The first Asian ecumenical confession of faith: the so-called twelve articles of faith of many Asian protestant churches.
Although they have greatly influenced the Christian faith of millions of Asian Christians, the Twelve Articles nevertheless have not yet received the attention that corresponds to their historical significance. David S. Schaff, on revising his father's monumental book--Philip Schaff's The Creeds of Christendom (4)--unfortunately did not include the articles. And the great William A. Curtis, in History of Creeds and Confession of Faith in Christendom and Beyond, offers just a few sentences about them, summarizing their main points. (5) Jaroslav Pelikan's recent massive works,
which contain almost every significant creed or confession of the Christian church, also failed to include the articles. (6) And finally, A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, which examines almost every significant aspect of Asian Christianity, does not even mention them] As a result, the Twelve Articles have been almost forgotten by Western as well as Asian Christian theologians. Nevertheless, given their historical importance and continuing influence--and as Indian and Korean churches have celebrated the centennial anniversary of their official acceptance of the articles--it is clear that these articles deserve recognition as well as critical study.
In an edifying and amazing vision, around a century ago, Western missionaries in Korea hoped that the Twelve Articles of Faith would be "the Confession of Faith, not only for the churches of India and Korea, but of all the Presbyterian churches of Asia, and prove a bond between them". (8) This article may be a small light emanating from that vision. The West has seen some widely accepted confessions of faith, such as the Augsburg Confession, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Westminster Confession of Faith and so on. Although the non-Western world has no counterpart to these, the Twelve Articles of Faith of Asian churches may, I believe, fill this gap. As this study will show, the articles are an important historical and doctrinal link between the "old" Western and the "young" non-Western (or, at least, Asian) Christendoms, and also between Asian churches. Furthermore, the Twelve Articles of Faith are not only an invaluable ecumenical product of world Christianity, but a unique heritage of world Christianity, one that that testifies to "the greatest century [1815-1914] which Christianity had thus far known". (9) During this time, Western Christianity's unprecedented and rigorous encounter with the non-Western world resulted in profound and irrevocable changes in the latter's ways of thinking, cultures and religions.
Asian theologians have yet to acknowledge the importance of the Twelve Articles with regard to world Christianity. It is also disappointing that neither the Church of North India nor the Korean Presbyterian churches have celebrated the centenary anniversary of their adoption of the historical articles. Asian churches that have adopted the Twelve Articles of Faith have not even known their original texts, a knowledge that would be very helpful for them and other Asian churches. Nonetheless, it may not be too late, even now, for us to acknowledge the articles' historical and ecumenical importance; and I hope that the articles may again take the role of uniting Asian-and world--churches, which are painfully and shamefully divided against the will of our Lord Jesus Christ that "all may be one" (John 17:21).
The origin and adoption of the Articles
According to Kenneth Lawrence Parker, (10) the "Twelve Articles"--originally numbered ten--were derived from the confession of the Synod of Southern India, later the South Indian United Church, which in turn was based on the Statement of Doctrine and Questions for the Ordaining of Office-Bearers in the Native Churches of India, adopted by three Scottish Churches in India. This statement had been "prepared under stimulus of the Pan-Presbyterian Alliance in India between 1878 and 1883". (11) The ten articles were first adopted by the Synod of Southern India in 1901. Then, in 1904, the Presbyterian churches in Northern India, (12) forming a union called "the Presbyterian Church in India", adopted the 1901 Confession of Faith of the Synod of South India, with some slight revisions. As a result, the ten articles of the Synod of Southern India became the Twelve Articles of the Presbyterian Church in India, consummated in 1904. In 1924, the Presbyterian Church in India became part of the United Church of Northern India, and since 1970 it has been the Church of North India--a truly ecumenical church that includes not only many Protestant denominations, but many national churches. It is an important achievement of world Christianity that the Church of North India based that inclusive church union partly on the articles, which stand out in the church's current constitution. (13)
