Our Creedal Heritage - The Westminster Confessions


(Originally delivered as a lecture at the Hope Protestant Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2003)

I. Introduction

I.1 Why the Westminster Standards are of Importance to the Protestant Reformed Churches of America [ P.R.C.A.]

I.1.a. Westminster Standards / Three Forms of Unity  

I.1.b. P.R.C.A.’s Committee for Contact with Other Churches

I.1.c. An Office-bearer’s Conference

I.2 Articulation of Respect and Qualifications thereto for the Westminster Standards

I.2.a. Two Rejected Teachings of the Westminster Confessions

I.2.b. Appreciation for / Serious trouble with the Westminster Confessions

II. Historical Background of the Westminster Confessions

II.1 Diversity between English and Continental Reformations

II.1.a. Circumstances of the Westminster Confessions

II.1.b. Elder / English Reformation Scholar of Doon, Iowa

II.1.c. The English Reformation / Continental Reformations

II.2. The Reign of the House of Tudor: Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I   

II.2.a. The Reign of Henry the Eighth

II.2.b. The Pope / King of Spain

II.2.c. Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer

II.2.d. Archbishop Cranmer Commences Reformation

II.2.e. Reign of Edward the Sixth

II.2.f. Reformation of the Church of England

II.2.g. Reigns of Queen Mary Tudor / Queen Elizabeth the First / Lambeth Articles

II.3. The Reign of the House of Stewart, James I, Charles I

II.3.a. Reign of King James I

II.3.b. Reign of Charles the First / General Oliver Cromwell 

II.4. Chronicle of the Westminster Assembly                                                                                                   

II.4.a. Act of Parliament Calling the Westminster Assembly

II.4.b. Invited Foreign Delegates

II.4.c. The Scottish Delegation

III. The Inevitable Compromise Necessitated by Creating a Standard for a National Church

III.1. Westminster Confession Constitutionally Flawed Because Designed for a National Church

III.1.a. Church of England as a National Church

III.1.b. The Antithesis in the Netherlands , in the Afscheiding 4 , in the Doleantie 5 & in the Church of England

III.1.c. The Westminster Confession Designed for a National Church

III.2 With Reservations, Commendatory Aspects of the Westminster Standards

III.2.a. The Westminster Confession Commendable Doctrine of Scripture

III.2.b. The W.C.F. / Shorter Catechism / The Decrees of God

III.2.c. W.C.F. Doctrine of Providence / The Effectual Call – Eternal Justification  / Six Day Creation

III.3 Peripheral Inherent Defects of the Westminster Standards Essentially Arising Out of Its National Church Basis

III.3.a. W.C.F. is Objective

III.3.b. W.C.F. / Civil Law

III.3.c. The W.C.F./ Constitutional Grounds of Divorce and Remarriage

IV. Significant Doctrinal Deviation / Toleration by the W.C.F.

IV.1 ‘Covenant of Works’ / W.C.F.

IV.1.a. ‘Covenant of Works’ as in W.C.F.     

IV.1.b. Consensus of Presbyterian/Puritan Theologians / ‘Covenant of Works’

IV.2 Amyrauldian Concession In the Phraseology of the W.C.F.

IV.2.a. Amyrauldian Delegates to the Westminster Assembly

IV.2.b. Canons / WCF with Regards to the Will of God for the Oblation of Christ

IV.3 Historical Proofs for the Assertion of a Deliberate Amyrauldian Concession in the Phraseology of the W.C.F. Founded Upon the Necessity to Secure Universal Consensus as Required For a National Church Document

IV.3.a. Amyrauldian Richard Baxter Signs the W.C.F.

IV.3.b. Historian Robert Shaw / W.C.F. Toleration of Amyrauldianism  

IV.3.c. W.C.F. / God’s Will for the Oblation of Christ

IV.3.d. The ‘Marrow Controversy’ / Dutch Second Reformation / Inception P.R.C.A.

V Conclusion  

V.1.a. Three Forms of Unity vs. Westminster Standards.  

V.2 Departing Prayer

V.2.a. Prayer of Professor Hanko

End of Table of Contents

Our Creedal Heritage The Westminster Confessions by Professor Herman Hanko: originally delivered as a lecture at the Hope Protestant Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2003

I.1.a. Good evening everyone, tonight it is our purpose to consider together the Westminster Confessions, or the Westminster Standards. The Westminster Standards are, of course, the confessional basis for Presbyterianism. Thus, just as the Three Forms of Unity are the confessional basis for the Reformed Churches throughout the world,the Westminster Confessions are the confessional basis for Presbyterian Churches throughout the world.

I.1.b. It is interesting, though, that the Westminster Confessions are of concern and interest to our Protestant Reformed Churches. In talking about them, we are talking about confessions that are of some significance for our own denomination.  That has come about in relatively recent years, especially since the time of our contact with Presbyterian Churches abroad, both in Northern Ireland, and England, and in Australia. The Westminster Standards, for example, are the confessional basis for theEvangelical Presbyterian Churches of Australia 1. But we have a reference to the Westminster Confessions in our church order book, although not in the church order itself. This is, of course, the green book to which I am referring. In the Constitution of the Committee for Contact with Other Churches there is this statement in Article 5which deals with the general mandate that a full sister church relationship with foreign churches implies, among other things,

“…taking heed to one another’s life as churches , constantly acquainting one another with decisions of their broadest assemblies, mutual decisions as to the revisions of and additions to the creeds, the church order and liturgical forms. Such a full sister church relation shall be established only with those foreign churches of whom we are assured, not only that they accept the reformed standards * as their basis, but that they indeed maintain them in their ecclesiastical life. ”

Behind the words “ reformed standards ” is an asterisk, and that asterisk has this notation -   “ ‘Reformed standards’ has been interpreted by synod, Acts 1985, Article 23, to include the Westminster Confessionand Catechisms. ”

That is, the Westminster Confession itself, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. That decision was taken by our churches in 1985 at the time of our contact with theBible Presbyterian Church of Northern Ireland, of which Reverend George Hutton, whom some of you may recall, was pastor. And that congregation, at that time, asked our synod to establish sister church relations with them. Which our synod subsequently did, and which was the beginning of our work in Northern Ireland.

I.1.c. The problem was that the Bible Presbyterian Church of Larne, had the Westminster Confessions at its basis, and the question came up on the synod whether ourConstitution for Committee of Contact permitted sister church relations with a church which stood on the basis of the Westminster Confessions. That matter was discussed at length. And, as a matter of fact, that synod was preceded by an office-bearers’ conference that was held in South Holland Protestant Reformed Church at which papers were delivered on the Westminster Confessions, and on their relationship to the Reformed Churches, and on the possibility of using those confessions also as a credible, and acceptable confessional basis for churches with whom we had sister church relations. So this decision of the synod follows upon that. 2

I.2.a. If you would consult Article 23 of the Acts of the Synod of 1985, you would discover that the synod at that time, while recognizing the Westminster Confessions and Catechisms as a legitimate confessional basis, made two exceptions to that statement. That is, it took two exceptions to teachings in the Westminster Confessions, one of which was the ‘Covenant of Works’, as is taught in the Westminster Confession, and the other was the Westminster statement on divorce and remarriage. Westminsterpermits the remarriage of the innocent party, when the grounds for divorce are either adultery or desertion. Our churches took exception to that, and, as you know, have officially approved the position that remarriage is never permissible while the two parties in the original marriage are living. So that makes the Westminster Confession of some importance to our churches.

