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Unpacking “No Creed however the Bible”


This text is a part of the Unpacking Tradition collection through which we look at a widely known axiom and weigh any true or constructive features of it in opposition to any destructive or deceptive connotations of the phrase.

An Necessary Reality

Many Christians from non-denominational evangelical backgrounds might properly have heard the phrase “no creed however the Bible” sooner or later. Maybe a pastor has used it whereas preaching or any person has used it at a Bible research or in dialog about what Christians are imagined to consider. As an announcement it’s concise and clear. However the important thing query is, Is it a devoted and helpful precept for guiding how we as Christians take into consideration Christian reality and authority?

Earlier than providing some criticism of how the precept of “no creed however the Bible” is usually used, it’s first helpful to know what necessary reality those that use it are rightly attempting to guard. That reality is the distinctive authority and sufficiency of the Bible because the supply and criterion for Christian doctrine. This scriptural precept is one thing that’s rooted within the Reformation when the Protestant Reformers asserted that lots of the claims of the medieval church—for instance, purgatory, indulgences, and the frilly idea of transubstantiation—not solely lacked warrant in Scripture however have been arguably inconsistent with scriptural instructing. They have been innovations or speculations of a church that claimed entry to a practice of Christian reality that was unbiased of the biblical revelation.

Crisis of Confidence

Carl R. Trueman


Carl Trueman explains the significance of creeds and confessions in the present day, together with how they assist church buildings navigate the fashionable tradition of expressive individualism.

Towards this background, “no creed however the Bible” highlights an necessary reality: the Bible gives the content material of Christian doctrine and the ideas for judging whether or not a doctrinal declare is true or not. Is justification by religion? Sure, for Paul teaches that in Romans. Can somebody purchase God’s favor by means of the acquisition of an indulgence? No. Not solely does the Bible by no means educate that, it teaches in opposition to it, as within the case of Simon the Magician in Acts 8. The need to guard scriptural sufficiency is subsequently one thing to be recommended.

However does this imply that creeds and confessions—statements of religion that summarize biblical instructing—are problematic and shouldn’t have any place within the church? Does the usage of a creed or confession essentially imply that the distinctive authority of Scripture has been compromised? By no means. And it is very important perceive why.

First, all of us have to acknowledge that no Christian has no creed however the Bible in a complete and exhaustive sense. To know why, one want solely replicate on the truth that no one merely believes the Bible. All Christians, from the best biblical scholar to the humblest new believer, consider the Bible means one thing. We all know this as a result of no preacher merely reads the Bible from the pulpit. He expounds it and applies it to the congregation. And no Christian witnessing to associates or neighbors merely offers them the Bible; in addition they provide to elucidate to them how the Bible ought to be understood. And what we expect the Bible means is our creed and confession, whether or not we write it down or not.

How Creeds Relate to Scripture

As soon as we acknowledge this primary reality, the actual query isn’t whether or not creeds and confessions are good issues. Fairly, the query is whether or not the creed or confession we’ve got is one which displays the instructing of the Bible or not. And that is the place it’s helpful to know how creeds and confessions relate to Scripture. They don’t stand previous to Scripture, as a framework that has final authority over what the Bible means. Nor are they a separate stream of divine revelation that stand alone and on their very own authority. They’re summaries of biblical instructing and thus, in idea not less than, corrigible in mild of Scripture’s instructing.

Systematic theology has a pair of phrases to seize this relationship between Scripture and confessions. It calls the previous the norming norm and the latter the normed norm. The previous protects the nice that “no creed however the Bible” represents: the distinctive and supreme authority of the Bible in formulating Christian instructing and judging the reality of any doctrinal formulation. The latter, although, factors to an necessary sensible actuality: church buildings (and particular person Christians) do in apply function by stating Christian doctrines with out all the time feeling the necessity to quote all of the related Bible texts or provide an elaborate account of how, say, the doctrine of the Trinity is drawn from Scripture. In brief, one function of confessions is to supply a “type of sound phrases,” to borrow Paul’s phrase, that units forth, in short, necessary biblical reality.

Does the usage of a creed or confession essentially imply that the distinctive authority of Scripture has been compromised? By no means.

The very best state of affairs for Christians, subsequently, is to acknowledge that every one of us have creeds and confessions—all of us assume the Bible means one thing and that its instructing could be formulated in a fashion that’s concise and summarizes the Bible’s place on an entire selection if necessary. However we should always not cease there. We transfer from such an acknowledgment to look to the nice creeds and confessions of the church to see what “types of sound phrases” have been helpful all through historical past to maintain the church devoted to the gospel message. Time isn’t any assure of reality, but when a creed—say, the Apostles’ or the Nicene—has served the church for over 1,500 years, that claims one thing concerning the consistency of its content material with what the Bible says. After all, a church in the present day can produce its personal assertion of religion. However why reinvent the wheel when tried and examined creeds and confessions exist already?

Additional, the adoption by a church of a historic creed or confession has added advantages. It’s a reminder to the congregation that the gospel isn’t reinvented each Sunday. It additionally presses every Christian to establish with different brothers and sisters each throughout the globe in the present day and down by means of the ages. The Presbyterian who affirms the Westminster Confession and the Anglican who affirms the Thirty-9 Articles and the Lutheran who affirms the E-book of Harmony can be figuring out with nice and in depth Christian traditions and being thereby reminded that they’re a part of a a lot larger story.

There are numerous different advantages—doctrinal, ecclesiastical and doxological—which creeds and confessions provide to in the present day’s Christians and to the fashionable church, however I hope that the above is sufficient to whet your urge for food for extra. All involved with the transmission of the religion from technology to technology and from place to position will discover these nice paperwork to be an immeasurable assist.

Carl R. Trueman is the writer of Disaster of Confidence: Reclaiming the Historic Religion in a Tradition Consumed with Individualism and Id.



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