When forming a united ecclesiastical body in 1905, the Korean Presbyterian churches, whose leaders were Presbyterian missionaries in Korea from North and South America, Canada and Australia, wanted to adopt the Twelve Articles of the Presbyterian Church in India "in the hope that it may become the Confession of Faith, not only for the churches of India and Korea, but of all the Presbyterian Churches of Asia, and prove a bond between them". (14) Thus, in 1907 the articles were adopted by the newly formed national Presbyterian Church of Korea, and since then they have become the Korean Presbyterian churches' most influential confession, along with the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Shorter Catechism. The Presbyterian Church of Korea has since 1907 been divided into some tens of sub-denominations. But almost all of these have the articles in their constitutions--which may be good ground on which they may be reunited in the future. The received form of the articles of the Korean Presbyterian churches, however, is no different from the original text except for their preamble. (15)
The reception of the Articles in India and Korea
The Twelve Articles have not been well appreciated in either India or Korea. In spite of their great role in uniting many national and denominational churches in India, modern Indian church history has not given the articles the recognition they deserve. The great Indian mission scholar, Stephen C. Neill, scarcely mentions the articles. (16) In his History of Christianity in India: Source Materials, M. K. Kuriakose, while providing almost every important document about Christianity in India, is totally silent about the historical Twelve Articles. (17) And they are also completely ignored by D. K. Sahu, an acknowledged historian of the very church (the Church of North India) that was formed on the basis of the articles. (18)
The Twelve Articles, being the first official and known confession of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, have formed the faith of millions of Korean Presbyterian Christians for more than one hundred years. This is especially the case for Korean Presbyterian elders and ministers, who have to subscribe to a "Form of Acceptance'' (19) at their ordinations, virtually memorizing them. In the academic arena, the Twelve Articles have received a somewhat better treatment in Korea than they have in India: however, while Korean scholars have acknowledged the articles, many of the interpretations have been negative. Korean church history books in general also recognize the existence of the articles, but usually conclude that they are a product of 19th-century Western colonialist mission theology, that they had no Korean participation in their making, (20) and that their Calvinist and fundamentalist tone lessens their importance. (21) As a result of this attitude, no Korean theologian has yet written any intensive study of the Twelve Articles. With this article, I hope to provide a timely study and acknowledgement of the historical significance of the Twelve Articles of Faith--one that will be useful for the future ecumenical efforts of Korean and Asian churches.
The original text of the Twelve Articles of the Indian and the Korean Presbyterian Churches
The following is the original text of the Twelve Articles entitled the "Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church in India". The received form of the Articles of the Church of North India preserved the original, with some slight changes in its Preamble. (22) I will follow my transcription of the original text with a brief theological analysis, including both some traditional and new elements of the articles.
Confession of Faith (23)
The Presbyterian Church in India adopting the following as its Confession of Faith, to be subscribed by ministers, licentiates, and elders, does not thereby reject any of the doctrinal standards of the parent churches, but, on the contrary, it commends them,--especially the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Welsh Calvinistic Confession of Faith, and the Confession and Canons of the Synod of Dort--as worthy exponents of the Word of God, and as systems of doctrine to be taught in our Churches and seminaries.
Art. I. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and duty.
Art. II. There is but one God, and He alone is to be worshipped. He is a Spirit, self-existent, omnipresent yet distinct from all other spirits and from material things: infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and love.
Art. III. In the Godhead, there are three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
Art. IV. All things visible and invisible were created by God by the word of His power, and are so preserved and governed by Him that, while He is in no way the author of sin, He worketh all things according to the counsel of His will, and they serve the fulfillment of His wise and good and holy purpose.
Art. V. God created man, male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, with dominion over the creatures. All men have the same origin and are brethren.
Art. VI. Our first parents, being free to choose between good and evil, and being tempted, sinned against God; and all mankind descending by ordinary generation from Adam, the head of the race, sinned in him, and fell with him. To their original guilt and corruption, those capable of so doing have added actual transgressions. All justly deserve His wrath and punishment in this present life and in that which is to come.
