This is an Update to the Blog I wrote two blogs ago found here: https://zackjamescole.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/this-week-at-seminary-topic-creeds-and-confessions-of-faith/
This is the final output…let me know what you think? Am I wrong on the idea of Creeds and Confessions? Why do I feel like a heretic? Scared Not Scared.
What are some pros and cons churches should consider in adopting a confession of faith?
Some of the pros adopting a confession of faith is that it provides some sort of structure and may serve to remove any ambiguity for members and for visitors who may ask “what does this body of believers believe?” Yet I understand that in saying that, just because a confession of faith has a particular stance, does not necessarily mean that every member will consider themselves following or subscribing to said confession.
There are several cons that I can think of when thinking whether or not a church should consider adopting a confession of faith. One, there will be the temptation of prescribing authority on the confession of faith. Meaning, shared or sole authority with scripture. This may never be the intent or the spoken outcome, but one need only to observe a few churches to see that their veneration for a particular confession of faith seems to trump or be glorified more than scripture. If this church body does not subscribe to the doctrinal authority of sola scripture (scripture alone) then I believe the skies the limit to whatever confession they want to adopt. Man is fallible. Therefore, any creed or confession outside of scripture is capable of being corrupted by the error of man. This is why I believe that there are potential cons that a church should consider when adopting a confession of faith. Anything apart from a church placing their hope in the person and work of Christ alone will simply lead to preaching and adherence to Cheap Law. This is the greatest con possible; that a church’s hope would be in a confession of faith rather than in Christ. I like a comment from our Sanders and Issler text that reads “if a doctrine comes down the line which in the final analysis is simply unpreachable, it is a good sign that something has gone wrong upstream (Sanders and Issler 2007, 11).” I think this helps to see that any creed or any doctrine that has traveled through time with additions needs to be traced back to what scripture says.
Do you believe the Nicene and Augustinian creeds over-intellectualize Christian faith? Defend your answer
I believe that there is a potential possibility for some to think this. However, I think it helps to understand that usually creeds, especially the Nicene Creed were responses to heresy (Olson 1999, 154). So with that in mind, I do not want to fault or place any critique against those who formed either creed. Now, here is where I see a problem with creeds and any over-intellectualizing of the Christian faith may lie. When people look to the creed as the source of their faith or the source of their hope rather than in Christ, we may have a problem. If we lead anyone to believe, “affirm this creed and you will be saved” we have a problem. As a matter of fact, if we tell anyone that if they “do” something they will be saved we have a problem. Let us always endeavor to make sure that we proclaim in all creeds and confessions that the hope of the sinner is in Christ Alone. Our hope is in what Jesus has done and not what we need to “do.” But for those who want to dig deeper I believe Creeds are fine as long as they are not worshiped and glorified above God. They also serve as a valuable tool to understand deeper intellectual teasings of doctrine. But for the average joe who may not have access to higher learning, I think it would be wrong to expect or shame them into placing a yoke of burden on them that is not necessary. Christ came to give rest and take our yoke. Now, if the individual wants to learn the ins and outs of creeds for the glory of God, then praise God!
How would you recommend that your church use its doctrinal statement (such as a creed or confession) from week to week? Defend your answer. (If your answer is that your church should have no doctrinal statement, defend that answer.)
That is an interesting question. On a weekly basis, maybe have labeled somewhere that according to the authority of scripture alone, salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone. Maybe GATFAICA is on the bulletin or even call the church GATFAICA Church. According to verses like Ephesians 2:8-9, we are saved by grace through faith. Not in something that we do but something that God has done so that it is not a result of our works. Make a creed mandatory to affirm, or something that members must do in order to be considered saved or “in fellowship” and you will be traveling down the road of salvation by works. Not intending to, but that seems to be where it always ends up. Champion the the creed of Christ or better yet let the doctrinal statement be IT IS FINISHED. That is a Creed that carries so many biblical truths all at once. For the sake of Christian Unity and for the sake of the name of the Lord, I believe it is time to rally under the banner and creed of who Jesus is and what He has done. Anything more than that and we will begin to lead people to believe that their hope is in Jesus + something rather than Jesus + nothing. I believe that our text lays out an understanding that goes to the heart of the position I am trying to make. It reads, “The result in our lives should be deeper doxology as we celebrate God’s grace and love poured out on us in Jesus Christ (Sanders and Issler 2007. 152).” I could not have said it better. Let our desire for deeper doxology be out of worship, thanksgiving and praise and not begrudging submission to what we think is the right thing to do in order to be counted righteous. After both offerings were given; Cain would say he was obedient, Able would say that he was thankful.
Olson, Roger E. 1999. The Story of Christian Theology. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
Sanders, Fred and Klaus Issler. 2007. Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective. Nashville: B&H Publishing.