Westminster Standards Bibliography

This is a list of resources on the Westminster Standards.

It is what I studied to prepare for teaching the Westminster Standards.

They are not necessarily in order of quality. Links are included so you can go directly to them. An asterisk (*) indicates a free resource.

I have also written a small review of several. Hopefully, this bibliography is helpful.

Books:

The Westminster Standards (Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms)*

The best creeds ever written.

Reformed Confessions Harmonized edited by Joel Beeke & Sinclair Ferguson

A really helpful resource. The introductory material is excellent. I highly recommend having this on hand.

The Presbyterian Standards: An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms by Francis R. Beattie*

Textbook #1. To my knowledge, this is the only book currently available that expounds the Standards in harmony. It’s an excellent book, and one reason is because it is the only one. I have to say, it is my opinion that the fact this book has gone out of print and isn’t being published today is evidence that Presbyterians are unwilling (for myriad reasons, no doubt) to do the very thing Beattie does: expound the all the Standards. That’s a shame. Many of the seminary classes out there only study the Confession of Faith. At worst, the Shorter Catechism. But the simple fact is that we don’t have just one document, we have three, and they compliment each other. Beattie shows us how.

Truth’s Victory Over Error: A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith by David Dickson

The second textbook. This book is a gem. This is the first commentary on the Confession of Faith, written just three years after the Confession itself. It’s a confessional apologetic. And all those heresies and errors? We are still fighting them today. This book will never get old. I’m glad it’s recognized, still being published by Banner of Truth in a very nice edition. Chapters 1-22 can be read here.

The Westminster Confession of Faith: For Study Classes (2nd Edition) by G.I. Williamson

A wonderful commentary. If you love his study guide on the Shorter Catechism, you’ll love this. Great applications, all over. Easy read. Definitely a first resource for the Confession.

The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary by Johannes Geerhardus Vos (ed. G.I. Williamson)

I loved this so much. I love the Larger Catechism, and it is truly a neglected treasure of a neglected part of Presbyterian heritage. However old Vos is, his brief commentary still packs relevance. A new edition of this would certainly be of great benefit to the church. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, about anything. Read a sample.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism: For Study Classes by G.I. Williamson

The classic! This was my introduction to the Westminster Standards. Our community group used it, and now I use it for high school and Sunday school. The sections on the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer are especially good. The illustrations (figures) could use updating, though. I also think they should update the cover art to match his commentary on the Confession and Vos’ commentary on the Larger Catechism.

The Westminster Confession: A Commentary by A.A. Hodge*

A classic commentary on the Confession. I enjoyed this one.

The Reformed Faith: An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith by Robert Shaw*

I think I enjoyed this more than Hodge. Much more of this was helpful.

A Body of DivinityThe Ten Commandments, and The Lord’s Prayer by Thomas Watson*

This trilogy is all of Thomas Watson’s sermons following the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Has has such a way with words. The first offers an excellent introduction to the Christian faith. The second volume is my favorite of the three. However, as Puritans had a tendency to do, his further extending and dividing could drag on. There’s definitely more here than was needed.

The Westminster Assembly and Its Work, and The Making of the Westminster Confession by B.B. Warfield*

Both good background on the Westminster Standards. It will probably give you a greater appreciation of the Divines.

The Creedal Imperative by Carl R. Trueman

A must read in this anti-creedal time. Evangelicals tend to be hostile to history and creeds in general, and correction is needed. While this book doesn’t exclusively focus on the Standards themselves, it all still applies. This helps you know the opposition to creeds and confessions.

By Good and Necessary Consequence by Ryan McGraw

An extremely important exposition of one part of the Confession of Faith. This is vital to understand, in order to interpret Scripture correctly, and to understand the doctrines we believe. This part of the Confession of Faith happens to be one of the places that the particular Baptists revised for their London Confession of Faith, by the way.

Know the Creeds and Councils and Know the Heretics by Justin Holcomb

Broader than just the Westminster Standards. More helpful historical context to understand what has been passed down to us throughout church history.

