Carl Trueman commences a series of posts about being a church leader who has subscribed to a confession.
Take an elder in a confessional church. He has taken public vows before the church to uphold a particular set of theological tenets, for example, the sovereignty of God as articulated in the Westminster Confession of Faith in Chapter 5 (Of Providence). That vow binds his public teaching to the standards outlined in the Confession, and by ‘public teaching,’ I mean anything he might say either from the pulpit or while standing at the coffee machine after the service.
Perhaps this elder wakes up one morning to find that some terrible tragedy has intruded into his life: bereavement, serious illness, loss of material goods or status. Such an event might well have a traumatic effect not just on his emotional psyche but perhaps also on his faith as well. Perhaps there are moments, or even an extended period of time, when he questions whether God really is in control. I pray that I never experience it, but I imagine that standing by the grave of a beloved child must be a very hard moment to believe in God’s loving sovereignty and care for his people.
This is where the discipline of a confession is important. This elder has no right to share his doubts with the world in general. Of course, he can speak confidentially to a ministerial friend for counsel; but he must not teach (in any sense of the word) against the content of the vows he has taken.
Read the rest of the post at Reformation 21.
Remember, this is not a bind on conscience, it is a limit on expression.