The Need for Creeds

Do you wonder what it means to be a confessional Presbyterian? It is one thing to understand Presbyterianism, a form of church government and worship; it is another to understand the importance and value of confessions or creeds. 

We have some resources to help understand Presbyterianism, of course; but this post is especially meant to highlight resources on confessionalism, as understood by Presbyterians, which are available at Log College Press. 

  • Samuel Miller, The Utility and Importance of Creeds and Confessions (1824);
  • Francis Robert Beattie, "A Brief Description of the Great Christian Creeds" and "The Nature and uses of Religious Creeds" in The Presbyterian Standards: An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms (1896);
  • Robert Lewis Dabney, "The Doctrinal Contents of the Confession—Its Fundamental and Regulative ideas; and the Necessity and Value of Creeds" in Memorial Volume of the Westminster Assembly, 1647-1897 (1897);
  • James D. Tadlock, "The Relation of the [Westminster] Standards to Other Creeds" in Memorial Volume of the Westminster Assembly, 1647-1897 (1897);
  • B.B. Warfield, The Significance of the Westminster Standards as a Creed (1898); and
  • Egbert Watson Smith, The Creed of Presbyterians (1901).

    These works have much to say about why we need to articulate Scriptural truths in creedal form, and how they benefit the church. Take a look and consider especially what Miller, Beattie, and Dabney have to say about the need for creeds. 

The Necessity of Christ's Resurrection, by John Franklin Cannon

Did Jesus have to rise from the dead? Every Christian would say "Yes" - but would we know any reasons why? In 1896, John Franklin Cannon, pastor of the Grand Avenue Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri, preached a sermon entitled "The Necessity of Christ's Resurrection," published on page 287 of Southern Presbyterian Pulpit: a Collection of Sermons by Ministers of the Southern Presbyterian Church (you can find this book on the Compilations page of the Log College Press website). We won't steal Cannon's thunder, but suffice it to say that the reasons he gives are theological robust, Christ-exalting, and spiritually invigorating. Read it today to have your faith in the resurrection of Jesus solidified and strengthened! 

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Have you seen the Compilations page of Log College Press?

If you haven't checked out the Compilations page of Log College Press lately, please do so. We've uploaded several new books, filled with chapters and essays to pique the interest of any lover of Presbyterian history, theology, or biography. Each book has multiple authors on a variety of topics. Here's the current listing of books available at our Compilations page:

Discourses Delivered in Murray Street Church
The Spruce Street Lectures
The Princeton Pulpit
The Man of Business, Considered in His Various Relations
The New York Pulpit in the Revival of 1858
Successful Preaching: Addresses to Theological Students
Memorial Volume of Columbia Theological Seminary
Centennial Addresses of the Presbyterian Church
Princeton Sermons
Southern Presbyterian Pulpit
Memorial Volume of the Westminster Assembly
Calvin Memorial Addresses
Biblical and Theological Studies by the Faculty of Princeton Seminary
The Protestant Reformation and Its Influence

To Catch Sight of the Ineffable Vision

Have you visited the Compilations page at Log College Press recently? We are adding special volumes by multiple authors as we can. One such gem that is very much worth downloading and studying with care is the 1909 Calvin Memorial Addresses.

In May 1909, the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) assembled in Savannah, Georgia, to honor the 400th anniversary of the birth of the French Reformer, John Calvin. It was on this occasion that a gavel was presented to the Moderator of the General Assembly. That gavel was made from a timber of wood obtained from the tower of the St. Pierre
Cathedral in Geneva from which John Calvin preached. It was a fitting tribute to a man whom we admire because he, it seems, had "caught sight of the ineffable Vision." In the Calvin Memorial Addresses delivered on that occasion, B.B. Warfield (1851-1921) gave a description of Calvinism and what it means to be a Calvinist, a description that resonates a century on: 

