Monday, June 3, 2013

Creeds and Confessions, A Defense, Part 2

2. Another argument for the importance of creeds and confessions appears from considering what the church was established to be, namely a depository, a guardian, and a witness of the truth.

Scripture represents Christians, collectively as well as individually, as witnesses for God. They are exhorted to contend earnestly for the faith and to hold fast to the form of sound words which they have received and to strive together for the faith of the Gospel.

Surely this implies taking effective measures to distinguish between truth and error. Surely this implies the duty of drawing a line between those who profess to believe the Bible, while in reality denying its essential doctrines, and those who humbly receive the truth.

There is only one way that this can be done. The only way a distinction can be made between those who deny the essential doctrines of Scripture and those who embrace them – while both professing to receive and believe the Bible – is by ascertaining and explicitly declaring how the church understands and interpret the Bible. In other words the church must extract articles of faith from the Scriptures and compared those articles with the professed belief of those whom she suspects to be heretics. But what is this if not a creed or Confession of faith? To this point, Samuel Miller writes, “It does really appear to me that those orthodox brethren, who admit that the church is bound to raise her voice against error, and to 'contend earnestly' for the truth; and yet denounce creeds and confessions, are, in the highest degree inconsistent with themselves.” A truer sentence was never written.

Demanding a church members and her ministers uphold a truth, while refusing to give them the tools to do it, beyond a naked “I believe in the Bible,” is like the Egyptian taskmasters sending the Israelites to their brickwork without supplying down the necessary materials to meet their quota. There really is no other alternative. You must either have “a form of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13), or you can have no security that any two decisions about the faith will be made on the same basis.


  1. Even just to say, "I believe the Bible," IS itself a creed, just one without distinctive content. Another one is "No creed but Christ." I think a logical question for spouters of such drivel is, "If you aren't willing to put your doctrine into writing, what are you trying to hide?"

    1. Thanks for your comment Chris. I make an observation similar to this later on in this series. I remember the stunned felling I got the first time I realized this.

      There is a demonstration of this idea I read a long time ago at that went like this:

      HANS: We're studying the Westminster Confession of Faith. Want to join us?

      FRANZ: No; I don't give heed to the words of men like you do.

      H: What do you mean?

      F: I go by the Bible. I can't rely on the words of mere uninspired men.

      H: Me, too. That's why we're studying the Confession. You should join us; it'd be very edifying.

      F: Wait a minute. I just told you that I only go by the Bible, and yet you have just equated the study of this Westminster Confession with a study of the Scriptures!

      H: And as I just said, I only go by the Bible, too. So, I'm not going to pay any attention to what you've just said. You're not inspired, after all.

      F: Of course I'm not inspired; but what I said was right because it was BIBLICAL.

      H: How could it be biblical if it was merely what you -- an uninspired man -- told me? I only listen to the inspired words of the Bible. Isn't it lording it over my conscience to tell me to accept your uninspired words as though they were the very inspired words of God?

      F: Oh, come on. I may not have quoted chapter and verse, but I was telling you what the Bible MEANS. That's why you have you have to pay attention to it.

      H: Are you saying the meaning of the Bible, even if explained in the uninspired words of uninspired men, is still binding -- in fact, as binding as the very words written in the Bible?

      F: Well, yes, that is what I'm saying. The meaning of the Bible, though stated in different words, has the same authority as the exact words found there. And since I'm telling you that the meaning of the Bible is not to give heed to the uninspired words of men, you still have to receive it as though those exact words I've spoken were written in the pages of Scripture.

      H: Wait a minute. How is what you've just said any different from the Westminster Confession? After all, the writers of the Confession were only putting forth what they thought was the meaning of the Bible.


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