A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life by Joel Beeke & Mark Jones

The Puritans wrote the Westminster Standards. This work is helpful in understanding the doctrine, ethics, and practice that is contained in the Standards, from Calvin to the Westminster Assembly. This work is a true treasure, and belongs on the shelf (or in the cloud) of any serious Reformed student.

Courses: *

The English Puritans (16 lectures), Dr. J.I. Packer and History & Theology of the Puritans (26 lectures), Dr. Douglas Kelly, Reformed Theological Seminary

These two classes are background and context for the Standards.

The Westminster Standards (14 lectures), Sinclair Ferguson, Westminster Theological Seminary

I was disappointed with this one, simply because the title of the class does not reflect the content. I saw this and thought it would be what I wanted to teach: the Westminster Standards. So I was excited. After giving an excellent overview of the historical context, Ferguson then provides a very good “gloss” of the Confession of Faith only. Not as advertised! This class should be titled “The Westminster Confession.” Besides that, his gloss of the Confession was very helpful.

The Westminster Confession of Faith (22 lectures), Dr. David Calhoun, Covenant Theological Seminary

My least favorite of these classes, easily. The pace was painfully slow. I literally listened to it at 3x speed. Because of that, the commentary on the Confession was really disproportioned. Dragging the beginning of the Confession, and rushing the rest. That latter parts of the Confession had to be swept over really quickly because time had run out. Yet, there were some helpful tidbits. Much ado about “exceptions” that would need to be figured out, prior to ordination. Ordination and subscription to the Confession were always in view, which I appreciated.

The Westminster Confession of Faith (24 lectures), Dr. John Gerstner, Ligonier

The best teaching on the Confession on this list. He’s the best teacher, no doubt. This was immediately my favorite class on the Westminster Confession, before I had even finished it. He was such a great teacher, and it was obvious that he loved what he was teaching, and that was contagious. His way of explaining was so clear. This class was a delight. I wish I had watched it years ago when I first got it.

The Westminster Confession for Today Conference from 2006 and 2007 at Reformed Theological Seminary (12 addresses each)

These two conferences were excellent. Scholarly level addresses on aspects of the Westminster Standards, reminding everyone that they are not out of date, but applicable as ever. Truly helpful for a closer analysis of particulars in the Standards. I have listed the lectures that I found to be most helpful, with some explanation, here.

Biblical Doctrine Series: Westminster Confession (60 hours!), Francis Schaeffer, L’Abri Fellowship

Podcast:

The Jerusalem Chamber

This podcast is easily as helpful as any course I’ve listened to on the Westminster Confession of Faith. More than most of them, to be honest. Notes are hit in this podcast that none of the commentaries touch. It is extremely helpful and practical. Anyone who wants to study the Confession, go here first. It’s the easiest way to learn so much.

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The Standards on Liberty of Conscience

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.

Westminster Confession of Faith 20.2

Because God alone is the Lord of the conscience (in accordance with his Word), the Christian’s conscience is free from the doctrines and commandments of men, if they are at all contrary to the Word, or beside it, in matters of faith and worship. The conscience is not trustworthy by itself. It is not infallible, but must be guided. Therefore, Scripture as the only infallible rule for faith and life, must bind the conscience. No conscience has “liberty” from Scripture. Rather, liberty is within the parameters of God’s Word.

No person on earth can have authority to dictate to conscience; for this would be to assume a prerogative which belongs to none but the supreme Lord and Legislator. “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.”–James 4:12. Such a power was prohibited by Jesus Christ among his followers: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, but ye shall not be so.”–Luke 22:25. It was disclaimed by the inspired apostles: “Not that we have dominion over your faith,” said the Apostle of the Gentiles, “but are helpers of your joy.”–2 Cor. 1:24.

—Robert Shaw, The Reformed Faith: An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith pg. 170

Perhaps the defining idea in the Westminster Standards is liberty of conscience, according to Derek Thomas, who also says that chapter 20 is the most important chapter of the Confession. Listen to his address: Overly Regulated? Westminster’s View of Worship, or read here: The Regulative Principle of Worship, where he says:

What is sometimes forgotten in these discussions is the important role of conscience. Without the regulative principle, we are at the mercy of “worship leaders” and bullying pastors who charge noncompliant worshipers with displeasing God unless they participate according to a certain pattern and manner. To the victims of such bullies, the sweetest sentences ever penned by men are, [WCF 20:2]. To obey when it is a matter of God’s express prescription is true liberty; anything else is bondage and legalism.

