About Me – On Confessions

If you don’t know, this is a post that helps you the reader to become more acquainted with where I – the author of this site – stand on various topics and theological points. Keep reading to see where I stand on today’s topic.


In our present age, there is this common thought that one’s religion should be kept unshackled from the doctrines, dogmas, and creeds (or confessions) of the past. They think this makes them better and freer than those of the past. As such, they tend to be anti-creedal.

However, it is impossible to truly be anti-confessional. To state you have no confession or that there should be no confession is to inherently make a declarative statement that takes on the role of your confession. By merely taking a stand of any kind, you’ve confessed your position and thereby put forth your creed or confession. Therefore, it is more honest to be forward and state what you have as your confession.

Heretics historically proclaimed that they held to the Scriptures so simply stating “our creed is the Bible” isn’t enough. In fact, confessions were often written in response to historical heresies in order to have a succinct message upon where the church stood that could be referenced against such heresies. These also serve as useful teaching tools for the congregation at large.

I personally enjoy both the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed and my current church subscribes to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (also called the 2nd London Baptist Confession).

I also think quite highly of the Westminster Confession of Faith.

There are many other creeds and confessions out there and many that are useful for teaching and historical study that I have not mentioned here.

My greatest point is that confessions are important and that a church that claims it doesn’t have one or refuses to state one has thereby made its stance (confession) clear, and such a church is therefore a potentially dangerous place as it will have difficulty identifying and calling out false doctrine. Such a place is not the sort of place one should look to for growth in Christ.


Note: I do these posts not because I think I’m somehow superior in my views or anything absurd like that but out of a desire to be up-front and honest with my readers as to where I stand. Otherwise, you’d be left to figure things out by reading between the lines and/or guessing.

See more in the master list.

Confessions

Dictionary.com

noun
  1. acknowledgment; avowal; admission: a confession of incompetence.
  2. acknowledgment or disclosure of sin or sinfulness, especially to a priest to obtain absolution.
  3. something that is confessed.
  4. a formal, usually written, acknowledgment of guilt by a person accused of a crime.
  5. Also called confession of faith. a formal profession of belief and acceptance of doctrines, as before being admitted to church membership.
  6. the tomb of a martyr or confessor or the altar or shrine connected with it.

Etymonline.com

late 14c., confessioun, “action of confessing, acknowledgment of a fault or wrong,” originally in religion, “the disclosing of sins or faults to a priest as one of the four parts of the sacrament of penance,” from Old French confession (10c.), from Latin confessionem (nominative confessio) “confession, acknowledgement,” noun of action from past-participle stem of confiteri “to acknowledge” (see confess).

An Old English word for it was andettung, also scriftspr√¶c. Meaning “that which is confessed” is mid-15c. ¬†Meaning “a formula of the articles of a religious faith, a creed to be assented to” is from late 14c. In the common law, “admission or acknowledgment of guilt made in court or before a magistrate,” 1570s.


Discussion/Explanation

The descriptions above do a great job of describing this term. I do want to highlight a few points.

The term reads “confessions” rather than “confession” as this post is truly aimed at what is also called “confessions of faith”. Creeds are related to this term.

The second part of the etymonline description speaks on this point. I want to add that each confession that arose was primarily in response to opposing beliefs at the time of writing. Typically, these opposing beliefs were heresies and the confession arose as a written document of faith that clearly defined what the faith was in contrast. The Nicene Creed and Apostles Creed are examples that arose during such times.

These creeds served as summations as well as building blocks to more comprehensive writings more commonly called a “confession of faith”. As such, creeds have gone hand-in-hand with confessions though you won’t hear a church recite an entire confession as they are often book-length whereas a creed is much shorter (a summation as said earlier).

Some common confessions would include:

  • The Westminster Confession of Faith
  • The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith

These confessions were never meant to replace the Scriptures and often quote them and give references to specific passages. They serve as teaching tools and clarifying tools as they often pull together the greater context of the counsel of God found in His word (the Bible).


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