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The Watchorn Confession of Faith

Submitted to Watchorn Church (Alfreton UK) for the clarity and worship of God’s people, and in hope, for the reformation of Christ’s Church.

In keeping with the example of God’s people throughout the centuries, we have sought to confess and describe for ourselves the content of divine revelation. In doing so we by no means replace or surpass the efforts of previous generations. Rather, we stand on the shoulders of giants in all these things, bearing grateful witness to the confessions of old. However, the exigencies of the modern world force themselves upon us. We are therefore compelled to proclaim the faith to our world, at this time, and in our own words.


Solī Deō Gloria.


January 2024



We believe that the living God is kind and merciful and has spoken concerning all that is necessary for life and godliness.[1] We believe that he commands us to speak about these things by way of Godly imitation.[2] This is what we call ‘theology’; it is the bedrock of all knowledge and wisdom.


I. We deny that theology is irrelevant to the Church. We become theologians as soon as we utter a syllable about God, the world, or ourselves. As creatures of this God, we do not have a choice between doing or not doing theology; the only choice we have is whether to do theology well.

II. We deny that theological learning necessarily produces spiritual fruit. True wisdom begins with the fear of God.[3] All students of theology must cultivate Christlike virtue if they wish truly to understand divine mysteries.[4It is possible for an unlettered believer to understand the Lord’s ways better than an academic theologian.[5]


We believe that there is one and only one God: the God of Israel,[6] the God of Abraham and David.[7] There is none like him: he is the great ‘I AM’.[8] He is the essence of beauty,[9] truth,[10] and goodness.[11] All of creation lives and moves and has its being in him.[12] He is perfect in every way, and he knows no limitations.[13]


I. We deny that God is capable of suffering.[14] To say otherwise suggests God learns from (or is forced to adapt to) his own creation; that he is reactive rather than proactive. He would then be capable of change,[15] which in turn would undermine his promises. To the contrary, we know all these are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ in Christ,[16] a sure anchor for the soul.

II. We deny that God is uncertain of the future.[17] Such teaching undoes biblical prophecy and denies what Scripture says about divine providence. It also undermines the Cross, which the Lord has revealed as the predetermined apex of history.[18]

III. We deny that the divine essence is corporeal in any way. God is spirit; he dwells in unapproachable light.[19]

IV. We deny that God is one being within an order of beings, or that he is a complex of attributes. He is simply God. He needs nothing and only himself. Indeed, the existence of God is identical with his essence: God’s nature is such that he exists and holds all things together in his Being.


We believe that the LORD God of Israel eternally exists in three distinct persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) – each sharing the same divine essence and one united will.[20]


I. We deny that it is illegitimate to speak of the Trinity on account of the word itself not being found in Scripture. Doctrines are true either because they enjoy explicit biblical warrant, or because they follow by good and necessary consequence from Scripture. The Trinity is an example of the latter.


We believe that God created all things from nothing, visible or invisible.[21]
Angels, humanity, animals, flora and fauna, rocks, and minerals, down to the smallest particle: he created all things for his own glory,[22] and he sustains all things by a kind providence.[23] The richness and variety of creation speaks to the abundance of our Creator.[24]


I. We deny that the story of creation is one of death and futility, told over billions of years. When God created all things, he called it ‘good’.[25]

II. We deny the Darwinian worldview. Not only does it rob man of his dignity,[26] but it has also been demonstrably harmful to human civilisation. The violence and tyranny of the 20th Century are the fruit of this worldview on a global scale.

III. We deny that worldly opinion which casts humanity as a blight upon creation, without which creation would be better off.[27]

IV. We deny those who grieve for creation as those without hope, as if God is not in control over his own design,[28] and as if he has not promised to dissolve all things with fire before creating a new heaven and a new earth.[29]

V. We deny that the Christian ought to be unconcerned with the welfare of creation; we receive it as the good gift of God and work for its reclamation.[30]

We believe that true wisdom consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.[31] However, man cannot understand himself rightly apart from divine revelation,[32] which tells the story of humanity as it were in three chapters. First, man was made in God’s image: created to glorify and enjoy God forever.[33] Second, man sinned against God and so fell from grace. The divine image in him is marred, though not altogether destroyed.[34] This is beyond man’s power to fix. All our wickedness and folly can be traced to this original sin.[35] Third, it is the saving purpose of the Triune God to create a new humanity in Christ, the second Adam, who is himself the perfect image and reflection of the Father.[36]


I. We deny that our being made men and women is accidental or incidental. To the contrary, “God made them in his own image, male and female he created them”.[37] Our masculinity and femininity are gifts for our flourishing.[38] When these gifts are confused, or neglected, we make ourselves miserable.