I remember hearing something to the effect of, “if you don’t attend the midweek service at church, you’re not a dedicated Christian.” “Bondage and legalism” are exactly the proper charge against those who invent their own religious ceremonies, superstitious practices, and require that you participate. Or, create initiatives in the church that are good, if done voluntarily, but then make them mandatory. Notice the scope of what the Confession says. Any and all extra-biblical (or anti-biblical) religious ceremony, practice, service, ritual is what’s being talked about. Likewise, any and all teaching that contradicts Scripture or is added to Scripture. That’s huge, and will require much reflection.

Despite WCF 20.2 being true, this principle is frequently violated. It’s not only possible to betray conscience by those overlording, but by those who submit to such. Notice what the Confession said: “to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience.” It is clear that responsibility is on both sides. Not only are people not to bind the believer’s conscience with human doctrines and commandments, but they are also not to submit to them. If you believe the doctrines or obey commands that are contrary to or beside Scripture (regarding faith and worship), then you have betrayed true freedom of conscience. Rather, Scripture alone binds the conscience.

The only Lord of the conscience is God, and he guides by his Word. Our conscience cannot be bound by anything not in the Scriptures. This is directly against the binding of the conscience in Roman Catholicism.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who contradict this, both in doctrine (because they teach, that the Pope of Rome, and Bishops in their own Diocesses, may by their own authority, praeter Scripturam, beside the Word, make Laws, which oblige and bind the Conscience, under the pain of everlasting death) and in practise (because, they have obtruded, and do obtrude, many Ecclesiastical Rites and Ceremonies, as necessary in worship, without any foundation in Scripture.) Yes. . . Because ceremonies are superstitious, being a vice opposite to religion in the excess, commanding more in the worship of God than he requires in his worship.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who require, an Implicit Faith, to all the Decrees and Ordinances of their Church and Pope: and a blind obedience to their commands without a previous judgement of discretion? Yes.

—David Dickson, Truth’s Victory Over Error pg. 128-129, 130

“Implicit faith” even includes anything Rome will teach in the future. And so you are doubly unable to think and consider what you are commanded to believe, and unable entirely to judge it according to Scripture.

Not only does the Church of Rome do this, but all the rest of the cults bind the conscience as well with their doctrines and commands. Far be it from a true church to do such a thing!

Contrary to the Word

But, lest we think we are better, or immune from this, Protestants also are guilty of betraying liberty of conscience. Evangelical churches have been guilty of making up commands that are contrary to Scripture, and disciplining those who will not obey. Believe it or not, even churches who claim to subscribe to this very Westminster Confession of Faith violate it at this very point! Here’s a real-life example: a favorite commandment of men is forbidding alcohol consumption, while the Bible allows (and even encourages!) the use of it. This is often (but not necessarily) based on the doctrine of men that even a drop of alcohol will defile you. Unbiblical! Indeed, churches telling people what not to eat, drink, wear, etc. should sound familiar. Paul talked about that in the Bible: “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch” (Colossians 2:20-23). And he says those commands and doctrines of men are of no value.

Examples of rules which are contrary to the Word of God are prohibitions requiring total abstinence from the use of certain material things. The Mormon religion forbids the use of coffee. Other sects forbid the use of meat. And truly, time would fail to mention all such forbidden things for the number is legion. However, in not one case is it possible to show that such abstinence is required by God. This is impossible because “there is nothing unclean of itself” (Rom. 14: 14). “All things indeed are pure” (14: 20). If nothing is unclean, then no such rule forbidding the use of something can be legitimate. If all things indeed are pure, then all things may indeed be used by men without fear of conscience.

