I just finished pulling the comforter up over my daughter. Late night writing often results in too-loud-music which initiates occasional crying. At the very least it results in some extra tossing and turning. Before making my way to bed I know to check in on her. It is often the case that I must pull the comforter up around her neck. I give her a kiss on the check to remind her that she remains in her bed under the care and protection of her biological father as well as her spiritual Father.
Catechisms and Confessions are like this. They are a necessary blanket that is at its most useful when we are scared, young, and crying. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith. I love the Heidelberg Catechism more. Both are subservient to the Scriptures. Both have acted as a comforter around my neck providing warmth, comfort, and familiarity. I was once a non-confessional Baptist. The weight of determining what was correct and incorrect in Scripture is something no Christian should bear alone. The truth is that most evangelicals adhere to the confession of holy individualistic emotion. As such, the historical confessions have been a means of grace too long ignored by American Evangelicalism. But they are not infallible. They require our Spiritual Father to come alongside and pull them up to our neck. When our theological tossing and turning often rendering them less helpful the Father is able to bring them back around us. Reorienting them to our position. Keeping us warm and comfortable in history as we grow, mature, and reach adulthood.
Because they are not inerrant, catechisms and confessions do not transcend time as well as we wish. As we grow and mature there are gaps of coverage and concern. The comforter slides off just as it does for my daughter. This is not the same as saying the comforter is useless. No, it simply needs to be readjusted. So also it is with historical confessions. They are entirely truth but sometimes they are too small. They are not in their entirety or orientation a perfect reflection of Scripture. As the church grows and matures it should out grow its confessions. This is a sign of maturity. Now before I lose friends, maturity demands new confessions.
New Confessions. I am not revolting against confessions. I am not arguing for loose ecumenicalism. I am affirming that confessions and catechisms are necessary. The confessions and catechisms we currently have must be kept and utilized. But we need new confessions. New blankets wrapped around our necks to keep us warm. The nights get cold in secular America these days.