Are you Presbyterian but just not into presbyterian polity?


There are some good comments over at Green Baggins. The post and entire thread are worth a read but comments #15, 20, and 21 have got me thinking. The whole controversy between so called confessionalists on one side (who elevate the Westminster Confession over the Word of God according to their critics) and so called progressives (who self-describe as jolly fellows who are just trying to believe what the Bible teaches and are therefore more Reformed than the Reformation Confessions) has gotten off on a terribly mangled foot because, at some point, a concern for confessional integrity has been knocked down and trampled.

Presbyterianism has methods for holding our Confessions to the standard of the Bible but they are specific. We ought to have enough respect for Biblical tradition, for good churchmanship, and for the Ten Commandments (especially #1, 2, 3, 5, and 9) to have a submissive attitude as members of a Reformed church and not make confessional revisions by coup d’Ă©tat. But that is exactly the way we’ll be handling it if is simply decided that unconfessional views are acceptable teaching and practice while the Confessions remain unchanged. Friends, your intentions may be admirable from one perspective but they resemble the tactics of pioneering theological liberals from another if you want your denomination’s constitutional provisions simply set aside without the careful process of revision.

Yes, it sounds arduous, with debates in presbytery, overtures from presbytery to GA, GA committees, debates at GA, passage by GA, and ratification by the presbyteries (and that’s not a complete list of steps). Nor are there guarantees of success. But it is the right way. And, as one of the comments mentioned above states, one can propose revisions and maintain good standing in a denomination. That is, of course, if one has the patience. Regrettably, the path taken by some is to just start teaching their congregations, friends, and the internet that the Westminster Confession and Catechisms aren’t cutting it. Somehow that honorable but self-effacing path of resigning in protest never occurs to some folks. Even so, it seems like the right call for those who respect confessionalism but know that they’re not in for a long, personal time of wilderness wandering.


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