Scot McKnight has a nice piece about the ancient ecumenical Creeds and their place in (Protestant, evangelical, paleo-orthodox and/or emerging) Christianity. He takes a middle road—which obviously gets bonus points from me—between those who would dismiss the Creeds as irrelevant and those who would invest them with the same degree of authority as the Bible. To the first point, Scot writes,
I should note clearly hear that I will happily recite the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds. I agree with paleo-orthodoxy that these Creeds reflect important, basic truths about God and Christ. I also agree that these Creeds establish a pattern for the Church’s proclamation of the Gospel. The Creeds emphasize the basic Biblical themes of creation, Trinity, incarnation, resurrection and redemption, and proclaim in particular the events of the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. This is the Gospel that the Church has always proclaimed and always must proclaim, for the Gospel fundamentally is rooted in God’s Trinitarian person and in these kerygmatic events. The Gospel is the “faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3), which does not change.
He then, however, notes three areas of concern with the ways some believers handle the Creeds:
But paleo-orthodoxy, it seems to me, understands the Creeds to have a greater authority than that of faithfully reflecting a pattern for Gospel proclamation. For paleo-orthodoxy, the ecumenical Creeds are authoritative for doctrine and theology because they are part of the “history of the Holy Spirit.” To be sure, the Creeds for the paleo-orthodox are subsidiary authorities to scripture, but nevertheless they are in some sense binding authorities. In principle, for the paleo-orthodox, the Creeds are reformable in accordance with scripture. In practice, however, the Creeds for them are functionally infallible (or so it seems to me, and to some other observers such as Roger Olson, who writes to this effect in his book Reformed and Always Reforming).
I find this notion troubling, for several reasons: (1) it functionally compromises the Reformational principles of sola scriptura (though it formally maintains that principle) and of the priesthood of all believers; (2) it is highly selective – indeed arbitrary – about which parts of the “history of the Holy Spirit” are authoritative; and (3) it leaves unmanageable ambiguities about the status of some creedal statements.
The remainder of the post provides examples of Scot ‘s reasons.