—G.I. Williamson, The Westminster Confession of Faith: For Study Classes pg. 195-196

Another commandment of men, contrary to the Word of God, is regarding marriage. Some pastors have presumed to tell people whom they may and may not marry. The effectively forbid marriage that is in fact lawful, according to the Word of God. The Bible says to marry in the Lord. It is in fact a duty to marry, if you cannot remain single (hence, WCF 22.7 denounces vows of celibacy). The Confession 24.3 says “It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent.” And yet, the leadership of some churches presume to forbid marriage, when God does not. Are both the man and woman Christians? Yes, but not enough. If one of them doesn’t meet the church’s preferences, they will attempt to forbid the marriage. That is also sinful, forbidding what God in his Word says is lawful. Interestingly enough, Westminster Larger Catechism Q/A 139 says “prohibiting of lawful marriages” and “undue delay of marriage” are violations of the seventh commandment.

They raise their particular preferences to the level of Scripture, and if you don’t get in line, your whole salvation will be questioned. And if you ever decide to leave, because of conscience, they won’t let you go quietly. Cult-like, indeed. Protestants love to have their “popes”, too.

So what should you do, when the church, denomination, or the pastor, put their doctrines and practices on the same level of Scripture? Well, to believe or obey them would be sin, denying God as the only Lord of your conscience. So, clearly, you must refuse their doctrines and commands. Obey God, rather than men (Acts 5:29). No church can forbid what Scripture allows, nor command what Scripture does not. You must not submit to that violation of conscience, and consequent violation of God’s lordship.

But even if a person faithfully obeys his conscience and scrupulously observes a rule forbidding the use of a material thing, he is still guilty of sin. He is guilty of the sin of allowing someone other than God to impose a rule upon his conscience.

—Williamson, Westminster Confession pg. 196

Now, I realize that’s easier said than done. Emotionally, it’s difficult. But that doesn’t change anything. Perhaps it’s the church that you’ve invested years in. Or the minister that has invested so much in you. Or the denomination that gave you your position (and could take it away!). Even though that may be the situation, if any of them place their teaching or practices, which contradict or add to Scripture regarding faith and worship, you must reject them. The question it comes down to is this: who is your Lord?

“I will not be obedient to you, the denomination, to Caesar, but only to my Lord Jesus.”

John Gerstner

“But it will be utter chaos and debauchery!” cries the legalist. “If we don’t make rules, then people will do whatever they want!” It’s typical, if conscience-binding is already going on, that those leaders believe that unless they control their people, all hell will break loose in that church. Sin will abound. Everyone will descend into licentiousness. Therefore, they must create and enforce all kinds of regulations to keep everyone behaving. That’s the justification.

We shall say here only that it is extremely dishonoring to the Holy Spirit of God to maintain such an objection. For this objection is tantamount to saying that a man-made rule will keep a Christian from sin better than will the Holy Spirit who dwells in him. To say that the Holy Spirit cannot guide the Christian in the free use of material things which he has not forbidden is to charge God foolishly.

—Williamson, Confession of Faith pg. 196-197

Beside the Word

Williamson observes the second class of rules mentioned by the Confession: “commandments of men, which are . . . beside it.” Meaning, rules that are additional to the Bible. A quick example from the Church of Rome is their commanding everyone to receive Holy Communion on “Easter” Sunday. Now, is it right to receive the Lord’s Supper on Sunday, the Lord’s Day? Yes, provided it is rightly administered, of course. That the Church of Rome has decided to call a particular Sunday “Easter” doesn’t change that. However, what is wrong is letting your conscience be bound by Rome’s authority and receiving communion when and how Rome says.

Let us cite another example: the Baptist churches insist upon immersion as the form of baptism. It is not contrary to the Word of God to baptize by immersion [WCF 28.3]. But it is an addition to the Word of God to require that baptism be by immersion only. And to permit the conscience to be bound by such a rule is wrong even though immersion itself is not.

—Williamson, Westminster Confession pg. 197

Notice the distinction: it may be right and proper to do voluntarily. But what is wrong is allowing your conscience to be bound by a manmade rule. Examples abound. Churches attempting to legislate “spiritual disciplines” would certainly fall under this category. “Pray every day,” the pastor says. Certainly that’s biblical. “Pray on your knees!” Really? “Pray on your knees, every morning, at 4 AM!” We must pray [WCF 21.3] because God in the Scriptures has commanded it. But we will not pray how and when any man (or church) attempts to command. It’s not wrong for any believer to voluntarily pray on their knees at 4 AM. But it is absolutely sin to do it because a man/church has commanded it. You have allowed your conscience to bow to a command of men beside the Word of God.

