Inescapable Creeds

William Hetherington, in his hagiographic and Presbyterian-cheerleading history of the Westminster Assembly, does have a good apologetic for creeds and confessions:

“The Christian Church, as a divine institution, takes the Word of God alone, and the whole Word of God, as her only rule of faith; but she must also frame and promulgate a statement of what she understands the Word of God to teach. This she does, not as arrogating any authority to suppress, change, or amend anything that God’s Word teaches; but in discharge of the various duties which she owes to God, to the world, and to those of her own communion. Since she has been constituted the depositary of God’s truth, it is her duty to him to state, in the most distinct and explicit terms, what she understands the truth to mean … And, since she has been instituted fo the purpose of teaching God’s truth to an erring world, her duty to the world requires that she should leave it in no doubt respecting the manner in which she understands the message which she has to deliver. Without doing so, the Church would be no teacher, and the world might remain untaught, so far as she was concerned,” (History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, 1908).

The most basic argument for creeds and confessions is that everybody does it. If someone were to ask a Christian what the Christian message is, a consistent anti-creedalist could only speak in Bible verses. As soon as we summarize God’s truth in words other than exact Bible quotes, we are writing a creed. The only question is which creeds and confessions are more faithful to God’s revelation.


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