See for yourself – Is the Westminster Confession of Faith wholly in accord with the Bible?
The version of the Confession being referred to for this article can be downloaded from the following link: http://www.pcaac.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/WCFScriptureProofs.pdf
I’ve set out below a few instances where the supporting texts do not substantiate what is confessed. They are taken from Chapter 7 ‘Of God’s Covenant with Man’. I could have chosen Chapter 19 ‘Of the Law of God’ or other chapters, but this one will suffice as an illustration.
The implications of the failings of supporting texts are huge, because some churches will only have members who subscribe to the Confession.
Here is an extract from the Confession:
Chapter 7 Of God’s Covenant with Man
1 The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant. a
a Isa. 40:13–17. Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counseller hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. Job 9:32–33. For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. Ps. 113:5–6. Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! Job 22:2–3. Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect? Job 35:7–8. If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man. Luke 17:10. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. Acts 17:24–25. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.
Which of the supportive texts under ‘a’ point to God making a covenant with Man? It is true God commanded Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-17), and He warned him if he did he would die, but where is there any mention of a ‘covenant’? Even if God had covenanted with Adam, which of the chosen texts supports this?
Here is my Second Extract.
2 The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, b wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, c upon condition of perfect and personal obedience. d
b Gen. 2:16–17. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Hos. 6:7. But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me. Gal. 3:12. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
c Gen. 3:22. And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever … Rom. 10:5. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. Rom. 5:12–14. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come….) … See Rom. 5:15–20.
d Gen. 2:17. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Gal. 3:10. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
In 2 b and 2 c above it is claimed God made a covenant of works wherein life was promised to Adam and to his posterity.
God never promised life to Adam; He said he would die if he ate of the tree, but He never promised life. He never made any mention of Adam’s posterity, nor did He spell out a condition regarding his posterity. Eve had not even been formed at the time of God’s command (Genesis 2:18).
With regard to Hosea 6:7 in section b the relevant covenant would have been the Mosaic Covenant of Exodus 19:5, 6, which Adam could never have kept, since Moses had not been born and God had not made the covenant. The people referred to in Hosea 6:4 were of Ephraim and Judah (v 4). They ‘transgressed the Mosaic Covenant’ – not Adam.
d refers to the necessity of Adam’s perfect and personal obedience of the covenant for obtaining life for himself and his posterity, but ‘The book of the law’ (Deuteronomy 31:24-29) mentioned in the supporting texts had not been written in the time of Adam, so there was no way he could have been required to obey it.
I hope this short article will encourage you to examine the Westminster Confession to ascertain for yourself if it wholly conforms to the Bible.