Monday, January 15, 2007

The Westminster Confession Of Faith And Full Subscription To It

Some people, Presbyterian ministers included, are full subscriptionists to The Westminster Confession of Faith. That is, they hold to the teachings of this document, often by oath, and will not depart from it in terms of beliefs. I'd like to look at this idea with respect to the WCF itself. To quote WCF 20.2:

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also. (Source: CRTA)

Now voluntary subscriptionism to this document is not contrary to it; for if one agrees with the WCF he is free to subscribe to it. But mandatory subscriptionism (i.e. the church requiring it of its members) seems to me to be a direct contradiction of WCF 20.2, because man's conscience is free from the doctrines of the men who wrote the WCF. Does this make sense?

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