1) The Validity & Value of Confessions: Defining Terms
Bob reworks Philip Schaff’s definition of a creed and offers this modified definition:
A creed or a confession of faith is the church’s doctrinal standard in written form, identifying and expounding those doctrines of Scripture that are essential for salvation, as well as those doctrines of Scripture that are necessary for the spiritual well-being of the Christian and of the church.Sounds good to me!
2) The Validity & Value of Confessions: Biblical Basis
After stressing the importance of our publicly confessing our faith, based upon such passages as Matt. 10:32-33 and Romans 10:9-10, Bob states:
How does this square with the claim that faith and religion are personal and private matters? Many people today, especially politicians, claim to have faith and religion; yet they studiously avoid any public affirmation of what that means. Contrary to this practice, the Bible calls God’s people to confess their faith unashamedly and publicly. This is precisely what we do by publishing and affirming a written confession of faith. We are proclaiming to the world and to one another both the reality and the substance of what we believe.Bob establishes three points summarized by him thusly:
To summarize, a confession of faith is valid because (1) the Bible commands the public affirmation of our faith, (2) the Bible commends the interpretation and application of Scripture, and (3) the Bible contains seminal creeds and confessions of faith. Far from discouraging creeds, the Bible validates their composition and use.These points are based firmly upon a Scriptural foundation and are clearly and succinctly argued.
3) The Validity & Value of Confessions: Objections Answered
In this post Bob responds to three common objections to the use of creeds or confessions: 1. "Confessions undermine the authority of Scripture." 2. "Confessions contradict the sufficiency of Scripture." 3. "Confessions intrude upon liberty of conscience."
After responding to each objection, Bob rightly concludes that "a public confession of biblical truth in the form of a creed need not in principle undermine the authority of God’s Word, contradict the sufficiency of Scripture, or infringe upon liberty of conscience."
I highly recommend reading this brief but thorough series, and I hope I have whet your appetite to do so. Together with what Jeff has written on our blog, I think you will be well prepared to defend the necessity of the appropriate use of confessions by the churches even in – or perhaps especially in – our pluralistic and relativistic age.
Update 05 October 2011
Bob has added another post in the series:
4) The Validity & Value of Confessions: Their Usefulness
In this post Bob offers three primary reasons for the usefulness of confessions: 1. "A Confession Provides a Standard for Intra- and Inter-Church Fellowship." 2. "A Confession Provides a Standard for Church Discipline and for Defending the Faith." 3. "A Confession Provides a Summary of Biblical Doctrine for Evangelism and Education."