Today, confessions are used in a variety of ways in the lives of Protestant churches. Not all of the trends in evangelical churches are hospitable to confessions. Forces such as the rise of Pietism and the Second Great Awakening have had a withering effect on the role of confessions— corporately and privately—in favour of a more immediate articulation of the faith. At times, confessions are seen as roadblocks to authentic faith.
While these trends are alarming, the confessions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have not passed away. They are used weekly in many churches, both in the context of worship and in catechizing new believers and children. They also are used to verify the fidelity of pastors and elders in a variety of denominations. In this sense, the confessions of faith not only form the boundary fence that helps ensure orthodoxy but are also used as living documents that contour the daily walk of
Dr. Ryan Reeves is assistant professor of historical theology and assistant dean of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, Fla.