I.2.b. I have no time tonight to give you a detailed description of the Westminster Confessions. That is a job that requires a number of individual classes. I urge you, however, to take the opportunity to read and acquaint yourself with those confessions. I, myself, have a very handy little book here that has the Westminster Confession of Faith in it, as well as the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, and it has all the scriptural proofs, not only referred to, as in our Heidelberg Catechism, but quoted as well: quoted in full. The three documents are worthwhile becoming familiar with.

I want to talk more about the Westminster Confessions in general tonight. And I must confess, at the very outset, that while, from a certain view point, I have a great deal of respect for the Westminster Confessions, there are reasons, which I consider serious, which make it impossible for me to feel at home in the Westminster Confessions. If there are any good Presbyterians in our midst tonight, they will shudder at a statement such as that. But I have tried in all sincerity, and with the best possible efforts I could muster, to make myself at home in the Westminster Confessions, and while I appreciate some of their statements, nevertheless, I cannot find myself comfortable in their teachings. I hope to address myself to some of those things tonight.

II.1.a. In order to understand what I consider to be the basic problem with the Westminster Confessions, we have to know a little bit, first of all, about the history of the Reformation in the British Isles, and about the circumstances out of which the Westminster Confessions arose. I have to be very skimpy in my description of this tonight. Time forbids us to go into detail.

II.1.b. The reformation in England is most fascinating. I had an elder in the congregation that I served in Doon, Iowa. He was a rather remarkable man. I do not think he had finished sixth or seventh grade of school. He came from very poor parents, and was forced to quit school at an early age. He brought up eleven children, and he did so on eighty acres of ground in Lyon County in Northwest Iowa, which required of him that he work day and night. He was frequently an elder in the congregation and served with distinction. He made himself, over the years, an expert on the English Reformation. He acquired a library of books that I envied. When I saw that library, I had to fight the devil of covetousness. He read them all. When we would talk about the English Reformation, and he, on occasion, delivered papers on some aspect of it, in Men’s Society, I was ashamed that he knew far more about the English Reformation than I did. And maybe that was a spur to me, later on, when I got to the seminary, to make the English Reformation particularly an object of my study.

II.1.c.  The English Reformation was different from the reformation on the continent. I speak of the reformation in Germany (the Lutheran Reformation), in Switzerland, in France, and in the Netherlands. In all these countries the reformation consisted in a separation of the faithful church from the Romish Institution. On occasion the leaders, Martin Luther for example, were excommunicated and forced to organize churches separate from the Roman Catholic Church; in England that did not happen: there was no separation in England, or, for that matter, in Scotland, or, for that matter, in Ireland. The peculiar circumstances, which brought that about, are almost a divine irony. One marvels at the strange ways of the providence of God.

II.2.a. The entire reformation, in England especially, depended upon the fact that Henry the Eighth, the second of the House of Tudor on the English throne, was an extraordinarily immoral man. As a matter of fact, those of you who know anything about Henry the Eighth know that he had six wives in the course of his life. Two of which he had beheaded on the charge of adultery, the marriage to two of which he had annulled, one of whom died twelve days after bearing the future Edward the Sixth, and another who was able, somehow, to outlive him. That is a strange circumstance that brought about the reformation.

He did not like his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and he did not like her partly because he had fallen in love with some palace slut by the name of Anne Boleyn, but also because Katherine of Aragon was unable to produce for him a male heir. And so he set about, with the connivance and help of the men in the church, (the leaders in the church, some of whom were Protestants by this time, though not vocal and open) to have his marriage with Katherine of Aragon annulled 3., so that the way would be open for him to marry Anne Boleyn. The interesting part of it was, that in order to have the marriage with Katherine of Aragon annulled, he had to secure Papal permission.

II.2.b.  And the pope 4. steadfastly refused to grant him that permission. Not because the pope was so pious, but because of politics. Katherine of Aragon happened to be a sister of the King of Spain 5., and the King of Spain was a powerful monarch in Europe, whose support the pope needed to engage in his own extra ecclesiastical activities. But, had the pope approved an annulment of the marriage of Henry the Eighth to Katherine of Aragon, he would have incurred the fury of the King of Spain, and so the pope would not approve.

II.2.c. It was, of all things, a genuinely Lutheran/Calvinistic protestant of considerable ability (the biography of whom I happen to be reading at the present time) by the name of Thomas Cranmer, who found the solution to Henry the Eighth’s problem. And the solution was simply this: declare by act of parliament and royal fiat that the pope was no longer the head of the Church of England, but that the King of England was the head. That was an idea that appealed to the English people because for almost five hundred years the pope had bled England white by claiming to himself, and filling the papal coffers, with England’s revenues. As much as fifty percent, at times, of the money collected went into the papal coffers. So it was popular, and Henry got away with it. He got away with making himself the head of the church.

II.2.d. In gratitude for the help of Thomas Cranmer in particular, Henry the Eighth gave Thomas Cranmer, more or less, a free hand in instituting reform in the Church of England. So what happened was, that because now the King of England was the head of the church, rather than the pope {and, by the way, the Queen of England is still, officially, the head of the Church of England, after all these years}, Thomas Cranmer carried on this kind of reformation in the church. He changed the entire Roman Catholic Church, or he attempted to, into a protestant church. Rather than separate from the institute of the Roman Catholic Church, he engaged in efforts to make that which was formerly Roman Catholic, through the whole land, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and England, into a protestant, Calvinistic church. That is what he did, with the help of other reformers.

II.2.e.  It was not always easy going, because Henry the Eighth himself remained a Roman Catholic till his dying days, and so it only received a lot of impetus when Henry the Eighth’s son, Edward the Sixth, came to the throne. Edward the Sixth, the son of Jane Seymour (Henry’s third wife), was a very strong protestant, Calvinistic king, but in the wisdom and providence of God, he came to the throne when he was nine years old, and died after ruling only around five years 6.

II.2.f. Nevertheless, the stage was set, to make the Church of England protestant. Now it does not take a lot of imagination to realize that this is almost an impossible task. To take a Roman Catholic Church, of which the pope had been the head for a thousand years, in a land filled with monasteries and monks, and make it not only protestant but Calvinistic, one would think that the very magnitude of the task would have scared the reformers. But they set to it. I do not have to tell you about all the struggles. What I want to point out to you, at this point, is the fact that the church which was established by the reformers was a national church, with the king as its head.

