The Westminster Confession and Modern Society

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1  This is a slightly revised form of an address that Dr. Lee delivered to the Faculty and students of Faith Theological Seminary, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, in March of 1968, during a Conference on the Westminster Confession of Faith.

2   When this address was delivered, the author had not that long removed from his land South Africa in order to become a member of the Faculty at Shelton College in Cape May, New Jersey.  Therefore, he had not yet made a complete transition to the use of the American forms of English.  The South African forms of English are therefore retained throughout the paper as they were originally written.

Is the man in the pew “called” according to his God-given gifts to

a vocation other than “full-time” professional Christian work?  May an

employee honour Christ as Sovereign King while employed by a

company practising unethical labour-management relations or

producing a slip-shod product?  Do twentieth-century Christians have the obligation to form “Christian” labour organisations2?  What is the

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Christian idea of work?  Is the Christian calling only to “preach the

Gospel”? 

These and many other problems are so involved that the

completely satisfactory solution to some of them almost baffles the

human intellect.  I will try to introduce these issues by rigidly adhering

to try to answer the main question posed me and given me as the title.

My given title, then, is:  “How may we confess Christ in a

twentieth-century expression of the Westminster Confession of Faith

to a changing hostile society?”

Now although Christ, Who is the Truth, as such never changes,

and although the truth expressed in the Westminster Confession

cannot change, society nevertheless changes.   Our twentieth-century

society is indeed becoming increasingly hostile to the confession of

Christ, as the prescribed title of my address indeed indicates. 

Let us then first of all discuss this twentieth-century society which

is becoming increasingly hostile to the confession of Christ.  After that,

let us proceed to examine the way in which the Westminster

Confession confesses Christ, to Whom twentieth-century society is

becoming increasingly hostile.  And, finally, let us consider whether we

as twentieth-century Christians may and should confess Christ today

differently from the way in which the Westminster Confession did in

the seventeenth century.

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Increasing Hostility of Twentieth-Century Society.

First, let us examine the increasing hostility of twentieth-century

society to our confession of Jesus Christ.

I think we should never forget that the confession of Christ is

always a stumbling block to those that believe not the Gospel.  It was

a stumbling-block to man in the first century; a stumbling-block to man

at the time the Westminster Confession was framed in the

seventeenth century; and is also a stumbling-block to man and his

hostile society in the twentieth century.

I think we must further recognize that the offence of the cross is

increasing in our present world, as the apostasy deepens.   So from

this point of view, there is a limit to what we can do to stem the rising

tide of society’s hostility to our confession of Christ as such — and of

the things which directly pertain to Christ, such as: His virgin birth,

crucifixion, atonement, resurrection, and ascension etc.

However, what we can do is to confess Christ clearly and

relevantly to this increasingly hostile society.  Our confession of Christ

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