The Next Resurgence?
Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos
The resurgence of Reformed theology over the past ten years has been very exciting. I am hopeful that the next resurgence will find the YRR folks making their way to a more explicit adherence to confessional reformed theology.
What are the benefits to confessional Christianity? I think about it this way. The confessions and/or creeds are helpful because they:
Tie us to Scripture
We must understand the whole of what the Bible teaches concerning a certain subject. And the confessions are a faithful attempt to do this very thing. Thus, the confessions do not lead us away from Scripture. Rather, they lead us to the Scriptures in what they articulate in a systematic way.
If I asked you, “How many persons are there in the Godhead?” You could turn to John 10:30 where Jesus states, “I and the Father are one,” and make the argument, as some have, that God is one person. But this would be wrong, because you took the Scriptures only in part and not as a whole. A good student of the Scriptures must be informed by all the Scriptures. Therefore, you would also want to turn to Matthew 3:16-17. And there it is clear that there are three persons of the Triune Godhead distinguished one from another. But you couldn’t stop there. One must also look at passages like John 15:26, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Galatians 4:6, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:2-3, and on we could go. All of this needs to be considered together as a consistent whole.
Tie us to Orthodoxy
These confessions and creeds are the products of painstaking dialogue, theological wrangling, and years of hard fought established truths. The Church has never existed in a vacuum as heretical teaching has found its way into the church in every age. And many of these teachings have struck at the vitals of our faith. In such cases, the Church has often risen to address these errors and safeguard itself by articulating the truths of Scripture in carefully worded documents. As we read, study, and compare these confessions/creeds to the teaching of Scripture they encourage our own orthodoxy and serve to check our own inclination to theological wandering.
Tie us to the past
The Church of Jesus Christ is older than any church we sit in on Sunday mornings. For that fact, it is older than any of our denominations. Confessions bind us to the historical church. It helps to stymie fascination with whatever is fadish and expedient. It encourages trust and waiting upon the Lord as one reflects upon the faithfulness of God through the generations. It reminds us that the Church to which we belong is nothing new. It includes all those in the faith who have preceded us. It directs us to old teachers and teachings in the church that have stood the test of time and scrutiny.
Tie us in the present
The confessions allow us to have true unity and accord with others in the faith. It provides the basis for ecclesiastical fellowship, ministry endeavors, labor together, and accountability.
Tie us to the future
Confessions (and their attendant catechisms in particular) provide a means to pass this great faith on to those of the next generation. Every Christian must have a concern for the Church in the next age. We labor to pass on the faith to our children and grandchildren. And the confessions provide a wonderful pedagogical tool for our use. They summarize our faith and articulate the essentials. They provide a systematic and concise understanding of what “man is to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man” (WSC Q/A 3).