The king was the final court of appeal, if you will, in all matters ecclesiastical, and so all matters of doctrine, polity, and liturgy had to be approved by the king. The result of that all was that the Church of England became the official church in the British Isles, or at least in that part of it which is called England, although efforts were made to impose the whole system on the other parts of the British Isles as well. Out of that situation emerged the church which was, I guess you would say, mildly Calvinistic; founded initially on the Forty-two Articles of Thomas Cranmer, these were reduced to thirty-nine as a result of the Elizabethan Settlement. Hence, during the reign of Elizabeth the First its basis became known as the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, articles which are Calvinistic, but mildly so 7. During Elizabeth’s reign, in 1595, efforts were made to make them more profoundly Calvinistic. The so-called Lambeth Articles 8.which were especially articles dealing with the doctrine of sovereign double predestination, were formulated, and efforts were made to add them to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England. However, the queen vociferously resisted this effort, and so it never was successfully accomplished.

But even though it was mildly Calvinistic as far as its creedal basis is concerned, in its liturgy and in its church government, it was almost exclusively Roman Catholic. To this day, if you would attend, for example, Even Song in Westminster Abbey in London, as my wife and I did on at least two occasions, you would be appalled at how closely the worship at Westminster Abbey in London is patterned after Roman Catholic liturgy. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any difference between Church of England liturgy and Roman Catholic liturgy as it is practiced worldwide. The same thing is true of church government. The only difference between the church government of the Church of England today, and the church government of the Roman Catholic Church is this: the pope is the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the king is the head of the Church of England. That is the only difference, with, perhaps, the minor difference too, that the Church of England does not have a College of Cardinals.

II.2.g. There were many that were within England that protested this, what they considered to be a partial reformation. They protested that, because they knew the form that the reformation was taking, for example, in Geneva, under the leadership of John Calvin. During the reign of Bloody Mary, who succeeded Edward, the Protestants were persecuted, and many fled to the main land, fled to Geneva. There was an English refugee church not only in Geneva, but also in Emden, Germany, for example, and in other places on the continent. And they were instructed, in these refugee churches on the continent, in a purer form of Calvinism, a doctrinally purer form, of church politically purer form, and a liturgically purer form. And so after Bloody Mary had passed away, and Elizabeth came to the throne (known throughout history as Good Queen Bess) they pressed for a much more widespread, much more profound reformation of the Church of England than had so far taken place. And they pressed for that in the area of liturgy, and church polity particularly, not so much, at that point at any rate, in the area of doctrine. They became known as the “ Puritans ”, a name which comes from the fact that, they sought a ‘purer’ reformation than had so far taken place in England.

II.3.a. Finally, they got their chance to bring about a more thorough reformation. It came about with Elizabeth’s death that the House of Tudor died away, and the House of Stewart came to the English throne, in the person of James the First of England, formerly James the Sixth of Scotland (he had been king in Scotland prior to this). James the First, by the way, is the king who authorized the King James Version of the Bible. But because he authorized this magnificent translation which we use today, you must not think of James the First as a godly man who was interested in the truth: he was not. He preferred watching rooster fights to going to church on the Lord’s Day. And he lived a life of gluttony and debauchery.

There are two interesting stories about James the First, however, that while not directly related to our subject, are worth telling. He was king of England at the time when the Arminian controversy was going on in the Netherlands. And you must understand that during the time of the Arminian controversy in the Netherlands, the Netherlands was still technically at war with Spain, although there were no hostilities. At about the time that Arminius died in 1609, the Board of Curators of the University of Leiden, where Arminius taught, along the representative of the government in the Netherlands, were looking for a successor. And because they were themselves not very strong with regard to Calvinism, they decided upon a man by the name of Conradus Vorstius, Professor at Steinfort, from Germany. An outstanding theologian, but a committed Arminian, not only, but also a Socinian, who denied, or at least was suspected of denying, the doctrine of the Trinity. Those in the Netherlands who heard of this were furious and so tried to oppose it. But the government and the Board of Curators of the University of Leiden were determined to go ahead, until James the First from England interfered. And James the First wrote a letter to the government of the Netherlands which, in effect, said this: ‘You appoint this man from Germany as the successor of Arminius and England will no longer support you in your war with Spain.’ And it was that interference of James the First that prevented the Board of Curators from hiring this Socinian out of Germany.

The second time James the First interfered, was when the efforts were being made to summon the Synod of Dort. There was a lot of opposition at the time when Prince Williams of Orange called for the synod to meet to deal with the Arminian problem. And there was a lot of hesitation on the part of the government, because the government was sympathetic towards the Arminians. It was James the First who, once again, sent a letter to the government of the Netherlands, and said, in effect: ‘You call a synod to settle the Arminian problem, or England will withdraw its support in your war with Spain.’ And so that speared the government sufficiently to make efforts to bring about the Synod of Dort. How these things came about, I have no idea. He must have had some very good counselors and they must have persuaded James the First to interfere in matters concerning which he had very, very little interest. But he was a Stuart, and he was followed by other  Stuarts who came to the throne. And these Stuart kings, both in England and Scotland, pressed for a return to more Roman Catholic doctrine and more liturgy and stronger church government, once again making the pope the head of the Church of England. The Stuarts were basically committed to Roman Catholicism. The Puritans were alarmed, and only God in His providence intervened to prevent the Stuarts from being successful in their efforts.

II.3.b. After James the First, Charles the First came to the throne, and Charles the First drove the Puritans into exile when he could. In Scotland these times became known as the “killing times” when strong Presbyterians were hanged in the ‘Grass Market’ in Edinburgh, drowned in the loughs that filled Scotland, and were persecuted terribly. The result of it was that there was a kind of an upsurge of sympathy for Puritanism, especially in England.  And the result was that a majority of Puritans were voted into the English parliament. Then the Puritans had their opportunity, and so the Puritans pressed through the Acts of Parliament requesting Charles the First to withdraw his efforts to make England a Roman Catholic country and to cooperate with them in making England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland Presbyterian. Charles the First would have none of it. The result was civil war. Terrible civil war between the royalist forces of Charles the First and the parliamentarian forces under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell.

Oliver Cromwell, being a very skilled general and being one who made the first successful use of a cavalry, was able to defeat the armies of the king at every turn. My wife and I stood on the walls of the city of Chester in Northwest Wales where Charles the First stood at one time to watch, in the field below him as it stretched away from the walls, his royal forces roundly defeated by the forces of Oliver Cromwell. At which time he also fled to Scotland, where he was captured, handed back to the British and later beheaded. So the way was open for parliament, under the control of Puritans, to complete the reformation that had never been completed in the British Isles, and they proceeded to do that.

