Saturday, July 5, 2008

Why I am a Confessional Christian, and Why You Should Be Too

The title should have caught your attention, and if it did I'm glad. One of the things that I was really struck by during my time in Seminary was the importance of creeds and confessional statements throughout the history of the church. One of the big misunderstandings regarding confessions is that they can be used to replace the Bible as the authoritative document for a church, which is simply not true. Any good creedal statement exists to explain and systematize biblical doctrine which is not always well-organized within the scope of the canon. I have yet to be a part of a church body that has subscribed to a systematized confessional statement, but my Seminary training was grounded in the Abstract and Principles, which provided a common ground and understanding of what we, as a community, held as key values and primary issues theologically. I think one of the fears many Baptist churches have in dealing with creeds/confessions is that it can look like other denominations, in particular our Presbyterian friends. I hope that we can get to a point as a denomination where our theology and practice can be grounded in sound doctrine and the biblical witness and less of "we don't want to look like "
Anyway, now for the list of reasons why I am a confessional Christian and why I think evangelicals should at least be open to the consideration of aligning together under a confession of faith
  1. It provides a framework for a commonly held belief structure in things of primary importance. This can be seen as the points by which a church (or other body) identifies itself, and the things that it holds as key beliefs and values.
  2. It provides a way of teaching the future generations orthodox teaching, and gives them a lens through which to read Scripture, and a worldview to understand their surroundings.
  3. It provides boundaries for proper belief and gives churches and other bodies a basis for discipline and correction. Members who subscribe to a confessional statement who later turn from it or err in teaching/living can be disciplined in order to bring them back into the fold (restoration of fellowship being the ultimate goal of any spiritual discipline).
  4. It gives answers to the difficult doctrines and does it in a way that is easy to remember, providing members with a "fact sheet" they can use to give an apology.
  5. It gives a litmus test for the character and genuineness of a person's faith and repentance before the Lord. By testing a person's beliefs it can be determined their spiritual maturity, or even if they are regenerate or not.
  6. It takes the canon of Scripture and puts together the major doctrinal teachings found in it in a way that is easy to read and systematized. For example, find the chapter in the Bible that deals exclusively with the nature of the Trinity. In a creed or confession, these things can be clearly articulated with Scripture references.
That's all for now, post comments and let me know what you think!

Here's some confessions/creeds I like, all in one website

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