We have learned about the Nicene Creed and the Apostle’s Creed and now we are going to learn more about the first creed that is unique to the Presbyterian Church and that is the good ole’ Scots Confession! This is one of three creeds that we include in our Book of Confessions (book one of our PCUSA constitution) that is from the Reformation period. The Scots Confession is from, no surprise, Scotland and the other two are from Germany and Switzerland (more on them to come).
It was written at a crossroads in the history of the Scottish nation when the Queen Regent Mary of Guise died in her sleep in 1560 and the Protestant nobility was able to secure English recognition of Scottish sovereignty in the Treaty of Edinburgh. This conclusion of the civil war with Mary’s French Catholic supported forces, represented a providential deliverance to the Scottish people.
Immediately after the Scottish Parliament declared Scotland a Protestant nation, six ministers, including John Knox, were asked to frame a confession of faith that the nation could use. These six men concluded their writing in only four days and it was ratified in 1560 by the Parliament as “doctrine grounded upon the infallible Word of God.”
This confession begins with a pledge of unconditional commitment to the triune God who creates, sustains, rules, and guides all things. The first 11 chapters narrate God’s providential acts in the events of biblical history. The kirk, which is what the church in Scotland was called, of the present and future, is part of the continuum of the kirk of God’s people beginning with Adam. The Bible is affirmed as the norm by which the kirk judges itself, with the Scriptures as a sacred history of the past to present kirk. This sacredness is through the Holy Spirit and with God’s deliverance not just in the past, but into the future as well.
The Scots Confession says there are three marks of the true and faithful kirk – “the true preaching of the Word of God,” “the right administration of the sacraments of Christ Jesus,” and “ecclesiastical discipline . . . whereby vice is repressed and virtue nourished.”
This confession was written during a unsettled time and the key words used throughout are, “cleave, serve, worship, and trust” so reflecting a spirit and commitment to God, who had delivered the Scottish people to this new space and who had thus experienced by them firsthand.
Grace, peace, and blessings be yours, Nancy
Rev. Nancy's Notes