Thursday, April 2, 2020

Resources on the Westminster Confession and Catechisms

The Westminster doctrinal standards (a confession of faith and two catechisms) were written in the 1640s at the Westminster Assembly. This assembly was charged to reform the English church according to Scripture and to bring it into greater unity with the more fully reformed Church of Scotland. It was composed primarily by English Puritan ministers who worked with significant input from Presbyterian commissioners from the Scottish church. While these doctrinal statements did not last long in the Church of England, they were maintained by the Church of Scotland and have been adopted by Presbyterian churches wherever they have been established around the world.

These documents are rich statements of biblical truth and time-tested summaries of the Christian faith. The documents themselves are easily available online. Here they are as originally written, and here they are as adopted by our denomination (incorporating some minor revisions which you can view here). Since they have been used to teach people the faith for hundreds of years, there are many resources to help explain them and to flesh out and apply their theology. Here are some that I have found most helpful:

The Westminster Shorter Catechism

Westminster Shorter Catechism Project
This is a valuable online compilation of a number of older commentaries on the catechism. Most of these commentaries have been republished in modern times and can be purchased in book form. Two of them in particular I have found very good:

The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture by Thomas Vincent
This is a short and simple explanation of the catechism from Scripture, available for purchase here.

A Body of Practical Divinity by Thomas Watson
This is a longer exposition of the theology of the shorter catechism, given with practical application, now republished in three volumes, available for purchase here.

The Westminster Larger Catechism

Authentic Christianity: An Exposition of the Theology and Ethics of the Westminster Larger Catechism by Dr. Joseph C. Morecraft
For deeper study or as a reference work, this is a great resource. It is available to purchase here. It is based on Dr. Morecraft's 364 lectures on the larger catechism, which are available online here.

The Westminster Confession of Faith

Lectures on the Westminster Confession by Dr. John R. DeWitt

The Reformed Faith: An Exposition of the Westminster Confession by Robert Shaw
Originally published in 1845, it has been republished by Christian Focus Publications (2008). It is available to read online here and to order here.

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