Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Faith to Confess

Note: We started a new Sunday evening series last Sunday on "A Faith to Confess" using the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) as a guide to looking at basic Christian doctrines. Here are the notes from the series introduction:

Why do we need a confession of faith? A confession of faith is a guardian of orthodoxy. It is an explicit testimony as to how a body of believers interprets the Scriptures. It is not equal in authority to Scripture and may be changed to conform more closely to Scripture. A confession of faith holds the church’s teachers accountable to doctrinal fidelity.

Esteemed Baptist Pastor and theologian Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) wrote:

The man who has no creed has no belief; which is the same thing as being an unbeliever; and he whose belief is not formed into a system has only a few loose, unconnected thoughts, without entering into the harmony and glory of the gospel. Every well-informed and consistent believer, therefore, must have a creed—a system which he supposes to contain the leading principles of Divine Revelation.

In considering this matter, we should be careful of "restorationists" who claim to take only the Bible as their confession. These may piously pronounce that they have "no creed but Christ" and claim to desire only to reconstitute "primitive" Christianity. Such, however, merely have an unstated and unwritten creed. This is dangerous because their unstated creed cannot be plainly read, studied, and scrutinized. It might also be changed without notice.

Think of the Mormons who are adamantly non-creedal. Their "prophets" can change doctrinal direction at any time. This is typical of Christian cults and fringe groups that wander into doctrinal error.

The practice of doctrinal confessions is, in fact, a Biblical practice. The earliest Christian creed was the simple statement: "Jesus is Lord" (see Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 12:3; Phil 2:11). See also Paul’s clear statement of the basic facts of the gospel including the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. This also is an early, Biblical confession of faith being used as a test of orthodoxy. To confess a doctrinal standard is, in fact, to follow a Biblical pattern and example.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Note: Evangel article 3/4/08.

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