II.4.a. They proceeded to do that by calling together the Westminster Assembly, which met in London by Act of Parliament, beginning its sessions on July 1, 1643. They met, first of all, in another part of London, but, after a short time, moved to the Jerusalem room in the Westminster Abbey. It is rather interesting. We were in the Jerusalem room, and we were being guided through various parts of Westminster Abbey by a Church of England cleric who hated Cromwell with a passion and took every opportunity that he could to lambaste Oliver Cromwell. Well, he was telling some of the events that took place in the Jerusalem room and he never mentioned the Westminster Assembly. So I said to him, when he opened the floor for questions from the members of the tour, “ Is not this the room in which the Westminster Assembly met, and in which it drew up the Westminster Confession, and the Catechism?” “Yes it was,” he said brusquely, and off he marched: no more questions! He did not even want to talk about it. And he was a protestant, of course, being a Church of England cleric. But those are the memories of Westminster Abbey of which he wanted no part. 

In any rate, that is where the Westminster Assembly met. It is a rather crowded room, I would think. The room was not that large. I would guess it could not have been much larger than the room where we hold our Monday night Bible class: the backroom, the Catechism room downstairs, maybe a little bigger than that. But 151 delegates were present. And what they did in July in a crowded room of that sort in the heat of London is another question. But that is where they met.

II.4.b. Now there are some interesting things about the Westminster Confession that I want briefly to mention. In the first place, the parliament invited to attend the Westminster Assembly delegates from foreign lands. In fact, they even invited delegates to come from America. And particularly they asked for the churches in America to send two delegates: one of who was the well-known Cotton Mather. And the men could not come, and, I think, more accurately, did not want to come, because the churches in America were somewhat different in church government, something we will come to presently. But that was only twenty-three years after the colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts had been established. The Pilgrims had landed in Plymouth Rock in 1620. Westminster Assembly began its meetings in 1643. Already the churches in America were recognized as Presbyterian.

None of the delegates from America came that were invited, but none of the delegates from any foreign country came. I am not sure why. Sources that describe the assembly never get around quite to explaining that. Many of the churches in other parts of Europe sent their greetings. Many of them sent their best wishes. Many of them sent their prayers for the success of the assembly, assured the delegates of the fact that they supported the efforts of the assembly, but none of them came. Even Bishop James Ussher, the Bishop Ussher which is the famous author of the chronology which almost all conservative churches follow of Old Testament history, and which dates creation at 4004 B.C., did not come. He was bishop of Armagh in Ireland, a very notable man, a very scholarly man, but even he refused to come 9.

II.4.c. The delegates from Scotland did come, some outstanding theologians from Scotland, as Gillespie, Henderson, Rutherford, and others. They did not come right away; however, they came after a period of about a month. And when they came, they sort of set the Westminster Assembly on their ear. Presbyterianism had been established in Scotland, and was much stronger in Scotland, in spite of the Stuart kings, than in England. When they came to the Westminster Assembly, they had an agenda of their own. In the first place, they told the assembly they would not participate in the activities of the assembly unless every delegate who was present at the assembly signed the national covenant; which was, of course, a document for which Scottish Presbyterianism is famous. And they finally persuaded all of the delegates at the Westminster Assembly to sign this National League and Covenant.

In the second place, they wanted an entirely new confession written. The delegates from England had busied themselves in the whole period in which the Scottish delegates were absent, with a kind of a revision of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, and they had made great progress to make that confession much more reformed. But when the Scottish delegates came, they wanted no part of it. They wanted a confession that was altogether new, and that was to be the confessional basis for Presbyterianism in the whole of the British Isles, and they would not participate until all the delegates agreed to do that. Which was finally done, and to which also parliament, which kept a close eye on events, agreed.

III.1.a. Now at this point I have to tell you a little bit about what is meant by a ‘national church’. This is, in my opinion, what is wrong with the Westminster Confession, and this idea of a national church is so woven into the warp and woof of the Westminster Confession that you cannot, by simply taking exception to a few articles, get it out.

What is a national church? Well, a national church, in the first place, is a church in which every single citizen of the country is a member. That was the way it was with the Roman Catholic Church. And when efforts were made in the British Isles to make this Roman Catholic Church a protestant church, that whole concept of a national church was retained. So everybody in the whole of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland was a member of the church. That meant, that you had to be baptized in the church: everybody was. Every single child born in the realm had to be baptized in the church, and was. That meant when you got married, you had to get married in the church. And if you did not get married in the church, then you are not married, and you could be punished for living together without getting married. When you died, you had to be buried directly outside of a church building; else your body was not even given decent burial. And that is why, in England, you will find all of these churches, old churches, with cemeteries right by the church as a part of the church property.

Now there were many, many people in the British Isles who were only in church those three times, the last time of which they were dead: when they baptized, when they were married, and when they died, otherwise you never saw them in church. Nevertheless, they were members. They were members of the church, and because they were members of the church, the church itself was responsible for their spiritual well-being.

III.1.b. Now, the same thing happened to be true of the Netherlands. The Netherlands operated on an almost identical principle. In fact, it is very interesting if you read the book Sin and Grace, which has just come out from the R.F.P.A.10., that Reverends Henry Danhof and Herman Hoeksema make a point of this in the book, that this was partly the reason why out of the Netherlands you could never get a clear, sharply defined, Biblical doctrine of the antithesis. Because, as Hoeksema points out in one of the chapters, the antithesis in a state church is not between believer and unbeliever, regenerate and unregenerate, elect and reprobate, ultimately. But it is between the Netherlands and the rest of the world, because everybody in the Netherlands is a member of the church. Or the British Isles and the rest of the world, because everybody in the British Isles is a member of the church. In that way you do not get any antithesis at all, of course, because you have to find a common basis which everybody in the nation can use as a basis to cooperate together in the work of the church and in the work of the gospel. And that is exactly the idea which prompted Abraham Kuyper’s doctrine of common grace.

“ How can we make the Netherlands, as a nation, composed of the people of God, an effective force in the world to spread Calvinism to the far ends of the earth, and to bring all under the rule of Christ? In order to do that we have to have the nation united in a common purpose. What can serve as the basis for that kind of goal?” Kuyper answered, “ common grace ”. Hoeksema and Danhof say, in their book Sin and Grace, that is why the Netherlands could never produce a doctrine of the antithesis.

However, when the Secessionist Churches, under Hendrik De Cock and A.Van Raalte and so on and so forth, broke with the state church, and established a free church, that was no longer under government control, Hoeksema makes the observation, the way was paved by the Afscheiding 11., and the churches of the Afscheiding, to develop a correct doctrine of the antithesis. But Kuyper, when he came along, with the Doleantie 12., was furious with the Afscheiding for doing exactly that, and he refused, first of all, to go along with the merger of 1892, which brought the Afscheiding and the Doleantie together.

