Thursday, June 6, 2013

Creeds and Confessions, A Defense, Part 3

3. Creeds and confessions of faith are simply the truth and candor that every Christian church owes to the other churches and to the world around her.

Let us imagine a hypothetical believer, a devout and religious man, who wants to form a deep in spiritual bond to a body of believers of like mind. Before he joins any church, he will want to know something of their faith, their government, and their general character. He will also want to know their doctrine. How will he find any of this out? It will certainly not be by going from church to church within a 50 mile radius of his house trying to ascertain from what he hears from the pulpit what that particular church holds for Bible truth. This would require an impossibly long amount of time and effort which no one can afford. And even supposing he had the time to spend in such an endeavor, he would never hear enough of the doctrine of anyone church to be able to decide what the universal and uniform character of that particular church was. He would have no way of knowing whether what he saw and heard on any given Sunday was standard procedure or a mere fluke.

But supposing that this hypothetical inquirer finds that we have a published creed or confession of faith, which declares how we understand the Scriptures, and further details the great truths which we have agreed to unite in maintaining, he can ascertain in a very short time without even leaving his own living room, what we profess to believe, and how far his views accord with our published confession.

Creeds and confessions therefore, rather than alienating and embittering Christians and churches who think merely alike, in fact make them better acquainted with each other while laying the foundation for mutual confidence in harmony as fellow believers and members of the church of God. Whole denominations exist, whose doctrinal standards are virtually identical, yet no one would know how far they are agreed without these standards being published and subscribed to in a public manner.

The aforementioned hypothetical believer merely presents us with one half of the equation. But the same logic applies with regard to our witness to the world around us. Do not churches and denominations owe the world around them an honest and candid presentation of their beliefs? Surely no one would dispute this. This is precisely what creeds and confessions do.

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