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No Creed but the Bible

May 10, 2017

Some churches claim they have no creed but the Bible. This creed is always untrue. Every church has a body of doctrine which acts as the standard for ministry, membership and teaching. Professing no creed by the Bible is a confusing creed that ultimately does disservice to the pastor and church members. With no creed but the Bible the church is left without a clear guide for growth.

Having no creed does not mean the church has no body of beliefs. The church has not written down its faith. The absence of a predetermined set of commonly held beliefs leaves significant opportunity for leadership to misuse its responsibility as doctrinal gatekeepers. The lack of a statement of faith makes it much more difficult to hold pastors and other leaders accountable for their beliefs. Often the pastor becomes a standard to himself unaccountable to anything but his own determination of what is true and what is important. The admittance of members becomes dependent on undisclosed and possibly uncertain standards of faith. Visitors and prospective members are unclear about what the church believes. The absence of a statement of faith leaves teachers with no clear doctrinal guideline for their teaching. The absence of a clearly defined creed hinders the church’s ability to teach truth and hold others accountable to the truth.

The motivation for a clear doctrinal statement is not pugnaciousness or exclusivism. The goal is charitable clarity about the things the church holds dear. A clear statement of faith communicates to a culture of obfuscation and self-determination of meaning the most important beliefs of a church. These clear statements define the parameters of faith within which a person must fall in order to belong to the local body.

Because the goal of a doctrinal statement is the faithful communication of truth it should be historic and up to date, theologically precise and easily read, thorough and concise. The church’s doctrinal statement should be no more technical than absolutely necessary. The truths conveyed by the doctrinal statement should be communicated in terms understandable to the reader.

Statements of faith that are outdated, too brief or confusing are of little use to the church. Church history is replete with excellent statements of faith. Theological institutions and certain churches have the theological and intellectual resources to craft well-written statements that cover the important matters of faith. These doctrinal statements can provide a useful tool to guide a church in developing its own statement of faith. Basing a doctrinal statement on an existing statement of faith can be helpful, but a church should be careful to avoid just copying and pasting from other documents. Besides potential copyright infringement and plagiarism careless cutting and pasting can unwittingly propagate errors, include details unnecessary for a particular church’s doctrinal statement, create a disjointed statement and overlook unique areas that should be addressed in the particular church’s doctrinal statement.

A good doctrinal statement covers the fundamental doctrines essential to salvation: the doctrines of God, the Bible, sin and salvation. A good doctrinal statement addresses significant doctrinal matters that require agreement for the church body to function together harmoniously. A good doctrinal statement provides clear statements regarding issues which may become centers of controversy. In America the church constitution also provides legal protection by clearly laying out the church’s position on certain contentious cultural issues. A good doctrinal statement helps to ensure clarity about the core beliefs of the church to aid the understanding and growth of its members, attenders and visitors.


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