“A great gulf separates the scriptural picture of the Church’s spiritual mission and the social, economic and political aims proposed by the ‘Confession of 1967’ ”

Abraham Lincoln, that master story-teller, once told of a farmer who was trying to teach his son how to plow a straight furrow. After the horse had been hitched up and everything was ready, he directed the boy to keep his eye upon some object at the other end of the field and plow straight toward it. “Over there is an ox,” he said. “That will do.” The boy started plowing and the father went about his chores. When he returned a little later to see what progress had been made, he was shocked to find, instead of a straight line, something that looked more like a question mark. The boy had obeyed his instructions; the trouble was that the ox had moved!

We can make this kind of mistake in writing creeds and confessions. Instead of keeping our eyes centered upon the unchanging and incorruptible Word of God, which, as the Apostle Peter says, “liveth and abideth forever,” we can set our eyes on the word of psychologists, philosophers, and theologians, all of whom are but fallible, changing, sinful human beings. Unwittingly we may end up following a moving ox.

What, after all, is our criterion of truth? The Shorter Catechism tells us plainly: “The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him” (Q. 2). The Bible alone is timeless and changeless, a foundation that cannot be shaken, the inspired and infallible Word of God.

Just how far the proposed “Confession of 1967” of the United Presbyterian Church departs from this divine standard becomes evident when we examine what it says about ...

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