# Westminster Confession of Faith by pengxuezhi

VIEWS: 6 PAGES: 25

• pg 1
									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

    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
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.


To top