Support constructing new confessions

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ClayPot

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hello all,

This would probably be better done as a poll but I couldn't figure out how to do it.

Anyway, in several threads I have seen people propose constructing a new confession for Reformed and Presbyterian denominations not because the old ones are broken, but to construct one for which orthodox reformed folk can have a strict subscription. e.g., it probably wouldn't dictate exactly which eschatology you must have but it might be clear that Christ has yet to establish a new heaven and a new earth.

My question is, "Would you support creating a new reformed confession to which (hopefully) all truly orthodox reformed believers could have a strict subscription?" If yes, why? If no, why?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
No. The last age of confession writing was a time of Reformation. We've had considerable deformation for a long time. This is not a confession writing age. The confession that would be produced now which could be held strictly, would leave out important doctrines such as the Christian sabbath and the regulative principle of worship. That simply enshrines deformation.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
To fully understand your reasoning- what doctrine(s), specifically, do you think need to be changed in a new confession?

Also, are you proposing that an amendment would not be sufficient to an existing confession?

I see from your profile you're not sure the ten commandments summarily comprehend God's moral law.

You will want to study Scripture on this thoroughly and prayerfully. If you are envisioning a re-write to eliminate God's moral law, you would not have much support from Christians, reformed or otherwise.

Remember, it's what God says, not we imagine, that governs.

When Christ judges all men, it will involve our obedience to His will expressed through His Word. Our salvation is not dependent on that, but other things are.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
In principle, I don't think there is any rightful cause for opposing a new confession. In practice, however, I have to give a resounding "No." We've neglected the confessions we already have; and until substantial evidence has been given of a catholic reclamation of our existent confessional heritage, seeking to create a new confessional heritage would be both groundless and hazardous.

In principle, I think we should strive and desire to be in a position where a new confessional age were possible; however, Lord granting, if this were to occur, that might also mean those errors which we now wish to oppose more clearly with our confession might no longer be existent, thus negating the need for a new one. Again, I am open to the concept in principle, but opposed in the current circumstances. There is nothing favorable to doing so now: theologically, ecclesiastically, ethically, politically, etc.

I have often wondered about how the WCF has become a sort of "universal confession," if you will, which was originally intended to be a regional and national confession, it being understood that each nation and people had their own. This does not mean, however, I am opposed to this; especially as I can't conceive of a better confession, both in terms of accuracy and catholicity.

What we do certainly need to devote ourselves to is the recovering our confessional heritage.
 

reformedminister

Puritan Board Sophomore
I also do not think it is necessary. The Older Confessions are great and could not be written any better. Unless, of course if some individuals had disagreements with some of the teachings found in them. I don't. When outsiders of the Reformed faith ask us what we believe, and we refer to one of the Confessions, most of the time they are not going to take the time to read through it because they are long, but they need to be. Many times too concise statements of faith leave too much room for error. However, in this case it does not hurt to have a brief summary of main teachings that they can glance at. The PCA does that on their website. Our church is an independent church and although we affirm the teachings of the Reformed Confessions and Ecumenical Creeds (Most particularly the Westminster Standards) we do have our own statement of faith for this purpose.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
Also, upon closer reading of the OP, I would be vehemently opposed to any confessional formulation which would run counter in anything to the WCF; our confessions built upon the previous creeds: they did not change or contradict them. Changing our confessional heritage is the opposite of improving or confessional heritage. So if this new confession were designed to strike unpopular elements from the WCF so as to allow more to be united by common confession, this would be highly problematic, and the opposite of theological progress.

The OP also begs the question as to "What is orthodox reformed?" If we define this by our Confession, then we already have that which all orthodox reformed can sign. If it is defined by something else -- what is it?
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
If we hold That God has preserved His church I think it would be more proper to only amend what we have to show we are continuing in that Confessional faithful history.

I think it would be good if we could come up with a Confession, at the end of amending, that all would subscribe to fully and strictly.

The challenge I see is:

1. That it may cause more division than we now have. Some would still not want to strictly subscribe

2. We have so much diversity in the churches now that it would be near impossible and would reduce the Confession down to the 5 points and not much else.

