"A Short Introduction to the Westminster Assembly and its Work"
by Rev Dr Rowland Ward
This book review was originally published in the Western Presbyterian newsletter, Summer 2017 edition. (Author unknown.)
Carrying his substantial scholarship lightly, Rowland Ward has produced with "A Short Introduction to the Westminster Assembly and its Work" a modest volume which will be of considerable help to elders and church people, old and new in Presbyterian and Reformed churches world-wide and here in Australia.
Nicely illustrated along the way, Ward's book is easy to read and will certainly further help '... the recovery of confessional orthodoxy...' in the life of the local church. We need more volumes like this, which make 'righteousness readable' and to do it all in less than 125 pages.
The Westminster Assembly is set within its historical context simply but well. Then follows thematic studies on the (gathered) worship of the church, church order/confessional subscription and a review of the structure and character of the Westminster Confession and associated Catechisms.
30 pages are given over to 'notes' on some of the teachings of the Confession, condensed from Ward's larger WCF commentary. The reader finds much help here. For example, Ward gives 10 reasons to believe in the unique position of the moral law (96-97) and then comments helpfully, 'although the ten commandments can be distinguished, Christians do not obey them because commanded by Moses, but as they receive them from Christ in the Gospel. For we are not under covenant given through Moses, but under the new covenant given through Christ. Thus, one can readily admit that the law of Moses as a unit is superseded yet highlight the ten commandments as being of abiding relevance. This is so, not because are part of the law of Moses, but because in essence they date from creation, the Lord merely republishing them in a particular context through Moses.'
A surprising omission from the list of modern language texts of the WCF was the Westminster Confession of Faith for the 21st Century, prepared and published by the PCA to mark its centenary in 2001. It contained a very valuable scripture index to the WCF.
"A Short Introduction to the Westminster Assembly and its Work" is not the final word on its subject, but it is a very helpful first word and deserves a wide readership.
Rowland S. Ward (Wantirna: New Melbourne Press, 2017) 116 pp.