Art. VII. To save men from the guilt, corruption and penalty of sin, and to give them eternal life, God, in His infinite love sent into the world His eternal and only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom alone God has become incarnate, and through whom alone men can be saved. The eternal Son became true man, and so was and continueth to be true God and true man, in two distinct natures, and one person forever. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary, yet without sin. For sinful men, He perfectly obeyed the law of God, and offered Himself a true and perfect sacrifice to satisfy Divine justice and reconcile men to God. He died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again from the dead on the third day. He ascended to the right hand of God, where He maketh intercession for His people, and whence He shall come again to raise the dead, and to judge the world.
Art. VIII. The Holy Spirit, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, maketh men partakers of salvation, convincing them of their sin and misery, enlightening their minds in the knowledge of Christ, renewing their wills, persuading and enabling them to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to them in the Gospel, and working in them all the fruits of righteousness.
Art. IX. While God chose a people in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blemish before Him in love, having foreordained them unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on them in the Beloved: He maketh a full and free offer of salvation to all men, and commandeth them to repent of their sins, to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, as their Saviour, and to live a humble and holy life after His example and in obedience to God's revealed will. Those who believe in Christ and obey Him are saved, the chief benefits which they receive being justification, adoption into the number of the sons of God, sanctification through the indwelling of the Spirit and eternal glory. Believers may also in this life enjoy assurance of their salvation. In His gracious work, the Holy Spirit useth the means of grace, especially the word, sacraments and prayer.
Art. X. The sacraments instituted by Christ are Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and is the sign and seal of our union to Christ, of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, and of our engagement to be the Lord's. It is administered to those who profess their faith in Christ, and to their children. The Lord's Supper is the partaking of the bread and of the cup as a memorial of Christ's death and is a sign and seal of the benefits thereof to believers. It is to be observed by His people till He comes, in token of their faith in Him and His sacrifice, of their appropriation of its benefits, of their future engagement to serve Him, and of their communion with Him and with one another. The benefits of the Sacraments are not from any virtue in them or in him who doth administer them, but only from the blessing of Christ and the working of His Spirit in them that by faith receive them.
Art. XI. It is the duty of all believers to unite in Church fellowship, to observe the sacraments and other ordinances of Christ, to obey His laws, to continue in prayer, to keep holy the Lord's Day, to meet together for His worship, to wait upon the preaching of His word, to give as God may prosper them, to manifest a Christ-like spirit among themselves and towards all men, to labour for the extension of Christ's kingdom throughout the world, and to wait for His glorious appearing.
Art XII. At the last day, the dead shall be raised, and all shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and shall receive according to the deeds done in the present life, whether good or bad. Those who have believed in Christ and obeyed Him shall be openly acquitted and received into glory; but the unbelieving and wicked, being condemned, shall suffer the punishment due to their sins.
Form of Acceptance
I receive and adopt the Confession of Faith of this Church as based upon and in accord with the Words of God; and I declared it to be the Confession of my faith.
Calvinistic foundation of the Articles
The Twelve Articles of Faith have some explicitly Calvinistic theological ideas, as they were written by the Presbyterian and Reformed missionaries in Northern India at the turn of the 20th century. Generally following the structure of the Apostles' Creed, the Articles adopt the spirit and content of the Calvinistic Westminster Confession of Faith. In fact, the original intent of the authors of the articles was to produce not a new confession for Indian Christians, but a "synopsis" of the traditional, Western confession, which, was the Westminster Confession of Faith. (24) A closer look at the articles, however, shows that much of the content is quoted from the Westminster Shorter Catechism: articles 2 to 5 of the Twelve Articles, for example, are direct quotations. Employing the character and substance of the Westminster Confession and Catechism, therefore, the Twelve Articles have some distinctively Reformed elements, emphasizing the importance of the Holy Scriptures (i); (25) the gravity of original sin and its aftermath (VI); the Holy Spirit's working in salvation (VIII); Reformed ordo salutis or order of salvation (IX); the Lord's supper as a memorial of Christ's death (X); and the general judgment of all people and condemnation of the wicked (XII).
