Statement of Adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith
In the Scriptures God has given to His Church His testimony. Being inspired, infallible, complete and invariable, they contain the authoritative revelation of His mind and will.
In both the Old and New Testaments God has charged His Church to declare this testimony to mankind.
“For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children” (Psalm 78:5,6).
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland believes that in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms Larger and Shorter there is a systematic presentation of the teaching of Holy Scripture. In accordance with this belief the Church requires its members to accept them as its Doctrinal Testimony.
But in virtue of the sole Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ and His exclusive right to rule in and over His Church, and the consequent obligation of His Church to be guided in all her doings by His Word alone, no human interpretation can ever be regarded by the Church as final. She must always acknowledge her duty and maintain her right, to revise her Testimony whenever she is convinced that the Holy Spirit has led her to a new insight into, and a more perfect understanding of, Holy Scripture, and has revealed to her that certain statements in it are at variance with the witness of Scripture.
In particular the Church has reservations regarding two sections of the Westminster Confession of Faith.
1. Chapter 23, paragraph 3, and chapter 31, paragraph 2, should be interpreted in accordance with the decision of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland receiving the Confession in 1647. “The Assembly understandeth some parts of the second article of the thirty-first chapter only of kirks not settled or constituted in point of Government and that, although in such kirks a Synod of Ministers, and other fit persons, may be called by the Magistrate’s authority and nomination without any other call, to consult and advise with, about matters of religion; and although, likewise, the Ministers of Christ, without delegation from their Churches, may of themselves, and by virtue of their office, meet together synodically in such kirks not yet constituted, yet neither of these ought to be done in kirks constituted and settled.” The Church’s acceptance of this interpretation does not imply the granting of any authority to the magistrate other than the requesting of ministers and other fit persons to assemble together.
2. And also regarding chapter 24, paragraph 4, in the matter of marriage with a deceased wife’s sister and deceased husband’s brother – in view of the uncertainty amongst students of Scripture as to the true interpretation of the injunctions laid down, no disciplinary action is taken by the Church against those who contract such marriages or ministers who perform them.