The Need for Creeds

It's more than merely helpful to set down the church's core convictions in words

Every Christian and every church already has a creed in the sense that they all “think the Bible means something and that its teaching can be summarized” in different words. “The only difference is whether one writes the confession down, so that others may scrutinize it and judge whether its teaching is consistent with Scripture, or whether one refuses to do so, in which case one’s beliefs are essentially identified with the teaching of Scripture and placed above such scrutiny.”

 

 

Review: The Creedal Imperative, Carl R. Trueman. Crossway Books & Bibles

Our church has a need for a creed. In The Creedal Imperative (Crossway), Westminster Theological Seminary’s Carl R. Trueman presses the case that “creeds and confessions are vital to the present and future well-being of the church.”

It’s not just that a creed (a public, established statement of a church’s most important beliefs) is a useful tool for teaching doctrine, holding leaders accountable, defining the boundaries of church membership or cooperation among churches, and telling the world what a church stands for. Creeds do all that. But this book is not about the handy helpfulness of creeds; it’s about the creedal imperative. A church that obeys the Bible should follow the injunction of the apostle Paul’s pastoral epistles to Timothy, and resolve to guard “a form of sound words transmitted by eldership … ensuring good management of the household of God.”

Trueman builds up this biblical case for creeds, layers over it the historical case from both the patristic church and confessional Protestantism, and puts the burden of proof on what he calls the “‘No Creed but the Bible!’ brigade.” Given this biblical and historical trajectory of churches using creeds, “the question is not so much ‘Should we use them?’ as ‘Why would we not use them?'”

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