The Twelve Articles, however, include many creative theological ideas, particularly in the shift in ideas from Calvinistic to Arminian, universalist and ecumenical. Here I will consider, first, the articles' two creative and universalist theological notions: Christ's atonement for all people (VII); and a non-predestinarian order of salvation (IX). Then I will investigate the two problems arising from these: an individualistic ecclesiology (XI) and a Biblicistic or fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible (I). I will compare the Twelve Articles with the Westminster Confession and Shorter and Larger Catechisms, which were their main references. Finally, I will also reflect on some of the articles' peculiar theological thoughts created by their authors in the new theological (Asian) situation: all people's equality, (V); the omission of Christ's descent into hell; and the strong emphasis on God's wrath, punishment and condemnation (VI and XII).
Universalistic Arminianism reflecting an Asian mission situation
The Twelve Articles were written by the Calvinistic missionaries, but in some critical points their predestinarian or particularistic messages are changed into an Arminian, universalist one. This would have been an inevitable theological process in a non-Western mission field, where the native people's universalistic and voluntary acceptance of the Gospel needed to be emphasized. Here I would like to feature two points which show these implications: Christ's atonement for all people, and a non-predestinarian order of salvation.
First, while the Twelve Articles adopt the content of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which upholds the Calvinistic doctrine of the "limited" or "particular atonement", they subtly divest themselves of this particularistic theology. For instance, in describing the nature of Christ, the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Question 21) speaks of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of "God's elect", stating, "The only Redeemer of God's elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever". (26) In quoting this sentence, the articles change "the only Redeemer of God's elect" into "the eternal Son" (VII), eliminating the Calvinistic, particularistic term, "the elect". Also the same article (VII) clearly declares that Jesus Christ came to save all people, not only the elect: "For sinful men, He perfectly obeyed the law of God, and offered Himself a true and perfect sacrifice to satisfy Divine justice and reconcile men [sic.] to God" (italics mine). So the articles carefully shift away from Calvinistic, particularistic logic of "limited atonement", so that Christ's atonement is available for all people not only the elect.
Second, this divestment goes hand in hand with the Twelve Articles' losing of the predestinarian logic in their order of salvation. It is evident that the Westminster Confession and Catechisms themselves underlined the predestinarian aspect of the ordo salulis (the order of salvation), which in general goes as follows: predestination, effectual calling (faith), justification, adoption, and sanctification. Thus, the Westminster Confession (Chapter X. 1) states, "All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death". Such strong Calvinistic words as "predestination", "election" and "effectual calling", however, have altogether vanished in the Twelve Articles, which stress rather a universalistic and voluntaristic Arminianism in article IX: "He [God] maketh a full and free offer of salvation to all men, ..." and "It]hose who believe in Christ and obey Him are saved". The Twelve Articles ultimately stress, not God's election of some people to life, but rather an individual person's willingness to accept Jesus Christ as his or her Savior. They also carefully avoid the predestinarian logic of the distinction between the invisible and the visible churches, never defining the church as "the whole number of the elect", as does the Westminster Confessions It is plain, therefore, that the Twelve Articles circumspectly shun the characteristically Calvinistic theology whose fundamental motif is God's dection of some people to life.
In general, the Twelve Articles try very hard to include some Calvinistic, predestinarian ideas, but these are overshadowed by the strong universalistic Arminian ones that followed. The emphasis on the universalistic and voluntary dimension of the ordo salutis seems to reflect the special circumstance of Western missionaries working in a foreign country preoccupied with the "winning of souls", which assumed a voluntary acceptance of faith. In point of fact, the new Indian and Korean Christians needed an open and universal or ecumenical mode for the Christian faith, for which the Calvinist missionaries paradoxically chose Arminianism in place of their Calvinism. This was in some ways inevitable for the missionaries, who had to assume that salvation was available for anyone, not only the elect. The Calvinist double predestination was surely too luxurious a doctrine to preach in a mission field, where the missionary had to win as many converts as possible in as short a time as possible.
