The Importance of Attidude in Confessional Subscription

Over at Reformation 21, Carl Trueman asks,

I wonder: do good churches go bad because they appoint closet liberals to the ministry? Or do they go bad because they appoint good people to the ministry who do not understand the nature and importance of confessional subscription and who will therefore, wittingly or unwittingly, help to water down the very mechanisms established by the church to preserve the gospel for the next generation?

Trueman highlights a very important detail concerning confessional subscription that is often left out of the discussion – the attitude with which one subscribes. Subscription should be a matter of conviction, not convenience.

Check out his essay here.

Advertisements

An Integrated Reading Schedule of the Westminster Standards

Have you ever been reading in the Westminster Confession and wondered how that topic or issue was addressed in one of the catechisms?  Well, Brandon Wilkins of A Pilgrim’s Theology has put together a very helpful schedule for reading through the Westminster Confession and Catechisms that does just that.  The schedule takes one through all three documents in a month, allowing the reader to read through the three primary documents in an integrated fashion so that you can see the breadth of what the Standards say on a particular topic or issue all in one sitting.  This schedule can serve as a great resource for family worship, officer training, an inquirer’s class, etc.

See the schedule here.

>A Pilgrim’s Redress Podcast at iTunes

>On Friday I decided to begin a podcast through the blog. The first project will be to provide audio recordings of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The three basic ways to receive the broadcast:

1. Through this blog, however, doing it this way will only allow you to hear it.

2. Through subscribing to the blog using a reader, which will allow you to listen while also being able to read the posted text. Look in the right hand pane at the “Blog Updates” section and click on “Subscribe in a Reader.” You will find many different readers from which to choose; for example, Google Reader is one of the options. If you want that option, then simply select the “Google” button, and then pick if you want it to go to your Google Home page or Google Reader.

3. Through subscribing to the podcast at iTunes, which will also provide the option to see the text as you listen–but more importantly, it will allow you to download the audio onto your iPod so you can listen to it on the go. The easiest way to do this is to go here and subscribe. You can also go into your iTunes and select “Advanced” at the top; then select “Subscribe to Podcast” and paste this URL: http://apilgrimsredress.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default. Or you can simply go to the iTunes store and do a search on “A Pilgrim’s Redress.”

In the future, I also hope to provide other recordings that will aid in the memorization and review of other helppful material. I open to suggestions, so let me know!

>Westminister Shorter Catechism Audio 1-10

>O.k., so I am going to try something new here and begin a podcast. I am going to begin with a series of audio recordings of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I personally would like to have them in audio format to listen to while riding my bike or on the treadmill; plus, I know that some people just learn better audibly. Also, as my friend Mark reminded me, this could also be quite helpful for the visually impaired. So, I am going to broadcast them ten questions at a time.

This tool can be used to learn the Shorter Catechism for the first time, or for simply reviewing it to keep it fresh. There will be three basic ways to listen to the recordings. First, you can listen to the audio file here on the blog. But when you follow the link, it will take you away from the blog and you will not be able to read the text.

Second, if you want to be able to read the text while you listen, then the best option is to subscribe to the blog using a RSS reader, such as Google Reader. The easiest way to take advantage of this option is to look in the right hand pane at the “Blog Updates” section and click on “Subscribe in a Reader.” You will find many different readers to choose from; for Google Reader, simply select the “Google” option, and then pick if you want it to go to your Google Home page or Google Reader.

Third, if you would like to listen to them on your iPod, then you can subscribe to the podcast through the iTunes store. The easiest way to do this is to go here and subscribe. You can also go into your iTunes and select “Advanced” at the top; then select “Subscribe to Podcast” and paste this URL: http://apilgrimsredress.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default. Or you can simply go to the iTunes store and do a search on “A Pilgrim’s Redress.”

Here we go!

Listen to Questions 1-10

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

Q. 3. What do the scriptures principally teach?
A. The scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

Q. 5. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.

Q. 6. How many persons are there in the godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

Q. 9. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

Q. 10. How did God create man?
A. God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

Questions 11-2o

>Comparrison Between Westminster Confession of Faith and Second London Baptist Confession of 1689

>Andrew Compton at Reformed Reader has provided the link to a great resource at James Anderson’s website that compares and contrasts the WCF and the 2LBCF it is also available in .pdf format.

