Some Essential Tenets of the Reformed faith, as Expressed in the Confessions

The Devastation of Sin

A central tenet of the Reformed faith is that our “[rebelliousness] against God” and our “[hiding] from our Creator” has a devastating impact on us and our world (BOC, A Brief Statement of Faith, 11.3). “The Fall brought upon [humanity] the loss of communion with God” (BOC, The Larger Catechism, 7.137).

There is absolutely nothing we can do, in and of our own strength, to overcome or overwhelm sin and its consequences. We in ourselves are “so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil” (BOC, The Heidelberg Catechism, 4.008).

“By [humanity’s] transgression, generally known as original sin, the image of God was utterly defaced in [humanity], and he and his children became by nature hostile to God, slaves to Satan, and servants to sin” (BOC, The Scots Confession, 3.03).

There is an old joke about someone who asked directions and was given the answer: “You can’t get there from here.” The doctrine of “total depravity” is the teaching that we cannot get from our broken condition to God—which is why God entered into our broken condition to claim us.

For Reflection and Discussion:

We are surrounded by examples of humans abusing the gift of creation and “the loss of communion” with God through sin, in both personal and systemic ways (see BOC, The Confession of Belhar, 10.8; see also BOC, 7.137). How do the confessions help you confess and lament your own sinfulness and recognize the challenges and consequences of sin in our world?