In Proposition 75, George Peters states:
“The doctrine of the Kingdom, as held by the churches established by the Apostles, was perpetuated.”
When it comes to discussing the perpetuation of a doctrine within church history, it is not enough to simply trace back a teaching to say the Reformation. It is essential to trace the teaching all the way back to the time of the biblical authors. In essence, one should start there and move forward in time so that the consistency (or lack thereof) of the message’s perpetuation can be ascertained. If the message becomes skewed or altered from the actual biblical starting point, then it can be stated something went amiss and a proper investigation of what went awry can be completed. In taking this approach, one can find the doctrine of the Kingdom as taught by the Apostles, was held dear by the early church and those who were under the tutelage of the Apostles.
The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 75 is the following:
“It has been observed by some that this doctrine of the early church, if true, should have been continuously presented in a prominent orthodox form (i.e., confessionally), and because not so held, it cannot be true. But this entirely overlooks the predicted defection from the truth (as e.g. 2 Thess. 2; 2 Tim. 4:3-4, etc.), and the warnings given to us to return to the truth as previously imparted; it elevates the mere deductions and confessional position of the church above that of the Scriptures in its covenants and prophecies; it forgets that the probationary attitude of man and the exercise of his will has an important bearing, making a rejection of truth possible; and it ignores the fact, that precisely the same line of argument which applies to a foretold apostasizing from truth, and to the propriety (necessity) and good results of a revival of doctrine by the Reformation, can, with equal force, be used in the defense of this single doctrine.”
Peters brings up a point here that has vexed me for some time. I have lost track of how many folks elevate creeds and confessions almost to the point where the writings contained in those documents are on par with Scripture. Don’t get me wrong. There is much value, historically and theologically in many of the creeds and confessions of the faith. With that said, they are not the ultimate source of truth, nor should they determine how we understand Scripture. They can be a helpful starting point; however, if we want to know truth, we have to root ourselves in the source of truth – Scripture. Just because something is in a confession at a certain point in church history does not mean that confession has properly held to biblical truth. In most occasions they arguably do; however, they are not the end all estimation of whether a doctrine should be held firm. If Scripture declares it to be true, that should be our reason for affirmation.