The doctrinal statement is an extract of statements from the Belgic Confession and other Reformed Confessions that articulate Mid-America’s doctrinal position. Mid-America believes in the following:
“According to this truth and this Word of God, we believe in one only God, who is the one single essence, in which are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct according to their incommunicable properties; namely, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is the cause, origin, and beginning of all things visible and invisible; the Son is the word, wisdom and image of the Father; the Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless, God is not by this distinction divided into three, since the Holy Scriptures teach us that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit have each His personality, distinguished by Their properties; but in such wise that these three persons are but one only God” (Art. VIII).
“We confess therefore, that God has fulfilled the promise which He made to the fathers by the mouth of His holy prophets, when He sent into the world, at the time appointed by Him, His own only-begotten and eternal Son, who took upon Him the form of a servant and became like unto man, really assuming the true human nature with all its infirmities, sin excepted; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit without the means of man; and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that He might be a real man” (Art. XVIII). Or, that “God’s eternal Son, who is and continues true and eternal God, took upon Himself the very nature of man of the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, that He might also be the true seed of David, like his brethren in all things, sin excepted” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day XIV).
The Bible is “His holy and divine Word” (Art. II), which “was not sent or delivered by the will of man, but that men spoke from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit, as the apostle Peter says” (Art. III). Furthermore, God “commanded His servants, the prophets and apostles to commit His revealed word to writing. . . . Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures” (Art. III). “We believe that the Holy Scriptures are contained in two books, namely, the Old and New Testament, which are canonical, against which nothing can be alleged” (Art. IV, which then goes on to name the sixty-six books of the Bible). “We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing without any doubt all things contained in them, not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Spirit witnesses in our hearts that hey are from God, and also because they carry the evidence thereof in themselves” (Art. V). “We believe that those Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein . . . it is unlawful for any one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures . . . since it is forbidden to add unto or take away anything from the Word of God, it does thereby evidently appear that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects . . . we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule which the apostles have taught us” (Art. VII).
“We believe that the Father by the Word, that is, by His Son, has created of nothing the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, when it seemed good to Him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator” (Art. XII). We also believe that it “pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good” (Westminster Confession, Chapter IV, Art. I).
“We believe that God, who is perfectly merciful and just, sent His Son to assume that nature in which the disobedience was committed, to make satisfaction in the same, and to bear the punishment of sin by His most bitter passion and death. God therefore manifested His justice against His Son when He laid our iniquities upon Him, and poured forth His mercy and goodness on us, who were guilty and worthy of damnation, out of mere and perfect love, giving His Son unto death for us, and raising Him for our justification, that through Him we might obtain immortality and life eternal” (Art. XX). “That Christ, in the sight of His disciples, was taken up from earth into heaven, and there continues for our interest, until He comes again to judge the living and the dead” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day XVIII).
“We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ with all His merits, appropriates Him, and seeks nothing more besides Him.” Also, therefore “we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith apart from works.” And finally, “… faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with Him in all His benefits, which, when they become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins” (Art. XXII).
“Finally, we believe… that our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, corporally and visibly, as He ascended, with great glory and majesty to declare Himself Judge of the living and the dead, burning this old world with fire and flame to cleanse it. Then all men will personally appear before this great Judge, both men and women and children, that have been from the beginning of the world to the end thereof… and the dead judged according to what they shall have done in this world, whether it be good or evil.” The wicked “shall become immortal, but only to be tormented in the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels. But on the contrary, the faithful and elect shall be crowned with glory and honor; the Son of God will confess their names before God His Father and His elect angels; (and) all tears shall be wiped from their eyes…” (Art. XXXVII).
In connection with both the ascension into heaven of the Lord Jesus Christ and his final return to judge the living and the dead, we believe and confess the reality of heaven and hell. To the question, “What comfort is it to you that Christ shall come to judge the living and the dead?,” the answer is given: “That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head I look for the very same Person who before has offered Himself for my sake to the tribunal of God, and has removed all curse from me, to come as Judge from heaven; who shall cast all His and my enemies into everlasting condemnation, but shall take me with all His chosen ones to Himself into heavenly joy and glory” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 19, Q/A 52).
