Holy Trinity Church is a “confessional” church. The Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals, to which we belong, requires that our office bearers (Pastors & Deacons) hold to something more than a vague and undefined “belief in the Bible.” They, of course, must believe the Bible as the sole ultimate and infallible standard by which everything else is judged. But they must also “confess” to believe that certain historical documents are faithful summaries of certain aspects of the Bible’s teaching. These historical documents include the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Definition of Chalcedon. Each church must also adopt one of several possible Reformation Confessions.
The Reformation Confession that Holy Trinity Church has adopted is called the Westminster Confession of Faith, written in A.D. 1646. It is a pretty decent (though incomplete and imperfect) exposition of some of the Bible’s key teachings. This confession has been widely used in the Protestant church in various forms for hundreds of years. It is a safeguard to the flock when used rightly. Because the WCF is not the Bible, it has errors, omissions, and idiosyncrasies. The document itself was debated by a large number of men over a long time and it is a consensus document. Not even all the signers of the document would agree with everything in it. All we ask is that office bearers declare their differences openly, and let the church judge whether the differences are within the bounds of orthodoxy as judged by the Scriptures. This is a safeguard to ensure that no individual pastor can take it upon himself to teach whatever he wants without accountability to the church at large. The following are the exceptions taken by the elders of Holy Trinity Church:
1. While we agree with the doctrines of the WCF, we do not always agree with how those doctrines are supported with the Scripture proof texts which the Westminster Divines cited.
Of the Holy Scripture
2. Para. 2 We are unwilling to be dogmatic as to the Pauline authorship of the book of Hebrews.
3. Para. 8. We believe that the original languages to be consulted in the matters of controversy are Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
Of God’s Covenant with Man
4. Para 2 (cf. Chp. 19, para. 1, 6). While we agree with the original intent of the Westminster Divines, we believe the usage of the phrase “covenant of works” is open to misinterpretation by modern Christians. By way of clarification, we deny that any covenant can be kept without faith, and we affirm that good works flow out of faith in God, and not vice versa.
Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath-day
5. Para. 8. We believe that along with works of piety, necessity, and mercy, the command also calls us to rest physically on the Sabbath (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 16:30; 31:15-17).
Of the Civil Magistrate
6. Para. 3 — Delete the last phrase, beginning with “to provide that whatsoever…”
Of Marriage and Divorce
7. Para 4: Delete the last sentence, which reads, “The man may not marry any of his wife’s kindred, nearer in blood than he may of his own: nor the woman of her husband’s kindred, nearer in blood than of her own.”
Of the Church
8. Para. 6. Though we believe the Pope of Rome to be anti-Christian, we do not believe him necessarily to be the anti-Christ.
Of the Sacraments
9. Para. 4. We believe that the Lord’s Supper should not be administered without the oversight of an elder, lawfully ordained.
10. Para. 3. We believe that the proper modes of baptism include sprinkling, pouring, and immersion.
11. Para. 4. Being a church composed of both paedobaptists and those holding to believer’s baptism, we expressly allow men otherwise qualified to serve as elders, but who hold to believer’s baptism, to make an exception to WCF Chapter XXVIII, paragraph 4, which reads: “Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.”