In 1643, the English Parliament called upon "learned, godly and judicious Divines", to meet at Westminster Abbey in order to provide advice on issues of worship, doctrine, government and discipline of the Church of England. Their meetings, over a period of five years, produced the confession of faith, as well as a Larger Catechism and a Shorter Catechism. For more than three centuries, various churches around the world have adopted the confession and the catechisms as their standards of doctrine, subordinate to the Bible.
The Westminster Confession of Faith was modified and adopted by Congregationalists in England in the form of the Savoy Declaration (1658). Likewise, the Baptists of England modified the Savoy Declaration to produce the Second London Baptist Confession (1689). English Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists would together (with others) come to be known as Nonconformists, because they did not conform to the Act of Uniformity (1662) establishing the Church of England as the only legally-approved church, though they were in many ways united by their common confessions, built on the Westminster Confession.
During the English Civil War (1642-1649), the English Parliament raised armies in an alliance with the Covenanters who by then were the de facto government of Scotland, against the forces of the king, Charles I of England. The purpose of the Westminster Assembly, in which 121 Puritan clergymen participated, was to provide official documents for the reformation of the Church of England. The Church of Scotland had recently overthrown its bishops and adopted presbyterianism (see Bishops' Wars). For this reason, as a condition for entering into the alliance with England, the Scottish Parliament formed the Solemn League and Covenant with the English Parliament, which meant that the Church of England would abandon episcopalianism and consistently adhere to Calvinistic standards of doctrine and worship. The Confession and Catechisms were produced in order to secure the help of the Scots against the king.
The Scottish Commissioners who were present at the Assembly were satisfied with the Confession of Faith, and in 1646, the document was sent to the English parliament to be ratified, and submitted to the General Assembly of the Scottish Kirk. The Church of Scotland adopted the document, without amendment, in 1647. In England, the House of Commons returned the document to the Assembly with the requirement to compile a list of proof texts from Scripture. After vigorous debate, the Confession was then in part adopted as the Articles of Christian Religion in 1648, by act of the English parliament, omitting some sections and chapters. The next year, the Scottish parliament ratified the Confession without amendment.
In 1660, the restoration of the British monarchy and of the Anglican episcopacy resulted in the nullification of these acts of the two parliaments. However, when William of Orange replaced the Roman Catholic King James II of England, he gave royal sanction to Scottish parliament's ratification of the Confession, again without change, in 1690.
It includes doctrines common to most of Christendom such as the Trinity and Jesus' sacrificial death and resurrection, and it contains doctrines specific to Protestantism such as sola scriptura and sola fide. Its more controversial features include double predestination (held alongside freedom of choice), the covenant of works with Adam, the Puritan doctrine that assurance of salvation is not a necessary concomitant of faith, a minimalist conception of worship, and a strict sabbatarianism.
Even more controversially, it states that the Pope is the Antichrist, that the Roman Catholic mass is a form of idolatry, and rules out marriage with non-Christians. These formulations were repudiated by the various bodies which adopted the confession (for instance, the Church of Scotland, though its ministers are still free to adhere to the full confession and some do), but the confession remains part of the official doctrine of some other Presbyterian churches. For example, the Presbyterian Church of Australia holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith as its standard, subordinate to the Word of God, and read in the light of a declaratory statement.
The Doctrinal Deliverance of 1910 marks the beginning of the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy in the PCUSA, which would ultimately result in the exodus of a significant minority of the denomination's conservatives, including J. Gresham Machen, who went on to found the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
MANHATTAN BUSINESSMAN SENTENCED TO UP TO NINE YEARS IN PRISON FOR STEALING OVER $300,000 BY SURREPTITIOUSLY TAKING OUT MORTGAGE ON MOTHER-IN-LAW'S QUEENS CONDO.
Mar 02, 2010; NEW YORK -- The following information was released by the Queens County District Attorney's Office: Queens District Attorney...