Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Abusing the Westminster Confession of Faith

Liberal politicians in America are known for spinning history in a manner that helps their agenda.  For example, the Democratic Party holds itself up as the champion of minorities, yet historically this is not true.  After the Civil War, the Republican led government intended to integrate blacks into the general American society.  This effort was called "Reconstructionism".
With the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln & the ascendancy of his Democratic vice president, Andrew Johnson, the era of Reconstruction was halted.  It was the Democrats who enacted the so-called "Jim Crow" laws where although they recognized some amount of equality of blacks, it brought on the segregation laws.  Had the Republican plan of Reconstruction been able to go forward as planned, America may have reached racial harmony a century before it did.
For further study on TRUE history of this era, see the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which was passed by the Republican dominated Congress to counteract the so-called "Black Codes" which were like "Jim Crow" laws.  As a matter of fact, Democrat President Johnson attempted to veto the Civil Rights Act of 1866, but the Republican congress overrode the veto & passed the act, which granted that "all persons born in the United States not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed," were citizens of the United States. Such citizens were "of every race and color" and "without regard to any previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude." As citizens they could make and enforce contracts, sue and be sued, give evidence in court, and inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real estate and personal property".
So, it is interesting how black Americans have come to see the Democrat Party as the party that represents their interests, since historically the opposite has been true.
It is not just in politics where people attempt to abuse history for some agenda.  I have recently seen where a group of liberal, & even heretical people claiming to be Christians has abused the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) for their agenda.  However, these same people have also erroneously painted Martin Luther & the other Reformers as wild-eyed radicals intent on overthrowing the Church.  This was not the case.
The issue at hand is abuse of the epistemological intent of the first chapter of the WCF.  I would urge the reader to first read this short article on epistemology ( before going any further.  The conflict revolves around whether the WCF authors intended to promote a form of "classic" presuppositionalism or what has come to be known as Clarkian presuppositionalism.  Since the theologian Gordon Clark, from whom the Clarkian presuppositionalism receives its name didn't put forward that view until the late 1940s and the WCF was penned in the 1640s it is highly dubious that the WCF authors had Clarkian presuppositionalism in mind.
The first chapter of the WCF begins:
"Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation;" (WCF)
The Clarkian claims that the WCF therefore is advocating a presupposition or starting point of the Bible -- although, more inline with classic presuppositionalism the text makes it clear that General Revelation manifests not just God's existence, but even His goodness, wisdom, & power.
The Clarkian's presupposition is that "The Bible is the Word of God written", however this axiom although not untrue is not the starting point of knowledge.  The Clarkian will claim that we cannot really know anything outside of the Bible & further, the Clarkian will claim that the WCF supports their axiom when it clearly does not.  Again, the WCF states "the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God".  This is obviously some sort of knowledge of God; even to the point of knowing He is GOOD, WISE, & POWERFUL...all before we get to Scripture.  To point this out, the Clarkian will claim is NOT honoring Scripture and is NOT holding to the WCF.  As the reader can see, this is untrue.
The WCF's point is that although God can be known somewhat through General Revelation, salvific knowledge only comes through the Scriptures.  Amen!!!  This is classic presuppositionalism.
The WCF continues:
"therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased." (WCF)
Perhaps from this, the Clarkian wants us to conclude that God has ceased to be known through the "light of nature, and the works of creation and providence" but THAT is NOT what the above paragraph is saying.  Note that the opening sentence is about how God can be generally known, whereas the above paragraph is a declaration of God's Will to HIS CHURCH.  Hence, Scripture is for the Elect, not the reprobate.  For the Christian, holy Scripture is not only the "more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world" but is necessary to salvation.
The WCF continues in outlining the importance, primacy, & necessity of Scripture for THE CHURCH.  The chapter concludes with these remarks:
"The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture." (WCF)
No classic presuppositionalist disclaims this.  Of course the Supreme Judge is the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture -- but presuppositionalism isn't about what a person thinks or doesn't think about Scripture.  Again, Scripture is for the Elect, not the world.  Scripture is to be handled by and utilized by Christians.  For heathens and heretics, neither has the right nor the honor to handle Scripture.  Many deny the first principle, that God is manifested; rather God's goodness, wisdom, & power are manifested so that men are without excuse.  All men respond to this manifestation either by creating idols as gods, themselves as gods, or in the case of the Elect the Holy Spirit/Father draws them to Himself & grants them to believe & reveals to them the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God written. (John 6:44, John 6:64-65)
To conclude, the Clarkian tries to abuse the WCF by claiming it supports his al be it well intended but arbitrary presupposition.  The Clarkian needs to realize, even if we granted his axiom, Romans 1:20 itself points back to classic presuppositionalism AND to the intent of the WCF --
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Rom 1:20 NKJV)

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