That evangelical ritual known as the “altar call” is also a commandment of men added to the Word of God. Think about it: Scripture says repent and believe. Believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth. That’s all! But what happens at an “altar call”? Some man, or church, tells people to get up from their seat and come to the front of the room to do the believing and confessing in that way. That’s as clear an addition to the condition of faith as there can be. How is it often announced? “If you want to accept Jesus, come down to the front.” Woah! Scripture nowhere says that is a condition to receiving and resting on Christ.

Truly Reformed

A true church simply declares the Word of God. It is not a legislative body. It does not make laws which bind the consciences of the subjects of Jesus Christ the king. It merely states the king’s laws so clearly that they who fail to heed will be without excuse. (But the Roman Church claims precisely this legislative power to make laws for the subjects of Christ.)

—Williamson, Confession of Faith pg. 26-27

The worst thing is when churches who subscribe to the Westminster Standards violate the conscience. It’s still sin, but understandable for churches without creeds (or very narrow ones) to do this. They haven’t written down exactly what they believe Scripture teaches (doctrines and commands) or exactly what they will require you to believe and do. Especially, they don’t have a chapter in their “statement of faith” regarding liberty of the conscience. So at least we can see the violation of conscience coming.

But for those who claim to be Reformed and Presbyterian? No excuse. It is written and public, right here in our Westminster Confession of Faith, and even substantiated by the Larger Catechism. And this idea didn’t come out nowhere, either. It was a defining principle of the Reformation and of Puritanism which followed.

 

When, as an alternative to God’s law, an elaborate man-made code is developed for believers to follow, covering every conceivable problem and tension in moral living, no freedom is left for believers to make personal decisions based on the principles of Scripture. In such a context, man-made law smothers the divine gospel, and legalistic sanctification swallows up gracious justification. The Christian is brought back into bondage akin to that of medieval Roman Catholic monasticism. . . when God’s law imposes no such limits, the Christian may enjoy freedom of conscience from the doctrines and commandments of men.

—Joel Beeke & Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology loc. 21485-21507

It’s our heritage, because it’s biblical. God alone is Lord of the conscience. So, the conscience of the Christian is free from the doctrines and commandments of men that are either contrary or in addition to God’s Word, particularly in matters of faith and worship. A truly Reformed church will not even try to bind the conscience to anything other than the Word of God.

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Break that Bread

Something hadn’t occurred to me, before. I certainly don’t recall it, anyway. That’s a reason why I keep studying. I trip over things I never thought of. This time, it was about the Lord’s Supper. I was reading Robert Shaw’s exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith (29.3, above) and was caught off guard by a comment he made about wafers.

Wafers
“Bread”

I know Roman Catholic churches use them, and that’s who Shaw refers to. But I think the first time I had one of these wafers was at a Presbyterian church.

I was a little surprised when I saw them. The only reason was that I knew they were a “Roman Catholic thing.” So they were an unexpected taste in a Reformed church. After I ate it, I had another reason: it’s a foam disc. But, neither of those “reasons” are reason enough to object to their use. So I dealt with it.

Needless to say, Robert Shaw actually has a sound reason to oppose the use of wafers in the Lord’s Supper. He notes that it takes away “an essential part,” a “significant action,” of the ordinance. Can you guess which one? Let’s read some Bible:

and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  —1 Corinthians 11:24

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”  —Matthew 26:26

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  —Luke 22:19

Because of the actions of the Lord Jesus as he instituted the Lord’s Supper, saying “do this,” our Confession says:

The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to declare his word of institution to the people; to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants; but to none who are not then present in the congregation.

Westminster Confession of Faith 29.3

Notice: “The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to . . . take and break the bread” (emphasis mine).

