VALLEY REFORMED CHURCH
Savoring God through literacy in His literal Word
CONFESSIONS & CATECHISM
What are they and why bother?
Statement of Faith, Declaration of Faith or Articles of Faith
True believers care about what a particular church believes, because true believers cannot have close fellowship and participation with those with whom they are in disagreement over doctrinal matters. For this reason, most churches have a Statement of Faith, Declaration of Faith, or Articles of Faith, all of which lists the major things they believe.
Most of the above are boiler plate documents. By that, I mean they are very general and cover the major doctrines with a brief statement of each major doctrine. By boiler plate, I also mean that you could take one of the above and it could be used for many different churches, because they are not normally specific enough to tell the difference between a Baptist church and a say, a Christian church. The typical statement of faith includes a statement about the Bible being the Word of God, God creating the heavens and the earth, the Trinity being comprised of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, salvation by faith in Christ, believer’s baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the future return of Christ. Basically, a statement of faith will let you know that you are attending a church that considers itself “Christian”, as opposed to “non-Christian”. If you want to know specifics and details about each of these doctrines, you would have to ask the pastor or ask for the church constitution and look for the tenets of the faith section. For example, if you want to know whether or not they believe in theistic evolution or a six day literal creation, you would have to inquire further.
Creeds were determined and written by church councils and like a Statement of Faith or a Declaration of Faith, summarized what the church believed. A creed can be a brief almost exclamatory statement of what you hold most specific and dear from Scripture. It is brief in that it does not cover every doctrine or the nuances of every doctrine. Some of the common creeds still used by some denominations include The Apostles’ Creed, The Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. We do not use creeds, although we agree with parts of some of them.
A confession is simply an exhaustive and detailed version of what one believes; Biblical doctrine, with specific Scripture references for each doctrine. Most of the confessions were created in the 1500 – 1600 period to provide a clear and concise response to heresy being introduced to the church. An example of one such confession would be the Canons of Dort, which was written by the church leaders to combat the reintroduction of the false doctrine that man has a free will; a spark of divinity that enables him to choose salvation. The man who was spreading this heresy was Jacobus Arminius.
The benefits of a confession are numerous, because a confession is a very detailed summary of what one believes. There are those who object to confessions, because all we need to know is in the Word of God and we agree that all we need to know is in the Word of God and that no confession is inspired of God. But, the verses in the confession are inspired by God and the confession is a summary of Biblical doctrine. The confession is similar to taking notes when studying the Bible and then referring to those notes later. The other major benefit of a confession is that you can point someone to your confession and they will know in detail what you believe without having to sit through a 3 year class to learn it.
We subscribe to the London Baptist Confession of 1689. It is very similar to the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646. In fact, the LBC of 1689 is a rewrite of the WCF of 1646 in order to exclude the teaching of infant baptism and a few other points unique to the Presbyterian denomination. Reformed Baptist churches, as most Baptist churches, do not perform or find support for infant baptism in Scripture.