Since Scripture is sufficient, should we avoid using creeds, confessions, and catechisms?

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GODFREY: To say that we should avoid using creeds because Scripture is sufficient is a simplistic and unhelpful approach to the sufficiency of the Bible. The Bible is a big book and none of us are sufficient for it. Therefore, to have help from the church to summarize the Bible and condense its important teachings, as confessions and creeds do, is a way of linking ourselves with the wisdom of the church’s understanding of the Bible and with the Bible itself.

The creeds and confessions must always remain subordinate to the Bible. The Bible always stands in judgment over the creeds and confessions if someone thinks there is something wrong in them. However, having summaries of biblical teaching is useful and helpful for Christians.

BINGHAM: If someone watching doesn’t know what we mean by creeds, confessions, or catechisms and they want to get on Google and look one up, what would you recommend they read first?

GODFREY: The creeds are shorter statements that summarize the faith. We mainly use the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, and both of those are very useful to read, study, and memorize. Many churches recite them during church services as a way of uniting the congregation in a common faith.

Confessions are longer statements trying to summarize what the Bible has to say. In our circles, the most used confessions are the Belgic Confession and the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Catechisms were originally teaching tools for the sake of the church. They also summarize the faith, as well as how one might teach the faith, often to children, but to adults as well. The Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms are particularly useful.

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with W. Robert Godfrey and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email or message us on Facebook or Twitter.