Thinking about Creeds: Are relationships and vision statements enough?

Church confessions and creeds are not very popular today. Many contemporary churches prefer to define church in ‘relational’ terms or in terms of ‘vision statements and values’. Historically, the church has always held creeds and confessions in high regard.

One of the key books which influenced me towards embracing a creedal approach to Christianity was Carl Trueman’s book ‘The Creedal Imperative’. Here are some quotes from Trueman’s book:

“The pastor who thinks he is being biblical by declaring he has no creed but the Bible may actually, upon reflection, find that his position is more shaped by the modern world than he at first realized.”

“It would be a tragic irony if the rejection of creeds and confessions by so many of those who sincerely wish to be biblically faithful turned out to be not an act of faithfulness but rather an unwitting capitulation to the spirit of the age.”

“All Christians engage in confessional synthesis; the difference is simply whether one adheres to a public confession, subject to public scrutiny, or to a private confession that is, by its very nature, immune to such examination.”

“I do want to make the point here that Christians are not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who do not; rather, they are divided between those who have public creeds and confessions that are written down and exist as public documents, subject to public scrutiny, evaluation, and critique, and those who have private creeds and confessions that are often improvised, unwritten, and thus not open to public scrutiny, not susceptible to evaluation and, crucially and ironically, not, therefore, subject to testing by Scripture to see whether they are true.”

“Creeds and confessions are, in fact, necessary for the well-being of the church, and that churches that claim not to have them place themselves at a permanent disadvantage when it comes to holding fast to that form of sound words which was so precious to the aging Paul as he advised his young protégé, Timothy. . . The need for creeds and confessions is not just a practical imperative for the church but is also a biblical imperative.”

“The fact that I am a confessional Christian places me at odds with the vast majority of evangelical Christians today.”

“Those of us in the West have been taught to believe so deeply in the authority and autonomy of the individual that subjecting our own thoughts to external authorities, especially corporate or historic, is very counterintuitive. Combined with a desire for instant gratification, many of us are inclined to believe that if something does not make sense the first time we look at it, it—and not we—must be wrong.”

“A church with a creed or confession has a built-in gospel reality check. It is unlikely to become sidetracked by the peripheral issues of the passing moment; rather it will focus instead on the great theological categories that touch on matters of eternal significance.”