One step forward, two steps back: Confessional Digression

Convictions are the root on which the tree of vital Christianity grows. No conviction, no Christianity. Scanty conviction, hunger-bitten Christianity. Profound conviction, solid and substantial religion. Ignorance is not the mother of religion, but of irrreligion. The knowledge of God is eternal life, and to know God means that we know him aright.

Faith and Life by B. B. Warfield from Selected Shorter Writings, Vol 1

I think at the heart of the motivation for the confessional subscription of both the parish assembly and the governing officers, there lies conviction. Not the desire for status but submission and accountability is what compels the faithful to bear the weight of their conviction. Subscription is nothing more than a public proclamation and attestation to the biblical content of the confession regarding the faith, piety, and practice of the Christian, but it is nothing less than that either.

The abandonment of the confessional framework for preserving and instructing the Church in many areas emanates from the dissolution of conviction-unable to stand against the unwavering assault of cultural secularism and inclusivism- which leads, I think, to the slow, and methodical abandonment of the purity of the Gospel. Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is simply too exclusive, too socially passive for the philosophical pluralism that seems to be holding sway at this point in history.

But it does not stop at the mere dissolution of conviction but in the concession to ideologies and the metaphysical narratives of secular, philosophical pluralism. With convictions left to wither, a void is left which must be filled in order to balance the ballasts. In relation to this loss of grounding, the question of ecumenism is often at the heart of the call for either the revising or abandoning of the confessional structure and method of subscription because the less that is said, the easier, it is said, we can avoid unnecessarily schismatic altercations and preserve and broaden the unity of the body of Christ; the five sola’s of the Reformation and those who hold to them, being the main cause of such schism. Often it is precisely not that which is common to the historic Christian creeds and confessions which is included in such documents but that which is the bare minimum that must be believed in order to don the moniker of Christian. In relation, Warfield said,

Least of all, are we to seek unity by surrendering all public or organized testimony to all truth except that minimum which-just because it is the minimum, less than which no man can believe and be a Christian-all Christians of all names can unite in confessing. Subjection to the tyranny of the unbeliever is no more essential to unity than subjection to the tyranny of the believer (say the Pope); and this of course can mean nothing other than-”Let him that believes least among you be your lawgiver.” There is a sense, of course, in which the visible unity of the Church is based on the common belief and confession of the body of truth held alike by all who are Christians; but this is not the same as saying that it must be based on the repression of all organized testimony to truth not yet held by all alike.

True Church Unity: What It Is, in Selected Shorter Writings Vol. 1

It seems for some reason that many Churches and Denominations are digressing to a past time of ignorance, calling it a simple faith. From Confession to simpler Creedal statements, to end in heresy. Inevitably, the degradation of the confessional nature of a protestant congregation or denomination will result in the loss of that which is exclusive and essential to the historic Christian faith, those theological and doctrinal threads which come together to weave the tapestry of the Drama of Redemption.


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