Cornerstone Christian Fellowship is a confessional church, meaning we hold to a particular confession of faith as our basic summary of beliefs. But what is a confession of faith and why is it important?
A confession of faith is a document that summarizes a church’s beliefs about the Christian faith. It is easy for a particular church to say “Our doctrine is the Bible!” and claim that the Bible governs their affairs, but there are many ways that Christians have interpreted the Bible. A more focused statement of faith and belief is needed. A confession succinctly expresses what a church believes the Scriptures teach in a systematic and orderly fashion. Among the many confessions that grew out of the Protestant Reformation, the classic Westminster Confession of Faith is perhaps the most widely known among reformed churches. Other historic confessions of faith include the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, the London Baptist Confession, The Heidelberg Catechism and the Savoy Confession (among others).
A confession of faith defines a church in terms of its basic doctrines and practices. It unifies churches into like-minded associations and denominations. If you know which confession a church holds to, then you know precisely how a church thinks about basic doctrines such as the Bible, God, the church, salvation, sanctification, church officers, membership, church ordinances, and all manner of issues pertaining to the Church. A confession always cites the Bible, and offers specific chapter-and-verse citations for every statement.
If you wish to know what a non-confessional church believes, you may need to ask many questions and speak with many people. But if you wish to know what a confessional church believes, you merely need to read a single document. Thus, it is a very handy tool for church shoppers. Nothing of the essential teachings of a confessional church is hidden.
Furthermore, a confession of faith is useful to a church as a fixed point of reference. Both church leadership and its members can be mutually accountable to the Bible, since all have agreed upon what the Bible means through the adoption of a confession. Thus, most confessional churches use their confession as a governing document.
At Cornerstone, the London Baptist Confession of 1689 is our primary doctrinal statement about the Bible. We ask members to be willing to “receive instruction from the Scriptures by the elders of the church in accord with the London Baptist Confession of 1689.” We use our confession as a chief governing document and refer to it frequently in teaching and in policy. We are grateful to the men who, long ago, worked hard and diligently to codify a systematic summary of our faith.