Throughout the course of Church History creeds and confessions have been utilized to express what we believe in the faith and to clarify our understanding of written Scripture. But with creeds and confessions come a real danger of moving from preaching good doctrine to setting up an idol that is counter to everything we are instructed in Scripture.
Let’s take a practical example of this. Someone comes up to you and asks the following question: “What songs may we use in church?” Your answer: “The regulative principle of worship in the Westminster Confession tells us…”
First, why do we immediately refer to a confession? Why are we not pointing directly the Word of God? Second, even if the confession itself is correct, what if our interpretation of the confession is not? What if we get the intention of the confession wrong? Are we so unwilling to examine our position that if we are wrong we will still go with the flow?
This is the same attitude that Martin Luther was fighting against at the start of the Protestant Reformation. The church persecuted Luther because he dared to question their traditions and interpretations of Scripture. But Luther persevered and triumphed by the grace of God. But are we persecuting Christians today that dare question our doctrine? Are we even willing to have the debate?
Let me be clear, none of this is to say that we should not have creeds or confessions. On the contrary, they, in my view, are necessary and proper. But they should be used as guides for better understanding and articulating our theological positions. They should never be elevated to the level of Scripture. They are a tool, not Scripture.
Because of this, when we are asked about a doctrinal position we should never point to the confessional document, we should always point to Scripture knowing what we believe already.