Emergent: Brian McLaren is at it again. “So for people who feel, for example, that the Westminster Confession perfectly contains Christian theology the kind of conversation we’re having is a waste of time. But for people who feel that the Westminster Confession arose at a certain time, addressed certain concerns of that time, then we have to be as faithful to our time as the framers of the confession were to their time.”
I don’t get it. Isn’t McLaren just stating the obvious? That’s not to diminish the Westminster Confession. It is to acknowledge that it arose out of a certain context:
The Church of Scotland had recently overthrown its bishops and adopted presbyterianism…For this reason, as a condition for entering into the alliance with England, the Scottish Parliament formed the Solemn League and Covenant with the English Parliament, which meant that the Church of England would abandon episcopalianism and consistently adhere to Calvinistic standards of doctrine and worship. The Confession and Catechisms were produced in order to secure the help of the Scots against the king.
That doesn’t make it more or less useful or true. It only acknowledges that it, like the epistles of the Bible, were written in a certain context to address certain situations. In other words, they are occasional documents.
My own denomination’s Statement of Faith was written over fifty years ago. If it had been written today, I believe it would address certain issues that weren’t even on the map fifty years ago. I think McLaren is right: we are called to do theology well in our own context.