“Why Christians Need Confessions” by Carl Trueman


“Despite claims to the contrary, the Christian world is not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who just have the Bible. It is actually divided between those who have creeds and confessions and write them down in a public form, open to public scrutiny and correction, and those who have them and do not write them down. The reason is simple: every church (and indeed every Christian) believes the Bible means something, and what it thinks the Bible means is its creed and confession, whether it chooses to write its beliefs down or not.

Of course, those who argue that they have no creed but Christ and no book but the Bible are usually trying to protect something important and biblical: the supreme authority of Scripture in all matters of Christian faith and practice. They rightly fear allowing unbiblical traditions or ideas to impact the substance of what the church believes. Yet for all of the good intentions that they may have, I believe that that which they want to protect—the unique status of Scripture—is actually best protected through explicit confessional documents, connected to a carefully thought-out form of church government.

In fact, and somewhat ironically, it is those who do not express their confession in the form of a written document who are in danger of elevating their tradition above Scripture in such a way that it can never be controlled by the latter. If a church has a document that says it is dispensational in eschatology, then we all know where such a church stands on the issue of the end times, and we can do the Berean thing and test the position by Scripture to see if it is so. The church that tells you simply that its position on the end times is the same one as that taught in the Bible appears to be telling you everything, but is actually telling you nothing at all.

In short, creeds and confessions, connected to a biblical church polity, are a vital part of maintaining a healthy New Testament church life. Here are seven reasons why every church should have them.”

Read the rest of this article here. Get his new book, The Creedal Imperative, here.

Did Christ really descend into hell?

Ever wonder what it means to confess in the Apostle’s Creed “he descended into hell”? This is how Reformed churches understand it, something worth meditating on as we approach Good Friday:

“Why is it added: ‘He descended into hell?’ That in my greatest temptations I may be assured that Christ my Lord, by His inexpressible anguish, pains, and terrors, which He suffered in His soul on the cross and before, has redeemed me from the anguish and torment of hell” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 44).

If you would like to learn more about this line of the Apostle’s Creed and why we should continue to confess it based on God’s Word, and for our comfort, here are two great resources by Rev. Daniel Hyde.

1. A FREE article: “In Defense of the Descendit: A Confessional Response to Contemporary Critics of Christ’s Descent Into Hell”

2. An inexpensive book that is an expansion of the article with a PRACTICAL SECTION at the end: In Defense of the Descent: A Response to Contemporary Critics (ONLY $7.50!)