Monday, October 31, 2005

Apt Summaries

Mark Horne has a post attacking the idea that the confessions can be "solid rock amid shifting sands." You can decide for yourself whether he is directly referring to my post of a similar title. His words deserve a response either way.

Rev. Horne is correct that the confessions themselves are not the “Solid Rock.” That appellation belongs to Scripture. However, the confessions are “apt summaries of the Word of God.” If one believes that Scripture, the solid rock, never changes, why would one think that the summaries of Scripture should change? None of the confessions deal in subjects such as millennial views or apologetical approaches. They deal with primary issues like salvation, the church, and creation. Rev. Horne suggests that Reformed faith is dead on arrival if its adherents cling to the confessions. For some reason Rev. Horne would say Scripture is unchangeable but summaries of Scripture are malleable and ever changing.

The only reason I can imagine why a summary of the never changing Word of God should change is if man cannot know the Word of God. This would explain why we must have a summary that is in constant motion with the times. Any minister believing this would hopefully be honest and take an exception to WCF 1.7. However, anyone who thinks the Word is unknowable is in a very untenable position. First, if the Word is unknowable, then the 2000 years of theology in the church has been wrong because no one really understood what God was communicating to man. Second, he would have to admit that he could not know the Word of God either, and thus, the confession could very well be more accurate than he is on any given subject.

The church has for centuries found no need to change or abandon confessions like Nicaea or Chalcedon, but if Rev. Horne’s logic is true, then that is simply proof that the church has been dead for centuries rather than evidence of the accuracy of those confessions. To argue that it is nothing but a practice of dead orthodoxy to hold fast to confessions as summaries of God’s Word is nothing more than avowing that one has disagreement with certain aspects of those confessions. It is time for these men to either write a confession, a generally-accepted delineation of their system of faith, that they believe IS maintainable or admit that they believe the Word of God is unknowable and that confessions, including the ones they have promised to uphold, are more a stumbling block than anything else.


Matt Powell said...

Good post. I think that the claim to hold to an infallible Scripture and yet deny the usefulness of creeds lies somewhere on the continuum between disingenuousness and hypocrisy. If we believe the Scriptures then we believe certain things about the Scriptures, and while many things about our understanding of Scriptures may change as individuals, the church must hold onto the central tenets of the faith in a consistent way, and thus the functions of creeds.

And thanks for the link!

Mark said...

I never denied the usefulness of creeds. Nor did I imply such a denial. Nor would I.

Lee said...

For continuing discussion on this topic, please see my comments under the Mark Horne post previously mentioned.

James Frank SolĂ­s said...


I enjoy reading your blog. Do me a favor: e-mail me at You don't have to write anything; just put Two-Edged Sword in the subject line.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that Mark Horne cut himself off from continuing discussion on his own site when you won the argument.