Creeds, confessions, and lists of beliefs

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I’m currently reading “God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture” by Matthew Barrett. It’s book #3 in Zondervan’s series on the five “solas” of the Reformation. Dry theology? Hardly! As Christians, we stand on God’s Word ALONE rather than on the teachings and traditions of men. The book is well-written and the pages are turning pretty quickly (review to follow in a couple of weeks). This book – such a treasure – prompted me to post on creeds, confessions, and lists of core beliefs in general.

My wife and I attended an independent fundamental Baptist church for eight years after we accepted Christ. After a very long prodigal “season” we attended a Southern Baptist church for a year. For the last sixteen months we’ve been worshipping at a nondenominational evangelical church. The church began as a Baptist church and has a long history. Several years ago the church decided to shed the “Baptist” label to appeal to more people although Baptist teaching and polity are still followed.

I’m somewhat knowledgeable about the history of the Baptist movement and I’m personally most comfortable within that faith tradition. Evangelical churches generally have a list of basic beliefs they follow with the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ at the core. There’s some evangelical churches that I couldn’t comfortably worship at because of their beliefs regarding secondary doctrines but we’re still all united in our faith in Christ.

Christians have been formulating creeds, confessions, and statements of core beliefs for centuries in an attempt to summarize the faith. Some statements have been more helpful than others. The early creeds were woefully deficient because they didn’t spell out exactly HOW a person appropriates the free gift of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Billions have recited the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds over the centuries without ever accepting Christ as Savior by faith.

The Reformers of the 16th and 17th centuries strove to return the church to the simple, saving faith proclaimed by the New Testament church. The movement was centered around what came to be known as the Five Solas of the Christian faith:

  • Sola Fide, by faith alone.
  • Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
  • Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
  • Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
  • Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.

As evangelical Christians, we base our beliefs on God’s Word rather than man-made creeds but if you have to summarize the faith, the Five Solas ain’t a bad way to go.

Our previous pastor mentioned the Five Solas regularly in his messages but I haven’t heard our new pastor mention them once in the past seven months. I suspect that congregations throughout evangelicalism are hearing less and less about the Five Solas of the Reformation, all part of the dumbing down of doctrine that’s part and parcel of the popular seeker mega-church movement.

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23 thoughts on “Creeds, confessions, and lists of beliefs

    1. Thanks, John. Yeah, the IFB church we attended from 1983-91 leaned towards Arminianism and I never heard the five solas mentioned at all. I speculate the pastor didn’t want to give any credit to the Reformed Reformers.

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    1. It sat on my shelf and I passed over it for six months because I thought it would be dry theology but the first 100 pages have been mostly history which is right up my alley.

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  1. “As evangelical Christians, we base our beliefs on God’s Word rather than man-made creeds but if you have to summarize the faith, the Five Solas ain’t a bad way to go.”

    It wouldn’t be a bad way to go if they were more than man made tradition. The messages behind both Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide are neither biblical, or traditional (unless of course you begin your history at the Reformation).

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    1. The “infallible” Roman magisterium once taught that only baptized Catholics had any hope of Heaven while modern popes teach that non-Catholics and even atheists can merit Heaven if they “follow the light they’ve been given” and are “good.” Pope Francis says diocesan priests can decide if remarried Catholics in their parish can receive communion while previous popes prohibited communion for remarrieds as cardinal Burke passionately points out. Who is right? Scripture says absolutely nothing about the mediation of “saints” and the immaculate conception and assumption of Mary but that is no problem for Catholics because “tradition” dictated by the magisterium always trumps God’s Word.

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      1. My point is that despite the many instances you proclaim Catholicism to be false, you at the same time believe them to be correct on the New Testament canon that is in your Protestant Bible.

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      2. My, four comments in less than ten minutes! Your keyboard must be smoking! I truly wonder why you would expend so much energy on a church which teaches all non-Catholics and atheists can also merit Heaven if they are “good.” 80% of Catholics sleep in on Sundays and skip the dreary liturgy because their pope says they’re essentially no better off than atheists. Catholicism is (c)hristianity without Christ. The church doesn’t authorize God’s Word, the Holy Spirit does. What church council canonized the Books of the Old Testament?

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      3. I am not referring to the Old Testament, mate, as that is something we do not agree on. Please quit twisting about my actual questions. I asked about the New Testament. Both Protestants and Catholics agree which books are placed there. Who chose what books belonged in the NT? Who was used by the Holy Spirit to decide?

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      4. But you accept the Old Testament as Scripture don’t you? The Jews accepted the OT books as God’s Word multiple centuries before the benefit of a church council. How could that have happened?

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      5. Let’s be frank, Patrick. None of my responses will satisfy your hardened heart. I pray someday you put your faith in Jesus Christ alone rather than your institutional religion. If you wish to seriously examine your religion get a copy of “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McCarthy. Happy trolling elsewhere.

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