In the OPC subscription is now only required to be taken to
" the system of doctrine contained in the Confession" thanks to C Hodge and other loose subscriptionist influence.

That system has been shown, by practice, to be not much more than the 5 points and the 9 commandments, the sacraments, Justification by Faith, the Doctrines of the Scriptures and God, and the BOCO.

I did hear of a PCS minister being allowed to take an exception to Limited Atonement a few years ago.

So if we do not intend to require full and strict subscription there would be no point to it at all.
We already have a Confession that does not have to be subscribed to so people are not limited at all.

We also do not have the scholars today. The church is in such disarray as we see on the PB, we do not agree on the version to use, the manuscripts to use, the content of the gospel as in what must be preached and what one must believe to have a credible profession, this is left to sessions to decide, the covenants, on and on.

So if we were to come up with Confessions that all would subscribe to strictly we would probably need 20 of them and split the church into 20 Confessional churches.

Now one may argue we have such denominations anyway, at least then we could hold the men accountable to the Confession they took, no wiggle room and hiding. We would see clearly where men and denominations stood.

then we could work to study toward unity. And some of these may eventually come to agreement and merge.

So it could be good.

I would prefer just to start moving back to full and strict subscription to what we have and let the others drop off, accomplishing the same thing.

And wait for a time when it seems God is working more strongly through the church in ways we saw during the Reformation when in His providence He had the Confession developed.
Perhaps we would do best now to start with a serious call for all Reformed churches to pray for God to bring a Spirit of unity on His church in preparation for a time we could make additional amendments if it was still felt beneficial.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
During the early church, Christianity centered on the Greek speaking world. The Creeds were formulated then.

Then, during the Reformation, christianity was more European. The WCF came along and did not contradict these earlier creeds.

Now, Christianity is becoming a global and Asian religion. I would expect that some sort of Asian documents would emerge within the next 2 centuries. I would not expect contradiction, but I would expect an asian document with Asian concerns.


And I see nothing to condemn in this.
 

ClayPot

Puritan Board Sophomore
To fully understand your reasoning- what doctrine(s), specifically, do you think need to be changed in a new confession?

Also, are you proposing that an amendment would not be sufficient to an existing confession?

I see from your profile you're not sure the ten commandments summarily comprehend God's moral law.

You will want to study Scripture on this thoroughly and prayerfully. If you are envisioning a re-write to eliminate God's moral law, you would not have much support from Christians, reformed or otherwise.

Remember, it's what God says, not we imagine, that governs.

When Christ judges all men, it will involve our obedience to His will expressed through His Word. Our salvation is not dependent on that, but other things are.

Hi Scott,

Just to clarify I'm not proposing that a new confession be constructed. As one who doesn't currently subscribe to a confession (I'm still studying) I don't think that would be appropriate. I'm just asking questions hoping to get a better understanding of what it means to be reformed and what people in the reformed community think. Coming out of a dispensational background there is a lot to learn.

However, based on what I've read in various threads people disagree over how to interpret certain points of the confession(s) or have exceptions to certain points. e.g.,

1. In the Belgic confession it seems to indicate that Paul wrote Hebrews. This is contested by many.
2. The WCF seems to hold to a 6/24 creation. Some in the reformed community hold to a framework view.

So I was just wondering if people thought that new confessions might help resolve some of these problems. From the comments so far . . . I'm thinking no.

Anyway, thanks for those who are answering and I look forward to additional answers.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
Is it really true that the Reformers were building on previous creeds? Obviously, they were in line with Nicaea, Chalcedon, etc. What about all the other ones. The Second Council of Nicaea was an ecumenical council, yet the Reformed creeds specifically contradict its position on icons. What about the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), which made transubstantiation a dogma? On what grounds do these councils matter less than Chalcedon?

Furthermore, it's not like the Reformation was just clarifying matters that no one had really thought about before. Luther's doctrine of justification as an act rather than process ran counter to the established line of thinking since Augustine. Justification by imputation countered a longstanding line of theological tradition traceable to Tertullian.

