Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our Theological Heritage

(This post has been on my heart for months now. I'm only sorry that it has taken me so long to post it.)

I am an historical girl. I just love history. I love my family history, American history, world history, church history.

Maybe I love history because I live in Colorado which has practically no history; it only became a U.S. territory 149 years ago. I grew up in a small town in the rolling Pennsylvania farmland that is older than the American revolution. My parents used to drive half an hour away and show us where our nation was born- I wish I could do the same for my children. I miss learning about the old history that used to surround me. History is important because it tells us where we've come from and who we are.

Maybe I love history because I grew up learning from a dear pastor who taught us to value our theological heritage. I draw great comfort from learning about the Scottish Covenanters who were persecuted for their faith. They died not just for believing in Jesus, but for doctrinal truths from Scripture, like justification by faith alone, the solas of the reformation, bringing children into the covenant by baptism, and practices such as family worship and psalm singing. I would encourage you to read a few of these books to get you started learning about these great saints.

I believe that historic Biblical creeds, confessions, catechisms are very important as we grow in our faith and can meditate on weightier doctrines. The simple doctrines (like the Apostle's Creed) are crucial to know and understand and love, but after a while, theological meat is necessary to grow strong. Do we delve any deeper than pop culture Christianity? We have hundreds of years of Presbyterian history that we benefit from everyday. Are we taking advantage of this history? These ancient godly men searched the scriptures night and day and summarized biblical thoughts and doctrines for their children and congregants. This is our spiritual heritage. These men were persecuted for shaking up the status quo and doing and preaching what was biblical. Ministerial delegates in 1647 labored heavily and prayerfully as they drafted the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechism, a thorough exposition of Scripture heavily laden throughout with full proof texts for every word written. John Calvin after having fled to Basel, Switzerland in 1536, wrote his Institutes of the Christian Religion, a veritable handbook for reformed, newly protestant Christianity. Study for yourself and adopt the Canons of Dort in 1619 which defend the faith against the delinquent doctrine of Arminianism. Don't forget the puritan preachers and authors too, like Jeremiah Burroughs, Thomas Watson, Jonathan Edwards and Richard Baxter who thoroughly studied the Bible and wrote beautiful volumes about God's attributes and instructions on how to live a godly life. (I'd heartily recommend this one.) We must study these documents and learn about our church fathers. All of this is very important. There is a wealth that we cannot squander. These are the shoulders that we stand upon. We need to be mature enough in our faith to know why we believe what we believe.

A note to those who know me from church:
Do you ever wonder what exactly is a sacrament? Why do we baptize our babies? Who should partake of the Lord's Table? Why do we worship in the order we do? I would encourage you to take a look at The Westminister Confession and the OPC Book of Church Order ~ also known as The Westminster Standards. This organized way of worship is important because order reflects the order of our good God.

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