Friday, February 21, 2014

The Westminster Confession of Faith

G. I. Williamson, The Westminster Confession of Faith : For Study Classes. 2nd Ed. P&R Publishing, 2004.

It is interesting that this book was originally published in 1964. Why a second edition in 2004. Maybe, the author thinks that there is a need to remember our roots. The author says in the preface to the second edition: "I believe today, more than ever before, that the doctrines set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith are true and therefore do not need to be changed. They are not, of course, infallibly stated. Only the Bible is infallible. But even today--after some 350 years--the amazing thing is that the Westminster Assembly got it so right that little needs to be changed" (ix).

I am sorry to say after thirty years of being a Southern Baptist, none of the churches I have been a member of studied any of the major reformation confessions: Heidelberg, Westminster, and others. WE did study the Baptist Faith and Message for which I am thankful. It is only over the past year I have been the studying the reformation confessions on my own and have been profited by them. I agree with Williamson that today it is even more urgent to study the great confessions and creeds of the Christian faith since doctrine and theology is largely absent from many churches.

The Westminster Confession of faith was originally created in 1646 by the Westminster Assembly to be the standard confession of the Church of England. It is considered an essential document of the Reformed faith. It provides a Christian theology for faith and practice. The creators of this document believed that doctrine was to be lived. They believed we Christians were to live for the glory of God and to "enjoy Him forever."

The confession covers many topics. Some of them are: the Bible, creation, providence, fall of humankind, free will, regeneration, justification, sanctification, religious worship, marriage, liberty, church and state, and many more topics.

In this book, the reader has the complete text of the Westminster Confession of Faith with Williamson's excellent commentary. He does a good job in explaining what the text means. At the end of each section are questions that can be discussed by a group. The book is set up to be used in study classes are by groups, but it can be used individually as I have done. I did not necessarily agree with all of the author's interpretations, but I did agree with the majority of them. Even when I disagreed, he helped me to understand the text.

For those who want the meat of the word, this is a good place to go. Your faith will grow as you wrestle with the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. This book is highly recommended.

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