Why Christians Need Confessions
Updated: Apr 5, 2019
This is our first Friday of the month look at one of the booklets that are provided by The Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Today’s booklet is titled Why Christians Need Confessions.
There are copies of this booklet in the Church foyer bookcase if you would like one. This title is not available to read online.Carl R. Trueman, a minister in the OPC, wrote this booklet and also a larger book entitled “The Creedal Imperative.”Trueman writes, “Despite claims to the contrary, the Christian world is not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who just have the Bible. It is actually divided between those who have creeds and confessions and write them down in a public form, open to public scrutiny and correction, and those who have them and do not write them down. The reason is simple: every church (and indeed every Christian) believes the Bible means something, and what it thinks the Bible means is its creed and confession, whether it chooses to write its beliefs down or not.”
In this short booklet, Trueman gives seven reasons why every church should have creeds and confessions. Here I will simply list the seven reasons and not write out the many paragraphs accompanying each reason. For that you will have to pick up a copy of the booklet.
1. Confessions delimit church power. (clear and open statements about what a church believes are what stops churches from becoming cults)
2. Confessions offer succinct summaries.
3. Confessions allow for appropriate discrimination between office-bearers and members.
4. Confessions highlight that which is of importance.
5. Confessions relativize the present and connect us to the past.
6. Confessions reflect the substance of our worship.
7. Confessions fulfill a vital part of Paul’s plan for the post-apostolic church.
I encourage you to read this little booklet and the thoughts behind these seven reasons every church should have creeds and confessions. For the summer I will be using Samuel Miller’s address (1824): The Utility and Importance of Creeds and Confessions, as well as Trueman’s book: The Creedal Imperative, as an outline to discuss this topic in more detail.
One final thought, there is great value in using creeds and confessions as an apologetic tool. The more we know and the more we understand what the Bible teaches about various topics the easier it is for us to visit with family, friends and co-workers about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not that we have to recite catechism questions to them, but having definitions of justification, adoption, sanctification and even God and sin in my mind aid me when I am discussing the most important things in life with those around me. I hope you will be challenged by and enjoy this series of weekly thoughts on the importance of creeds and confessions in the life of the church this summer.