightfoot, who
  favored the state's primacy over the ecclesiastical law.
The Doctrine of Holy
Scripture
 Although the light of nature, and the works of
 creation and providence, do so far manifest
 the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as
 to leave men inexcusable; 1 yet they are not
 sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and
 of His will, which is necessary unto salvation.
 [And] 2 Therefore it pleased the Lord, at
 sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal
 Himself, and to declare that His will unto His
 church; [And] 3 and afterwards, for the
better preserving and propagating of the truth,
and for the more sure establishment and
comfort of the church against the corruption of
the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the
world, to commit the same wholly unto writing;
[And] 4 which makes the Holy Scripture to be
most necessary; [And] 5 those former ways of
God’s revealing His will unto His people being
now ceased. [And] 6 Under the name of Holy
Scripture, or the Word of God written, now
contained in all books of OT and NT
Conclusions drawn about the Bible

    Creation – leaves “men inexcusable” (I, 1)
    Bible – 66 books “are given by inspiration of God, to
    be the rule of faith and life.” Also, “entire
    perfection,” “infallible truth,” and “divine authority.”
    (I, 2 & 5)
   “whole counsel of God” (I, 6)
    “nothing at any time is to be added “ (I, 6)
   Bible is for “not only the learned, but the unlearned”
    (I , 7)
   Gave mandate to translate into all languages (I, 8)
   Prescribes the analogy of faith: interpret Scripture
    with Scripture (I, 9)
A.A. Hodge summarizes and
comments on status of the
knowledge of God
 There is the assumption of all those extreme
  Rationalists who deny the existence of any world
  beyond the natural one discoverable by our
  senses, and especially of that school of Positive
  Philosophy inaugurated by Auguste Comte in
  France, and represented by John Stuart Mill and
  Herbert Spencer in England, who affirm that all
  possible human knowledge is confined to the
  facts of our experience and the uniform laws
  which regulate the succession
of those facts; that it is not possible for the
human mind, in its present state, to go beyond
the simple order of nature to the knowledge of
an absolute First Cause, or to a designing and
disposing Supreme Intelligence, even though
such an one actually exists; that whether there
be a God or not, yet as a matter of fact he is not
revealed, and as a matter of principle could not,
even if revealed, be recognized by man in the
present state of his faculties.—Commentary on
the WCF, A - A. Hodge
           This assumption is disproved
 By the fact that men of all nations, ages, and
  degrees of culture, have discerned the
  evidences of the presence of a God in the
  works of nature and providence, and in the
  inward workings of their own souls
 By the fact that the works of nature and
  providence are full of the manifest traces of
  design
 The same is disproved from the fact that
  conscience, which is a universal and
  indestructible element of human nature,
  necessarily implies our accountability to a
  personal moral Governor, and as a matter
  of fact has uniformly led men to a
  recognition of his existence and of their
  relation to him
             Romans 1:19-20
 That there is a God is the first principle of all
  religion, whether natural or revealed, and we are
  here taught that the being of God and a number
  of his perfections may be discovered by the light
  of nature. By the word God is meant a Being of
  infinite perfection; self-existent and
  independent; the Creator, Preserver, and Lord of
  all things. “It is true, indeed, that to give a
  perfect definition of God is impossible, neither
  can our finite reason hold any proportion with
  infinity; but yet a sense of this Divinity
we have, and the find and common notion of it
consists in these three particulars,—that it is a
Being of itself, and independent from any other;
that it is that upon which all things that are
made depend; that it governs all things.” When
we affirm that the being of God may be
discovered by the light of nature, we mean, that
the senses and the reasoning powers, which
belong to the nature of man, are, [capable of
affirming the existence of God]. Rom. 1:19, 20—
Exposition of the WCF, An - R. Shaw
Colossians 2:6-8

HOW DOES THIS CHAPTER OF
THE CONFESSION HELP US
TODAY
The Question of Evolution and Intelligent Design

EVOLUTION
Life is Godless

 “Darwinism removed the whole idea of God
  as the creator of organisms from the sphere
  of rational discussion.”
  Sir Julian Huxley
Life is Purposeless

 “Life has no higher purpose than to
  perpetuate the survival of DNA…life has no
  design, no purpose, no evil and no good,
  nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”
  Richard Dawkins
Life is Meaningless

 “There are no gods, no purpose, and no goal-
  directed forces of any kind. There is no life
  after death….There is no ultimate foundation
  for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no
  free will for humans.”
  William Provine
William B. Provine


 I am working on four disparate research projects:
 (1) a history of the theories of neutral molecular
 evolution (Kimura, Ohta, King, Jukes, and many
 others); (2) a history of geneticists' attitudes
 toward human race differences and race
 crossing; (3) implications of modern biology for
 free will, moral responsibility, and the
 foundations of ethics; and (4) a history of ideas
 about speciation from 1963 to the present.
In recent years, graduate students working with me
have written their theses on topics such as the
history of mimicry theory, history of ideas about
variation in natural populations, role of botany in
the evolutionary synthesis of the 1930s and 1940s, a
study of the controversies surrounding the genetic
effects of atomic bombs dropped on Japan, ideas
about inheritance in humans in the period 1600-
1865 in the USA, using the history of biology to
teach introductory college-level biology, reactions
of the professional ecology community to the work
of Rachel Carson, history of ideas about sexual
selection, tensions in the history of
neuropsychology, and a biography of Tomoko Ohta.
  [ Tomoko Ohta is currently at the Japanese
  National Institute of Genetics and, in 2002, she
  was elected to the United States National
  Academy of Sciences as a foreign associate in
  evolutionary biology.]

I have collected an enormous library of evolution
   and genetics that is available for our use. The
   library consists of more than 300,000 reprints
   and a huge collection of books on evolution.
So How Does the Confession Help?

 It gives us a quick overview of the difference
  between natural revelation and special revelation.
 It reminds us that natural revelation needs
  interpretation
 It provides the interpretation
 It states how special revelation augments natural
  revelation by giving us personal and saving
  knowledge of God
 It gives us a framework to understand and critique
  modern thinking.

				
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posted:2/13/2012
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