What we believe
Waringstown Presbyterian Church is a Confessional Church. A confession is a public declaration of what a church believes. Individual Christians certainly confess their own personal faith, but a confession of faith is more than a personal affirmation of faith. It is a statement of what a community of Christians believes.
Such statements have not always been called confessions. They have also been called Creeds, Catechisms, Affirmations, Formulas, Definitions, Declarations of Faith, Statements of belief, articles of faith, and other similar names. Whatever their form, confessions of faith express what a body of Christians believe in common.
Waringstown Presbyterian Church is a member of a denomination of churches within The Presbyterian Church in Ireland. As a denomination we have adopted historical confessions of faith that lead us in our understanding what the Bible leads us to believe and do.
During the seventeenth century, in the years of the English Civil war, the Scottish Presbyterians and English Puritans joined forces against King Charles 1 who had tried to impose many Roman Catholic practices on the Anglican Church. Despite being allies, the Scots and the English had some theological differences between them, so Parliament asked the best theological minds in Britain to agree on a doctrinal statement for both countries. In the end, more than one hundred English Ministers and Theologians, thirty members of Parliament (both lords and commoners) and six top scholars from Scotland, assembled in Westminster Abbey to form ‘the Westminster Assembly’ The Westminster assembly met from 1643 to 1649 and produced five documents. The Westminster Standards contain the essential biblical truths about God and man that all Christians everywhere have always professed: that there is only one God, who exists in three persons, who made everything there is, and who saves us by His grace.
The Westminster Confession of Faith
The Westminster Confession of Faith was written after the Church had spent a century learning and perfecting the doctrine taught by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other Reformers. Reformation theology, which is based on the Bible alone, teaches that salvation comes by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone.
The Westminster Standards are also covenantal in their theology. They are centred on God’s covenant of grace with his people. Further, they are evangelical in their theology. They proclaim the good news of salvation from sin through death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Westminster Divines eventually produced five major documents:
• A form of Government to help organise the church in the Presbyterian way, which means “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40) under the spiritual authority of Elders.
• A directory of worship to help us praise God in the Biblical way, conducting services “according to the Word of God”- by His design rather than man’s desire;
• A confession of Faith to explain biblical doctrine in a systematic way; and
• Two Catechisms for teaching theology through questions and answers: the Shorter Catechism for those who were “common and unlearned,” and the Larger Catechism for those of “understanding”
(When the Westminster Divines first produced the Larger Catechism, Parliament sent it back and asked for something easier to understand!)