Saturday, January 5, 2008

Should Christians have creeds?

Should Christians have "creeds"? The simple answer is, NO! Why? As a Seventh Day Adventist Christian I can tell you that our church has always been against the development of a "Christian Creed". There are many reasons for this. First, just what is a "creed"?

Basically, a creed is a statement of beliefs or a "confession of faith". The word creed derives from the Latin: credo for "I believe" and credimus "for we believe". The early Christian church is said to have developed creeds as a "token" [symbol] by which people of like beliefs might agree and recognize each other.

There are many early creeds. The Roman Catholics developed the famous "Apostles Creed". This creed has been handed down to some protestant groups as well. During the reformation of the early church the Lutherans developed their famous, "Augsburg Confession" and we see that many churches today still use creeds and continue to develop creeds.

Here is the problem with Christian creeds: Man has used man-made creeds to start wars. Man has held these creeds above the Bible itself. Man has not allowed a creed to be changed when error was found. In this sense, creeds have become cement for theological error and human arrogance.

This is why early Adventist Christian, J.N. Loughborough stated:

"The first step of apostasy is to get up a creed, telling us what we shall believe. The second is, to make that creed a test of fellowship. The third is to try members by that creed. The fourth to denounce as heretics those who do not believe that creed. And fifth, to commence persecution against such."

This brings us to the question; Why then does the Seventh Day Adventist Church have a list of 28 beliefs that they refer to as; "The 28 Fundamentals"? And here is my official response to that question.....

One: Seventh Day Adventists have made a list of basic fundamentals derived from the Bible itself and at the end of each fundamental belief there is a list of Scriptures that validate the doctrines in question.

Two: One does NOT have to accept all of the 28 fundamentals to be a Seventh Day Adventist Christian. With "creeds" they have always been a "test of faith". One must believe all the statements of the creed to be a part of this sect or that. But not with the SDA 28 Fundamentals.

Three: Then why have 28 Fundamentals? The Bible commands us to be in basic unity and to always be ready to "give an answer for the hope that lies within". For these reasons they were developed. The 28 SDA Fundamentals can be changed or re-worded as God's Holy Spirit directs. The 28 Fundamentals are descriptors not prescriptors; that is, that they describe the official position of the church but are not a criterion for membership.

So please understand our position as Seventh Day Adventist Christians regarding the issue of "creeds". Here is what the introduction of our list of 28 Fundamentals begins with;

"Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as their only creed and hold certain fundamental beliefs to be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. These beliefs, as set forth here, constitute the church's understanding and expression of the teaching of Scripture. Revision of these statements may be expected at a General Conference session when the church is led by the Holy Spirit to a fuller understanding of Bible truth or finds better language in which to express the teachings of God's Holy Word."

To read all 28 Fundamentals click here.

Written by, Eric W. King [January 5,2008]

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