Individualistic ecclesiology and biblicist position
The universalistic, voluntaristic and Arminian logic of the Twelve Articles, nevertheless, leads one to an individualistic inclination to faith and the church. Although the articles speak of the Holy Spirit's making "men [sic.] partakers of salvation" (VIII) and God's choosing "a people" to be "holy" (IX), they finally declare, "Those who believe in Christ and obey Him are saved" (IX). So the articles end up stating that what is at issue for Christians is the individualistic decision to have faith in Christ. And this problem is clearly evidenced in the Twelve Articles' ecclesiology.
Unlike the Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter XXV), which clarifies what the church is, the Twelve Articles seldom discusses it. Article XI, in dealing with the church simply makes an inventory of what individual Christians have to do in a church. Without even defining what the church is, the Twelve Articles just declare, "It is the duty of all believers to unite in Church fellowship, to observe the sacraments and other ordinances of Christ, to obey His laws, to continue in prayer, to keep holy the Lord's Day" (XI). It is not easy for an Asian theologian to understand why the articles omit those historical, indispensable marks of the church that are found in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Did the authors of the Twelve Articles not think that the Asian Protestant churches could be one, holy, catholic and apostolic? The Articles' ecclesiology, then, is overly focused on individual Christians' duties, as if a church were simply a voluntary society in which individualistic persons meet their needs. (28)
The strong Arminian, voluntaristic and individualistic orientation of the Twelve Articles also goes hand in hand with their view of the Holy Scriptures, which are underscored as "the Word of God, the infallible rule of faith and duty" (I). It is of utmost significance that the articles highlight the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures by placing it at the beginning (i) and then adding the strong term "infallible" in adopting Question 3 of the Westminster Larger Catechism. (29) The infallibility of the Bible, therefore, came to have a fundamentalist connotation. The majority of Asian Christians in the early 20th century, who were illiterate and short of circumspective knowledge of the Bible, tended to read it as an absolute, reading it literally. In Korea in particular, article I of the Twelve Articles has been the grounds for developing the fundamentalist doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible. What is more, it has been also the litmus test to determine whether one is an orthodox or unorthodox (heretical) Christian.
Yet it was likely necessary for Western Protestant missionaries in Asia to emphasize the Bible as "infallible", since for new Asian Christians it was the sole source of Christian devotion and identity. This was most clearly the case in Korea, where the Bible, along with Confucian bibles, was highly regarded, holding "the chief place in the mental and spiritual nourishment of a multitude of people". (30) However, placing so much emphasis on the Bible gives rise to fundamentalism, particularly in a place where neither a strong institutional church nor a well-established Christian tradition exists. (31)
Article I of the Twelve Articles, which might give rise to a Biblicism, has also fostered religious individualism, which we have already dealt with above. Observing this pattern in the US, George Marsden states, "Biblicism was closely related to religious individualism. The individual stood alone before God; his choices were decisive. The church, while important as a supportive community, was made up of free individuals". (32) It is no accident, then, that the articles adopt Biblicism along with an individualistic understanding of the church. In Asian Protestant churches in general, the Bible, their most important Christian symbol, can be easily taken as something "only infallible". But having no strong authority to set the standard in interpreting the Bible, they could fall victim to divisions, which has most clearly happened in Korea.