You have the same thing in England. Only in England you had it stronger because the king was the head of the church, that did not happen in the Netherlands: literally, the head of the church. It does not take much imagination to understand that that makes discipline absolutely impossible. Of course, if a man was such a gross sinner that he committed a crime worthy of the severest punishments, he was put to death. That is all you could do. Heretics were put to death. Murderers were put to death. Thieves were frequently put to death, although some of them were shipped to Australia, into penal colonies in Australia and Tasmania and America. But you could not have him in the nation, if he was such a gross sinner that he threatened the well-being of society, and you could not excommunicate him. So get rid of him. Get him out of the country. That is all the church could do.

III.1.c. Well now, without going into all the details of the weakness of a national church, the Westminster Assembly had to draw up creeds which could serve as a confessional basis for a national church. That was the problem. The reformed creeds did not do that. In a certain sense of the word, they were in the same situation in the Netherlands. But you recall how that last time we talked about the fact that the Belgic Confession arose out of persecution? The government had nothing to do with theBelgic Confession .The Heidelberg Catechism arose in Germany. It was a foreign document that was prepared for the instruction of covenant children. The Canons of Dortarose out of controversy; not so in England. The reason for the Westminster Assembly meeting was to draw up a confessional basis for a national church composed of every single citizen of the realm, and that could serve as a confessional basis for a church that included every citizen of the realm in it. That is exactly what gives theWestminster Confession its unique character, but a character that, at least as far as I am concerned, leaves me with a strangely uncomfortable feeling.

III.2.a. Now, I want to be a little bit more specific about that. First of all, I want to make a very strong statement about the fact that the Westminster Confessions have many, many good points about them. The Westminster Confessions, even as the Westminster Confession itself, deals with the whole of theology, such as the Belgic Confessionand the Heidelberg Catechism do. The Westminster Confession has probably one of the best confessional statements concerning the doctrine of scripture that can be found in any reformation creed. And, in fact, in those articles on scripture, which are chapter one of the Westminster Confession, the striking statement is made that the Hebrew and Greek texts in which the scriptures were originally written have been preserved pure by the singular goodness and providence of God. I think that is a powerful statement, and a statement worth remembering. That text, by the way, to which the Westminster Confession refers, as being preserved pure by the singular goodness and providence of God, is the text that underlies the King James translation of the Bible. The text that underlies the N.I.V. 13., for example, and other translations, is not that text. It is a different text. And if you have any acquaintance with the N.I.V. at all, you know that the text of the N.I.V. leaves out of it many, many passages that are found in the text of which the Westminster Confession speaks. Its doctrine of scripture is superb.14.

III.2.b. In the second place it has an entire chapter devoted to the decrees of God. And its statements concerning the decrees of God, especially concerning election and reprobation, are just as strong as anything you will find in the Canons, although not as complete. And they are not as complete because the Canons were dealing with the denial of the doctrine on the part of the Arminians. Nevertheless, the statements are strong. The statements are unambiguous. And the Westminster doctrine of reprobation teaches that reprobation also is a sovereign decree of God.

However, there is a certain ambiguity in the Westminster Confession, which I could mention now, that troubles me just a bit. It is not in the Confession itself, but it is in theConfession with a comparison with the Shorter Catechism.

And, by the way, the Shorter Catechism is a gem. It is ideal for memorization, and it contains the whole summary of the Christian doctrine, and in many conservative Presbyterian churches it is still memorized by children and young people. It starts out with those well-known words, “ What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. ”  That is the very first question and answer, and they are very, very beautiful.

In fact, some of my own grandchildren, who were in Ireland, have memorized the Shorter Catechism. The Reformed Churches do not have a confession like that. TheHeidelberg Catechism, of course, can be memorized, but that is quite a few articles. Anyone who can memorize the whole Heidelberg Catechism has really done something worth accomplishing. But the Shorter Catechism is ideal for that, and was drawn up as an instrument for instruction. It is a jewel, no question about that at all.

But what is interesting is that when you have the doctrine of election and reprobation discussed in the Westminster Confession, the singular is used: “The decree of God consisting of election and reprobation” which is Biblical. They are one decree. They are related to each other. Reprobation is part of the decree of election, and it is well to remember that because there are many people around in reformed churches who claim that they can deny reprobation, and maintain election. That is absolute nonsense. The Westminster uses the same language, “one decree.” But when you have that same doctrine discussed in the Shorter Catechism, for some strange reason, the plural is used “ decrees,” “ the decrees of election and reprobation.” And that is, in my opinion, a sad ambiguity in the Westminster Confessions.

III.2.c. The doctrine of providence as outlined in the Westminster Confessions is very, very powerfully Biblical and affirms God’s providential control of sin. Nevertheless, in its approach to predestination and providence, the Westminster Confession is infra, like the Canons are. It speaks of God choosing from a fallen human race. It speaks of God’s relationship to sin as that of permission, and defines sovereignty in that respect, in terms of permission. But our Canons do the same thing. It has a very strong section, the Westminster Confession, on soteriology, on the effectual call. In fact, I think, that is a very, very interesting part of the Westminster Confession: its material on the effectual call. It talks about an eternal decree of justification, which, while not establishing the doctrine of the decree “of eternal justification ” itself, which is dear to the hearts of Protestant Reformed people, it nevertheless speaks of an eternal decree of God “to justify” His people in Christ.

Also, it speaks of creation as taking place in six days. Therefore, I cannot understand, for example, how the Orthodox Presbyterian Church can open itself to the ‘Framework Hypothesis’ of Lee Irons, and Meredith Kline, which is simply another form of  ‘theistic evolutionism,’ while they maintain loyalty to the creeds: when the creeds insist on creation in six days. The same thing is true, more or less, of the United Reformed Church that has refused to condemn, out of hand, the ‘Framework Hypothesis,’ although it does not have the Westminster Confessions as its creedal basis.

And so I could go on. There are many, many good features about it. The Shorter Catechism, as I say, is a jewel, and worth reading, and worth committing to memory.

III.3.a. Nevertheless, there are some things about the Westminster Confession that trouble me. The first of them is, and this is evidence of the fact that it was composed under the circumstances under which it came into existence, a creed for a national church, it is cold. It is a cold, objective statement of doctrine. It lacks that personal, subjective, gloriously beautiful touch of the Heidelberg Catechism: “ What is thine only comfort in life and in death?” It does not have that. It does not even have theBelgic Confession’s repeated statements,“ We believe!”; “ We believe and confess!”; “We believe with all our hearts!” There is nothing of that. It is cold. It is objective. There is not anything warm about it.

It does not even have that powerful, pastoral emphasis of the Canons. You would think if there is one reformed creed that would be coldly objective, it would be theCanons, but they are not. They are warm. They are always speaking to the heart of the child of God. They are intent on bringing him the truth that there is comfort in the doctrine of election. That there is comfort in the preservation of the saints, even when, according to the Canons, the people of God have melancholy falls into sin. It is always pastoral. It is always aimed to bring the joy of the gospel to the hearts of God’s people. You do not find that in the Westminster: not a hint of it. It is a cold, dispassionate statement of the truth. That is as dispassionate and objective as any Reformed Dogmatics. To make the Confessions of Westminster my own confession, my own personal confession, I find almost impossible. While, in the Heidelberg Catechism, and in the Canons of Dort, I feel right at home. I can do that. This is what I believe. This is what my soul says. I have to believe for my own salvation. The Westminster is always objective.

