Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Theology (ThD)


Systematic Theology

Scripture References in this Resource (separated by semi-colons)

Matthew 16:18,19


By concentrating on what theologians and church leaders have written on the sub­ject of the confessional principle and confessional subscription, this study has dealt with those who had or have an interest in the subject. It may or may not be representative of the way in which the church at large regards and deals with the church's symbols. Attempting to address such a concern, this study has referred to official synodical resolutions and dec­larations as illustrative that the confessional attitude of the theologians was also representa­tive of their church's position. At the same time, however, it may be pointed out that while a theologian's view coincides with that of church leaders and the church in general, it does not address whether or not such views are only those of the academics and administrators or whether the Confessions actually play a vital role in the studies of the pastors and within the life of the parishes.

Similarly, while addressing what has been written about the Confessions, this study does not address the question of the non-use of the Confessions and the attitude that may reveal. In other words, a formal acknowledgment of the importance of the Confessions may or may not reflect a corresponding emphasis in practice. Nevertheless, the way in which pastors use the Confessions, or not use them, will reflect their attitude toward the Confessions as either historical or biblical statements of faith and their attitude toward the church. To confine them to the uppermost shelf of the book case in the pastor's study in all likelihood will suggest a lack of confidence in the normative role of the Confessions for the proclamation of the Gospel, and in turn the Scriptures. It suggests furthermore that something else, such as external, managerial and administrative programs, may have replaced Scriptural doctrine as the essential means for building and extending thechurch. Similarly, the marks for identifying the church thereby become structural and so­ciological rather than confessional and sacramental.

One's view and use of the Confessions will manifest one's view and use of Scripture. A high view of the Confessions will demonstrate a correspondingly high view of the Scriptures. A low view will similarly reveal a lower view of Scripture as the written Word of God and less confidence in the power of Scripture to extend, build, and unite the church. A lower view of Scripture will compel one to find in addition to Scripture, other means or methods for strengthening and uniting the church. This furthermore implies that one's view of the Confessions will reveal one's attitude toward the changes of history and the way in which history and philosophy influences the church, the church's proclamation, and the church's identity. Finally, one's attitude toward the Confessions will reveal whether or not an individual views the doctrine of Scripture, and hence of the Confessions, in evangelical or law oriented terms, and thus whether one looks upon confessional sub­scription as something to be embraced or evaded.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.