Confessional or Relevant: a False Dichotomy
Let me rant. I am sick of people claiming that confessions are old, outdated, or irrelevant to today's hip culture and Gen X. I am sick of people saying that doctrine is only for people with pointy heads and has no real value for Joe Shmoe; going along with that, I am sick of people putting up a firm wall of separation between doctrine and practice, as if doctrine isn't practical, and practice isn't doctrinal! (Note: I am NOT saying a pastor shouldn't make practical application in a sermon. I AM saying that we should not assume a doctrine has to be applied in order to be practical; I am ALSO saying that we should not assume that a particular practice does not have doctrinal implications.)
Here's an interesting quote:
Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptations of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.
By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.
They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.
From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, does in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.
Could anything be more relevant to the world around us? Does not this explain so many things? It says man is not basically good, he is basically bad, though not as bad as he could be.
How about this interesting quote?
The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word, by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.
By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein; and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come. But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong; may often and many ways assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory: growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance, through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
Wow! The first quote shows us the world has a problem. The second quote gives us the solution. Isn't that amazing? Oh, by the way, the first quote was the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 6, and the second was the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 14.
So, if someone says, "Yeah, but you're being confessional and I'm being relevant," you can make the comeback that being confessional is ALWAYS relevant. Human nature does not change over the ages. The problem has always been sin, and the solution has always been Jesus Christ. There is nothing more relevant to the human condition than the sentence before this one.