II. We deny that gender can be easily or even meaningfully distinguished from biological sex. We deny that gender is entirely a social construct.

III. We deny that the sexes are equal in every respect. Both men and women possess an inalienable dignity due to their being made in the image of God. However, there are clear and obvious differences between the two. In general terms, a man finds himself given to the building of the polis, a woman to the nurturing of the home. This is God’s common grace for all humanity.[39]

IV. We deny that humans possess an immutable sexual ‘orientation’. We deny that this is an accurate model of the human being made in God’s image. Instead, we believe that all men possess knowledge and a will, and that they experience affections, some of which are sexual in nature.[40] These affections should be submitted to the natural law established by God. Indeed, nature itself tells us (and the Word confirms) that he made men and women for one another; only this relationship brings life. However, because of the Fall we deny what is plain, our wills are unconstrained, and our affections are unruly. This is what leads to sexual sin: be it adultery, pornography, rape, or same-sex activity. Only when we are made new in Christ can our knowledge, will and affections be put right.


We believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.[41] He is the second Adam and the True Man,[42] our great prophet, priest, and King.[43] We believe that the Gospel is the good news of the glory of Christ.[44]

I. We deny all those who would appropriate Christ for their own ends – whether they think of him as merely a ‘good teacher’, an enlightened one, or a political firebrand. The Lion of Judah defines the terms of his own significance.[45] All things were created through him, and for him.[46] In this regard, Christianity is a categorically different kind of religion than any that has emerged before or since: Christianity alone was founded by the author of the Universe, ‘pleased with man as man to dwell’.


We believe that the eternal Son of God,[47] the second person of the Trinity, 

added to himself a human nature and entered his own creation,[48] making himself known as Jesus of Nazareth. We believe that in his one-person, true humanity and full divinity are united together.

I. We deny all heretical attempts to undermine this doctrine.[49]

a. We deny that God adopted a righteous human being to be made Son and Lord.

b. We deny that in Christ there were two persons corresponding to the two natures.

c. We deny that in Christ there is only one will corresponding to either nature or a blend of the two.

d. We deny that the Son of God is only of like substance to the Father; truly, he is co-substantial, God of God and Light of Light.

e. We deny that Christ is a divine creature.

f. We deny that there was ever a time when the Son was not.



Soteriology (Theology of Salvation)

[50] 2 Cor 5:19; Exo 6:7, Isa 53:12, John 10:3.
[51] Deut 7:7-8, Ps 50:10, Rom 9:21; 1 John 4:19.
[52] Rom 9:18.
[53] Eph 2:1.
[54] The following Greek words appear in close to 70% of all the New Testament: ‘to predestine’ (proorizein); ‘choosing’ (eklegō); ‘elect’ (eklektos), and ‘election’ (eklogē).

We believe that God has chosen to reconcile the world to himself in Christ, so to save a people of his own.[50] We believe that this choice is totally free and unmerited on God’s part, such that the cause of our love for God is the love of God.[51]

I. We deny that God is anything but free and sovereign in salvation.[52] We deny that fallen man is anything but helpless and enslaved to sin.[53]

II. We deny that the doctrine of election is unimportant – rather, it is central to salvation history and to the Triune life of God. Our Creator has chosen to be a Saviour God.

III. We deny that election and predestination can be brushed aside or ignored. They are unavoidable facts of Scripture, to which we must pay attention.[54]



On the Life and Death of Christ

[55] Luke 1:26ff, John 1:29; Matt 5:17, Col 2:13-14.
[56] Matt 3:15-17.
[57] Col 2:13-15, 1 John 3:8.
[58] Mark 10:45, 1 Tim 2:5-7, 1 Pet 1:18-19, Rev 5:9.
[59] Rom 3:26; 1 John 3:16.
[60] Luke 22:14-16, John 3:36, Rom 5:6-9, 2 Cor 5:21, 

1 Thess 1:9-10, 1 Thess 5:9.

[61] Isa 55:8; Rom 5:8-9.
[62] For example, we can discern a doctrine of penal substitution in the works of Irenaeus (Against Heresies V.XVII.1) and Justin Martyr (Dialogue With Trypho 95), both writing in the Second Century AD.

