Our System of Doctrine

…Dr. Duncan’s second warning is the question at the heart of this article. What is the core doctrine of the Confession? “Classic federal theology is so much a part of the warp and woof of the Westminsterian system, that removal of any component of its covenant theology would bankrupt the very idea of a ‘Westminsterian system of theology’ of any meaning.” You may think you are questioning isolated doctrines of the Confession but in reality you are questioning the “very heart of its theological system.”[14]

To be frank, I was afraid to write this short article. I am not alone in this fear. Ligon Duncan shared a similar trepidation when he wrote in favor of a stricter form of subscription than that which we currently observe in the PCA. He said, “One frequently encounters the idea that an unqualified subscription to the Confession is the invention of contemporary right-wing extremists. Great derision is usually heaped upon any suggestion that the Confession should be held to as a whole.”[15] I think I have shown that “the system of doctrine” phrase in the past referred to the Confessional documents themselves as containing the doctrines found in Holy Scripture. What I fear is that we are moving – perhaps supported by a misguided appropriation of the published views of Charles Hodge – towards referring to a “system” within the “system of doctrine,” whether it be generic Calvinism, the supposed basics of Reformed theology, or even something less clearly defined as “essential doctrines.”

Similar Posts