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The Church s Confessions of Faith are its authorized declarations on subjects concerning which its teaching has been misunderstood or misrepresented, or is liable to such misunderstanding and misrepresentation. They are not comprehensive systems of doctrine covering the entire sphere of divine revelation, but have arisen entirely from historical circumstances, where the teaching of the Church has become a matter of controversy. An exception to this statement may probably be found in Luther s Catechisms; and yet, while they were written for other than polemical purposes, they were offered as standards for the more popular presentation of the truths of the Christian religion at a crisis when both pastors and people needed especial guidance. In each Confession the topics treated, as well as the order, the extent, and the mode of treatment of each topic, are not ideal or determined by any effort to present an exhaustive and logical summary of the faith, as a whole, from the Holy Scriptures, but only to meet an historical need and to respond to a call for a particular emergency. Each Confession is in reality only a part of the one Confession of the faith, which the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is continually drawing from the Holy Scriptures and from communion with the Church s Lord. The Holy Scriptures are the sole source and authority of the Church steaching, and amply sufficient for all ordinary purposes of instruction; but when that which the Holy Scriptures teach is called into question, it is the Church sduty, in all ages, as a witness to the truth and set for its defence, to give clear and unmistakable testimony as to what is the meaning of God s Word on the subjects under discussion. All the authority of such testimonies depends upon their conformity with Holy Scripture. Confessions are authoritative, not because the Church has adopted th
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