"The Calvinist, in a word, is the man who sees God. He has caught sight of the ineffable Vision, and he will not let it fade for a moment from his eyes—God in nature, God in history, God in grace. Everywhere he sees God in His mighty stepping, everywhere he feels the working of His mighty arm, the throbbing of His mighty heart. The Calvinist is therefore, by way of eminence, the supernaturalist in the world of thought. The world itself is to him a supernatural product. not merely in the sense that somewhere, away back before all time, God made it, but that God is making it now, and in every event that falls out. In every modification of what is, that takes place, His hand is visible, as through all occurrences His “one increasing purpose runs”. Man himself is His— created for His glory, and having as the one supreme end of his existence to glorify his Maker, and haply also to enjoy Him for ever. And salvation, in every step and stage of it, is of God. Conceived in God’s love, wrought out by God’s own Son in a supernatural life and death in this world of sin, and applied by God’s Spirit in a series of acts as supernatural as the virgin birth and the resurrection of the Son of God themselves—it is a supernatural work through and through. To the Calvinist, thus, the Church of God is as direct a creation of God as the first creation itself. In this supernaturalism, the whole thought and feeling and life of the Calvinist is steeped. Without it there can be no Calvinism, for it is just this that is Calvinism....But let us make no mistake here. For here, too, Calvinism is just Christianity. The supernaturalism for which Calvinism stands is the very breath of the nostrils of Christianity; without it Christianity cannot exist. And let us not imagine that we can pick and choose with respect to the aspects of this supernaturalism which we acknowledge—that we may, for example, retain supernaturalism in the origination of Christianity. and forego the supernaturalism with which Calvinism is more immediately concerned, the supernaturalism of the application of Christianity. Men will not believe that a religion, the actual working of which in the world is natural, can have required to be ushered into the world with supernatural pomp and display. These supernaturals stand or fall together....This is what was meant by the late Dr. H. Boynton Smith, when he declared roundly: 'One thing is certain,—that Infidel Science will rout everything excepting thoroughgoing Christian orthodoxy. . . . The fight will be between a stiff thoroughgoing orthodoxy and a stiff thoroughgoing infidelity. It will be, for example, Augustine or Comte, Athanasius or Hegel, Luther or Schopenhauer, J. S. Mill or John Calvin.' This witness is true....Calvinism thus emerges to our sight as nothing more or less than the hope of the world."

19th Century Counsel for Businessmen

Everyone is engaged in buying and selling in some way, shape, or form. Yet businessmen have been called by God to labor in these skills in a peculiar way for His glory and the good of their fellow men. With this calling comes great responsibilities, privileges, perplexities, and temptations. The 1856 book The Man of Business: Considered in His Various Relations, with contributions from a variety of men (including James Waddel Alexander), focused entirely on this calling and its particular spiritual needs.

Here is the introduction: "The following Essays have been written expressly for this work. They are intended to bear upon a very important class of the community—a class which in this
country is constantly increasing. The walks of business become more ramified and extended as the luxuries of civlization and the skill of human inventions become more multiplied and more widely displayed. Every description of commercial, mechanical, and executive business, excited and created by the new wants and new imaginations of advancing society, will call for the creation and extension of new agencies to accomplish the labors which they must demand. Thus the variety and number of business agencies of every kind must spread out in a constant increase. The earnestness of competition and the fertility of invention which characterize the walks of trade will also encroach more and more upon the previous comparative tranquillity of professional life. And men of all descriptions will, to a great degree, be transformed into business men. Their temptations, their principles of action, their rules of enterprise, their responsibilities,  and their peculiar aspects of influence, will become, to a great degree, the common, aspects of the community of which, in earlier times, they have formed only a part. Such a work as the one now prepared for the publisher, who has assumed the responsibility of issuing this, will be one of general interest and usefulness. It will form an appropriate guide for the young man in his start in life. It will be an useful gift to a business friend in any period of his life of experiment. It will exercise an influence for the benefit of men, only limited by its own adaptation to usefulness; for the field upon which it enters is boundless, and the persons for whom it is calculated to be a guide and a friend, are innumerable. The
value of this particular book must be tested by the experiment of its character. It is fully believed by the publisher to be in an eminent degree adapted to be useful. He thinks that no reflecting person can read the table of contents, and remark the subjects proposed, and the  character of the gentlemen who have severally written upon them at his request, without a thorough conviction of the value of the work, and the likelihood of its usefulness to those for whom it is designed. It is, therefore, with great confidence that he sends it forth, sincerely believing he is doing a public good in the provision of such a work for sale, which is far beyond the value of any personal advantage in the particular line of his own BUSINESS, or his private profit in honorable trade."