Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920) on confession of sin being essential to confession of faith


A bit over 100 years ago, Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920) wrote a book for those wishing to make public profession of faith in a Reformed church. The book is called The Implications of Public Confession. Actually, this short booklet was translated by Henry Zylstra into English and originally wasn’t a work on its own, but was taken from part III of the Dutch Voor Distel een Murt (1891), which comprised 44 devotions on the sacraments, baptism, public confession and the Lord’s supper. The twelve on public confession make up this booklet. In this short book, Kuyper discusses the relationship of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. He also talks about children praying, believing, repenting, and confessing the doctrines of grace. Kuyper mentions what confession is and what a confessing church sounds like in unison. Here’s one paragraph from the book that I appreciate:

“Your confession of your Savior and Lord before the congregation must include a confession of your personal wretchedness. A confession which desires Jesus but which is not characterized by a profound conviction of personal sin and guilt is false. Paul would call that a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Indeed, it would be a weak and flimsy confession. That is self-evident. Why a Redeemer if there be no need for redemption? How yearn for a Savior except there be a consciousness  of the bonds of death? And again, why should you seek the Physician if you do not sense that your soul is sick?”

“Yes, there should be a consciousness, a poignant, painful consciousness of personal sin and guilt. That does not mean that you must have the full and profound consciousness of your depravity in the moment you say ‘yes’ before the congregation. Those who profess the necessity of that, drift toward emotionalism and depart from the meaning of the Word of God. But it is unequivocally true that he who confesses his Savior must confess his wretchedness also. He must, to a degree and in a way appropriate to his age and experience, fully sense that he is lost, and that therefore he, together with all God’s children, is taking refuge under the Savior’s wings.”

Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), The Implications of Public Confession, p. 28

When we confess with Thomas the Apostle that Jesus Christ is “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28) , we at the same time also say with the publican, “God be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s