Need for Creed

Extract from this piece:

The spirit of our age ignores history, distrusts institutions, values emotions more than words, and hankers after novelty. For moderns, the loftiest goal is to be authentic, to speak spontaneously from the heart, giving voice to unique insights from our own points of view. For this mindset, the idea of reciting a set of ancient words in public agreement with a group is, if the word be allowed, anathema.

It resonated roundly with my current thoughts about why our leaders can sound so hollow these days. When someone appears to be articulating what appear to be authentic and spontaneous thoughts, applause rings out and those thoughts are given credibility and often, elevated to a level where it is preserved as true and to be taken on board – all for no other reasons than the thoughts were authentic and spontaneous from the heart.

It certainly is another book on the “to-read” list. Here’s the review (from CT):

The Need for Creed – It’s more than merely helpful to set down the church’s core convictions in words.

Review by: Fred Sanders

Book Title: The Creedal Imperative

Author: Carl R. Trueman

Publisher: Crossway Books & Bibles

Our church has a need for a creed. In The Creedal Imperative (Crossway), Westminster Theological Seminary’s Carl R. Trueman presses the case that "creeds and confessions are vital to the present and future well-being of the church."

It’s not just that a creed (a public, established statement of a church’s most important beliefs) is a useful tool for teaching doctrine, holding leaders accountable, defining the boundaries of church membership or cooperation among churches, and telling the world what a church stands for. Creeds do all that. But this book is not about the handy helpfulness of creeds; it’s about the creedal imperative. A church that obeys the Bible should follow the injunction of the apostle Paul’s pastoral epistles to Timothy, and resolve to guard "a form of sound words transmitted by eldership … ensuring good management of the household of God."

Trueman builds up this biblical case for creeds, layers over it the historical case from both the patristic church and confessional Protestantism, and puts the burden of proof on what he calls the "’No Creed but the Bible!’ brigade." Given this biblical and historical trajectory of churches using creeds, "the question is not so much ‘Should we use them?’ as ‘Why would we not use them?’"

Trueman acknowledges that there is a case to be made against creedalism, but he thinks that case is spurious because it is entirely cultural: The spirit of our age ignores history, distrusts institutions, values emotions more than words, and hankers after novelty. For moderns, the loftiest goal is to be authentic, to speak spontaneously from the heart, giving voice to unique insights from our own points of view. For this mindset, the idea of reciting a set of ancient words in public agreement with a group is, if the word be allowed, anathema.

As a result, anti-creedal evangelicalism is, ironically, "not countercultural, but culturally enslaved." Trueman is passionate and eloquent about how creeds enable churches to dig in their heels and stand with the great tradition, pushing against the modern temperament.

One of Trueman’s most deft arguments is that every Christian and every church already has a creed in the sense that they all "think the Bible means something and that its teaching can be summarized" in different words.

He continues, "The only difference is whether one writes the confession down, so that others may scrutinize it and judge whether its teaching is consistent with Scripture, or whether one refuses to do so, in which case one’s beliefs are essentially identified with the teaching of Scripture and placed above such scrutiny."

It is the anti-creedalist, in other words, who trumps the Bible with an unassailable (because unstated) tradition.

Ironies like this are delicious to the already persuaded, but they are unlikely to change minds. Trueman almost always avoids what he calls the "rather distasteful, not to mention sinful, tendency among many confessional writers to look down with scorn and derision on those who are not confessional." But he does lecture from a rather high seat, and at times he makes it clear that all God’s ways tend toward a good Presbyterian church.

But what about evangelicals not already convinced by confessionalism? Perhaps, for them, the most helpful parts of The Creedal Imperative will be the section on the biblical foundations of creedalism and the delightful chapter on "confession as praise." Trueman’s fine book may actually give them a glimpse of the high helpfulness, if not the necessity, of creeds.

Fred Sanders is associate professor of theology at Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute, and the author of The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything (Crossway).


