Monday, November 15, 2010

Putting creeds and confessions to work

There is an urgent need for a deeper awareness of historical theology in the life of the Church. For all our technological advances, for all the progress made in the mission of the Church, for all our concerns to speak meaningfully to our own generation and to engage with its unbelief we simply cannot afford to neglect the history of the transmission of Christian truth down through the centuries.

The great creeds and confessions can help us at this point. They stand as a lasting legacy of what is important, what is worth believing and what must be fought for and handed on to future generations. We are prone to the same errors that have arisen in the past and we can learn a great deal from the churchly confessions and classic theological works in order to identify what is discordant with the biblical historic Christian faith and how to deal with it.

The question that faces contemporary Western evangelicalism is whether it really has the spiritual appetite for sound doctrine. Indifference to sound doctrine does not make error go away, it merely makes us ignorant of its dangers and careless about its presence.

As much as creeds and confessions are boundary markers and safeguards against error, and as much as fuller confessions are a greater aide to preserving and proclaiming the truth, they are ultimately insufficient defenses against false teachings. 

Their inadequacy stems from a human factor. The testimony of Church history is clear. False teachers take the words of creeds and confessions but alter the sense and meaning of those words. Likewise creeds and confessions must be upheld by those concerned to defend the truth. Men must have the stomach for a fight and not allow the words of creeds and confessions to be given multiple meanings so that parties in the church can make them mean whatever they want them to mean. 

Accepting doctrinal ambiguity whilst at the same time giving credence to a clear confessional statement and identity is an ideal environment for heresies to incubate in.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I couldn't agree more as long as it is understood that the Word of God is the sword in which to divide truth from error, which I believe is being said here, albeit not directly but assumably.