The doctrinal declension of a church or denomination that has subscribed to confessional standards has usually begun with a loosening of the requirements of those standards. When such denominations have ceased requiring full subscription to their confessional standards, they eventually fell into Socinianism or Arminianism. Those that become Arminian in their theology eventually fell into liberalism.” (If I can add to this quote, those that became Socinian eventually fell into deism.)
So wrote J. Pipa in his forward to The Erosion of Calvinist Orthodoxy by Ian Hamilton (Ross-Shire: Mentor, 2010). In this book, Hamilton proves Pipa’s quote true as he walks through some details of confessional Scottish Presbyterian churches from roughly 1733 to the Free Church Declaratory Act of 1892. If you’re interested in confessional subscription in general and the Scottish Presbyterian church specifically, you’ll want to check this out. It is sad to see churches lose their confessional anchor when the winds of culture blow; this book could be written, sadly, of many churches today. The conclusion of this book deals specifically with the benefit of confessions. Here’s the last paragraph.
“Without meaningful and biblically substantive Confessions of Faith the Church will the more easily forget, and ignore, the realities on which it depends. It is not mindless fundamentalism, but faithfulness to the Word of God that compels honest Christians to ‘contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.’ There are few better ways of doing so than by clearly holding out what it is that Christians ‘most certainly believe.'”
(Quotes taken from pages 7 & 207).