17 September 2007

Need for Creed

Yes, we need creeds. They define us and what we believe and keep us in orthodoxy. Ken Gentry has listed some of the reasons why we should maintain the creeds:

1. Creeds serve as a basis for ecclesiastical fellowship and labor

2. Creeds serve as tools of Christian education

3. Creeds provide an objective, concrete standard of church discipline

4. Creeds help to preserve the orthodox Christian faith in the ongoing Church

5. Creeds offer a witness to the truth to those outside the Church

6. Creeds provide a standard by which to judge new teachings arising within the Church

Without a creed one doesn't really know what a church believes. It protects both the church and the individual from external heresy and internal perversions of truth. A creed is absolutely necessary. Gentry affirms this when he wrote, The Scriptures are careful to instruct the Church to preserve the faith. Hebrews 13:9 warns 'Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings.' Paul gives instruction to the early church leaders in this vein. To Timothy he wrote: 'Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Jesus Christ.' (2 Tim. 1:13). Titus was urged to be careful to see that an overseer 'hold fast the faithful word which is in accord with the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.' (Tit. 1:9). And, Although the special, direct revelation of God ceased and the corpus of Scripture was finalized in the first century, it was still necessary for the continuing Church to interpret and apply the completed revelation. The interpretation and application of Scripture is a process, not an act. It has required the involvement of many devout men working through many centuries to systematize, compile, and disseminate the fundamental truths of Scripture. The fact that the truth of Scripture is of no 'private interpretation' is a foundational principle of creedal theology. NO interpreter of Scripture works alone. All must build on the past labors of godly predecessors. It is not the interpreters or groups of exegetes who agree with the historic, orthodox interpretations of the past and who find themselves in the mainstream of Christian thought who are suspect. Rather it is those who present novel deviations from historic Christendom who deserve careful scrutiny. Creeds help to preserve the essential core of true Christian faith from generation to generation.

We must realize that no creed, confession or catechism is perfect and as times change, so should our statements of faith to reflect and address those changes. But that does not disqualify those statements already penned by those who've gone before us. They are useful and should be in place to assist us and monitor us in our individual and corporate walk before our Lord. The principle of Semper Reformanda should always be engaged.

Read Gentry's article in in entirety here.

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