1) Confessions delimit church power. …This is what stops churches from becoming cults: clear and open statements about where church authority begins and ends, connected to transparent processes of exercising that authority.
2) Confessions offer succinct summaries of the faith. The church with a good confession and a good catechism has a ready-made pedagogical tool for instilling the truth into its people.
3) Confessions highlight that which is of importance. A good, elaborate confession provides the church…with a fine resource for teaching the people about what really matters and why.
4) Confessions relativize the present and connect us to the past. …The use of creeds and confessions is one intentional means of connecting ourselves to the past, of identifying with the church of previous ages, and thereby of relativizing our own significance in the grand scheme of things.
5) Confessions fulfill a vital part of Paul’s plan for the post-apostolic church. …Without a ‘form of sound words,’ [the church] would drift from her theological moorings, losing touch with her past and with other congregations in the present. A ‘form of sound words,’ a confession, [is] crucial for maintaining both continuity with the apostles and unity among the Christians in the present.
These are five (edited) points of seven found in Carl Truman’s helpful little pamphlet, Why Christians Need Confessions. If you’re in a Reformed and confessional church, this pamphlet is a good one to buy in bulk (for a discount!) and hand out to visitors wondering “Why confessions?” Or, if you yourself are not convinced that confessions are a blessing, I recommend Trueman’s book length discussion of this topic: The Creedal Imperative. Confessions aren’t an unbiblical “paper pope;” they are a way for churches to stay biblically sound in an age where truth is not prized.
rev. shane lems