For those readers of ours who worship at a church without a creed, this book is for you: The Creedal Imperative by Carl Trueman. Also, this book is for readers of ours whose church used to be confessional, but has now tucked the confessions away in the closet of dusty irrelevance. Finally, if you are in a confessional church that actually exists as as one in the pulpit and pew, this book will remind you what it really means to be confessional – essentially it means to be a Christian in the biblical, historical, orthodox, and practical sense of the term.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes.
“I do want to make the point here that Christians are not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who do not; rather, they are divided between those who have public creeds and confessions that are written down and exist as public documents, subject to public scrutiny, evaluation, and critique, and those who have private creeds and confessions that are often improvised, unwritten, and thus not open to public scrutiny, not susceptible to evaluation and, crucially and ironically, not, therefore, subject to testing by Scripture to see whether they are true” (p. 15).
“Anyone who has ever been told by a friend that the Lord led such a friend to do something completely silly, or anyone who has ever been at a Bible study where the burden has been to explain ‘what the text means to me,’ regardless of what the words on the page and the grammar and syntax might otherwise indicate, has experienced an evangelical mysticism that is not really distinguishable from traditional liberalism at the level of its understanding of what constitutes truth” (p. 35).
“Modern culture has not really rendered creeds and confessions untrue; far less has it rendered them unbiblical. But it has rendered them implausible and distasteful. They are implausible because they are built on old-fashioned notions of truth and language. They make the claim that a linguistic formulation of a state of affairs can have a binding authority beyond the mere text on the page, that creeds actually refer to something, and that something has a significance for all of humanity. They thus demand that individuals submit, intellectually and morally, to something outside of themselves, that they listen to the voices from the church from other times and other places. They go directly against the grain of an anti-historical, antiauthoritarian age. Creeds strike hard at the cherished notion of human autonomy and of the notion that I am exceptional, that the normal rules do not apply to me in the way they do to others” (p. 48).
I could go on. And I’ll come back to this book again here later on. For now, spend the $11 bucks or so and get it yourself – or spend $22 and also get one for your pastor, elder, or friend.