Thursday, October 8, 2009
Why We Need Creeds
The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology
By Charles Porterfield Krauth
Standing really upon the everlasting foundation of this Rule of Faith, we stand of necessity on the faith, of which it is the rule. It is not the truth as it lies, silent and unread, in the Word, but the truth as it enters from that Word into the human heart, with the applying presence of the Holy Ghost, which makes men believers. Faith makes men Christians; but Confession alone marks them as Christians. The Rule of Faith is God's voice to us; faith is the hearing of that voice, and the Confession, our reply of assent to it.
By our faith, we are known to the Lord as his; by our Confession, we are known to each other as His children. Confession of faith, in some form, is imperative. To confess Christ, is to confess what is our faith in him. As the Creed is not, and cannot be the Rule of Faith, but is its Confession merely, so the Bible, because it is the Rule of Faith, is of necessity not its Confession. The Bible can no more be any man's Creed, than the stars can be any man's astronomy. The stars furnish the rule of the astronomer's faith: the Principia of Newton may be the Confession of his faith. If a man were examined as a candidate for the chair of astronomy in a university, and were asked, "What is your astronomical system?" and were to answer, “I accept the teaching of the stars," the reply would be, "You may think you do--so does the man who is sure that the stars move round the world, and that they are not orbs, but 'gimlet-holes to let the glory through.' We wish to know what you hold the teachings of the stars to be? Do you receive, as in harmony with then, the results reached by Copernicus, by Galileo, by Kepler, by Newton, La Place, and Herschel, or do you think the world one great flat, and the sun and moon mere pendants to it?"
“Gentlemen," replies the independent investigator, "the theories of those astronomers are human systems--man-made theories. I go out every night on the hills, and look at the stars, as God made them, through a hole in my blanket, with my own good eyes, not with a man-made telescope, or fettered by a man-made theory; and I believe in the stars and in what they teach me: but if I were to say, or write what they teach, that would be a human creed--and I am opposed to all creeds." “Very well," reply the examiners, "we wish you joy in the possession of a good pair of eyes, and feel it unnecessary to go any further. If you are unwilling to confess your faith, we will not tax your conscience with the inconsistency of teaching that faith, nor tax our own with the hazard of authorizing you to set forth in the name of the stars your own ignorant assumptions about them." What is more clear than that, as the Rule of Faith is first, it must, by necessity of its being, when rightly used, generate a true faith? But the man who has true faith desires to have it known, and is bound to confess his faith. The Rule cannot really generate two conflicting beliefs; yet men who alike profess to accept the Rule, do have conflicting beliefs; and when beliefs conflict, if the one is formed by the Rule, the other must be formed in the face of it. Fidelity to the Rule of Faith, therefore, fidelity to the faith it teaches, demands that there shall be a Confession of the faith. The firmest friend of the Word is the firmest friend of the Creed. First, the Rule of Faith, next the Faith of the Rule, and then the Confession of Faith.
"The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology"(pp.166-167)
Posted by Chuck Wiese at 10:29 PM