So, I think it's disingenuous to say that the Reformed creeds simply added onto what was there before. You can only say that by ignoring 750-1500 AD. The Reformers rejected councils and statements they disagreed with and kept the ones that they agreed with. But, anybody could do that.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
So, I think it's disingenuous to say that the Reformed creeds simply added onto what was there before. You can only say that by ignoring 750-1500 AD. The Reformers rejected councils and statements they disagreed with and kept the ones that they agreed with. But, anybody could do that.

"Simply", may be an inaccurate word.

The fact they built on some, used some, added to others, and rejected some does not mean they altogether ignored history and started over.
Nor that they did not see themselves as a continuing church, regardless of an apparent gap.

I would assume were a church to emerge in china one day they would certainly acknowledge other Christians around the world and not to think themselves entirely unique. they would look to other creeds and churches to help them develop a confession, though it may say Mao is the antichrist.
2 Cor 10:3-5
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God,
NKJV
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
Charlie,

My point is that if the WCF is true, changing it would be theological regression, not progression. Standing in this line, our theology needs to build upon it and remain in accord with it; not diverge from it.
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
During the early church, Christianity centered on the Greek speaking world. The Creeds were formulated then.

Then, during the Reformation, christianity was more European. The WCF came along and did not contradict these earlier creeds.

Now, Christianity is becoming a global and Asian religion. I would expect that some sort of Asian documents would emerge within the next 2 centuries. I would not expect contradiction, but I would expect an asian document with Asian concerns.


And I see nothing to condemn in this.

Intriguing. What might some of these concerns be that would fit into the context of a confession?
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Is it really true that the Reformers were building on previous creeds? Obviously, they were in line with Nicaea, Chalcedon, etc. What about all the other ones. The Second Council of Nicaea was an ecumenical council, yet the Reformed creeds specifically contradict its position on icons. What about the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), which made transubstantiation a dogma? On what grounds do these councils matter less than Chalcedon?

Furthermore, it's not like the Reformation was just clarifying matters that no one had really thought about before. Luther's doctrine of justification as an act rather than process ran counter to the established line of thinking since Augustine. Justification by imputation countered a longstanding line of theological tradition traceable to Tertullian.

So, I think it's disingenuous to say that the Reformed creeds simply added onto what was there before. You can only say that by ignoring 750-1500 AD. The Reformers rejected councils and statements they disagreed with and kept the ones that they agreed with. But, anybody could do that.

The Reformers were experts in the patristic age, and were very self-conscious about the work they were doing, and the same with the Westminster divines. Their goal was to reform the Church back to a time before the innovations of the Papacy had crept in, and rebuild on those Scriptural foundations to answer the theological discussions of the day regarding worship and salvation. They built on the Creedal Christian foundation and rejected the innovations that crept in over time which contradicted those Creeds and the Scriptures.

You can see a perfect example of this in the Westminster ch. 8 on Christ the Mediator. They very clearly founded their Reformation soteriology upon a patristic understanding of the Trinity and Christology. The Reformed view was the logical outgrowth of the patristic theology, unlike the Romanist or Arminian theologies which contradicted this foundation in one point or another.

----------------------------------------------------------
Regarding a new Confession today, I see nothing wrong in principle with it. But I think it would have to be an outgrowth or development of our Reformed Confessions, not an overhaul or diminishing of their content.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
To fully understand your reasoning- what doctrine(s), specifically, do you think need to be changed in a new confession?

Also, are you proposing that an amendment would not be sufficient to an existing confession?

I see from your profile you're not sure the ten commandments summarily comprehend God's moral law.

You will want to study Scripture on this thoroughly and prayerfully. If you are envisioning a re-write to eliminate God's moral law, you would not have much support from Christians, reformed or otherwise.

Remember, it's what God says, not we imagine, that governs.

When Christ judges all men, it will involve our obedience to His will expressed through His Word. Our salvation is not dependent on that, but other things are.

Hi Scott,

Just to clarify I'm not proposing that a new confession be constructed.

As one who doesn't currently subscribe to a confession (I'm still studying) I don't think that would be appropriate. I'm just asking questions hoping to get a better understanding of what it means to be reformed

At a minimum, it means:

doctrines of grace ("five points") + covenant theology + confession

Many of us would add more to that such as a spiritual view of the sacraments, church discipline, and covenant (infant) baptism, but at a minimum it requires subscribing to one of the historic confessions. Some, but not all reformed denominations would allow for "scruples" (exceptions) for things they deemed 'minor.'


and what people in the reformed community think. Coming out of a dispensational background there is a lot to learn.

