Introduction to creeds and confessions
Catechesis is the practice of teaching the Christian faith, and Creeds & Confessions are both declarations of belief and an agreement to the truth of what the Bible believes. Throughout history, the church has always been catechised, and the creeds & confessions have been passed down to us.
We live in a generation that dislikes the word ‘tradition’. To us, that word invites images of big cathedrals, with masses mindlessly repeating the words from the liturgy, and with clergy dressed in fancy garments. We want to avoid traditional churches. But what we have forgotten is that the word ‘tradition’ does not get its meaning from these churches or their liturgy.
A tradition is a teaching or a practice that has been passed down through generations. In the Bible, such teaching is both commended and commanded. We are to teach our children the ways of God so that they can teach it to their children and so on to many generations (Deuteronomy 4). Traditions are not evil in themselves but are subject to the Scriptures. If a tradition upholds the truth of Scripture, we may call it a good tradition, and if it voids the word of God, we may call it a bad tradition.
Here again, beloved, we are harmed by our reactionary theology. The question then is if we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Traditions are not what corrupts the heart of a man but it is the corrupt heart of man that hinders the Gospel truth with mere tradition. When we look at the so-called ‘traditional churches’ and see that they’re not being “Christian”, we should recognize that they are abusing traditions. And that’s what we see throughout the Bible; we see people misuse the good gifts God gives them by idolizing them.
Catechism & Confessions
The modern age brings with it the arrogant notion that we are the greatest generation alive. We are not. It is an illusion that we are the first generation to find the truth. With the advancement of science and technology, we take pride in our knowledge and consider ourselves far more mature than our fathers and forefathers ever were.
This kind of thought doesn’t limit itself to just technology but to many aspects of life. However, we must be careful to recognise that our great discoveries have never added truth to the Scriptures. Rather, every truth that we’ve arrived at has fallen in line with what Scripture has always declared. The Bible is evidence that the Ancient truths are not archaic, but timeless. The treasure of truth, therefore, is not found in looking ahead but in looking to the past.
Faith always comes by hearing, and if you hear falsehood and that’s all you hear then that’s what you would end up believing in. While the world religiously looks to their PhD-adorned wise men, we must look to the word of God which is sufficient for all good works.
One of the great triumphs & treasures that we find in looking at the past are the creeds, confessions & catechisms of the old.
So all this is to say that we are always getting catechized, through friends, media, colleagues, politicians, and everything that the world has to offer. And to keep our heads sane in this world, we need to be catechized with the truth. God doesn’t give truth to the church by repackaging and reissuing it for every generation. God gave his sufficient authoritative truth in his word and then he preserved it throughout the generations, through His church. We as believers are indebted to our faithful forefathers for guarding and passing on this truth. In that sense, the Bible itself is the true tradition that has been passed down.
There is no new truth for a Christian to invent, but all truth has been given once and for all. The Creeds and Confessions, therefore, are documents that our faithful forefathers compiled for this very purpose! So that the truth of God may be preserved and declared, and the true doctrine may be passed on. These were no dull men of poor intelligence or crippled without modern technologies. We have to learn that we stand on the shoulders of many who’ve gone before us and have to abandon the thought that our generation fell out of the skies.
An Invitation to be Traditional
So come, Church of Christ!
Let us glory in the wonderful & good traditions that the Lord has bestowed us with! Let us be a people who sing psalms, embrace glorious liturgies, and proclaim the Creeds and Confessions of our forefathers. In doing so, let us remember and honour them, and join our voices with theirs as our worship rise together before the throne of our eternal God.
May we be numbered among them that were faithful through all generations.
May our children grow up learning the truth of God from these catechisms one question at a time. Let us pray that the generations to come would grow up knowing the truth of our God, and join the legacies and traditions we leave behind for them.
May the seeds of true doctrine be sown deep within us so that in due season we would bear fruitful works.