III.3.b. In the second place you will find that emphasis on framing a confession which can serve as a basis for a national church in say, for example, a lengthy chapter on the law. Not the law as it is discussed in the Heidelberg Catechism as a rule of gratitude, but just bare law. And in connection with that, the Westminster says, it is true, as the Heidelberg Catechism says, that “ out of the law comes the knowledge of misery ” (but very, very little about that). It also says, it is true, as the Heidelberg Catechismsays, that the law is ‘a rule of gratitude.’ But then very strangely, but then ‘very’ Presbyterian, the Westminster Confession says that there is a third use of the law, and that is its civil use. Its civil use, by which they mean that the state and the church must combine forces to enforce the law of God in the civil realm, that is, in the sphere of society at large. And that is a purpose of the law, because it is in a society at large which is governed by the law of God in which the church can flourish. Losing sight of the fact, of course, that, the Bible makes quite a point of it, it does not make any difference, as far as the church is concerned, what kind of a government is in power. The church survives not because of the good graces of the government. The church survives by the power of its head, Jesus Christ. And the Church can just as well survive under Nero, and Diocletian, and the worst persecutors of the church, as in America, where there is freedom of religion. The government, the kind of government, does not make a particle of difference as far as the existence and the well being of the church is concerned.

It is because of this need to make a confession which can serve as a confession of a national church that you will find, in the Westminster Confession, an elaborate discussion of Sabbath keeping / Sabbath observance. Of course, you know, you have got a country of maybe thirty- three million people. They are all members of the church. Of the thirty-three million, probably thirty-one and a half million are not going to go to church on Sunday. But you have got to have some kind of Sunday Sabbath observance, and so the Westminster Confession is rather elaborate about what constitutes Sabbath observance. Not, as the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, succinctly - Sabbath observance consists in faithfully attending divine worship services, supporting the seminaries where young men are trained in the ministry, and giving to the poor – period. Westminster has to define, rather legalistically in fact, what constitutes Sabbath observance, in a country where everybody is a member of the church, as something that can be enforced.

III.3.c. I do not want to say that is the case with the Westminster’s statement on divorce and remarriage, because that is a tradition. The position of Westminster is a rather widely accepted tradition both in Presbyterian and Reformed Churches. But, I do not believe that a matter such as marriage, as far as how it is to be preserved, and what constitutes grounds for divorce, belong in a confession.

A confession has to do with doctrine, not with the individual instances of how a Christian lives out of the truths of doctrine. And although I do not, and you do not, agree with the Westminster statement on divorce and remarriage, my point is now that it does not have any business with being in the confession to begin with. And I thank God that our reformed confessions have nothing to say about marriage, and divorce, and possibly grounds for remarriage. It does not belong in a confession. But in theWestminster Confession it happens to fit.

IV.1.a. What is of more concern to me than even any of these things is a serious doctrinal weakness. In the first place, I take exception to the Westminster Confessiondoctrine of the ‘Covenant of Works’ 15. Now I have argued in another place, and maybe some of you are acquainted with the article, that has been, by the way, published on many Presbyterian and Reformed web-sites throughout the world, I argue in that article that the Westminster Assembly never made a statement concerning the ‘Covenant of Works’ which commits it to the doctrine that if Adam had remained faithful in Paradise he would have merited eternal life. There is not any mention of that in the Westminster. And I argue in that article, that it is questionable whether the Westminster divines held to that doctrine that Adam could have merited heaven.

IV.1.b. However, I think I was wrong. Not wrong with regard to the bare interpretation of Westminster. I think you can make Westminster teach a rather innocuous doctrine of the ‘Covenant of Works’, without the whole idea of merit. But since I wrote that article, and this is about twenty years ago, I have done some reading in the theologians that were contemporaries of Westminster. And without exception the theologians that were contemporaries of the Westminster believed in a ‘Covenant of Works’ at its worst: that Adam, after a period of probation, in which he would have been faithful, would have earned eternal life 16. And if that was the consensus of opinion among theologians who were contemporaries of Westminster, it had to be in the minds of the Westminster delegates as well.

I am thankful that it was not incorporated into the Westminster Confession in so many words. But it is interesting, and I may have said that before in one of these classes, that that idea of merit is not at all an idea that is anathema to Presbyterians. To the Reformed it always has been. Presbyterians are quite willing to speak of merit. But what is of more importance to me, is this, that already in the Westminster Confession is embedded the idea that granted the ‘Covenant of Works’ is a reality, the door is opened to a conditional covenant. And, in fact, a conditional covenant is mentioned in so many words in the Westminster Confession 17. And that has borne a bitter harvest in Presbyterian circles. And that makes it markedly different than our reformed confessions. Because, although our reformed confessions do not have a thorough, well worked out doctrine of the covenant, the fundamental elements of any doctrine of the covenant are all there. And any idea of conditionality in the covenant, or in the work of salvation, is anathematized, because in the reformed confessions the fathers are very clear on putting conditions in the mouth of the Arminians. You will not find it, anywhere, in the reformed confessions. You do find it in Westminster.

IV.2.a. And now one other point, I mentioned to you a little while ago, in an earlier lecture, that Amyrauldians were on the floor of the synod: Lazarus Seaman B.D., and Richard Vines M.A., and so on and so forth, they were Amyrauldians. Amyrauldianism was strong in England. It came from France, from the school of Saumur, and it was developed by a man by the name of Amyraut, who developed a conditional, hypothetical, universalism; which is only a modified, and sophisticated form of Arminianism, but it is shot through with Arminianism. Thus Amyrauldianism was not only represented in the Westminster Assembly, but was powerfully represented. And although the Westminster divines never adopted any form of Amyraldianism and incorporated it into the Confessions, nevertheless the influence weakened the Westminster Confessionat a key point.

IV.2.b. If you will consult our Canons of Dort, you will find that the ‘Second Head of Doctrine’ is on the extent of the atonement. This is the point at issue, of course, “What was the will and intention of God in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ?” The reformed answered, “ The intention and will of God was that He die for elect alone, to effectuate their salvation.” The Amyrauldians and Arminians answered, “ The intention and will of God was that He die for the redemption all men, conditioned on their own will.” That was, therefore, an issue. When the Synod of Dort made its expression of the extent of the atonement, it made these statements, and I am quoting now, “ For this was the most free counsel, and most gracious will and intention of God, that is, that it was the will of God, that Christ, by the blood of the cross, should effectually redeem all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation.” 18. That shut the door completely against an intention of God to redeem all men. Now Westminster knew that. Westminster knew that the Canons had that exclusionary clause in it with respect to God’s intention for the death of Christ, because the men of Westminster were not unaware of what had happened at Dort. When they came to the question of the extent of the atonement, they did say He died for the elect. They put it this way, He died “ for those whom the Father has given unto Him,” 19., but they do not have the exclusionary clause with respect to the intention of God concerning the atonement. It was deliberately omitted, as a concession to Amyrauldianism, because they had to have a national church that would embrace Amyrauldianism in some form or fashion.