Yes, reformed theology is based on several principles including:

1) unity of the church must be grounded on doctrinal agreement (confession)
2) God's people are covenanted together to serve Him in this world (covenant community)


However, based on what I've read in various threads people disagree over how to interpret certain points of the confession(s) or have exceptions to certain points. e.g.,

1. In the Belgic confession it seems to indicate that Paul wrote Hebrews. This is contested by many.
Who in fact authored one book of the Bible would not seem to be a main doctrinal point- what Hebrews is summarized to say would be.

2. The WCF seems to hold to a 6/24 creation. Some in the reformed community hold to a framework view.

It's pretty clear the Westminster Confession holds the classical view (calendar day), "in the space of six days" but some denominations, such as the PCA, would allow Presbyteries to decide if "framework" could be held.

So I was just wondering if people thought that new confessions might help resolve some of these problems.

If, as you say, the Belgic confession requires belief that Paul was author of Hebrews (not saying that is the case, but if it were), then it would seem someone who believed that an article of faith would need to receive the Belgic Confession- not write a new one.

From the comments so far . . . I'm thinking no.

Anyway, thanks for those who are answering and I look forward to additional answers.

I guess I'm not seeing why you would posit whether we need a new confession when you say are only now learning what they say.

It is after all, a confessional board.
:)
 

ClayPot

Puritan Board Sophomore
I guess I'm not seeing why you would posit whether we need a new confession when you say are only now learning what they say.

It is after all, a confessional board.
:)

Hi Scott,

I apologize if I misunderstood the type of questions appropriate for this particular forum. I also apologize if I miscommunicated the reason I was asking the question. I wasn't posting the question because I believe that a new confession is needed. I have however heard this offered as a solution to people taking exception to various points of the confessions and instead try to come up with a new confession that people could strictly subscribe to. I really just wanted to see how people who hold to the current confessions felt about this.

Also, thanks for your responses above. They were helpful in trying to understand more about what it means to be "reformed", especially the confessional aspect.
 
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Reformed Thomist

Puritan Board Sophomore
My instinct is to say no, but now that I think of it, perhaps the conservative Reformed community (which includes Presbyterians, Baptists, 'J.I. Packer/Leon Morris' Anglicans, etc. -- Reformed brethren) would benefit from a new confession devoted solely to the Five Points as traditionally understood (and possibly also the Five Solas), leaving out what separates us. This could be, to my mind, a positive ecumenical act. It might help bring together conservative Reformed believers who otherwise may not fellowship with one another due to denominational differences. The PuritanBoard is a good example of this positive ecumenical spirit. Much separates us (and our differences are very important), but what unites us -- makes us brethren -- is our common adherence to the Five Points.

I would not desire to see this replace the historic confessions, however. For one, they are excellent; secondly, there is more to Christianity than the Five Points; and thirdly, again, our differences are very important.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
jpfrench81

I have however heard this offered as a solution to people taking exception to various points of the confessions and instead try to come up with a new confession that people could strictly subscribe to.

You have swerved into something here.

Most people who are "confessional" (a basic, necessary attribute of "reformed theology") would not be focused on coming up with a new confession. They might be thinking in terms of their one "scruple" (exception). It will always be the case among mankind, beset by the sin of pride to carve out one's own niche in order to stand out (not that the confession is infallible, either- they are not).

In that case, each denomination has a process for amending a statement or proposition in their standards (confession).

Some people, who are not really understanding "confessing" think in terms of what they can get by with in theology and still fit in.

Some may disagree, but from all I have observed, this is not at all the case. "Exceptions" are few and far between or are really quite minor among reformed churches. If the exceptions have more impact, the person is not allowed to teach them (often). For churches overcome by liberalism, following the confession is not even an issue because they have either revised to produce ambiguity or duplicity, or do not really follow them at all.

And remember, the confessions generally required for subscription on Puritan Board have many, many similarities. A Pastor once told me, "The 3 forms of unity and the Westminster Standards... its the same theology."

