How much should a Confession contain?
Another objection frequently voiced is that the Westminster Confession is too long. Assuming that the Church must have a Creed, should it extend to thirty-three chapters? The objection implies not only that a Confession of such length is inconvenient but that the whole religious and spiritual attitude behind it is wrong. ‘The authors of the Confession,’ writes G. S. Hendry, ‘thought is was incumbent upon them to deliver categorical answers to all questions that could be raised concerning the faith, and not only so, but they held the attitude that to every question there is one right answer, and all the others are wrong. They seem to have forgotten that “we walk by faith, not by sight.” Only once do they hint at mystery [III, 8]; for the rest, they know all the answers and can explain everything,’ [The Westminster Confession for Today, 1960, p. 15].
This statement, of course, is factually inaccurate. On several questions the authors of the Confession deliberately refrained from expressing an opinion. These included the Millennium, the order of the divine decrees, mediate or immediate imputation of Adam’s sin, and, arguably, the extent of redemption. On the other hand, the principle behind Hendry’s objection is in itself thoroughly wholesome. A Confession of Faith should not be a compendium of Systematic Theology, embracing all the opinions of a person or group. All revealed truth is important and every doctrine which we believe to be revealed we are bound to accept and obey. But there are ‘first things’ [l Cor. 15.3]. Some doctrines are primary and fundamental in a way that others are not, and these are the doctrines which a Confession should contain. It should not include local, national and denominational prejudices or the private opinions and speculations of individuals. It should studiously avoid anything which is not fundamental.
Donald Macloed, “The Westminster Confession Today,” The Banner of Truth, Issue 101 February 1972, 18. [Some minor reformatting and underlining mine.]