Confessing the Faith: A Reader’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith (Review)

Published: RTR 74, no. 2, 2015

Confessing the Faith: A Reader’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith

By Chad Van Dixhoorn, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2014.

Van Dixhoorn has followed up his acclaimed Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly (reviewed in RTR 72.3, 2013), with this fine commentary on the Westminster Confession. It is not an in-depth exploration of the contribution of the newly-published minutes to scholarly understanding of the Assembly, but is rather as the title suggests, a reader’s (rather than an academic’s) guide. Carl Trueman suggests that even the Sunday School teacher will reach for it. Van Dixhoorn seeks to write with doxology and exhortation. The result is thirty-three chapters that are strictly kept short (with only ‘Scripture’ and ‘Christ the Mediator’ receiving longer treatment). Points of contention are muted, such as on ‘in the space of six days’. The ‘assembly decided not to elaborate on the words of Scripture’ (p. 62). Fuller discussion would have to account for the lack of these words in both the KJV and the Geneva Bible (and why they were retained from Ussher’s Articles, and follow Calvin’s well-known comment from Genesis 1). The style is highly quotable, and the comments on the sufficiency of Scripture particularly eloquent: ‘There is no need for further good news about salvation: the news we have could not get any better. There is no need for further doctrine: all that we need to know for the Christian faith is found in the Bible in such richness that we could mine the Scripture for our whole lives and not even begin to exhaust its treasures’ (p. 18).