The equality of all people and omission of Christ's descent into hell
Two other of the Articles also show distinctive creative theological ideas: the equality of all people (V), and the omission of Christ's descent into hell. Article V of the Twelve Articles deals with God's creation of humanity, quoting Question 10 of Westminster Shorter Catechism, (33) and concludes saying, "All men [sic.] have the same origin and are brethren". This confessional declaration of the early 20th-century Western missionaries in Asia was a kind of revolution for Asians, who were often regarded by Westerners as both heathen and backward. Equality of all people was what the Asians painfully needed for themselves, since they suffered unspeakably from the deep-seated inequality of many kinds of caste systems. Equality of all people is closely related to the abolishment of the Calvinistic distinction between the reprobate and the elect, mentioned above. Both of these notions would have been very helpful in an Asian mission field where all people are invited to be the elect.
Article VII of the articles deals with who and what Christ is, adopting the content of the Apostles' Creed except for Christ's descent into hell. While the Westminster Confession (Chapter 8), Shorter Catechism (Question 27), and Larger Catechism (Question 50) clearly have this clause, the Twelve Articles omits it. Here one can see the influence of the Methodist theology, which also leaves out Christ's descent into hell. (34) It is difficult for us to understand why the articles exclude such an important clause. But it is possible that the clause was omitted because the Asian concept of the hell was very different from the Western one. Indians as well as Asians generally believed in Yama, the god of death, who was thought to be alive in hell. For them to conceive of Christ going into hell to confront Yama would not have been a pleasant thing. In any event, Christ's descent into hell was omitted due to the belief that it would be difficult for Asians to understand. The omission of Christ's descent into hell in the Twelve Articles turned out to be very significant for the future Korean Protestant churches: the clause is also absent from their contemporary Korean translation of the Apostles' Creed.
In sum, the Twelve Articles, arguably the most important and ecumenical Christian confession of faith in Asia, have characteristics with both positive and negative implications. Above all, this unique confession of faith reflects the exceptional circumstance of a past mission field--in which Western missionaries invited native Asian people to accept Christianity by emphasizing the universalistic and voluntaristic nature of Christian faith. This distinctive missionary situation explains why the articles, though written by Calvinists, stress the Arminian, universalistic theology: Christ's atonement for all people and a non-predestinarian order of salvation. This characteristic, however, carries some negative implications: on the one hand, the Articles weaken their own ecclesiology, and, on the other hand, their strong emphasis on the Bible gives rise to a Biblicism or fundamentalism. The articles intend to foster reverence for the Bible among Asians, but it has instead caused many to embrace Biblicism. Overall, it must not be forgotten that whatever meanings they have, the articles have had and continue to have a great influence on millions of Asian Christians, and that they have proven to be a good doctrinal standard for many Asian churches to stand united. At the end of the day, that is no small thing, and it deserves due recognition.
(1) The official tides of the Twelve Articles of Faith are in India, the Confession of Faith of the United Church of Northern India; and in Korea, the Confession of Faith of the Korean Presbyterian Church. But in Korea they are often called the Twelve Articles of Faith. In this paper, therefore, the title of the confession of faith of both the Indian and the Korean churches is referred to as the Twelve Articles of Faith. William A. Curtis, who first introduced the articles to the world, also referred to them as "the twelve Indian Presbyterian articles." See William A. Curtis, History of Creeds and Confessions of Faith in Christendom and Beyond, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1911, p. 284. The articles, with a few words changed in the preamble, can be found in The Church of North India Synod, The Constitution of the Church of North India, ISPCK, Delhi, 2003; and Daehan Yesugyo Changnohoe, Heonbeob (Constitution), Hangook Changnokyo Chulpansa, Seoul, 2003.
(2) According to William A. Curtis, the Articles were the official confession upon which the Presbyterian Mission Churches in China were united in 1890. Cf. William A. Curtis, History of Creeds, op. cit., p. 283.
(3) The churches that were united on the basis of the Twelve Articles in 1970 to form the Church of North India are the Council of the Baptist Churches in Northern India; the Church of the Brethren in India; the Disciples of Christ; the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon; the Methodist Church (British and Australasian Conferences); the Methodist Church in Southern Asia; the United Church of Northern India. See The Church of North India Synod, op. cit., p. 154.