The wording of the London Baptist Confession and the Westminster Confession, in many places is identical.

What's amazing is how very much alike the historic confessions are (which also confirms a reformed tenet- the perspicuity (understandability, clarity) of Scripture.

Sometimes when people who do not fully understand what a confession is, what role it plays (e.g. it is a summary of doctrine contained in Scripture, not infallible, yet what the church "confesses"), or what all the confession contains, they approach it kind of like it's a "mix and match" set of doctrines so they find their personal belief system.

That's not really what a confession is. It is a reflection of what a group of believers, holds forth as a summary of doctrine of scripture and "confesses" to the world.

The confession gives the person accountability and a basis of unity. New believers are often going to take a long time to understand, for example the doctrine of predestination. It takes a lot of comprehensive study of all of Scripture to get that. Many people, left to their own without teachers (elders) God has called to carefully handle that many never get to that.

A Confession holds believers together as a basis of unity, as well as accountability.

In the "broadly evangelical" world (majority of churches out there), the notion is the church is only a loose association of consenting adults and each person decides their own doctrine. Whatever they think at the time is what is pre-eminant.

Reformed theology does not view the individual or Christ's (visible) church that way.

In reformed theology, we believe Scripture teaches covenant community. The church is a community, chosen by God, ordained by God and is bound together by covenant to serve God in this world. This is why you are more likely to have church discipline in a reformed church than in a broadly evangelical one.

John Calvin said to have a true church one must have at least right preaching of God's Word, right administration of the Sacraments. He also implied, at least, one must have church discipline.
 

YXU

Puritan Board Freshman
The purpose of our confession is for the uniformity of religion, we have not reached such a point yet. But I do believe in the future restoration, there will be a confession of faith or other documents that will achieve uniformity of religion. Surely it will be based on the current confession, but some more details maybe added.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
During the early church, Christianity centered on the Greek speaking world. The Creeds were formulated then.

Then, during the Reformation, christianity was more European. The WCF came along and did not contradict these earlier creeds.

Now, Christianity is becoming a global and Asian religion. I would expect that some sort of Asian documents would emerge within the next 2 centuries. I would not expect contradiction, but I would expect an asian document with Asian concerns.


And I see nothing to condemn in this.

Intriguing. What might some of these concerns be that would fit into the context of a confession?

Well,

During the time of the Reformation the Divines identified THE Antichrist. but in the East there are issues of how to respect parents (including dead ones, i.e., ancestors) and there is STILL the question of meats offered to idols. Perhaps poverty, oppression, and how to be Christian when persecuted and not in political power might also come up.


The Reformation was a regional event and the group of people formulating the documents were much more homogenous (northern europeans). Christianity was still largely a regional religion. Therefore, we can claim that it should be a wordlwide document for the worldwide church, but this doesn't fly....it reflects the concerns of a small number of humanity during a very specific time in history.

Now, Christianity is truly a global religion and worldwide missions is more of a focus.



Finally, let us not think that the high point of scholarly Christianity was the Reformation. We have good scholars now, better sources, better equipment and a broader array of voices and the quality of books and commentaries we have access to is much higher than at the time of the Reformation. Throw aside any dreams of a Golden Age.



Again, we already have some statements that we can rally around such as the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, etc. These add to the wealth of the church, but do not contradict previous documents.


One area of "improvement" on the Westminster might be to fill in what is largely silence in regards to worldwide missions motivation and methodology. There is a kernal in the WCF it might be said, but it is strange that so much more attnetion is given to identifying the Antichrist than is given to world evangelization.


NOTE 2: Again, these newer confessions, addition, or position paers need not contradict Wcf.

N
 
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Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
One area of "improvement" on the Westminster might be to fill in what is largely silence in regards to worldwide missions motivation and methodology. There is a kernal in the WCF it might be said, but it is strange that so much more attnetion is given to identifying the Antichrist than is given to world evangelization.

Pergy,
Just for your information, this assertion is not accurate. Certainly the Confession doesn't use modern missionary terminology, but the concepts are clearly there. Dr. Sam Larsen at RTS has an excellent paper called "Global kingdom vision and the Westminster Confession" which answers such objections decisively. You may find it in ch. 16 of this new book The Hope Fulfilled: Essays in Honor of O. Palmer Robertson, or you can listen to it for free in audio form on RTS ITunes under the WCT Conference 07. It's a seminar lecture there. I think you will enjoy it.

