This companion volume for readers of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) is heartily welcomed. Chad Van Dixhoorn is a renowned expert on the minutes and papers of the Westminster Assembly, and is an ordained minister and church practitioner.
He certainly has not written this volume with a detached view of theology. His writing style seeks to engage the reader with the doctrines of the WCF. He does this intelligibly and with a lively style.
Following a foreword by Carl Trueman, Van Dixhoorn introduces his book, writing of the WCF that ‘perhaps it is the wisest of creeds in its teaching and the finest in its doctrinal expression’.
A chapter is devoted to each of the 33 chapters in the WCF and the author imposes his own nine headings to summarise the WCF’s teaching. These headings are: foundations, the decrees of God, sin and the Saviour, salvation, law and liberty, worship, civil government and family, the church and last things (eschatology).
Van Dixhoorn uses pithy comments and various turns of phrase effectively. In explaining the clarity of Scripture, for example, he writes that ‘mapping the high points of the Bible is tiring work’ (p.22). On the texts and translations of Scripture, he helpfully summarises that ‘the Bible we have is authentic’ (p.23).
This book contains a freshness which should serve the purpose of recovering confessional Christianity in our generation. The chapters on the law, the Christian sabbath and the communion of the saints may be useful starting points for any readers who, though from a Reformed background, feel they can improve the state of play by downplaying key Reformed doctrines.
On the other hand, we must not think that this is the final word on the doctrines of the WCF. It is simply a reader’s guide, an introductory companion for those who desire to teach this particular confession or understand it better.
Tolle lege — pick up and read! The Latin phrase holds good for both this book and the Westminster Confession of Faith itself.