Shorter Catechism Proof Text

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Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called Original Sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.
The proofs cited for Q. 18 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism are "Rom. 5:12, 19; Rom. 5:10-20; Eph. 2:1-3; James 1:14, 15; Matt. 15:19," in the FPCS "standard" edition of the Westminster Standards.

1. Some who have noted the apparent and obvious problem with the first two references (Rom. 5:12, 19; Rom. 5:10-20) have simply eliminated the first reference (Rom. 5:12, 19), such as in the online edition of the Shorter Catechism at the James Begg Society website, seemingly collapsing the former proof into the latter proof.

2. However, this ignores the purpose to which the Divines were citing those verses (namely, as proof of the first-mentioned aspect of original sin, the imputation of Adam's sin).

3. I have personally been convinced for several years that the proper citation should be "Rom. 3:10-20," rather than "Rom. 5:10-20." The merits of this solution are:

a. The Divines are no longer seen to be citing the same verses again, merely in a larger passage.

b. The citation now has explicit reference to the items contained in the answer. Although Rom. 5:10-20 does refer to human sin (particularly imputed sin), vs. 10, 11 make no mention of this, only of redemption by Christ. However, Rom. 3:10-20 has explicit and sole reference to human depravity (and so would be a proof, not of imputed sin, which is already covered by Rom. 5:12, 19, but of inherited sin, which is the next-mentioned aspect of original sin).

c. Based upon what was seen above, Rom. 5:10 would be a very unusual place to begin the citation, because it belongs to a different section of the chapter, dealing with a different subject; likewise, v. 20 would be a very unusual place to end the citation. However, Rom. 3:10 is a very natural place to begin the citation, and v. 20 is a very natural place to end the citation.

d. In the Larger Catechism, we find the following parallel to the Shorter Catechism:
Q. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called Original Sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.
Whereas the Shorter Catechism simply has one string of proofs to all of the statements found in Q. 18, the Larger Catechism in Q. 25 has three distinct statements to which three distinct lists of proof texts are cited. The phrase "the guilt of Adam's first sin" has Rom. 5:12, 19 cited to its proof. The phrase ending with "and that continually" cites "Rom. 3:10-19; Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 5:6; Rom. 8:7, 8; Gen. 6:5" as proofs. The parallel between Rom. 3:10-20 cited in Shorter Catechism Q. 18, and Rom. 3:10-19 in Larger Catechism Q. 25, is very clear and plain. (This would also confirm that Rom. 3:10-20 is being cited in the Shorter Catechism to prove the statement "the corruption of his whole nature.")

4. I therefore conclude that the Scripture proof for Q. 18 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism should read, "Rom. 3:10-20," and not "Rom. 5:10-20."

However, I don't have access to the Assembly's minutes, or any other original source documents that could confirm or refute this analysis.

1. Does anybody else agree with my analysis of the situation?

2. Does anybody have any such source documents which could confirm or refute this analysis?

[Edited on 4-3-2006 by Kaalvenist]
 

Casey

Puritan Board Junior
FYI: The new OPC edition of the Westminster Standards with Scripture Proofs includes Rom. 5:12, 19 and Rom 3:10-18, 23 as proofs (along with other passages from Romans).
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks on the OPC proofs; I thought later of checking that, and it seems it serves as possibly another confirmation of my point.

However, I still prefer the old-fashioned Westminster Standards, as originally produced by the Westminster Assembly (including the Assembly's proof texts), without the alterations made by American Presbyterians.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I will check the first edition of the WSC with scripture proofs when I uncover the CD on my desk somewhere. However it appears the Rom. 3 text was never an original proof from Carruthers, who refers to the additional proofs (as well as omissions) in the modified proof set for the WSC done in 1656 which continued long in various editions of it since that date as it was more adapted to memorization it is said.
The additional proofs are: to Q. 18; Rom iii.10, to prove the want of original righteousness, and Psa. li.5, to prove original sin; in this question also Matt. xv. 20 (These are the things that defile a man) is added to the list of sins in verse 19...
S. W. Carruthers, Three Centuries of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Fredericton N.B, Canada: Published for the Beaverbrook Foundations by the University of New Brunswick, 1957) 16. This work contains a facsimile of the one known surviving WSC MS. There would have been several in my opinion per my article on Carruthers and the Assembly's MS that ran in The Confessional Presbyterian volume 1. Still available
here.. 2006 will be soon and I'll update the website in a week or two once contents are finalized.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I might add that the only way to "prove" that that Rom 5 was a typo for Rom 3 is to uncover one of the limited printings of the WSC text done for the Assembly wherein the scribes and supposedly each member wrote the references as they approved them. That apparently is the only MS evidence we can look for as they did not draft a new MS of the text with the proofs but worked with the limited printed text. I know of someone who was investigating whether any such editions exist for he WLC but his research is underwraps till he completes his work; so not sure if he was successful or not in his search.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks Chris. I was hoping you would respond to this thread (it seemed to be right up your alley).

And I'm looking forward to the next issue of The Confessional Presbyterian; I already have the first one.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Glad to help; thanks Sean.:) Once I get CPJ 2 to bed I hope to get back to work on a critical text of the WCF, WLC, and after those finally the WSC.
 
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