Concerning the state of men after death, and of the resurrection of the dead, we believe and confess that “The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption: but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them: the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies. And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day. Beside these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none” (Westminster Confession, Chapter 32).
“He also created the angels good, to be His messengers and to serve His elect; some of who are fallen from that excellency in which God created them into everlasting perdition, and others have by the grace of God remained steadfast and continued in their first state. The devils and evil spirits are so depraved that they are enemies of God and every good thing… and are, therefore, by their own wickedness adjudged to eternal damnation” (Art. XII). But “man, through the instigation of the devil, by his own willful disobedience, deprived himself and all his posterity of these gifts” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day IV).
Concerning the historical fall of man into sin, “We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after His own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy . . . but (man) willfully subjected himself to sin and consequently to death and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil” (Art. XIV). “We believe that through the disobedience of Adam original sin is extended to all mankind. . .” (Art. XV).
The current climate of theological discussion has revealed a number of errors that are having harmful effects within confessionally Reformed churches and are subverting the understanding of the gospel as articulated and affirmed in the Reformed confessions. The faculty has published a Doctrinal Testimony Regarding Recent Errors. The purpose of this document is to identify carefully, to explain clearly, and to evaluate pastorally those errors of teaching.
The faculty and Board of Trustees of Mid-America Reformed Seminary unwaveringly subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity (the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort) and the Westminster Confession of Faith. We also hold in high regard the numerous Reformed confessions produced in the wider body of Reformed churches in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In light of our vows of subscription and commitment to defend the teachings of Scripture, we are duty bound to address some of the theological errors threatening confessionally Reformed and Presbyterian churches today.
This Testimony consists of three parts: first, “A General Statement”; second, a “Digest of Errors”; and finally, an elucidation of these errors by “Articles of Affirmation and Denial.” This document is not set forth as a confessional standard, but it is presented as an application of Scripture and Confession to contemporary false teaching. We offer this Testimony out of love for the church and her Lord, and with a jealousy to defend the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ against all who would compromise, distort, or deny it. We do not claim that this Testimony is beyond improvement. We do hope it provides those who have been confused or led astray by current erroneous teachings with a clear statement of the gospel of salvation, and invite all who read this to embrace fully the richly biblical truth confessed among the Reformed churches.
We are aware that several Reformed churches or denominations have been discussing the issue of the length of the days of creation. Some, such as the Orthodox Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in the United States, have adopted positions on this matter. Other churches have not adopted a formal statement or position, such as the United Reformed Churches in North America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Within this ecclesiastical situation, it is important to keep in mind that Mid-America Reformed Seminary is not under any direct ecclesiastical control, although its Board and Faculty subscribe wholeheartedly to the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Confession, and the Seminary professors are under the supervision of church elders. Therefore, members of the Faculty of Mid-America Reformed Seminary do not and cannot serve in the capacity of official spokesmen for any ecclesiastical body, except insofar as they are authorized to do so by such a body.
With these observations in mind, we declare that in our public writings and in our classroom teaching, we hold that the six days of creation are to be understood as consecutive, real (i.e., literal) days of alternating evenings and mornings. In other words, the word “day” in Genesis 1 should not be understood as a “day-age” (i.e., some long age of an indefinite number of years). Both the Board and the Faculty of Mid-America Reformed Seminary fully agree that the WCF IV.i. accurately teaches what the Bible states in Exodus 20:11 concerning God’s creation of the world in six days.
There is no one on the Faculty at Mid-America Reformed Seminary who teaches or subscribes to the framework hypothesis. Furthermore, the Seminary Board has not hired anyone to teach who does not hold to the above position on the creation days. We hold firmly to the special creation work of God, performed in the space of six consecutive, real days. In addition, we also declare and teach that the confessional (im)permissibility of any particular teaching about the creation days must be determined by the churches responsible for the doctrine and life of Faculty members.
(Adopted by the Board of Trustees, October 19-20, 2000)