I was first alerted to the corrupting nature of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) when planning a series of Church talks on Creation. At some point during the planning I was asked if I accepted the WCF. My reply was that I had never read it, was unlikely to do so due to its length, and took the Bible, which I had read cover to cover, as the ultimate Authority for Christians. I was accused of being a heretic and the Creation talks never took place.
At the time I was unaware of just how long the WCF was. With all the included proof texts, it’s the thick end of one hundred thousand words. The Bible is seven hundred and fifty thousand, so to read the WCF is a significant effort, at least bearing some comparison with reading the Bible itself right through. The difference is that the Bible is the Authority, while the WCF is just one more post-Biblical writing which lacks the Authority of Scripture. Would not reading the Scripture itself be an obviously better use of time? And why would people want to pin their faith on the WCF rather than Scripture?
It gets worse. WCF is a thoroughly Calvinist document, and as explained elsewhere on this site Calvinism is actually blasphemy. See Predestination 101. Further to that, as you will see below, the WCF was written as a legal document, and legal documents need to be read with great care. Even an experienced solicitor would baulk at digesting a legal document of that length. Does anybody really know what they are signing up to when they subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith?
Finally, here’s the killer. The WCF was drawn up during the English Civil War. Cromwell was fighting against the King in England, and the Calvinist Covenanters in Scotland were literally up in arms as well. An alliance between the two was a natural outcome, but since these wars were largely about doctrine, Cromwell and the Covenanters needed a doctrinal basis for their military alliance. The WCF was created to provide that basis. This means that whatever the Confession says or doesn’t say about the use of violence is irrelevant; the reason for its creation means it has violence built in.
It’s interesting also that the one hundred and fifty or so “Divines” who wrote the Confession, supposedly after a most thorough searching of the Scripture, do not appear to have noticed the requirement to love, and specifically to love enemies, in the New Testament; nor the many pointers in the Old Testament to the utter foolishness of killing the King. Something Cromwell and his associates went on to do in the most premeditated fashion.
The best part of the WCF is perhaps its title. Westminster is the epicentre of politics and power in England. The Confession is not called the Christian Confession of Faith, but the Westminster Confession of Faith. Quite appropriate.