Ligon Duncan on Why ‘No Creed But the Bible’ Is a Lousy Creed
Jeff Robinson and Ligon Duncan
What does it mean to be a confessional church? When making our case for a particular doctrine, is it fine to reference our confession of faith, or would it be best to just stick to Scripture? Isn’t the Bible enough for Christians in establishing our doctrine and practice? Should we demand church members subscribe to a particular view of a third-level doctrine?
These are among the practical questions that sit at the heart of confessional Christianity. I put these questions to Ligon Duncan, a longtime confessional Christian and TGC Council member. Duncan, former pastor of the historic First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi, now serves as chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary.
Is it biblical for the church to write and use confessions of faith?
Yes! It is absolutely biblical for a church to use a confession of faith. The famous shema of Deuteronomy 6:4—“Hear, O Israel: the LORD your God, the LORD is one”—is a confession of faith. It affirms the two ideas most basic to the Israel’s religion: that Yahweh exists, and that he is the one true God. In the New Testament, Paul calls these fundamental affirmations “trustworthy sayings.” Such basic statements highlighting the fundamental commitments of God’s people are found throughout Scripture.
What about writing confessions of faith? Again, yes. If you look at the history of creeds and confessions, you’ll see that human-created creeds and confessions arose out of the church’s desire to be faithful to Scripture’s clear teaching. Whenever false teachers were appealing to the Bible and twisting it to suit their own purposes, Christians defended the truth by clearly articulating their scriptural convictions with the most…
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