(4) Philip Schaff and David S. Schaff (eds), The Creeds of Christendom, volume 3: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, Harper and Row, New York, 1931.
(5) William A. Curtis, op. cit., p. 283-84. This portion can be found also in the same author's article: W. A. Curtis, "Confessions," J. H. Hastings (ed), Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, volume 3, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1911, p. 878.
(6) Jaroslav Pelikan and Valerie Hotchkiss (eds.), Creeds and Confesions of Faith in the Christian Tradition, volume 3, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2003. While not including the Articles, this book contains some other Asian creeds and confessions of faith.
(7) Scott W. Sunquist (ed.), A Dictionary of Asian Christiania, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2001.
(8) Charles Allen Clark, The Korean Church and the Nevius Methods, Fleming H. Revell Co., New York, 1930, p. 131.
(9) Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christiania, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1953, p. 1063.
(10) Kenneth Lawrence Parker, "The Development of the United Church of North India", Journal of the Department of History of the Presbyterian Church in the USA 17.3-4 (September-December 1936), p. 113-204.
(11) Ibid., 152.
(12) The Presbyterian and Reformed churches involved were: The Church of Scotland; The United Free Church of Scotland; The Synod of Original Seceders; The Presbyterian Church of England; The Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church; The Presbyterian Church of Ireland; The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America; The United Presbyterian Church of North America; The Reformed (Dutch) Church in America; The Presbyterian Church of Canada; The Reformed Presbytery of India; and The Gopalgunge Evangelistic Mission. Cf. Presbyterian Alliance of India, Proceedings of the Meetings of the Representative Committee, The Edinburgh Press, Calcutta, 1903, p. 28.
(13) The Church of North India Synod, The Constitution of the Church of North India and Bye-Laws, ISPCK, Delhi, 2003, p. 6-9. Here I would like to acknowledge the great academic assistance of Kenneth J. Ross, reference librarian at Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, US.
(14) Charles Allen Clark, The Korean Church and the Nedus Methods, Fleming H. Revelle Co., New York, 1930, p. 129.
(15) The original Preamble of the Korean Presbyterian church as it was adopted in 1907 is as follows: "The Presbyterian Church of Korea, adopting the following as its Confession of Faith, to be subscribed by ministers, licentiates, ciders and deacons, does not thereby reject the doctrinal standards of the parent churches, which established the Church in Korea, but, on the contrary, commends them especially the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms--as worthy exponents of the Word of God, and as systems of doctrine to be taught in our Churches and Seminaries; and adopts as the catechism of the Church, the Westminster Shorter Catechism." See, The Presbyterian Church in Korea, Confession of Faith and Form of Government, publisher unknown, Seoul, 1907, p. 3.
(16) Stephen C. Neill, The History of Christianity in India, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1984.
(17) M.K. Kuriakose, History of Christianity in India: Source Materials, ISPCK, Delhi, 1999.
(18) Dhirendra Kumar Sahu, United and Uniting: A Story of the Church of North India, ISPCK, Delhi, 2001.
(19) An addition to the original text of the Twelve Articles of Faith is the "Form of Acceptance", which Korean Presbyterian elder and minster candidates publicly declare upon their ordinations.
(20) A prominent Korean church historian states that "the Articles were not written by Korean Christians; and it is hardly understandable why the Western missionaries in Korea adopted the Indian Twelve Articles, not letting the Korean Presbyterian theologians formulate their soaring and pure faith". See, Min Kyung-Bae, Hanguk Gidokkyohoesa (A History of Christian Churches in Korea), Yonsei University Press, Seoul, 1996, p. 292.
(21) Since the widely known Korean church historian, Lakioon George Paik, in his book published in 1929, assessed the Twelve Articles to have a "strong Calvinistic trend", almost all Korean theologians have followed him. Cf. L. George Paik, The History of Protestant Missions in Korea, Yonsei University Press, Seoul, 1980, p. 389; Kim Yang-Sun, Hangook Gidokkyosa Yeongoo (A Study of Christianity in Korea), Gidokkyomoonsa, Seoul, 1971; and Min Kyung-Bae, op. cit., p. 292.
