Monday, May 21, 2007

Pipa on Full Subscription

Joseph A. Pipa, in his The Practice of Subscription, argues that "full subscription is the historical position of Scottish and American Presbyterianism," and that "system subscription has invariably led to liberalism and subjectivism in the church. In other words, system subscription is in effect no subscription."

Makes sense, right?

Why bother to adopt the Westminster Confession and Catechisms as the doctrinal standards of a denomination if candidates for gospel ministry can simply pick and choose which parts to believe and which to deny (with presbyteries determining whether the exception is "essential to the system")?

But then again, the Westminster Standards are pretty detailed, making it rather difficult to be able to affirm every single one of their propositions. Plus, there has been some significant theological advancement since the confessional canon (supposedly) closed in 1648.


Is full subscription really as simple and beneficial an idea as it sounds? Is there some sense in which the nature of a particular confession should determine the nature of our subscription to it?

What say you?