Thursday, May 30, 2013

Creeds and Confessions, A Defense, Part 1

I have recently read two books by the late Samuel Miller, one on Infant Baptism and the other on the importance of Creeds and Confessions. Inspired by the latter, we are going to begin a series of posts addressing the importance of creeds and confessions of faith. This series of posts will begin by delineating the importance of creeds and confessions. We will then attempt to respond to several of the key objections urged against the use of creeds and confessions. Finally, we will conclude by looking at some of the practical ramifications of the arguments we have made and the objections we have refuted. Right at the outset, I wish to acknowledge how indebted I am to Miller’s lecture which was published in 1821.

Perhaps to start with what we should do is define what we mean by a creed, or confession of faith. Simply put, a creed or a confession is a presentation in human language of the great doctrines which are believed by its framers to be taught in the Scriptures. These are drawn out in regular order for the purpose of determining how far those who wish to unite in church fellowship are really agreed in the fundamental principles of Christianity. It should be obvious from that statement that we do not claim creeds or confessions to be the law of the house of God, but rather summaries extracted from the Scriptures of the great and principal doctrines of the Gospel.

To this end, I would like to submit a number of arguments for the importance of the use of both creeds and confessions of faith.

1. Without a creed explicitly adopted it is impossible to show how the ministers and members of any particular church, and more especially, of a large denomination of Christians, can maintain unity among themselves.

It appears to me to be impossible to overstate the importance of this point. As Samuel Miller points out, if every Christian were a mere insulated individual who acted for himself alone, no creed would be necessary for his advancement in knowledge or holiness. He could simply sit down with his Bible, open it, and read it, and have everything needed for his own edification. But the case is far different in fact. The church is a society. The church is a body. No matter how extended it is, it is one body in Christ and all who are members of it are members of one another. Scripture commands members of that church to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. They are also commanded to stand fast in one spirit with one mind. We are further commanded to all speak the same thing and be of one accord and of one mind. If the unity of the Spirit is as important as Scripture says he is, one must then ask, “How can two walk together unless they be agreed?” Is it really possible to have unity amongst a body of believers composed of Calvinists, Arminians, Pelagians, Arians and Modalists? How could such a body pray? How could such a body preach and attend the sacraments together with such disparate views of every essential doctrine of the Christian faith?

Directly linked to this is the 2nd issue, namely: How is a church to avoid the guilt of harboring and countenancing heresy? We all know it is not sufficient to make everyone say, or accept it when everyone says, “I believe in the Bible.” The real question is not whether you believe in the Bible, but rather -  what do you believe the Bible to be teaching when you say you believe it. There is no question but that there are countless people who call themselves Christians and profess to take the Bible as their guide, who hold opinions on key doctrines as far as the east is from the west from other people who equally call themselves Christians and equally profess to take the Bible as their guide. This is precisely what a creed or Confession of faith enables the church and the denomination to do.



    The majority of denominations use their creed books as the authority in the church for faith and practice. If the final authority is the creed book(catechism), then what purpose would the Bible serve. The Bible is relegated to a secondary reference book.

    If the creed book is the authority. Why read the Bible? Why even own a Bible? There are some who say, we do not have a creed book, we a have statement of faith. Statement of faith is just a euphemistic way of saying creed book.

    If denominations claim to use the Bible as their rule for faith and practice, then there would is no need for a man-made creed book.

    Acts 17:10-11 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 There were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

    The Berean's did not search the man-made creed books written by the scribes and elders, to substantiate the truth. The searched the Scriptures.

    Acts 17:2-3 Then Paul, as his custom was, went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ."

    Paul did not use man-made creed books to teach about Jesus Christ. He reasoned from the Scriptures.

    The Pharisees and scribes liked to teach from the man-made creed books of the elders. (Mark 7:1-13....3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders....... 13 "making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.")

    The Pharisees used man-made creed books as their final authority.

    If denominations are using man-made creed books as there final authority for faith and practice, are they not making the word of God of no effect through their tradition?

    (Scripture: NKJV) YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. Bing search>>>steve finnell a christian view

    1. You should read the entire series which will address every concern you raised. As you can see this is only part 1 of a multi-part series. But let me hasten to say this: No one has ever affirmed that a creed is equal to Scripture. So that is a red herring. Secondly, that "No creed but the Bible" IS a creed. And thirdly, a creed or confession of faith, as my series repeatedly urges, is simply of way of saying that we believe the Bible and what we mean to say when we say that, in other words, what we believe the Bible to teach.


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