In the Footsteps of our Fathers-3 Church Symbols
March 10, 1938
“What are the significance and authority of church symbols?”
Kersten Answer: Church forms of unity are symbols. By means of these symbols the church officially expresses herself concerning the doctrine og God’s Word. Therefore, symbols are more than private writings, such as the confessional writings of Agustine, which are not numbered with the symbols of the Churches. As far as the Reformed Churches are concerned, the following are included: the Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Cannons of Dort.
These symbols have authority. Those who assert that the symbols of the Reformed Churches of old are merely the work of man are not only mistaken, but reject what God has given His Church through the ages to confirm God’s Word. These are more than mere writings of man, although they are fully subordinate to God’s Word. They may not be compared with the Holy Scriptures as to authority, worthiness and immutability. Article 7 of the Confessions of Faith states emphatically that we may not consider of equal value with hose divine Scriptures any writings of men, however holy these men may have been. Nevertheless, those symbols have authority, because they are fully based on God’s Word. Whoever doesn’t agree with this or scornfully rejects these writings, does not belong in a church of true Reformed persuasion. It is to be feared that he (no matter how pious he appears to be in appealing to God’s Word alone) holds to errors that are uncovered by the symbols.
Whoever rejects the symbols, robs the church. What would he do without these symbols?Would she have to resume the fight with Rome, the Remonstrants, the Anabaptists, etc? Let us be on our guard that the false doctrine of our day doesn’t get the upper hand. Pious talk cannot stand up against that lie, but will be dashed in pieces on the symbols that are based upon God’s Word. I seriously advise you to read and study these writings. Our young people, in particular, must read them and hold fast to them.
Kersten is correct. In a day and age that seems to diminish the importance of church symbols (Creeds and Confessions), it is a good succinct reminder to us all. I would only add that the creeds are also symbols.