IV.3.a. That what I say is true, is evident from the fact that Richard Baxter, a contemporary of the Westminster Assembly, and a noted theologian in his own right (whose book, The Reformed Pastor, is probably found on the shelves of most of our Protestant Reformed ministers), and as an Amyrauldian, refused to sign the Westminster Confession (because it refused to say anything about the universality of the death of Christ), unless he was permitted, within the boundaries of the Westminister Confession, to believe in an universal atonement. And sad to say he was, and he himself signed the Westminster Confession.

In other words, the Amyrauldians took that statement of the Westminster Confession and said, “Yes. He died for all those given him of the Father, in a certain sense of the word, in the profoundly redemptive, efficacious sense of the word. But when it came to God’s intention, He died for all men.” Then Richard Baxter said, “ Then I will sign it.”

IV.3.b. I have a quote here. This is a quote from Robert Shaw, which is an exposition of the Westminster Confession:

“The celebrated Richard Baxter, who favored general redemption, makes the following remark upon this, and another section of our confession [quote of W.C.F. chapter three section six 20., and chapter eight section eight 21.] where these things are discussed, which speak against universal redemption:

“ I understand not of all redemption, and particularly not of the mere bearing the punishment of man’s sin and satisfying God’s justice, but of that special redemption proper to the elect, which was accomplished with an intention of actual application of the saving benefits in time.”[In other words, Baxter is saying that the W.C.F. is talking about a redemption for the elect, without, necessarily, condemning another sense of redemption for all.] “If I may not be allowed this interpretation I must herein dissent. ”

[Shaw goes on to say,] Universalists, following Baxter, have, since the time of the writing of this creed, insisted that the creed left room for their position.”

IV.3.c. That is correct. If the Westminster divines, who knew what happened at Dort, had only had the courage to say it was the will, counsel or intention of God that Christ died for the elect and for them only, that would have been the end of the matter. And Amyrauldianism would have been ruled out. But they did not. In my estimation, that is a fatal flaw. And it opens the door, in Presbyterian circles, to a well-meant, gracious gospel offer in which God expresses His intent to save all men; an intent already expressed in an universal redemption of Christ on the cross, though not an efficacious accomplishment of salvation. It is a playing with words that opens the door to blatant Arminianism and that is a weakening of the strong statement of the Canons with regard to the atonement of Jesus Christ. It was done, I am personally convinced, because of the fact that the Westminster Confession had to be made suitable for a national church in which not all were agreed in doctrine.

IV.3.d. Chickens come home to roost. The Dutch say, Beginselen werken door, which, translated, means, "Principles work through." It was about a hundred years, less than a hundred years, after Westminster, that the ‘Marrow Controversy’ arose, in which outstanding theologians 22., e.g. James Hog, Ebenezer Erskine, and so on and so forth, taught that the atonement of Christ was universal. And that that was necessary in order for the gospel to express that God’s intention and desire were to save all that heard. And that doctrine became characteristic of Puritanism. And, as a matter of fact, and that is another story that I cannot go into tonight, very fascinating, that the influence of the ‘Marrow Men’ was strong in the Netherlands especially at the time of the Nadere Reformatie (the Further or Second Reformation, in the latter part of the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries). This opened the door in the Dutch churches to a well-meant gospel offer that has plagued the Dutch churches until the present, and was carried over to this country, and became an issue in 1924, and a factor in the beginning of the Protestant Reformed Churches. I am convinced that it goes back toWestminster.

There is no room in the Reformed Confessions for a well-meant offer: there is not. It is excluded by all the language of the Reformed Confessions. How in the world did it ever get into the thinking of Dutch theologians? From the ‘Marrow Men’, and from, ultimately, Westminster, and its refusal to have the exclusionary statements with respect to the intention of God in the atoning sacrifice that makes the Canons so powerful, “For this was the most free counsel, and most gracious will and intention of God, that is, that it was the will of God, that Christ, by the blood of the cross, should effectually redeem all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation.”

V.1.a. Those are my reasons why I am thankful to God that we have the Three Forms of Unity. And while I have a deep appreciation for many aspects of the Westminster Confession, I must confess, I cannot feel at home in those confessions, as important and powerful as they are.

V.2.a. On account of this great heritage of the truth that has come down to us through our creeds, how rich we are. Truly the lines have fallen to us in pleasant places. A goodly heritage is ours. Thou hast given us these creeds as the fruit of the work of the Spirit in the church. May that Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, work also in our hearts, that we know these creeds, and love them, and live out of them, and teach them to our children. And may the peace of which we have just sung, the peace of Jerusalem, and the prosperity of the city of our God, be ours, and the possession of our churches in faithfulness to the creeds, united in one doctrine, one faith, one hope of our calling. We have sinned against Thee Lord. We have done much that deserves Thy judgment. Do not let our weaknesses and sins spoil what we have done. May good come out of these times we have spent together.  May each of us return to each of his and her home with a renewed zeal for the cause of the truth of Thy sovereign and particular grace. Bless our churches. Bless them in faithfulness to our creedal heritage. Bless them in the years to come. And these truths of our creeds will serve as bulwarks against heresy, as they have in the past, as fountains of comfort and encouragement in persecution, by holding before us the light of another day that shall dawn; when we shall know perfectly, because we shall see our Christ face to face, and live with Him, in the knowledge of the truth, for ever, and ever, world without end. Amen.        



    1. The Protestant Reformed Churches have contact with the Evangelical Presbyterian Churches of Australia.       

    2. This decision referred to here is not quoted.

    3. King Henry the Eighth wanted the marriage to his first wife Katherine of Aragon to be annulled: that is, he sought to have the marriage declared legally invalid.

Definition of Annul: To make void; to cancel an event or judicial proceeding both retroactively and for the future. Where, for example, a marriage is annulled, it is struck from all records and stands as having never transpired in law. This differs from a divorce which merely cancels a valid marriage only from the date of the divorce. A marriage annulled stands, in law, as if never performed.

“ Thomas Cranmer, b. July 2, 1489, d. March 21, 1556, was one of the principal figures in the English Reformation. After studying at Cambridge, he taught theology and was ordained (1523) a priest. When King Henry VIII sought the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Cranmer suggested (1529) that he obtain the opinion of the universities of Europe to strengthen his position. Henry commissioned Cranmer to carry out this plan and subsequently (1531) sent him to Germany to win the support of the Protestant princes. There, despite his priestly orders, Cranmer married the niece of Andreas Osiander, a Lutheran theologian. In 1533, Cranmer was named archbishop of Canterbury and immediately pronounced Henry's marriage to Catherine annulled and his marriage to Anne Boleyn legal. He later invalidated the marriage to Anne (1536) and that to Anne of Cleves (1540) and played a leading role in the proceedings against Catherine Howard in 1542.

