A Confession is referred to as a Church's 'subordinate standard' because it is in very fact subordinate to the Scriptures, the fountainhead of all revealed truth. This subordination, however, does not affect its authority in matters of faith, but rather serves to emphasise the fact that it is derived from Scripture."The Significance of the Westminster Confession" in Reformed Theological Writings, p. 231-2
When a Confession is accepted, therefore, it is accepted as in accordance with the truth of Scripture, and we profess that we have examined both the Scripture and the Confession and that we have found them in agreement.
For that reason we cannot appeal from the Confession to Scripture in a way of repudiating the Confession, without thereby withdrawing our subscription to it as agreeable to the Scripture and the Confession of our Faith.
To set aside its doctrine in favour of some other interpretation of Scripture is manifestly to abandon the Confession altogether.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
What do we mean when we say that a confession is a "subordinate standard"?
A helpful comment by R. A. Finlayson: