Thursday, June 20, 2013

Creeds and Confessions, A Defense, Part 7

7. My final argument in favor of the use of creeds and confessions is that the most fiery and zealous opponents to them virtually employ creeds and confessions in their own internal ecclesiastical proceedings.

The very people who constantly squawk against the use of a creed or a confession as a standard measurement of orthodoxy will themselves use something equivalent to a creed or confession when a doctrinal crisis emerges in their own communion. Have you ever heard of a wild-eyed Oneness Pentecostal church hiring a Calvinist preacher to be their pastor? Of course not. Why? There should be no issue here is these creed rejecters lived by their own principles. Doesn't the Calvinist preacher come with the Bible in his hand, professing to believe it as ardently as they do? Isn't that enough for these advocates of liberty of conscience? But we all know this will never happen. Before this church would consent to hire this man as they are preacher and spiritual guide they will want to know precisely how he interprets the Bible, which is another way to say, “What is his creed?” They want to know whether his confession of faith is substantially the same is theirs or not. And if it is not, he will not get the job. What is this but the principle of demanding subscription to a creed or confession carried out with as much rigor as the most ardent advocate of orthodoxy?

The only difference between this practice and the practice of those who are friends of creeds and confessions is that with those who advocate the use of creeds and confessions, theirs is a written doctrine. The rejecters of creeds and confessions demand subscription to their creed, albeit theirs, because it is not written can be applied in the most capricious and tyrannical manner against which there is no recourse.

There is no getting around this fact. The enemies of creeds cannot get along one day without one. It is very common to find the enemies of creeds saying, “No creed but the Bible.” But let us ask for a moment what a creed is. A creed is nothing more than an organized statement of what we profess to believe the Bible teaches. Opponents of creeds always argue that creeds are man-made, and for this reason they are unbiblical and therefore not binding upon believers. But this argument implodes under the weight of its own stupidity. What is “No creed but the Bible,” if not a man-made statement of what these people believe? The statement itself is not found in Scripture, and it can therefore be argued that it is unbiblical. In summary, “No creed but the Bible” is a creed!

In summary, the arguments in favor of the use of creeds and confessions are these: they serve as a basis of unity; they help the church be the guardian of truth she was established to be; they inform fellow believers and the watching world of what we in fact believe; they tend toward the informed study of the Bible; the early church's own example shows their utility in testing teachers and their doctrine; only heretics or latitudinarians have generally rejected them; even their opponents use them when push comes to shove.

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