People may and usually do trust Christ without knowing the full description and definition of His person and work. But that does not diminish the importance of having a description or definition. When you encounter someone who believes in a false Christ, then the defense of these creedal descriptions and definitions takes center stage.
My faith has found a resting place not in device nor creed….” This line opens one of the hymns that used to be sung regularly in Baptist churches. It is still sung in some. It can be taken in two ways.
One is to suggest that devices and creeds (or symbols or confessions—these terms are nearly interchangeable) are antithetical to genuine faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, the hymn itself sets up a contrast: “I trust the ever-living one: His wounds for me shall plead.” Understood in this sense, to trust Christ is to refuse to trust creeds and confessions.
The text can also be read a slightly better way. It can be understood to say that the real object of saving faith in Christ Himself: we trust in Him, and not in our statements about Him. Taken in this sense, the song is less obviously false, but it continues to suggest some sort of contrast between Christ and doctrine, with the former being essential and the latter being dispensable.
Frankly, I wish that we could eradicate this hymn from our worship. Why? Because we cannot trust Christ as a mere name or sentimental abstraction. We can only trust a Christ who is understood in some specific way. We could trust the Christ of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We could trust the Christ of the Mormons. We could trust the Christ of the Unitarians. We could trust the Christ of Protestant Liberalism. Or we could trust the Christ of Christian orthodoxy.
Can’t we just trust the Christ of the Bible? The question seems reasonable, but it shows the exact problem. Each of these Christs purports to be the Christ of the Bible. The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that their Christ is found in the Bible. The Mormons assert that their Christ is found in the Bible. It does no good to say, “I trust the Christ of the Bible,” unless you specify just who that Christ is.
“Alright,” you might say, “I believe that the Christ of the Bible is the Second Person of the Godhead: coequal, coeternal, and consubstantial with the Father.” Perhaps you might even back up this statement with some biblical references. If this is what you said, then you would be correct: this is the biblical Christ whom we must trust.
Perhaps you might continue, “I believe that by His incarnation the Christ of the Bible added to His deity a complete human nature, becoming fully and genuinely a man.” You might back up this statement with other biblical references. Once again, you would be right. This affirmation also defines the Christ whom we must trust.
You might further say, “I believe that the Christ of the Bible is one person in two complete natures, human and divine, such that His person must never be divided, and His natures must never be either confounded with or converted into each other.”