Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms
In Judges 2:10 we read a very sad and shocking passage .. “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.” After all that had happened in the generation before through Joshua’s leadership, how did they get so far off? Those that lived during the time of Joshua did not share what God had promised and done for Israel. This led to a new generation who did not know God.In our day, there has been a trend in some churches to stray away from the old ways and start developing new, relevant ways to experience God. The church that I first attended did not point me to any resources to help me grow in my faith. In the process of trying to become relevant, we have become like the generation after Joshua. In trying to have new experiences we have forgotten the promises and timeless truths about our God. Along with this distance from the old ways that some churches have created, the culture is now coming full force at the church testing to see if it will cave in the pressure. And more and more it looks like most churches, congregants, and even pastors cannot even answer simple questions about what we believe.
What are creeds, confessions, and catechisms?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines these words: creed: a set of fundamental beliefs. confession: a formal statement of religious beliefs. catechism: a summary of religious doctrine often in the form of questions and answers.
Here are some links to some Protestant creeds, confessions, and catechisms: Apostle's CreedNicene CreedLuther's Small Catechism Westminster Shorter Catechism1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith Belgic Confession of Faith
Why are they important?
Creeds, confessions, and catechisms are needed in the church as a way to maintain a record of beliefs necessary for salvation and for help with spiritual maturity. They help us to be reminded of who God is and what He has done as we teach them to the next generation. Here are some uses for creeds, confessions, and catechisms:
- To sum up the church’s witness to the truth in Scripture against error.
- To preserve the truth as it is delivered from one generation to the next throughout the ages.
- To serve as the bond that unites us as believers and churches.
- To serve as a wonderful teaching tool.
Are creeds and confessions Biblical?
Although they are not inspired, they are necessary and are biblical. They do not replace Scripture and should not be even viewed on the same level with Scripture. Instead, they are simply an articulation of what we find in Scripture. Carl Truman makes the argument in his book The Creedal Imperative that in 2 Timothy 1:13, Paul tells Timothy to hold fast or follow the pattern of the sound words. Truman states, “To claim to have no creed but the Bible, then, is problematic: the Bible itself seems to demand that we have forms of sound words, and that is what creeds are.” So to answer this question, yes, they are biblical.
It is the church’s responsibility to pass along sound doctrine to the next generation.
The reason for starting this blog in the first place was so that I could get my thoughts out, have some accountability in my writing, and help point people to solid resources so that they would see Christ and mature in Him. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned some negative things I see happening in the church, but there are very encouraging things happening today as well.
About a month ago, Doctrine and Devotion held a conference called Confessional Piety. At this conference, they and Dr. Jim Renihan shared the importance of creeds and confessions. The church is seeing the need for these important resources and is creating ways in order to get them to the general public.