“No creed but the Bible” is an argument I have heard more times than I can count. I understand the intent; there is a concern to keep tradition in its place and uphold the status of Scripture. It is an effort to preserve the ultimate authority of Scripture and this, of course, is commendable. Even though they have the best of intentions, I would argue the NCBB has set itself up for failure. It has unmoored itself from the confessions and creeds only to find itself susceptible to every whim of doctrine. There are many reasons to see the confessions and creeds as vital to a healthy church. Church historian, Carl Trueman, has listed several reasons in a small essay in the booklet The Westminster Choice, but I will only highlight three.
Confessions offer succinct summaries of the faith.
Sometimes people ask me which systematic theology they should read, but perhaps we should not neglect the confession and catechisms. In a short and concise form, we have a dense and compact treasure of theological statements that are well worth our meditation and thought. Consider the family that trains and equips their children around the catechism. Their minds have been set up to learn and absorb the great truths of Scripture. The confessions and catechisms are potent supplements to Biblical knowledge.
Confessions allow for accountability to pastors and officers in the church.
If we adopt the NCBB, no measured standard can be used to protect the flock from dangerous doctrines. The church is always under assault by novel doctrines and ideas that are old heresies given new energy. History has shown many men who started out embracing NCBB and only ended up leading their congregations into heretical catastrophes. Confessions and creeds stop these dangerous tendencies before they ever get started. They protect the flock, they guide the Elders, and through them, the historic church watches over us.
Confessions reflect the substance of our worship.
It has been well said, “Drama leads to the doctrine which leads to doxology.” When we read the story told by Scripture, we learn what God wants to reveal to us about himself. He reveals something about himself in every act. The confessions are our summary of God’s revelatory acts about himself to us in history. These confessions then are used in our corporate worship as testimony about the revealing acts of God. When we baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are telling the world something God has revealed to us, his name.
Affirming our faith using the Nicene Creed, we affirm a confession produced by an ecumenical council over 1500 years ago. It ties us to the historic church and reminds us that Christianity is not something new, or left to our opinions. God has revealed himself in history, and by the Spirit’s presence the church has been born of God (1John 2:29) and has been preserved through the creeds and confessions. Christians must avoid the NCBB creed as it proves unhelpful nor fruitful in life and worship.