This is a great resource for doing a line by line comparison and contrast between the two documents. This is particularly helpful given that in the Preface to the 2LBCF the authors state that they have purposely copied, at points, word for word from the WCF in order to demonstrate where they are in agreement, in order to establish themselves as part of the historic stream of orthodoxy:

. . . to fix on such a method as might be most comprehensive of those things we designed to explain our sense and belief of; and finding no defect in this regard in that fixed on by the Assembly, and, after them by those of the congregational way, we did readily conclude it best to retain the same order in our present Confession; and also when we observed that those last mentioned did in their Confessions (for reasons which seemed of weight both to themselves and others) choose not only to express their mind in words concurrent with the former in sense concerning all those articles wherein they were agreed, but also for the most part without any variation of the terms, we did in like manner conclude it best to follow their example in making use of the very same words with them both in these articles (which are very many) wherein our faith and doctrine are the same with theirs; and this we did the more abundantly to manifest our consent with both in all the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, as also with many others whose orthodox Confessions have been published to the world on the behalf of the Protestant in diverse nations and cities. And also to convince all that we have no itch to clog religion with new words, but do readily acquiesce in that form of sound words which hath been, in consent with the Holy Scriptures, used by others before us; hereby declaring, before God, angels, and men, our hearty agreement with them in that wholesome Protestant doctrine which, with so clear evidence of Scriptures, they have asserted. Some things, indeed, are in some places added, some terms omitted, and some few changed; but these alterations are of that nature as that we need not doubt any charge or suspicion of unsoundness in the faith from any of our brethren upon the account of them. [emphasis mine]

This chart does an excellent job of showing forth their changes. One of the differences that is key in understanding the different positions is found in chapter 7 where the 2LBCF does not contain any statement about the covenant of works. Although the major differences can be seen later in dealing with the topics of church and sacraments, these differences seem to stem from the differences in their respective understandings of covenant theology, which hinges on the rejection of the covenant of works.

>Daily Devotional Reading in the Westminster Standards

>In an earlier post, I talked about the the Daily Westminster, which is a blog that provides daily, integrated readings from the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism and Shorter Catechism. In response, a reader has asked if I know of any resource that will email daily devotions based on either the Westminster Standards (WCF, LC, SC) or the Three Forms of Unity (BC, CD, HC).

So far I have not found anything. But if anyone else knows of anything please provide the info in a comment below.

However, there are some sources that I would still promote:

First, there is a daily devotional reading made available at the OPC’s website. It does not specifically come from the confessional standards, but is thoroughly biblical and written in accord with the reformed standards.

Second, Starr Meade has put together a resource for family devotions based on the Shorter Catechism, Training Hearts, Teaching Minds.
Here is a summary of some of its features:

  • Aids memorization by devoting six days per question.
  • Explains the catechism in simple language.
  • Provides six different meditations on the main points of each question.
  • Includes key Scripture readings.
  • Takes just a few minutes each day, allowing time for discussion and review.

The format is to spend six days on one catechism question. This provides six days to memorize the question, and for each day, there is a short devotion that is based on the same question. This is a great resource to use individually or as a family.

>Daily Reading in the Westminster Standards

>For all you faithful confessionally reformed Presbyterians, and for any who desire to become more familiar with the Westminster Standards, The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) and Larger (LC) and Shorter (SC) Catechisms, but don’t know how to get started, then I have the site for you.

At the Daily Westminster, there are daily readings from the standards that will take you through the WCF, LC and SC in a year. The readings are quite short and can be completed in under five minutes. The reading schedule used was organized by Dr. Joseph Pipa. See more here on the suggested guidelines for utilizing Daily Westminster.

One of the things I really like about the reading schedule is that it does not take you through each source one at a time, but rather, the readings are arranged so that as you go through the WCF, readings from the corresponding sections in the LC and SC are included. This arrangement helps you not only to become familiar with the theological content of the standards, but also helps you to see how they all fit together topically.

For example, on January 25, the reading was WCF 3.1, which deals with “God’s Eternal Decree.” The following day, on January 26, the reading came from LC, Q. 12 and SC, Q. 7, both of which ask, “What are the decrees of God?”

Another thing I like about the Daily Westminster is that the readings contain the proof texts, which are linked to the online English Standard Version of the Bible. So in one place you can read the assigned reading and quickly see the prooftexts. This also helps to facilitate scripture memory as you memorize the catechism questions.

I highly recommend utilizing this great resource. You can easily subscribe to it using your email, or if there are other blogs you follow, then I highly recommend using Google Reader, which will retrieve the daily readings for you.

And for the really initiated, if you like Daily Westminster, then also take a look at Daily Confession. It basically does the same thing as Daily Westminster, except it also integrates readings from the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Canons of Dordt, and the Heildelberg Catechism) and the Children’s Catechism.