When a church or denomination has a statement of faith, a creed, or confession, what does this mean? The reality is that there are a variety of possibilities–ranging from a historical memory, general appreciation, to a present and full commitment on the part of ministers, elders and the church body as a whole. The answer really depends on the way confession, adherence, or subscription vows are implemented and maintained. Issues relating to confessional subscription continue to vex confessional churches, as they have in the past.
In a historical context in some respects similar to that of the present day, a Scottish theologian named John Dick argued in 1796 before the Associate Synod for a biblical charity, wisdom, and commitment toward those who no longer believed in the necessity of a fully subscribed confessional theology and church order.(1) Continue reading