5 out of 5 Stars
Author: Carl Trueman
Buy The Creedal Imperative
Reading Level: Easy
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Carl Trueman. I love how his writing is saturated with Scripture but also culturally relevant. He never ceases to amaze me. In Creedal Imperative Trueman tackels the “No creed but Christ” refrain. He rightly notes,
I do want to make the point here that Christians are not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who do not; rather, they are divided between those who have public creeds and confessions that are written down and exist as public documents, subject to scrutiny, evaluation, and critique, and those who have private creeds and confessions that are often improvised, unwritten, and this not open to public scrutiny, not susceptible to evaluation and, crucially and ironically, not, therefore, subject to testing by Scripture to see whether they are true (p. 15)
I cannot agree more and years back when my wife and I were look for a church there was nothing more frustrating than browsing through a church’s a webpage only to find a statement of faith that was brief and broad enough that even a Roman Catholic or Mormon could agree with it.
Trueman next examines the cultural tide against creeds and confessions. He pinpoints the modern distrust for institutions and also our lack of understanding of the past. He also points out that although we distrust organized religion we’ve all but swapped out the church’s authority for the authority of celebrities (p. 29). He also offers a foundation for creedalism in Scripture. He offers Romans 10:9-10 as example.
Paul sees credible Christian profession as involving doctrinal belief (the Christ has been raised from the dead by God) and a public statement (“Jesus is Lord”). Both are laden with doctrina freight, but Paul does not seem to indicate that massive doctrinal knowledge is necessary for this basic, credible testimony of faith. (p. 67)
He then explores the earliest creeds and later Protestant confessions. Knowing the history of the church is massively important for our current health as a church. He for instance notes that many in the no creed but Christ crowd use the language of the historic creeds (i.e., trinity, two natures, one person, etc).
The most important point made in the book is that confessions and creeds are praise. I elsewhere read that our form of worship is directly tied to our theology. You can separate the how from the Who. Creeds can and should play a central role in our worship to rightly praise the Who. Trueman offers some wonderful ways in which creeds and confessions can be incorporated into the Church’s worship.
I’m not sure what denominations any of you are a part of. For most of my life I gave little thought to my church’s confessions of faith but I’ve learned to appreciate that more as I shepherd my own family and have placed myself under the authority of a local body. Doctrine doesn’t divide as Trueman notes for Paul it’s the person who has left sound doctrine who divides. We shouldn’t be afraid of upsetting the modern sensibility of people by holding dear confessions and creeds. We should show how these documents are truth based on Scripture, practical beyond almost any devotional today, and helpful in pointing our hearts to the right worship of God.