Holy Trinity Church is a “confessional” church. The Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches, to which we belong, requires that our office bearers (elders and deacons) hold to something more than a vague and undefined “belief in the Bible.” Of course, they must believe the Bible as the only infallible written revelation of God and His will, by which everything else is to be measured. But they must also “confess” to believe what is said in certain historical creeds and confessions as faithful statements of Christian beliefs according to the Bible. Our creeds include the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Definition of Chalcedon (see “What does your church believe?”). Each church in the CREC must also adopt one of several Confessions of Faith derived from the Reformation of the Church in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Confession that Holy Trinity Church has adopted is called the Westminster Confession of Faith, written in A.D. 1646. It is a trustworthy, though not perfect, exposition of the Bible’s teachings about a number of key truths. This confession has been widely used in many Protestant (especially Presbyterian) churches for hundreds of years. Our elders are required to declare their acceptance of its teachings; 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. However, because the WCF is not the Bible, it is not entirely free of errors, omissions, and idiosyncrasies. Our church as a whole has stated that we take certain exceptions to this Confession (see below), and candidates for office in our church may take additional exceptions as their conscience requires. All we ask is that office bearers declare their differences openly, and let the church decide whether the differences are within the bounds of orthodoxy as judged by the Scriptures.
The following are the agreed-upon exceptions taken to the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) by all 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.”
Posted in: Beliefs