Teachers of Christ’s church are called to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) by addressing the challenges to the faith that arise in each generation. The board and faculty of Westminster Seminary in California confess our faith in the Sovereign God who has revealed himself in his creation, in Christ the incarnate Word, and in Scripture the Word of God written. Our understanding of God’s self-revelation is summarized in the Reformed confessions: the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort. In our time, as in the past, biblical faith faces particular challenges. Recognizing that faithfulness to Christ entails our readiness to speak his truth specifically at those points in which it is under attack in our day, we offer to the church this statement of our understanding of the Scriptures’ teaching regarding issues now causing controversy among the people of God. The board and faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary in California have unanimously adopted this testimony.
Concerning the Inerrancy of Scripture we believe:
1. THAT THE SCRIPTURE is the very Word of God written. Since God can neither lie, be mistaken, nor change, his Word cannot contain error. Therefore, Scripture is inerrant.
2. THAT SCRIPTURE’S AUTHORITY extends to all that it actually teaches. The careful study of Scripture will sometimes require us to correct our traditional views of what it says. But once the actual teachings of Scripture are ascertained, they bind our consciences, our theories, and our behavior. They take precedence over any rival claims to knowledge.
3. THAT GOD’S SPECIAL REVELATION IN THE BIBLE is compatible in every respect with his general revelation in nature. Human interpretations of general revelation, however, must submit to the authority of special revelation.
4. THAT SCRIPTURE’S PRIMARY SUBJECT is the message of redemption from sin through Jesus Christ. But all Scripture’s subject matter is God’s Word and always true. When Scripture speaks to matters of history, science, ethics, or anything else, it is true and authoritative, and it governs our thinking in these areas.
5. THAT THE INFALLIBILITY OF SCRIPTURE necessarily implies the inerrancy of Scripture.
Concerning the Interpretation of Scripture we believe:
1. THAT SINCE THE SCRIPTURE IS THE WORD OF God, it is a unity and cannot contradict itself.
2. THAT THE MEANING OF SCRIPTURE must be learned through the faithful and accurate interpretation of the text of Scripture. The meaning of Scripture is not established by tradition, by appeals to continuing revelation, or by the decisions of church councils.
3. THAT IN THE PROCESS OF INTERPRETATION, understanding the original intent of the human author, the literary character of specific texts, the need to compare one text with another, the role of specific texts in the progressive unfolding of revelation, and the Christ-centered dimension of all Scripture are essential.
4. THAT INTERPRETERS OF SCRIPTURE must seek to recognize and overcome their own limitations of ignorance and sin. They need the illumination of the Holy Spirit for their work. Faithful interpreters always seek to stand under the Word of God, not over it.
5. THAT THOROUGH STUDY of the original languages of Scripture and of ancient and modern cultures, as well as careful self-examination joined to humble faith and prayer, are the best preparation for the scholarly study of Scripture.
6. THAT A SCHOLARLY STUDY OF THE BIBLE does not and must not undermine the perspicuity of Scripture. The truths necessary for salvation are so clearly expressed in Scripture that both learned and unlearned readers may and should understand them.
Concerning Genesis 1–3 we believe:
1. THAT THE BOOK OF GENESIS was written by Moses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and in all its parts is an accurate, historical presentation.
2. THAT GENESIS 1 teaches that God created everything out of nothing and that he created it good. The meaning of “day” in Genesis 1 has been debated in the church at least since the days of Augustine. The literary form of the passage in its relation to other Scriptures is important for its interpretation. Responsible Reformed theologians have differed as to whether Genesis 1 teaches a young earth or allows for an old earth. While one of these interpretations must be mistaken, we believe that either position can be held by faithful Reformed people.
3. THAT GOD created the first man, Adam, from the dust of the ground and the first woman, Eve, from that man. The first man was a unique creation of God, not descending from any previously existing creature. All human beings are descended from these first parents.
Concerning the Ordination of Women we believe:
1. THAT MEN AND WOMEN equally bear the image of God and are to serve him with all their gifts according to his specific callings to them.
2. THAT FROM CREATION men were given authority and ultimate leadership in the family and in the covenant community.
3. THAT CHRIST, as he makes clear in his Word, does not call women to the authortative offices of teaching elder (minister) and ruling elder in the church and therefore the church may not ordain them to these offices.
Concerning Homosexuality we believe:
1. THAT HOMOSEXUAL DESIRES AND ACTIONS are a result of the Fall and are sinful.
2. THAT HOMOSEXUALS who give in to these desires and actions or who argue their legitimacy, like all sinners, must be clearly called to faith and repentance. The unrepentant must be disciplined by the church. Those who practice or advocate homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle must not be ordained to ecclesiastical office.
3. THAT CHRISTIANS must provide loving support and care for those struggling against homosexual temptations, encouraging them to seek forgiveness and grace to overcome their temptations.
4. THAT CHRISTIANS must support all moral efforts to stop the spread of AIDS and must offer all possible comfort and spiritual help to those dying of AIDS.
5. THAT THE CHURCH acts contrary to love for God and neighbor when it declares morally neutral anything which God has declared sinful.