Is There a Place for Creeds In the Church?
The following is an edited transcription of the audio.
Is there a place for creeds in the church?
I think they have a really important place. But they aren't to be a replacement for the Bible and they shouldn't be given equal authority to the Bible. Rather, they are to be considered faithful expressions of the Bible.
We need faithful expressions of the Bible—both those written for our generation and those preserved from other generations.
I'm currently studying the battle surrounding the deity of Christ in the third and fourth century, which involved Athanasius and his heretical opponent Arias. What I'm learning is that the use of biblical language was a huge tactic for those who were departing from biblical truth!
That means that to say that you are a "Bible only" person might just mean that you're a heretic. In other words, you can use biblical texts to justify false things.
How do you avoid doing that?
One way to avoid that is to have the community of faith come together, argue through to what the Bible really means—not what a heretic says it means—and then crystallize it in a few statements so that people can tell where you actually stand.
A person who considers himself a "Bible only" person could believe anything. Therefore we need creeds (affirmations of faith) to see clearly how people are reading the Bible. Are they reading error into the Bible? Or are they drawing truth out of the Bible?
To suggest that we get rid of all creeds and just have the Bible is simply to allow people to think loosely about what the Bible says and not require that we come to terms with what it really means.
We need statements that illuminate what exactly we see in the Scriptures: i.e. that Christ is God, that he died for our sins, and that without him we perish and enter everlasting torment. There are people who reject all those things and still say that they're "Bible only" people.
©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org