Cranmer promoted the Reformation theologically, supporting the English Bible translation of 1537-40 and opposing Henry VIII's Six Articles in 1539, in which the king reasserted such Catholic doctrines as transubstantiation in the Eucharist and the enforced celibacy of the clergy. Under King Edward VI, he promoted the first Book of Common Prayer (1549) and its 1552 revision, contributing substantially to both. He also produced the confession of 1553 called the Forty-two Articles (the basis of the Thirty-nine Articles), which taught justification by faith.

When Edward died in 1553, Cranmer supported the succession of the Protestant Lady Jane Grey. However, the

throne passed to the Catholic Mary I, who sent Cranmer to the Tower of London for treason and heresy. He recanted, but while being burned at the stake he held his right hand in the fire first for having signed the recantations.  Lewis W. Spitz

Bibliography: Brooks, P. N., Thomas Cranmer's Doctrine of the Eucharist (1965); Dickens, A. G., The English Reformation, rev. ed. (1967); Ridley, Jasper G., Thomas Cranmer (1962 repr. 1983). ”

   4. Pope Clement VII

   5. King Charles the Fifth of Spain

   6. Edward the Sixth ruled from 1547-1553.

   7. The first and second Book of Common Prayer, produced by Thomas Cranmer, were adopted in 1549 and 1552, respectively, and a statement of doctrine, the Forty-two Articles, was drawn up.

Under Mary I all the measures that had separated the Church of England from Rome were reversed; the Roman ritual was brought back, and the nation was received again into the communion of Rome. Elizabeth I restored independence. The Elizabethan Settlement steered the English church upon a middle course between Roman Catholicism and Calvinism. The prayer book of 1552 was restored, and the Forty-two Articles, revised toward a more Catholic position and reduced to Thirty-nine, were adopted as a doctrinal standard.

     8. The Lambeth articles, so called because they were adopted on November 20, 1595 in the southern metropolitan borough of London named Lambeth, wherein had been the residence of the Archbishop of the See of Canterbury. In the introduction to Thomas Scott's translation of the The Canons of Dort, 1841, Presbyterian Princeton scholar Samuel Miller wrote:

" The famous Lambeth Articles, drawn up in 1595, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, are acknowledged by all who ever read them, to be among the most strongly marked Calvinistic compositions that ever were penned."

The Nine Articles thereof are as follows:

      1. God, from eternity, hath predestinated certain men unto life: certain men he hath reprobated unto death.

    2. The moving or efficient cause of predestination unto life is not the foresight of faith, or of perseverance, or of good works, or of any thing that is in the persons predestinated: but only the good will and pleasure of God.

    3. There is pre-determined a certain number of the predestinated, which can neither be augmented, nor diminished.

    4. Those who are not predestinated to salvation shall necessarily be damned for their sins.

    5. A true, living, and justifying faith, and the Spirit of God justifying, is not extinguished, falleth not away, vanisheth not away, in the elect, either finally or totally.

    6. A man truly faithful, that is, such a man who is endued with justifying faith, is certain, with the full assurance of faith of the remission of his sins, and of his everlasting salvation by Christ.

    7. Saving grace is not given, is not communicated, is not granted to all men, by which they may be saved if they will.

    8.No man can come unto Christ, except it shall be given unto him, and unless the Father shall draw him: and all men are not drawn by the Father, that they may come to the Son.

    9.It is not in the will or power of every one to be saved. 

XVI. Cent. IX Book : as listed in The Church History of Britain , by Thomas Fuller , as quoted in Mountain Movers, by Dr.George M. Ella , pg. 69 , Go Publications , Durham , England , 1999 , attestation and quote of Samuel Miller from Mountain Movers , pg.51.

    9. After the Irish rebellion of 1641, Bishop Ussher remained in England and so was even in England at the time of the invitation to attend the Assembly, but still refused. 

   10. R.F.P.A = Reformed Free Publishing Association/ / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

   11. ‘Afscheiding’ corresponds to the Dutch term for secession and so to the document which signaled the commencement of the separation from the state churches of the Netherlands by the Reformed Congregation of Ulrum of 1834 entitled in Dutch ‘Acta van Afcheiding’ or  ‘Act of Secession.’

12.      ‘Doleantie’ corresponds to the Dutch word for ‘aggrieved.’ The founder Abraham Kuyper adopted the name‘ dolerende kerken’  - the aggrieved churches - to emphasize that these congregations remained in communion with the state controlled ‘Reformed Churches of the Netherlands,’ and yet its members were ‘aggrieved’ by the apostasy therein.

13.      N.I.V. = The New International Version of the Holy Scriptures.

14.      Therefore, in effect, the Westminster affirms that the Textus Receptus Greek Text , which was used by the reformers as the basis of the reformation Bibles including the King James Version , was “ pure ” , contradicting the claims of those who would uphold the relatively recently found substantially distinct from the TR “critical Greek text” [ as that used by the N.I.V.] as a “pure” measure whereby the TR is represented as of a late “ impure ” [corrupted] textform.

15.      W.C.F. 19:1-2 “1. God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him, and all his posterity, to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it; and endued him with power and ability to keep it.  2.  This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon mount Sinai in ten commandments, and written in two tables; the first four commandments containing our duty towards God, and the other six our duty to man. ”


16.      The Sum of Saving Knowledge 1:2: “ This God, in six days, made all things of nothing, very good in their own kind: in special, he made all the angels holy; and he made our first parents, Adam and Eve, the root of mankind, both upright and able to keep the law written in their heart. Which law they were naturally bound to obey under pain of death; but God was not bound to reward their service, till he entered into a covenant or contract with them, and their posterity in them, to give them eternal life, upon condition of perfect personal obedience; withal threatening death in case they should fail. This is the covenant of works. “ Since the second Reformation, the Sum of Saving Knowledge came to be printed in the Scottish editions of the Westminster Standards as one of the authorized and authoritative symbolic books of the Church of Scotland; it was penned by Scottish divines David Dickson, and James Durham.


17.      W.C.F .7:3 – emphasis added: Man by his fall having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein he freely offered unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.]

   18.Canons 2:8: For this was the most free counsel, and most gracious will and intention of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.

        19. W.C.F. 8:5: The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him.

       20. W.C.F. 3:6: As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

        21. W.C.F. 8:8: To all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.

       22.Popularly known as the ‘Marrow Men’ for their common adherence to the tenets advanced in the Marrow of Modern Divinity, e.g. Christ is ‘dead’ for all without exception.

Hanko, Herman

Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)

Ordained: October 1955

Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965

Emeritus: 2001


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