Saturday, February 01, 2014

Westminster Vs. Three Forms Intro

One of the things that concerns me about the growing call for more Calvin in the Lord’s Supper and the rooting out of all Zwinglians, and thus unknowingly the Bullinger position as well, is the enshrinement of the Westminster tradition over the Continental traditions. 

I am not sure how the Westminster became so dominant, but it clearly has.  Yes, this is a country of mostly Englishmen and Scots.  I get it.  But still denominations with Continental backgrounds almost cannot wait to talk about and follow the Westminster.  Is there any stricter sabbatarian denomination around than the URCNA or the Heritage Congregations?  Both of those denominations have a very Westminster view of the Sabbath despite having confessional documents other than the Westminster!  The Two Kingdom debate is dominated by how it fits with the Westminster (see the Confessional Presbyterian and the Mid America Journal of this past year) even though some of the people participating adhere to the Three Forms.  When was the last time you saw an argument about what the Heidelberg and the Canons of Dort said about the issue? 

It is often said that there is no real difference between the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms, but only in tone.  This is simply not true.  Now I am not saying the Westminster is a different faith or anything like that.  The Westminster Standards and the Three Forms are both part of the Reformed Tradition, but the differences are real and do end up in some different places.  It is not just about style, nor is it that the Westminster is just further along the doctrinal development road (that is just condescending and in the end probably a way to help make the Westminster tradition the only one), nor is it that it is just in one or two questions.  I hope to start going through some of these differences so that we can stop trying to merge these traditions.


David said...

I look very much forward to that, that will be very interesting and helpful. I got interested in this question recently, but could not find much good information on the internet on Westminster vs. Three Forms. So thank you so much for doing this.

Matt Powell said...

I'm looking forward to this, Lee.

Tony said...

I agree, and look forward to your series. I'm a Westminster guy, with much appreciation for the Three Forms. But when I hear people say, for instance, that both have the same view of the Christian Sabbath, I too scratch my head. Historically, both traditions are clearly and strongly Sabbatarian. But Westminster specifically and absolutely proscribes recreation, and the Three Forms does not. I know Revs. Hyde & Clark (URCNA) reference a statement from Dort re: recreation. But it reads that one is to rest from those "recreations which impede the worship of God." It seems to be a qualified statement, not an absolute prohibition. Source:

David said...

This is David agfain. While you are doing this, or perhaps as a separate post, it would be really interesting if you could explain what are the main differences between the Heidelberg and the Belgic. I found this really hard to find on the web, and dont know any way to get this information without personally immersing in a lengthy comparative study of the two.

Jeremy said...

Will the comparison be before or after the American revisions?

Lee said...

Tony, when I get to the Sabbath part I will deal with those who are saying that the Sabbath view is virtually the same.
David, I will try to get to some of the differences between the Heidelberg and Belgic, but it could be a while. Sorry.
Jeremy, I will probably do both, when it makes a difference. But to make it more relevant the standard edition of the WCF I will be using is the post-American revisions.