We believe that Jesus of Nazareth was born of the Virgin Mary and lived a sinless life, thereby fulfilling the righteous demands of the Law.[55] We believe that the Son’s obedience pleased his Father and rendered his death a spotless sacrifice for sin.[56] We believe that the death of Christ was the triumph of God over the kingdom of darkness,[57] a ransom for sin,[58] the vindication of God’s righteousness and a demonstration of his love for a sinful people.[59] We believe that on the Cross, Christ suffered the just penalty for our sins.[60]

I. We deny all those who would reject the doctrine of penal substitution.

a. Does the cross of Christ sanction violence? No. On the cross we see God in Christ putting an end to the cruelty of the ancient world with its toleration of human sacrifice, himself suffering the penalty due to such barbarism.

b. Does the cross of Christ constitute ‘cosmic child abuse’? No. The three persons of the Trinity share one united divine will and consented equally to the cross, for us and for our salvation.

c. Does the cross of Christ suggest that the Father changed his mind towards us, hating us one moment, then loving us the next? No. Our God is not like us, and his thoughts are not our thoughts; the cross was a demonstration of his hatred for our sin and of his love for our

d. Is penal substitution a Reformation invention? No, it is a doctrine both ancient and biblical.[62]


We believe that on the third day, Jesus Christ rose physically from the grave and defeated death.[63] We believe that the Resurrection was the vindication and exaltation of the Son as Lord.[64] We believe that the Resurrection marked the beginning of God’s new creation; the first fruits of what is to come, a general resurrection of the dead unto life or judgement.[65]

I. We deny that the Resurrection of Christ was merely ‘spiritual’. To the contrary, Jesus rose with a glorified body that could be seen and touched.


We believe that Jesus ascended physically into the heavenly places, as witnessed by his disciples.[66] He did so as a prophet, taken up into heaven as the better Elijah;[67] as a priest, so to intercede as the true Melchizedek; and as King, so to take his place at the right hand of the Father as Lord over all things.[68]

I. We deny that the ascension is a legend of the early Church, or that it in any way is a negotiable doctrine of the faith.

II. We deny that Christ ascended to heaven as anything but true man. He has taken our flesh into heaven and so redeemed it; where he is, we will be also.


We believe that if one is born again, one is a new creation in Christ;[69] regenerated and united to him by the power of the Spirit, enabling us to turn to God in faith.[70] He is pleased to reckon this faith to us as righteousness.[71] We believe that we are justified by grace alone and by faith alone.[72] We believe that Christ is the promise of our sanctification; we are called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, even as we believe that God is at work in us to will and work for his good pleasure.[73] We believe that Christ is the hope of our future glorification.[74]

I. We deny that there is no difference between the Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrines of justification. To the contrary, one recognises the necessity of grace unto righteousness, whereas the other also speaks of its sufficiency. This difference is significant enough to transform the Protestant doctrine of justification into the article of faith by which the Church stands or falls.

II. We deny that it is possible for Christians to enjoy perfect righteousness this side of eternity.[75] We are each born into futility and must reckon with our old nature, until the Lord returns and makes all things new.

III. We deny that Christians can never know victory over besetting sins. The Lord is faithful; he provides a way out from every temptation,[76] means of grace within the Church with which to avail ourselves and has given us both Law and Gospel which (when used rightly) help us walk in newness of life.[77]


We believe that the Kingdom of God refers to God’s sovereign claim over –and his sovereign plan for – all of creation, in Christ, for us and for our salvation.[78]

I. We deny that it is meaningful to separate the Kingdom of God from the operations of the visible Church of Christ.[79] He has made us to be a kingdom of priests, serving his God and Father – and he gives to its ministers the keys of the Kingdom, by which it is opened or closed.[80]

II. We deny that the Kingdom of God is exclusively concerned with signs and wonders.[81] We deny that the Kingdom of God is anything but miraculous.[82]


III. We deny that the Kingdom of God is coterminous with any political programme. Christ the King is free to deny the vanity of man at any time:[83] either because man has given himself to a violent agenda, or because he has borrowed too heavily from the zeitgeist of his day. To wit: communism is not the Kingdom of God; fascism is not the Kingdom of God; social justice is not the Kingdom of God; environmentalism is not the Kingdom of God; charity is not the Kingdom of God. Christ is King over every nation and empire, and over every political opinion or party.


We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, co-equal with the Father and the Son.[84] We believe he is the Giver of Life, the Comforter, and the One who inspired the authors of Scripture.[85] We believe that the Spirit serves the Father by exalting the Son,[86] and that he does so by drawing a person to Christ, convicting them of sin, applying to them the benefits of Christ, and then empowering them for a life of discipleship.[87] We believe that he gives diverse gifts to the Church.[88]

I. We deny that living the Christian life is possible without the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. The Christian faith is not compatible with rationalism and should never be reduced to the Word alone.[89]

II. We deny that living the Christian life is possible without the authority of the Word, as confirmed by the Holy Spirit. We deny that the Spirit works separately from the Word. The Christian faith is not compatible with spiritualism and should never be reduced to the Spirit alone.[90]


We believe that the Biblical authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit over several centuries, thereby creating works of diverse genres.[91] We believe that the Bible is the kind gift of God to us, through which he speaks decisively into human affairs.[92] We therefore believe that the Scriptures are both supremely authoritative and supremely sufficient; they contain no error and are incapable of erring.[93]

I. We deny that the Bible is anything but perspicuous in matters pertaining to life and godliness. All things being equal, we are capable of discerning the meaning of the biblical authors and applying it to our lives.

