The Church creeds of past centuries were designed to root out doctrinal error and confirm the cardinal doctrines of Christianity. This was a noble cause, however creeds have serious problems that need to be addressed. First century believers focused on the commands of Christ and resolved doctrinal error in a “one accord” council (Acts 15).
1. Christ’s commands are inspired, church creeds are not
This is an important factor. The commands of Christ which He received directly from His heavenly Father deal with all areas of faith and practice. Man’s creeds deal only with the doctrinal issues that the writers thought were important. As a result, some important truths are left out and truths of lesser importance are emphasized.
2. Christ’s commands are balanced, church creeds are not
For every Biblical truth there is a balancing truth. For example, Paul stated: “In me, that is in my flesh dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). But David stated: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). We are not saved by works but “we were created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:8-10). We are to “cease from our labors.” Yet we are to “labor to enter into God’s rest” (Hebrews 4:10-11). Truth out of balance leads to doctrinal heresy!
3. Christ’s commands lead to unity, church creeds lead to division
The fervent prayer of Jesus was that all believers would “be one, as you Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). When doctrines are removed from their moral settings, they become argumentative. For example, Christ’s return is to motivate us to purify ourselves (I John 3:3). Instead, creeds focus on when Christ will return and we argue over pretribulation vs. post tribulation, premillennial vs. postmillennial vs. amillennial! The same is true of communion. Rather than “examining ourselves” we argue over consubstantiation vs. transubstantiation vs. a memorial celebration.
4. Christ’s commands appeal to our heart, creeds appeal to our head
Thousands of churches recite the Apostles Creed every Sunday. “I believe in God the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth…” There are at least two major problems with this beginning: First, “You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe and tremble” (James 2:19). Second, there is NO mention of love in this entire creed! Jesus commanded, “You shall love the Lord your God…” (Matthew 21:37).
5. Christ’s commands are our message to the world, not creeds
When Jesus gave His great commission to His disciples He did not say “Go ye therefore and teach all nations church creeds.” Rather, He said “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 29:19-20).
Bill Gothard, Ph.D EmbassyUniversity.com