Loose Ends

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Ian Teh <>
Date: Fri, Nov 23, 2012 at 8:53 AM
Subject: Re: Catching up
Cc:  <  >, <  >

Tham Fuan

Form and process remain on the periphery at best. The essence appears to be still missing. Perhaps whoever relayed to you information about my leaving LifeGate can fill you in about what I mean but really, other than it shouldn’t have been necessary, it will also no longer have any consequence especially given your recent most email.

I also don’t understand what releasing forgiveness means. You either forgive someone or you don’t. “Releasing” forgiveness doesn’t add anything other than layer up with new age type of lingo. Or maybe there is a new version of bible translation which now requires Christians to release forgiveness to each other instead of just forgiving each other. In any event, forgiveness cannot be relevant without proper context.

There is plenty to talk about but I have no desire to revisit any of these things any more. When I said to you during our dinner meeting that I have moved on, I meant it in every sense.


On Thu, Nov 22, 2012 at 1:35 PM, thamfuan <   > wrote:

Hi Ian,

Thank you for the prompt reply.

We are aware of your attendance at Edge Church the past couple of weeks. The purpose of my intended visit, which I have been thinking the last couple of weeks, was to continue to heal the relationship rift, which we at least try to resolve in our last outing together. Somehow, I felt it didn’t go as well as it should. Perhaps we can meet up another time however things pan out, sooner rather than later.

Ian, I really want to say sorry for bursting out in frustration in one of the Board meetings about you asking me to lead at your convenience. Please forgive me for my insensitivity and carelessness. Your pain and hurt no doubt would have affected the rest in the family, and for that I want to say sorry to Theresa as well.

There are probably other things I may have done and said which have hurt you, and for those things I ask that you release your forgiveness as well. In time, I pray and hope that our friendship can achieve a certain degree of normalcy.

By the way, with the way things are going, I understand your declination, and I don’t see that as being rude. Sincerely and genuinely, I have been and will continue to pray for you and your family for some time to come.

Take care.


On Thu, Nov 22, 2012 at 11:27 AM, Ian Teh <  > wrote:

Tham Fuan
I’m not sure if you noticed, but I have not been in church these past couple of Sundays. This is because I have decided to move on. I was at the Edge Church in Doncaster on those Sundays and I am likely to continue attending there for a little while to see how it works out.

On that note, I prefer to decline your visit. I hope that is not being rude on my part but just in line with the way things have panned out (and perhaps continue to pan out).

Ian Teh
Legal Counsel
L19 Casselden
T: 03 9200 4897
M: 0477 700 602
On 22/11/2012, at 10:26 AM, thamfuan <  > wrote:

> Hi Ian & Theresa,
> Suanchoo and I would like to drop in at your place for a catch-up Tuesday evening next week. Is that a possibility? Or would you prefer to meet somewhere else?
> Thank you.
> thamfuan

Hume Again

Tress and I were both very tired last Friday night. After an early dinner, we went home and went to bed early. Just before 4 the next morning, Tress got up and I, shortly after. We left home just before 5, and began the drive. It would hopefully be the last road trip up to Canberra for this year.

We started loading Kiddo’s stuff onto the car as soon as we arrived at Burton and Garran Hall, just before 11.30. It took less than an hour, then we headed to Dixon for a much needed lunch – I’ve had a cup of coffee since 5am and not much else.

After lunch we headed to our regular abode – in Campbell – then headed to the National Museum, which is another fascinating place displaying all the splendour of our tax dollars. While there we met an employee of the museum, who was a refugee from Laos. The arts, history and welfare of a fellow human being – all good spends of our tax dollars.

The next day after lunch with Ruth and Jon we dropped kiddo off at a house she would stay in (sort of, with a week off to Hurstville sandwiched in between) for the next 2½ weeks. We left Canberra close to 3pm, and got home just after 9.30 last night.

It was a bit of a crawl this morning – the slight back strain from Saturday meant I skipped gym this morning and still feeling the effects of a compacted weekend flanked by long driving stretches. There’s a dinner in some Korean place tonight, not sure if I really look forward to it. I love the company and the food sounds good but I also want a quiet night of being at home…