Creeds and Confessions

How Shall We Confess the Faith? Strict vs Substantial Subscription (Part 1)

Most churches and denominations require a higher level of commitment to their doctrinal standards from their leaders and teachers than they expect from their members. Historically, there have also been different degrees or levels of subscription expected of church officers, teachers, or candidates for the ministry. On the one hand, some churches advocate modes of subscription that allow for a looser or more flexible commitment to the church’s official creedal statements. On the other hand, others advocate a mode of subscription that requires complete or nearly complete agreement with the doctrinal standards in view.

Those who support looser forms of subscription often express a concern to protect the subscriber’s liberty of conscience and the primacy of Scripture’s authority. Those who support tighter forms of subscription are concerned to protect the church from too much doctrinal latitude that could open the door to serious theological error or heresy. Moving along the spectrum from tighter to looser modes, we might classify the following absolute, historical, strict, system, and substance.1 The more common modes among Reformed churches that are confessional are strict and system subscription. This essay will offer a critique of strict subscription and will make a case for a conservative version of system subscription. We are calling this mode “substantial subscription”—not to be confused with the looser forms of substance subscription.

1089 reads

Apostles’ Creed: Defending the Descent

"Despite being in the Apostle’s Creed, this doctrine is not universally believed. First, as the Catholic Church begin to drift more and more into sacerdotalism, the descent to the dead gradually morphed into a descent into hell. By the time of the reformation, Calvin rejected the doctrine as a Catholic hangover, assuming it was connected to the unbiblical concept of Purgatory, and today many evangelicals follow Calvin’s lead, and ditch the descent." - Jesse Johnson

427 reads

Pope: Confess sins directly to God if no priests available during virus pandemic

"A Vatican tribunal that deals with matters of conscience, including confession, called the Apostolic Penitentiary, issued a notice Friday, stating that though absolution of sin is the usual means through which sins are forgiven by a priest, in times of 'grave necessity,' such as now with the ongoing spread of the virus, other solutions are needed... Confession is considered a sacrament in the Catholic Church." - CPost

380 reads

From the Archives – Using the London Baptist Confession of 1646 in the Local Church

Reformed Baptists are drawn to the London Baptist Confession of 1689 (originally issued in 1677) because it so closely mirrored the popular Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith. But the first two London Baptist confessions of 1644/1646 offer a window into history and a resource for Baptists today that is slightly different in its emphases. The London Baptist Confession of 1646 is Reformed and Baptist in its theology while emphasizing the newness of the New Covenant era that began with Christ. This article explores some of the benefits and challenges of using the London Baptist Confession of 1646 in the local church today.

Appealing Qualities

There are three appealing qualities of this Confession that are worthy of highlighting.

The Confession was originally drawn up and signed by seven churches in London in 1646. This was a “corrected and enlarged” edition of the first confession, published in 1644. The title of the original Confession of 1646 was: “A Confession of Faith of Seven Congregations or Churches of Christ in London, Which are commonly (But Unjustly) Called Anabaptists.” A copy of the original Confession of 1646 is widely available on the internet. An edition printed by Matthew Simmons and John Hancock in Popes-head Alley, London, 1646 is available online from The Angus Library and Archive at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford.

2209 reads

Is It OK to Confess That Jesus Descended into Hell? (What if it really means “descended to the dead”?)

"Thus one effect of Emerson’s book, I hope, will be for more churches to remove a needless stumbling block by changing the wording to something like “he descended to the dead” (as many churches already have). Anyone who can confess that Christ rose from the dead should be able to confess that he descended to the dead (cf. 42, 58)." - TGC

2996 reads

Why do we recite the historic creeds of the church in our worship services?

"...All we are doing is reading a summary of what the Bible says. Second, we believe recitation leads to memorization. It is very important that we understand the basics of Christianity...third, when we recite the creeds, we are affirming that what we believe about the teaching of Scripture is the same as what the Church has believed throughout history." - Ref21

1237 reads

Pages