Thursday, July 18, 2013

Creeds and Confessions, Practical Implications, Part 3

A third practical inference from our foregoing defense of creeds and confessions is this:

We may determine how an honest man should act after subscribing to a public creed and confession. Once a man has subscribed publicly to confession of faith in order to attain a position of leadership in that church's ministry, he will feel it to be his duty to adhere sincerely and faithfully to that creed and confession publicly and privately. If at any time he should alter his views concerning any part of that creed or confession it is incumbent upon him to inquire whether the points in question are of such a nature is that he can conscientiously be silent about them and give no offense to the body to which he belongs. If this is possible, in other words, if he can reconcile this with enlightened sense of duty, then he may remain in place. If he can keep it to himself and perform his ministerial duties conscientiously, then he should shut and do his work. But if the points concerning which his views have changed are of so much importance in his estimation that he cannot be silent, and that he must propagate them, then he should quietly withdraw and join some other branch of the visible church where he can walk in a harmonious way. He has no right to insist on remaining and being permitted to publicly oppose what he has solemnly vowed to receive and support.

Someone might object that every man is under obligation to obey the great Head of the Church and that this obligation trumps anything which may bind him by ecclesiastical engagement to obey the church. In other words, he must obey God rather than men. But in this case, this is no objection at all. It has nothing to do with the subject under consideration. A man cannot bind himself always to believe as he now believes, but he can certainly promise that he will be a regular and orderly member of that body as long as he remains part of it. The moment he ceases to be able to do this, without sinning against God, if he be an honest man, he will silently withdraw.

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