Confessional theology: list of authoritative documents and denominational groups they are authoritative to

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Feb 16 2020 2:30 AM

Does anyone know where I could find a list of authoritative documents (most often confessions of faith) and the denomination they apply to?

Examples - feel free to correct me:

  • Lutherans - The Book of Concord
  • Christian Scientists - Science and Health
  • Moravians - Bohemian Confession of 1575 (I think)
  • Anglicans - none but Thirty-nine articles is similar; however, tradition plays an authoritative role
  • Presbyterians - Westminster Standards
  • Congregationalist - Savoy Declaration
  • Baptist -Second London Baptist Confession + many 
  • Seventh-day Adventists - writings of Ellen White

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Dale E Heath | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Feb 16 2020 9:30 AM

I took a quick look in Wikipedia, beginning with world religeons and worked my way to Christianity. It was just overwhelming, all the branches and subgroups. It will be interesting to see what the responses are. Surprise

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Liam & Abi Maguire | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2020 9:45 AM

Christian Reformed Church - The Heidelberg Catechism: http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html 

Dutch Reformed, as above

Hope that helps. Great thread idea; really useful.

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Edit: Probably worth noting that though these might be historically the authoritative documents, the degree to which they are recognised as such will obviously vary from church to church, minister to minister, congregant to congregant.

Carpe verbum.

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2020 11:17 AM

MJ. Smith:
Presbyterians - Westminster Standards

Presbyterians have a whole bunch, at least PCUSA does. I used to be a member of a PCUSA church in Seattle, and we had the Book of Confessions, a collection of historical and contemporary creeds, confessions, and catechisms, that formed the constitution of that church body. Most individuals didn't own a personal copy of it or refer to it, but it was available for sale at our book table, and being a theology nerd, I bought one. It includes:

  • The Nicene Creed
  • The Apostles' Creed
  • The Scots Confession
  • The Heidelberg Catechism
  • The Second Helvetic Confession
  • The Westminster Confession of Faith
  • The Shorter Catechism
  • The Larger Catechism
  • The Theological Declaration of Barmen (aka The Barmen Declaration) - my pastor used to refer to this regularly, as he was a big Barth & Bonhoeffer fan/scholar
  • The Confession of 1967
  • A Brief Statement of Faith--Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - this was reproduced for us and distributed

I've now thrown in my hat with the Mennonites for this stage of my life. My church is an inter-Mennonite congregation, so we are guided by the statements of faith of both Mennonite Brethren and General Conference Mennonites, though I must say confessions of faith are not emphasized that much in the life of our church.

Other historic and contemporary confessions of faith of importance to Mennonites are:

But as this helpful article, Confessions of Faith in the Anabaptist/Mennonite Tradition , points out, "Mennonites are neither a creedal church nor a confessional one in the sense of adhering to a single authoritative confession. They are confessional, however, in the sense of having authored numerous confessions that at times have played important roles in church life."

MJ. Smith:
Does anyone know where I could find a list of authoritative documents (most often confessions of faith) and the denomination they apply to?

I doubt that such an exhaustive list exists anywhere. It seems you might need to take it upon yourself to create one.

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David Thomas | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2020 11:37 AM

MJ. Smith:
Examples - feel free to correct me:

Southern Baptist Convention - Baptist Faith & Message 2000 (comparison to 1925 & 1963)

Evangelical Free Church of America -

    • 1950 statement (Since churches are autonomous some who came into the movement early were not expected to endorse the later documents)
    •  2008 Revision (Significant realignment of the 12 points into 10) rational for revision & realignment is here - hoping it will become available in Logos!!!
    •  2019 Revision (removes "premillennialism")[Faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School are required to sign this statement]

Assemblies of God - Foundational Truths

While not a "denomination" many non-denominational congregations derive their Confessions from these standards: National Association of Evangelicals, Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary.

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JohnB | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2020 3:04 PM

MJ. Smith:

Does anyone know where I could find a list of authoritative documents (most often confessions of faith) and the denomination they apply to?

I hear the term Confession of Faith used a lot but am not sure what you mean by it. Similarly authoritative document. Do you mean a document that one is expected to accept in order to be accepted as a member by a denomination, church or other group of christians? 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2020 4:12 PM

What I am looking for are documents that one or more denominations speak of as "authoritative" or "normative". Different theological streams mean different things by "authoritative' - an issue I am not addressing at this point. In the early church these tended to be creeds (such as the Nicene Creed or the Apostle's Creed) or baptismal vows.  At the time of the Reformation, they became much longer documents with a variety of names the most common being Confession of Faith (Schleitheim Confession, Somerset Confession of Faith, Confession of Cyril Lucaris ...) or catechism (Heidleberg Catechism, Keach's Catechism, Anglican Catechism). "Statement" is a more contemporary term (Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Statement of Faith of the United Church of Christ) ...

For confessional churches, these documents are a player in theological thought (think Lutheran and The Book of Concord). The degree to which the documents are used currently as a rule of the beliefs of the congregation is high variable. Many congregations have their own versions on the websites, often tagged "what we believe" but without any statement regarding the status of the statement in defining membership or theology. Because of the volume of these they are not what I am interested in.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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