II. We deny that the Bible speaks in the same manner, in all places, or that its meaning is always easy to intuit. There are passages of Scripture which are hard to understand.[94] It is the duty of the believer to handle the Word of God with wisdom, and in fellowship with the church Catholic.[95]

III. We deny that the Christian is free to ‘disagree’ with Scripture. The scriptures are the very oracles of God; to disagree with Scripture is tantamount to a creature disagreeing with his Creator. We might wrestle with certain passages, but we must always approach the bible with a posture of humility.



On the Church

[96] Eph 4:4-6; Eph 1:4, Phil 2:15, Acts 17:30, 1 Cor 4:7,

2 Thess 2:15, 2 Thess 3:6; Matt 16:18-19.
[97] Matt 13:24-30.
[98] Isa 28:16, Isa 43:4; Matt 5:14.
[99] Phil 2:15.
[100] Rom 12:1, 1 Cor 3:12ff, Heb 12:28; Matt 28:19,

1 Cor 11:23ff, 2 Tim 4:2.
[101] Eph 2:20.
[102] The three terms: presbyteros or ‘elder’ (e.g. Titus 1:5-9); episkopos or ‘overseer’ (e.g. 1 Tim 3:1-7), and poimen or ‘shepherd/pastor’ (e.g. 1 Pet 5:1-2). Paul conflates the role of presbyteros with that of episkopos in 1 Tim 3:5 and 5:17, as well as in Titus 1:5+7a, whereas Peter conflates both with the role of poimen in 1 Pet 5:1-2.
[103] Acts 6:1ff, Phil 1:1, 1 Tim 3:8-13.
[104] For communion: cf. Luke 22:20. For baptism: compare Matt 26:28 & Rom 11:27, with Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, &

1 Pet 3:21.

We believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic church.[96] We believe this Church is found wherever true faith in Christ is confessed, wherever men and women have been redeemed and wherever there is a commitment to apostolic doctrine. We believe this Church is both visible and invisible: although the church is visibly fallen and prone to error, consisting of wheats and tares, the invisible Church refers to that new humanity redeemed in Christ.[97] This Church is God’s precious possession, the light of the world and the city of God,[98] offering a prophetic example of right worship in Spirit and in truth,[99] in accordance with Word and Sacrament.[100]

I. We deny that the Church possesses an authority equal to or rivalling that of the scriptures. To the contrary, the Church must always be subject to the authority of the Word of God.[101]

II. We deny that the scriptures describe three discrete offices: priest, bishop, and pastor. Rather, the scriptures employ all three terms to refer to the same office (which we tend to call ‘eldership’),[102] alongside the office of deacon.[103]

III. We deny that there are more than two sacraments. A sacrament is that which Christ gave the church to do in perpetuity (until he comes again), and which the scriptures connect to a Word of promise. There are two such sacraments: baptism and communion, both of which are signs and seals of the new covenant.[104]


We believe that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead.[105] We believe that Christians are to remain vigilant prior to Jesus’ return:[106] working out our salvation with fear and trembling, bearing one another’s  burdens, making the Gospel known, looking to fulfil their vocation in the world whilst praying for all those in positions of authority.[107] We believe that the Bible encourages humility regarding last things, speaking as it does about Christ returning “like a thief in the night” and in “the twinkling of an eye”.[108] We believe that Christ will return as a bridegroom for a Bride, to put down the rebellion of man, and to make all things new – then to dwell with his people forever.[109] Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.[110]

I. We deny that anyone can know the day or hour of Christ’s return.[111] A Godly attitude precludes any such speculation.


II. We deny quietism’s retreat from the civil sphere: Christ is Lord of the City as much as the Home and the Church.[112] The Gospel has the power to transform all aspects of human life. We also deny any attempt to undermine the spirituality of the Church: the mandate of God’s people prior to the return of Christ is not expressly political (in the colloquial sense) but is instead primarily spiritual.[113] The Church must first be concerned with the conditions of heavenly citizenship, so to organise and understand the conditions of earthly life.

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