Why do Christians need creeds and confessions? “2. The necessity and importance of Creeds and Confessions appear from the consideration, that one great design of establishing a church in our world was, that she might be in all ages, a DEPOSITORY, A GUARDIAN, AND A WITNESS OF THE TRUTH.“ (Samuel Miller, The Utility and Importance of Creeds and Confessions; an 1824 address to the students of Princeton Seminary.)
Miller states that one of the great designs in establishing a church was that she might be a depository (a place where things are stored), a guardian and a witness of the truth. I think that most people would agree that those items are true of the Church, the problem comes with the question, “What truth is she to guard?” or even, “who in the Church gets to determine what is truth?”
Many Scriptures show that the church and individual Christians are to be witnesses of God among men. “…holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain,” Phil. 2:16. “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding,” Proverbs 23:23. “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints,” Jude 3. “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus,” 2 Timothy 1:13. “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” Philippians 1:27.
Miller states, “these and many other commands, of similar import, plainly make it the duty of every Christian church to detect and expose prevailing heresies; to exclude all such as embrace radical heresy from their communion; and to “lift up a standard” for truth, whenever “the enemy comes in like a flood.”
Hence, those Christians today who say that the Church must speak against error and contend for the truth, and yet they themselves denounce or deny Creeds and Confessions are inconsistent. They acknowledge the importance of the duty of the Church to protect God’s people from error, but they deny and reject the only means by which it can be done.
If a Church does not have a “form of sound words” or as 2 Timothy 1:13 states, a “pattern of sound words,” which that Church has adopted and agreed to “hold fast,” there can be no consistency regarding decisions dealing with truth and error. Decisions would then drift toward “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” We easily see in the world of Evangelicalism where man likes to interpret and reinterpret Scripture for himself. There is often a lack of corporate identity in much of American Christianity. Yet, Christianity is not merely about me and my faith, but about God and His people and His kingdom. To maintain truth, and in order to protect the truth in the body of Christ, Creeds and Confessions are necessary.