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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Bible Basics: An Introduction to Christian Beliefs

Don Stewart :: What Is the Value of Creeds and Confessional Statements?

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What Is the Value of Creeds and Confessional Statements?

Bible Basics – Question 18

Creedal statements, as well as confessional statements, are statements that believers have made in the past concerning what Christians hold to be true. The creeds are general statements of belief while the confessional statements are the more specific views of a particular group of believers. There are several reasons as to why they are valuable.

The Importance of Christian Creeds

Creeds are statements of Christian belief. These creeds, when properly understood, are important to those who have believed in Jesus for a number of reasons. They include the following:

1. Creeds Summarize Christian Beliefs

First, they provide a summary of the basic beliefs of all the Christian churches at that time in history. From the creedal statements we can know what the consensus of belief was on a number of important doctrinal topics. This gives us a sense of what Christians believed at various times in the history of the church.

2. The Creeds Responded to the Challenges of the Day

The creeds restate the central beliefs of the Christian faith that, for some reason, were challenged by some at that particular time in history. These beliefs that the creeds restate are still being challenged today. Therefore, their relevance is as important today as when they were first composed.

3. Creeds Are a Reminder of What All Christians Believe

The creeds are a reminder that Christian beliefs are more than a mere intellectual exercise. The foundations of the faith were attacked and a response in a clear and precise manner was needed.

With the exception of the Apostles’ Creed which is too vague, the creeds accomplish this. They also remind the believer that certain truths about the faith are not up for discussion. The truth has been once and for all given.

4. Creeds Unite Believers Behind Common Truths

In the church today there are a variety of beliefs and practices. We find different forms of government as well as different forms of worship. However, we all have certain things in common. This can be seen by the creeds. When they are recited it unites believers to the central truths of the Christian faith.

5. Creeds Give a Basis to Live a Christian Life

Finally, the creeds are a way of stating the basis upon which a person will live their life. By reciting a creed, a person is stating their convictions as to what they believe and how they will behave. In addition, they are identifying with other Christians around the world as well as those who have lived throughout history.

Therefore, the creeds are of some importance. Christians, therefore, should take the time to become somewhat familiar with them.

Creeds Have Limited Value

However, creeds have limited value. For one thing, they are too general and cannot deal with specific questions. As we have seen, the Apostles’ Creed is so vague that it can be interpreted in a number of ways.

Second, their claim to authority is based upon something else; the teachings of Scripture. While helpful, the creeds need to be studied in light of Scripture.

The Importance of Confessional Statements

Like the creeds, confessional statements are important for a number of reasons. They include the following:

1. They Give Detailed Explanations of What Certain Christians Believe

While the confessional statements are not universally accepted by all Christians as are the creeds, they do give more detailed explanations of what certain groups believe. This helps us better understand the reasons as to why certain doctrines are held. They consciously attempt to justify the beliefs through appeal to the Bible.

2. The Confessional Statements Help Explain the Differences Between Various Christian Groups

Another thing that confessional statements accomplish is that they highlight the differences between certain Christian groups. However, it also demonstrates that Christians, despite their differences, have most beliefs in common.

Like creeds, confessional statements have limited value. First, they are the beliefs of one particular group; not all believers would agree with every statement.

Second, like creeds, they appeal to Scripture as their final authority. Therefore, they are secondary statements and should always be viewed in that light.

Consequently, both creeds and confessional statements, though helpful, have only limited value.

Summary – Question 18
What Is the Value of Creeds and Confessional Statements?

The Christian creeds, or statements of belief, are important for a number of reasons. They include the following:

First, they give a summary of the important doctrines of Bible-believing Christians. This gives us an idea as to what Christians held to be crucial beliefs at a certain time in history.

Second, they restate essential beliefs that were challenged at a particular time in history. We know what beliefs were challenged as well as how believers responded to the challenge.

Third, they remind believers of what the Christian faith is all about. This is something which we do need to be constantly reminded of.

Fourth, they unite all believers, past and present. It serves as a reminder that we are one with all believers in Jesus Christ.

Finally, they also provide a basis upon which one can live their life. Again, we are reminded that the study of Christian doctrine is something which is extremely practical.

Consequently, Christian creeds are important documents. However, because creeds are not detailed statements of belief, they are incomplete. The Apostles’ Creed, for example, is too vague on a number of important points. Indeed, Protestants, Roman Catholics, as well as Arian, those who deny the Deity of Jesus Christ, can all recite this creed.

The confessional statements are also important. From them, we have a more detailed explanation of what certain Christians believed and why they believed it. These statements also highlight what Christians have in common as well as where they differ from one another.

Therefore, while both creeds and confessional statements are important, each has only limited value. They remind us that we must go to the Scripture itself to discover what it teaches. For it is the Bible alone where we find our ultimate answers to all questions of belief.

What Are Some of the Well-Known Creeds and Confessional Statements of the Christian Faith? ← Prior Section
What Are the Various Ways in Which Christian Theology Can Be Classified? Next Section →
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