(22) The present form of the preamble of the Articles of the Church of North India is more ecumenical than the original, accepting other major Protestant Confession and Catechism that differ from Presbyterian tradition: Luther's Catechism and the Augsburg Confession of the Lutheran Church. See, The Church of North India Synod, The Constitution of the Church of North India and Bye-Laws, op. cit., p. 6.
(23) The text is quoted from: Presbyterian Alliance of India, op. cit.; and Kenneth Lawrence Parker, op. cit., p. 153- 56. The original Korean version of the Articles is found in: The Presbyterian Church in Korea, Confession of Faith and Form of Government, op. cit., p. 3-6. The same Korean version is also found in Charles Allen Clark, op. cit., p. 129-132.
(24) Kenneth Lawrence Parker, op. cit., p. 151. Dr. Curtis also suggests that the Articles no doubt epitomize "the doctrine of the Westminster Confession along with similar lines, positive, Scriptural, and non-controversial, emphasizing the particular doctrines most required by missionary circumstances, and expressly affirming their loyalty to the standards of the parent Churches, the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Cannons of Dort." See Curtis, History of Creeds, op. cit., p. 284.
(25) The Roman numeral in the parentheses refers to the number of the article in the Twelve Articles of Faith.
(26) Also expounding the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Westminster Larger Catechism (Question 38) states, "the Mediator should be God... to satisfy" God's justice, procure his favor, purchase a peculiar people, give his Spirit to them" (italics mine).
(27) While the Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter XXV) states that "the catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect", the Twelve Articles (XI) simply lists important duties of individual Christians in a church, an obviously individualistic ecclesiology, which will be treated in the next section.
(28) Daniel L. Migliorc provides an insightful critique of individualism rampant in modern churches. Sec Daniel L. Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1992, p. 186.
(29) Question 3 of the Westminster Larger Catechism is: What is the Word of God? The answer: The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.
(30) Harry A. Rhodes (ed.), History of the Korea Mission, Presbyterian Church, U. S. A. volume 1, 1884-1934, Chosen Mission, Presbyterian Church, USA, Seoul, 1934, p. 253.
(31) This is also what happened in 19th-century America. George L. Marsden gives us an insightful observation in this regard: "In America, for the first two centuries Protestantism dominated overwhelm-mingly, and the Bible had played a role in shaping the culture for which there was no European parallel. Lacking a strong institutional church and denying the relevance of much of Christian tradition, American Protestants were united behind the principle of Scriptura sola. Indeed, the Bible played a major role in America's self-understanding. This Biblicism, strong among the Puritans, gained new significance in the early nineteenth century. In the wake of the Revolution, Americans saw themselves as inaugurators of a new order for the ages. The new order was conceived as a return to a pristine human condition. For Protestants this ideal was readily translated into Biblical primitivism. The true church should set aside all intervening tradition, and return to the purity of New Testament practice. The Bible alone should be one's guide." See George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture." The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925, Oxford University Press, New York, 1980, p. 224.
(33) Question 5 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism reads, "God created man, male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, with dominion over the creatures".
(34) Cf. the Welsh Calvinistic Confession of Faith (Chapter 17), which was written and adopted by the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church, and which is a reference confession of the Articles, as it is stated in the Preamble. Also cf. the Methodist Articles of Religion in: Philip Schaff, op. cit., p. 807-13.
Dr Jae-Buhm Hwang is professor of Systematic Theology at Keimyung University, Daegu, South Korea. He is author of The Trinitarian Logics of St. Augustine and Karl Barth: With Special Reference to their Respective Pneumatologies and Filioque-Positions (1998) and is currently writing a book entitled "History of Korean Christian Thought".
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|Publication:||The Ecumenical Review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2011|
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