Dr. Larsen makes some great points, I'll just point out a few here. First, the Confession defines the Church globally, not regionally. Secondly, the Confession hammers out all the concepts needed for global mission. For example, the Scriptures "are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come." (1.8) and the ordinances of the covenant of grace (preaching the Word and sacraments) are to be "held forth... to all nations" (7.6). Finally, he points out the effect the Westminster Standards had on spurring the modern mission movement in men like John Elliot, David Brainerd, Hugh Martin, etc... Anyway, have a look, I think you will not be disappointed.

A final point I would make is that the Westminster divines had a more ecclesiastical and organic view of missions. They viewed it as the expansion of the visible church through the preaching of the gospel and the ordinary means of grace. They did not think in terms of parachurch ministries or even denominations. Missions was part of the ordinary work of the Church. That's why the early missionaries mentioned above were all ordained ministers sent by the Church to preach the word and establish local congregations.
:2cents:
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
The purpose of our confession is for the uniformity of religion, we have not reached such a point yet. But I do believe in the future restoration, there will be a confession of faith or other documents that will achieve uniformity of religion. Surely it will be based on the current confession, but some more details maybe added.

I think I'm understanding what you are saying and agree with much of it.

Given the very high view we have of our standards, I think it wise to say less, in priority of what is clear on the most essential doctrines rather than more, and give exposure to less clear, less essential doctrines. From what I have seen the historic confessions all do this (e.g. Westminster, London Baptist, 3 Forms of Unity, and Second Helvetic).

From a slightly different angle, though, a confession serves as a basis of unity. It's not that every person will (or can in this life) believe or articulate exactly the same thing in every detail. It is that "confessing" as in a "confessing" church unifies people, forms a basis for accountability.

A confession is one way to recognize covenant community because it serves as a basis of unity for the covenant community. This is as opposed to each person thinking themselves an "island unto themselves" judging all doctrine in light of their own opinions of the moment. Confessions recognize also church authority, and a member's role in that.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
One area of "improvement" on the Westminster might be to fill in what is largely silence in regards to worldwide missions motivation and methodology. There is a kernal in the WCF it might be said, but it is strange that so much more attnetion is given to identifying the Antichrist than is given to world evangelization.

Pergy,
Just for your information, this assertion is not accurate. Certainly the Confession doesn't use modern missionary terminology, but the concepts are clearly there. Dr. Sam Larsen at RTS has an excellent paper called "Global kingdom vision and the Westminster Confession" which answers such objections decisively. You may find it in ch. 16 of this new book The Hope Fulfilled: Essays in Honor of O. Palmer Robertson, or you can listen to it for free in audio form on RTS ITunes under the WCT Conference 07. It's a seminar lecture there. I think you will enjoy it.

Dr. Larsen makes some great points, I'll just point out a few here. First, the Confession defines the Church globally, not regionally. Secondly, the Confession hammers out all the concepts needed for global mission. For example, the Scriptures "are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come." (1.8) and the ordinances of the covenant of grace (preaching the Word and sacraments) are to be "held forth... to all nations" (7.6). Finally, he points out the effect the Westminster Standards had on spurring the modern mission movement in men like John Elliot, David Brainerd, Hugh Martin, etc... Anyway, have a look, I think you will not be disappointed.

A final point I would make is that the Westminster divines had a more ecclesiastical and organic view of missions. They viewed it as the expansion of the visible church through the preaching of the gospel and the ordinary means of grace. They did not think in terms of parachurch ministries or even denominations. Missions was part of the ordinary work of the Church. That's why the early missionaries mentioned above were all ordained ministers sent by the Church to preach the word and establish local congregations.
:2cents:


Good post.

Yes, it seems that global missions was implicit in the confessions. You are correct.

Note that I did say "largely silent" and not "totally silent."

