By Jarrod Belcher
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering…” Hebrews 10:23. In the past 150 years the church has undergone a lot of changes. Some of those changes have been good and some have been bad. One of the changes for the worse has been the elimination of creeds, confessions, and catechisms. It seems clear that the church was actively involved in these things from the beginning. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 provides a statement of the kind of thing that would have been recited. It is there that Christ’s crucifixion, his resurrection, and the witnesses to that fact are recounted. A few hundred years later the church adopted creeds like the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed that were helpful summaries of Christian doctrine and the necessary beliefs for salvation.
Later on the Protestant Reformation saw an explosion of confessions of faith which were rather lengthy documents on the beliefs of a particular denomination on almost every aspect of Christian life. Martin Luther himself went into villages where he was shocked to find professing Christians that knew so little about their faith. He wrote out catechisms which are nothing more than questions and answers with Biblical proofs concerning the doctrines of the faith. It was the practice of many churches for several centuries to recite creeds together, adhere to a confession, and learn the catechism.
But like many good things the three C’s fell out of favor in churches for a myriad of reasons. Suddenly your call to action defined whether or not you were a Christian. “Deeds not creeds,” became the mantra of the evangelical church and over the course of time as a consequence the laity no longer knew anything of the particulars of the faith. But while it is necessary for Christians to be obedient to Christ it is also necessary for us to know the particulars of the faith. The result has been the loss of the ability to discern good doctrine from bad doctrine, or perhaps worse, to not care. We must know what true Christianity is or else it transforms into something else that is not Christian at all. A recovery of the three C’s would also bring a recovery of discernment within the church which guards us from error.