With the passage of years, it becomes evident that all things on this earthly scene are mutable. Even the church changes with the society around it. This is not altogether to be decried. Like each successive child born into a family, another generation has its own face and personality.
The church faces an arduous undertaking, with two mandates. On the one hand, the church is to be the pillar and ground of the truth, by its stable adherence to Scripture. At the same time, it must learn how to engage the new order emerging in its day, so that the church is always bringing the apostolic faith to bear on the conscience of its time. The first mandate requires tenacity, and the second adaptability.
Faced with this mission, some lose conviction concerning aspects of the doctrine and religious practice which the church had long understood to be taught by the Word of God.
For those who remain persuaded that the church’s classic confessions of faith are faithful to Scripture, there must be discernment as to what should be let go from the past life of the church. Believers five hundred years ago could not have imagined the society we have today. Many social and technological developments have an effect for good on the lives of the Lord’s people. But what ministers and elders, in being admitted to office, have vowed to conserve are those aspects of the church’s historic identity which are doctrinal or which constitute specifically religious practice.
To have a classical Reformed persuasion means that one adheres to the same doctrine and religious practice as that of the Reformation, such as was embodied in the Reformed confessions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in the belief that these are in accord with the Word of God. In these areas our church seeks to preserve or restore historic doctrine and practice.
This article and all other articles in this section are taken from the articles of identity of the Presbytery of the United States in the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), located at westminsterconfession.org