Monthly Archives: July 2017

  • Know the Creeds, Councils, Confessions, and Catechisms Part 12: Westminster Standards

    The Westminster Standards—made up of The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC), and Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC)—serve as the doctrinal standards of our church and of hundreds of other reformed churches across the world. The title Westminster speaks to its provenance. It was drafted in England; and, as we noted last week, it was specifically, at least at the outset, a document that was to clarify and expand upon the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. But there was more to it than that both politically and theologically. Theologically the bar was set pretty high as the commissioners were charged with overseeing a “more perfect reformation of the Church.”

    After the Puritans won control of the government (ca. 1652), Parliament called together 166 commissioners in 1646 with the aforementioned goal of revising and expanding the Thirty-Nine Articles. Yes, our standards … Read More »

  • Know the Creeds, Councils, Confessions, and Catechisms Part 11: Thirty-nine Articles of Religion

    After Henry VIII (r. 1509-47) started his affair with Anne Boleyn he needed to find a righteous way to get rid of his wife Catherine of Aragon (in his defense Catherine had trouble producing a living heir and when she did it was a female. He desperately wanted a male heir and would stop at nothing to get one). Henry–a Roman Catholic—knew that there was no way the church would ever allow him to remarry if he divorced Catherine. So he got creative. He turned his attention to the Bible for justification and sought an annulment rather than a divorce based on Leviticus 20:21: If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless. You see, prior to marrying Henry, Catherine had been married to Henry’s now-deceased brother Arthur. In Henry’s mind … Read More »

  • Know the Creeds, Councils, Confessions, and Catechisms Part 10: The Heidelberg Catechism

    Shortly after the Protestant Reformation shook Europe and the religious world, both Protestants and Catholics vigorously engaged in an educational project, the chosen means of which was the catechism. Many Protestants mistakenly think that the catechism originated in the Roman Catholic Church. I have head such claims with my own ears. But that is not the case. As far as we can tell Martin Luther was the first to use this type of back and forth style for teaching when he wrote his first catechism in 1528 and then his larger one in 1529. After that the gates were open and catechisms began to appear in all corners of the church.

    One early catechism that has become a staple even to this day was the Heidelberg Catechism (1563). It is the standard—along with the Cannons of Dort and the Belgic Confession—of … Read More »