Monday, July 15, 2013

Creeds and Confessions, Practical Implications, Part 2

Another implication or inference from all of our foregoing arguments is this:

Subscribing to a creed or confession is not a mere formality. It is a very solemn transaction, full of meaning, and inferring the most serious obligation. It ought to be entered upon the deep deliberation on prayer. Is there any sin more egregious than lying to the Holy Spirit? In other words, it is dishonesty and insincerity in the highest degree to seek membership in the church, or admission to her ministry, by knowingly harboring doctrines which are diametrically opposed to the doctrine to the church which is admitting you to membership ordaining you to ministry.

In all the forms of subscription used by churches that require it of their ministers, there are two parts. There is an affirmation that the minister will believe and affirm the doctrines contained in that church's confession of faith. But there is also a second part. The minister must also affirm that he will not oppose the doctrines contained in the church's confession of faith. In many cases, it seems that only the second part of the subscription has any force. I think it is clear though, that if we were to take this principle to the test of reason, to the test of Scripture, and the test of the original design of the confessions, it is horribly deficient. How can it be adequate to simply not teach error? How can it be acceptable and sufficient to simply not oppose one's own creed and confession of faith? If that minister were to practice this form of reasoning in a court of law, he would be deemed guilty of perjury. It is not enough to simply not speak against truth; a minister must proclaim the truth of the gospel as he sees it. In a minister must have the decency to relinquish his position of leadership in the church when the attaining and maintaining of that leadership hinges upon subscription to that church's articles of faith.

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