"What I strenuously object to is using anything other than Scripture as our source of teaching about God and His eternal plan for the heavens and the earth. One can not deny that many reformed believers in fact really let the fallible Westminister Confession be their day to day source of spiritual information. This results in many more "yardsticks" of faith than going the extra effort and all referring to only Scripture."This comment was part of a this CARM thread: The Changing doctrines of the Westminster Confession. I hadn't visited CARM's Reformed discussion area in quite sometime (probably years). I was bit surprised to find the boards seemingly overrun with anti-Reformed "no creed but Christ" advocates. If you follow the flow of the discussion, I joined in attempting to reason with this folks on simple presuppositional issues, trying to at least show them there's nothing necessarily evil about the concept of a "confession." I wouldn't for a minute think I could write anything that would endear any of these folks to Reformed theology. But I thought maybe, just maybe, they could see through their disdain of Calvinism and see logically why the basic theory behind a confession of faith isn't the creation of Satan, and that in practice, a "confession of faith" on some level can't be avoided. I don't plan on re-posting all of that here. You can read it for yourself if interested.
I have a friend of mine who is moving up the ranks in the world of hyper-preterism. He's an excellent speaker, and probably one of the funniest guys I've ever met. In following his on-line progress, I noticed very quickly his rants on "creedalism." The hyper-preterists realize their view won't be seen as just another view on end-times to those who embrace creeds. The overwhelming majority of Christians throughout the centuries have confessed the belief of the future return of Christ. Now here's the irony. I've listened to a number of hyper-preterists, and they indeed have a confession: A.D. 70. No matter what the topic, they'll find some way to talk about A.D. 70. They're similar to McDonalds naming all their products Mcthis or Mcthat. They don't even realize they collectively have an unwritten creed about A.D. 70. Nor do they realize that part of their collective unwritten creed is not have any creed.
A confession of faith is simply a group of people attempting to speak in unison. A confession serves as a response to the word of God. That is, a group of people read the Scriptures and respond back confessing what they hear the Scriptures saying. A confession has a variety of functions. It can serve as a witness to the world as to what a group believes. It can guard that group against what it perceives to be heresy and unbelief. In other words, it serves as secondary standard to unify a group of people.
This of course raises the blood pressure of the "no creed but Christ" crowd. I can hear them shouting back that it's the Bible that unifies us, and your silly confession is nothing else than putting something in its place as an authority. Such a criticism though ignores the fact of "relative" authority. That is, the authority a confession has is in relation to that of the Scriptures. In this case, the Scriptures are indeed the ultimate authority, and any sort of confession created is to serve as a subordinate authority. No one I've ever met (in Reformed circles at least) thinks the Westminster Confession of Faith is an infallible document on par with Scripture. It's at least theoretically possible that the Westminster Confession has an error (and that error would be proved and based on Biblical exegesis). Even for these no "creed but Christ" folks I would speculate some of them typically obey their pastor and realize he isn't infallible. For others, I would assume many of them that don't go to church realize they are fallible people. That is, they already function with a secondary authority so have no grounds to argue against someone using a confession as a secondary authority.
I found it fascinating that once I began challenging the presuppositions of CARM's "no creed but Christ" folks, the conversation went from screams to whispers.
By the way, while I like the Westminster Confession and refer to it in my studies, my own preference is that to which my church uses and that by church membership I've agreed to:
The Heidelberg Catechism
The Belgic Confession
The Canons of Dort
While this analogy I'm about to use is flawed in many ways, I prefer the Heidelberg Catechism over the Westminster Confession (in terms of daily reflection) in the same way I prefer reading Luther or Calvin over a technical tome of Reformed theology. If you haven't read the Heidelberg Catechism, it's a friendly pastoral document that, while a lot simpler than the WCF, has a practical depth that I find helps me continually reaffirm and focus on the essentials of the Christian faith. I've also found it very helpful in explaining doctrine to people.