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25 Jan '15

The genius of the great creeds of the church

Posted by T.J. Addington
Why the church creeds? They came out of a need in the early church to clarify the essential doctrines of the faith, combat error and teach new believers the great and indisputable truths of true faith. In addition, they unify the church around what is truly central and core rather than allowing the many peripheral doctrines of the faith that are not as clear to divide us.

Not all points of doctrine in Scripture are equally clear. I remember one of my beloved seminary professors who when speaking on issues he believed but which were not clearly spelled out would get louder and louder. We knew that the thinner the ice, the louder he was. There are simply some things that we believe that are not all that clearly spelled out - which is why there are various interpretations. An example is the teaching and beliefs around the second coming of Christ. The creeds remind us that Jesus is going to return physically to judge the living and the dead. That is what we do know. Many of the other details are a bit fuzzy. 

I appreciate those who study doctrine to better understand the Scriptures, the nature of God, our own nature and all those topics that find there way into systematic theology. I don't appreciate when believers elevate their particular non essential elements of the faith to the place of dividing believers from one another. If all points of doctrine were equally clear we would not have differences but those differences should not divide believers who can subscribe to the great creeds of the faith - the grand outlines of what we know to be true - and which unify us.

It strikes me that in a world in which there are many more illiterate believers, that the creeds of the church ought to be taught more often or recited together as a congregation. I fear not only that we divide over non-essentials but that many don't understand the essentials. We can argue over the wrong things and we can be ignorant of the right things.

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.