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In Defense of Creeds

Check out Scot McKnight’s review of Carl Trueman’s The Creedal Imperative.

The best part of this book, other than Trueman’s occasional zingers at church goofinesses and cultural nonsense, is his chapter on the usefulness of creeds. I found this chapter to be theologically helpful but also pastorally aware (he pastors, I think). Here are his uses of creeds:

1. All churches have creeds and confessions (I’d say they all have “theologies” but not all have “creeds” in a specialized sense). Failure to acknowledge this can be disingenuous. (I agree with that.)
2. Confessions delimit the power of the church. (I don’t like the word “delimit” but I agree with his point.) They mean the church has to answer to something above it! That’s a good thing. Too many think they are the first to find something.
3. The offer succinct and thorough summaries of the central elements of the faith. Good creeds do this, but here the Confessions are even more thorough.
4. Creeds and confessions allow for appropriate discrimination between members and office-bearers: that is, not everyone has to be the expert; but leaders ought to be theologically informed. I could tell stories…. yuck.
5. Creeds and confessions reflect the ministerial authority of the church … and, yes, this cuts against the grain of our anti-authoritarian culture, but it’s hard to have leaders who don’t lead, or pastors who aren’t to some degree theologically sound and capable of leading, and elders who don’t know their stuff. (It’s not so hard perhaps as it is profoundly unwise.)
6. Creeds and confessions represent the maximal doctrinal competence the local church aspires to for its members.
7. I like this one: creeds and confessions relativize the importance to remind us we are part of a long history and Story!
8. Creeds and confessions help define one church in relation to another — this is about information not schism.
9. Creeds and confessions are necessary for maintaining corporate unity.

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