© 1993 The Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
"The Westminster Confession of Faith is perhaps the most notable expression in creedal form of the truths of the Bible. It was the work of that Assembly of divines which was called together by Parliament and met in London, at Westminster Abbey, during the years 1643-1648. It was this Assembly which also produced the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. The Confession and the Catechisms are used by many churches as their doctrinal standards, subordinate to the Word of God.... The text of the Confession of Faith of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, except for those slight revisions adopted by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, is that derived from the original manuscript written by Cornelius Burges in 1646, edited by S. W. Carruthers and published by the Presbyterian Church of England in 1946. This text has been used because it is believed to be the most correct text of the Westminster Confession of Faith so far available" (Trinity Hymnal, first edition, 1961, pp. 672, 689). This is the text found on the left-hand pages that follow.
Proof texts were originally added to the Confession by the Westminster Assembly. They were revised by the Committee on Texts and Proof Texts of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) and approved when a corrected text of the Confession was adopted by the Twenty-third General Assembly of the OPC in 1956. These proof texts are printed below each section of the Confession.
The text on the right-hand pages is the Modern English Study Version (MESV) of this Confession of Faith. It has been prepared by the Committee on Christian Education (CCE) of the OPC in the spirit of section 8 of chapter 1 of the Confession, which states that the Scriptures themselves should be translated into the language of the people. Even though "King James English" and twentieth-century English are technically both considered to be modern English, it is nevertheless true that for many people today, the seventeen-century language of the Confession of Faith is unfamiliar and difficult. There are not only archaic word forms, but also a number of words that have significantly changed in meaning, or broadened (or narrowed) in meaning so as to give the modern reader an incorrect understanding of the text. The MESV has been produced in order to make the original document easier to understand.
The MESV has its roots in an initiative by the 1971 Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), which proposed that the language of the Westminster Standards be modernized without changing its meaning. A joint committee of the RPCNA, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (now part of the Presbyterian Church in America), and the OPC worked for several years on this project, completing a version of the Confession in 1980.
In 1989 the CCE sent copies of this version to all ministers and sessions of the OPC for study and comments. In the light of the comments received, that version was carefully reviewed and pervasively revised. A conscious effort was made to restore the original text of the Confession wherever the alterations appeared to be inappropriate. The revised version was then sent to each minister and session member of the OPC in 1991, and in response to their suggestions the version was further refined. This work was completed in 1993, approved by the CCE, and authorized for publication by the Sixtieth General Assembly of the OPC.
Thus, the MESV has been many years in the making and has received detailed scrutiny by a wide group of teaching and ruling elders. It is offered as a carefully prepared and edited study aid to the Confession itself.
The MESV does not have any constitutional authority. It is not intended to take the place of the Church's Confession as the authoritative subordinate doctrinal standard of the Church any more than the modern English versions of the Holy Scriptures are intended to take the place of the Scriptures in the original languages. Both the Scriptures and the subordinate standards based on them deserve to be made accessible to the ordinary Christian in his own language. The parallel format ensures that the official Confession of the Church is always there for authoritative comparison. Click here to go to the MESV (180Kwait to load).
The Committee on Christian Education
of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church