Saturday, 16 November 2013

Does the Church Need Confessions and Creeds?

Why does the church need confessions and creeds? Isn’t the Scripture sufficient on its own? Is there a deficiency in the Scriptures that necessitates them being supplemented by man-made confessions?
And if the church needs confessions, etc, ought these to be clearly "founded upon and agreeable to the Word of God"? One thing is clear: confessions that exhibit a partisan orientation cannot be definition be "founded upon and agreeable to the Word of God." One good criterion on which to assess any confession of faith is to look at what it teaches regarding the very heart of the Christian Gospel – the Atonement. If God’s provision for the salvation of mankind is denied, either explicitly or implicitly, then it is not true to God’s revealed will in Scripture. Sadly, the Westminster Confession of Faith and its offspring fall into this category, whereas the Three Forms of Unity, The Belgic Confession, The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dordt, do not. Therefore these are to be preferred as confessions of one’s belief and of the belief of the churches to those documents that deny Christ’s all-sufficient sacrifice for the sin of the world.[1] If a confession is in error here, then the teaching of its (usual) first chapter On Scripture has been undermined. What follows such an opening chapter must be demonstrably true to its statements, and any questionable doctrines must either be removed from the confession or emended in line with Scripture.

[1]   Jn.1:29; 3:16; 1 Jn.2:2.

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