I would never have related communion wafers to the action of breaking the bread, as the Lord Jesus did. Honestly, I hadn’t much noticed and to take and break the bread, at all. Maybe because it didn’t happen in the majority of churches I attended. And yet, it’s there in the Scriptures, and consequently spelled out in the Confession as part of the proper administration of the Lord’s Supper.

I now reflect on the breaking of bread in the churches I’ve been in.

The three large evangelical churches that I went to simply had sliced bread cut into little squares, in platters, to be served. The pastor merely spoke some words of institution and the bread was distributed. No wafers, but functionally the same. No breaking.

In the Presbyterian (PCA) church, our pastor would take pieces of the loaf of bread and break them as he spoke the words of institution. The pre-cut pieces of the bread were already in the platters, ready to be served. But he would break some bread anyway. I always thought, “I like that.” But I never had any deeper thoughts on the matter for the entire time I was there. Clearly, I failed to “diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions” (WLC Q/A 174). I’m playing catch up, once again.

Finally, a church that uses wafers. The first time, I immediately thought, “I don’t like that.” But, without good reason, I wasn’t going to let it bother me.

Now, however, thanks to Robert Shaw, I have learned that there is a problem. And no, I wasn’t looking for it (like that would matter, anyway). Without further delay, here it is:

The minister is also to take and break the bread. The breaking of the bread is an essential part of the ordinance, and, when it is wanting [lacking], the sacrament is not celebrated according to the original institution. It is, indeed, so essential, that the Lord’s supper is sometimes designated from it alone, the whole being denominated from a part. The “breaking of bread” is mentioned among the institutions of the gospel (Acts 2:42); and in Acts 20:7, we are told that, “upon the first day of the week, the disciples came together to break bread:” in both of which passages the celebration of the Lord’s supper is doubtless meant by the “breaking of bread.” The rite is significant, and we are left in no doubt about the meaning of the action. Our Saviour himself explained it when he said, “This is my body, which is broken for you;” [1 Cor. 11:24 KJV] intimating that the broken bread is a figure of his body as wounded, bruised, and crucified, to make atonement for our sins. As an unbroken Christ could not profit sinners, so unbroken bread cannot fully represent to faith the food of the soul. Wherefore, to divide the bread into small pieces called wafers, and put a wafer into the mouth of each of the communicants, as is done in the Church of Rome, is grossly to corrupt this ordinance, for it takes away the significant action of breaking the bread.

—Robert Shaw, The Reformed Faith: An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith pg. 240

I guess we can’t call the Lord’s Supper “the breaking of bread” if there’s no actual breaking of the bread going on. Does your church break bread, together? “Well, kind of . . .”

What is so helpful about Shaw’s exposition is how he shows that the action of breaking the bread is not arbitrary. It has a meaning! The bread, which represents Christ’s body, is to be broken, because Christ’s body (that the bread represents) was broken. Furthermore, Christ’s body was broken for us, so the bread of the ordinance in which we remember the death of Christ for us must also be broken and given to us. If the bread isn’t broken, that whole parallel is lost. We need Christ’s body broken for there to be atonement! Wafers cannot show that. The visible sacrament must actually represent the invisible grace (WCF 27.7; WLC Q/A 163).

So, it’s actually no small thing. For the minister to not break the bread is to not follow the original institution of our Lord Jesus, and “is grossly to corrupt this ordinance.”

In the PCA church I mentioned earlier, the minister breaks pieces of the bread from the same loaf as the pre-cut squares. So the bread that is broken is the same bread that is given to the people. The bread we receive in fact was broken before us, before distribution. Thus, the sacrament is administered according to the original institution.

If there was an attempt to accommodate the use of wafers by breaking some bread also, that wouldn’t fly. The minister would be breaking bread that is clearly not the same as that given and eaten by the people. Thus, the broken body is not given to the people. That continues “grossly to corrupt this ordinance.”

Simply put, Jesus is Lord, and he instituted the sacraments (WLC Q/A 162). His original institution is what must be followed. We are not at liberty to makes changes, either by changing the elements or by eliminating an essential action. Christ is Lord, we are not. We do not have the authority to alter his ordinances. Therefore, ministers who desire to rightly administer the sacrament must break that bread.

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