Have you ever heard someone say “No creed but Christ” or “no creed but the bible?”
The idea behind these sayings is that we shouldn’t bother with creeds or confessions as they undermine the Bible itself. Why bother learning about the Apostles Creed when we have the Bible in front of us?
This sounds very spiritual and may, for a time, avoid disagreements about theology that can divide us. But is this concept, by itself, biblical? Or is it biblical to have creeds and confessions that detail what we believe?
There are two main problems with the idea of “no creed by Christ”.
The first is that “no creed but Christ” is itself a creed. It is stating that the only important thing about the Christian faith is Christ. It defines and reduces Christianity to that one statement.
The same is true of “no creed but the Bible”. Except in this instance, it reduces Christianity to a basic and ill-defined doctrine of Scripture.
But the biggest problem with the ‘no creed but Christ’ mentality is that we must ask the question “which Christ?” Similarly, in the case of “no creed but the Bible” we must ask “but what do you think the bible says?” Because there are many people who believe the Bible who disagree about what exactly it says.
One such person is quoted as saying “We must let God speak for himself … Our appeal is to the Bible for truth.” Which sounds great until you discover that was written by a Jehovah’s Witness.
The reality is that people think the Bible says different things. And the only way to discern what it is that we actually believe is to put our beliefs in our own words in a creed or a confession.
Consider Romans 10:9-11: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.””
Here we see that we must believe and confess what we believe in order to be saved. And we see that we must know what it is that we are believing – in this passage we must believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead. These are crucial truths that cannot be denied and there are others like it in Scripture. It is these critical truths that the Apostles Creed in particular seeks to bring together and state in a clear and concise way.
It is valid and important, in fact it is critical, for us to confess what we believe. Without knowing a level of detail about what we believe the Bible is about, what we believe the gospel is, who we believe God is and more, there is no Christianity. That is why the Apostles Creed starts with these words “we believe”.