There are few things in this world that get frowned upon more than Christian Creeds and Confessions. This should not be! Much of modern Evangelicalism says, “No creed but the Bible!” which is itself a creed!
A creed is simply a statement of belief. It outlines the things we hold to be of utmost importance. For example, the Apostle’s Creed affirms a belief in “God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth.” This is the foundation upon which Christianity itself is to be built.
Imagine for a moment a “Christianity” which rejected the Father. What sort of religion would this be? How would Christians know how to interact with them? This religion would not be the true, Christian religion, but a cheap and flimsy counterfeit.
So, why are Creeds necessary? To keep us from rejecting the Father. Creeds are not the Bible. We do not believe things simply because the creed says so. However, creeds are much like a roadmap by which we may know what we are reading in Scripture.
I ask you, what keeps you from being in a cult? What keeps you from Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witness or Oneness Pentecostalism? All of these pseudo-Christian groups began with the understanding of “no creed but the Bible!” Because they adopted this ideology, they had no way to combat error, so each group misunderstands the Trinity among other doctrines.
So, how do the creeds work? You read the creed, read the Scriptures, and compare. The creed ought to be a good barometer for what you’ve read. If it isn’t, ask yourself why you disagree with so much of church history. You had better be awfully sure if you say you know something the church just hasn’t figured out in two millennia.
Now, what about confessions? Confessions are a bit different, in that they are much more detailed than creeds. Creeds are general statements of belief, whereas confessions are concise summaries of an entire theology.
These are helpful when matters of doctrine arise in a local congregation. When a member of a Baptist church begins expressing their belief in infant baptism, a confession, if the church holds to one, is a great way to sort out the disagreements so that all are of one accord in the local congregation.
Confessions cover everything from the Canon of Scripture to baptism to Communion to the nature of marriage, etc. They are quite comprehensive and most necessary for a healthy church.
You may be thinking, “I’m not even a part of a denomination. My church is non-denominational and we get on just fine! We don’t need any silly confession!” If this describes you, I simply ask, what will keep your next pastor from preaching something you don’t believe? What will keep your pastor from leaving his convictions? In my church, I know what my pastors believe because they must adhere to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. If their convictions ever change, they must step down from their position and move on. This way, the congregation and the pastors are all on the same page. How does a non-denominational church accomplish this?
I am crazy and you may not want to listen to me, but I beg you, think through these things. Why has the church always used these old documents? Why do you reject what the church has historically accepted? You may well have a valid reason for doing so, but I can find none.
Soli Deo Gloria.