New Confessions

Yesterday I shared what our church is using as a confession: a hacked Abstract of Principles. I actually love the old confessions and catechisms and use them for teaching and personal devotion. The Second London and Westminster confessions, the Heidelberg Catechism, the catholic creeds and many other historic church documents are immeasurably valuable for the church today. I love how these writings reflect the truth of Scripture in creative and powerful language. I appreciate that when we can affirm them we share a common faith with those who have come before us. And yet, I have to wonder if the church has grown lazy and too dependent on these confessions. There was a time when the church valued the articulation of the Christian faith into the language of the people. Presbyterians, Baptists and others would, as the context required, draw up a new declaration of the faith. This was often to address the current heresies, false doctrines, or conflicts within local churches. What many baptists used as their primary confession in 1644 was replaced by what was drawn up in 1677 (a hack on the Westminster) and widely published in 1689. Articles would later be added to address new issues, or other, more simple, documents would be drawn up in following centuries.

While I love our old confessions, and think the church should make use of them, I do not understand why we have not articulated the Christian faith again in the twenty first century in a form that would be useful and clear to our churches. Some would argue that confessions themselves wont work in postmodernity. I disagree, and in fact believe the postmodern context creates a need for a new confession. Others will argue that what has been written is sufficient, or that we can simply update the language (As was done with the Second London Confession via Carey Pub.). But I believe we must do better, and speak plainly (as the puritans would put it) to the church and the people God has sent us to. Where are the Reformed theologians, confessing the faith afresh for a new generation addressing the theological issues our churches face with persuasive and beautiful words?

No doubt, this is a huge undertaking. It is no simple task that can be done over night. I dream of our best pastor/theologians, who can exegete Scripture and culture, gathering together throughout the year to work on such a project. Maybe I am alone in my desire. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe this will not happen. Maybe it has to start with our church. I'm just thinking here.

I am interested in what you guys think. Is there a need for a new confession(s) that would have wide use in many churches?