I just wish missions were focused upon as much as the identity of Antichrist. It seems that, yes, all the components are there indeed, for a missiology drawn from the WCF, but sometimes these components are easy to miss because they are not highlighted as central. Some would argue this is because they were not central to the Reformers.

This would make a great post by itself.

Most mission historians claim that missions did not occur among the Protestants during the Reformation, (see Neil or Latourrete (sp?) ), but we know that Calvin helped train hundreds of church planters to France and even to Brazil.

-----Added 4/24/2009 at 08:29:36 EST-----

A final point I would make is that the Westminster divines had a more ecclesiastical and organic view of missions. They viewed it as the expansion of the visible church through the preaching of the gospel and the ordinary means of grace. They did not think in terms of parachurch ministries or even denominations. Missions was part of the ordinary work of the Church. That's why the early missionaries mentioned above were all ordained ministers sent by the Church to preach the word and establish local congregations.
:2cents:


This would also make a great new thread.

Under this "Puritan view" of missions then, we would have only ordained men going out to serve in the missions field.

What should we then call the women who also serve overseas and who are usually also referred to as "missionaries" and that labor in fields such as literacy, nursing, kid and women ministry?

To be more "reformed" are we then to limit those whom we send to only ordained men? And if so, what about the "fellow-workers" (sunergois) that helped Paul on the field, many of whom are women?

My home church has several who distinguish between Missionaries and missionaries, those who are Big M Missionaries and who are elder-qualified men, and those whom are missionary support or little m missionaries. For me, I am perfectly happy calling all who serve as "missionaries."



As far as this "organic view" of the Puritans; it really did not do much for them in regards to taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

The churches were still tied to close to the State, and only with the Moravians did Protestant Missions really get jumping....

and then William Carey's Enquiry (the third part I think) proposes the voluntary association (i.e. missionary society or parachurch) as legs which would help us go into missions. Carey's Enquiry gave us a structure for misisons and this is why he is the Fatherof Missions and why mission societies multiplied to several hundreds within several decades of Carey's efforts.

Here is a summary:

The early church, an oppressed minority, spread like wildfire. From the fringes of power rather than the center, poor and persecuted Christians multiplied despite having no civil backing and little wealth, spreading not only despite persecution but often because of persecution. With Constantinian preference, the church and the civil state married into an unholy matrimony that not even the Protestant Reformation remedied. Christianity spread only with the spread of the civil state. The fiction of “Christendom” crept in.

The Protestant Reformation did not expunge these faults and the new Protestant States continued these errors with the policy of, “cuius regio eius religio,” stating that whoever’s region it was, that also was the religion, the political powers fixing religion.

The Moravians were the first to send out missionaries not associated with the colonizing powers; and what a great example of missionary devotion they continue to be, even selling themselves as slaves to evangelize poor plantation workers. The Moravian Church sent out missionaries at a rate of 1 in every 12, a virtual tithe of church members into missions, and inspired William Carey, who proposed that voluntary associations of private Christians, i.e., missionary societies, be formed to reach the world for Christ, an idea that launched the Modern Missions Movement.



Most missionary societies are following the example of the Pauline Missionary band in the book of Acts; this is not nearly "near expansion" of the visible church little by little, this is deliberate sending to far far places, often with others in a team, and the carrying out of missionary work in semi-autonomous fashion (i.e. exercising field-based leadership without running everything through Antioch first) in order not merely to expand the already existing church in provinces that have a visible christian witness but to plant completely new churches in regions that have never heard of Christ.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
You're right. We will need some new threads :)

I'll just point out that the idea of sending ministers to the uttermost parts of the world is not incompatile with an organic/ecclesiastical view of missions. That is what Elliot, Brainerd, and Patton were doing after all. And this more reflects what Paul was doing in his labors being sent by the Church in Antioch, and expanding the Church through training ministers and elders to carry on after he left. But this of course presumes a Presbyterian understanding of early church polity ;)

And I don't think the Puritan/Presbyterian view in the Standards rules out laymen going along to help ministers in their labors. But what is central to their approach is the ministry of the Word. All else is supportive to that end. And the added benefit of this organic extension of the Church provides for better accountability, because every one in the mission project has the same comprehensive theological Confession and vision, and all are under the discipline and care of the same Church.
:2cents:
 
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