Many today want to say there is no need for Creeds and Confessions. Maybe you have heard the statement “No Creed but Christ.” Let’s set aside the fact that that statement functions as a Creed that doesn’t actually appear in the Bible for a moment, and seriously think about why use Creeds or Confessions. This is a good topic for us right now because while I’m writing this, we are using the Apostles’ Creed to structure our sermon series on the Foundations of the Faith. Once again, the question is, Why Use the Apostles’ Creed?
Because it is a faithful summary of Apostolic Teaching
It is the “Apostles’ Creed” because it summarizes apostolic doctrine. It probably doesn’t go back to the original Apostles, but the teaching in it is straight from them.
Because it is Confessable
In our church we confess either the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed every month. Creeds are helpful in this way because you can actually confess them. You can say that you believe in the Bible, but what exactly does that mean? Many say they believe in the Bible but deny core tenants of the faith. So the Creed is helpful because it sets forth the core commitments of the faith, as they are expressed in Scripture, and allows us to actually confess it together and remind one another and ourselves of those core commitments.
Because it is a Dividing Line
As a summary of the core truths of the faith the Apostles’ Creed helps draw a line. How do you know if someone is a Christian as opposed to believing in some other religious teaching? The Apostles’ Creed is helpful in defining the central teaching of Christianity, and so as we confess it, we have then a dividing line between those who believe these things and those who don’t.
Because the Church has always done this.
We should heed the wisdom of those who have gone before us. Especially in an increasingly ignorant time, when doctrine is being increasingly watered down and thought to be unimportant, it’s all the more important that we follow the example of those who passed the faith down to us. Historically the church has confessed these truths, so we should as well.
Because you can’t Build without Tools
Everything I have said I think can be true of other Confessions and Creeds other than the Apostles’ Creed. One of the benefits to creeds and confessions is that they are like tools without which you can’t build. Tools focus energy in a way that makes it possible to build far more than you could without them. Think of a hammer. A hammer focuses all of the energy from your arm onto one small point thus allowing you to drive a nail into a board.
Likewise, creeds and confessions take the total teaching of scripture and condense them in certain ways. This is important because then you don’t have to relitigate the truth every time a new church starts up. You already have a summary of Apostolic Teaching for instance, and it is time tested in a way you couldn’t accomplish in your lifetime, so you don’t have to write your own summary. You don’t have to re-decide upon the most fundamental truths that the Scripture teaches every time someone new becomes a Christ, rather they can enjoy the work of countless others who have gone before, and standing up their shoulders, can confess the faith once delivered.
These are just some reasons why it’s good to use the Apostles Creed, and more generally to make use of Creeds and Confessions.