If someone were to ask you that question, how would you respond? What beliefs would you first profess? The truth is, as Burk Parsons notes, “everyone believes in something.” And it is because of this simple truth that we have creeds.
Living in a day where creeds are often looked upon with skepticism, or altogether dismissed and forgotten, Parsons has provided a timely volume defending the legitimacy and importance of the historic creeds of the Christian faith. Why Do We Have Creeds?, a recent addition to P&R Publishing’s “Basics of the Faith” series, provides readers with a clear and concise defense of the importance of creeds within the life and practice of the church. And while some may say “My only creed is Christ” or “The Bible is my only creed”, Parsons’ brief volume respectfully shows why it is not enough to simply believe in something…it’s what you believe about that something that makes all the difference.
After discussing the nature of belief and Christian religious belief in particular, Parsons lays the foundation for his examination of the role creedal and confessional statements by demonstrating the absolute sufficiency, authority, and infallibility of Holy Scripture. While some today, fearing that creeds may be viewed by believers as authoritative over or equal to the Scriptures, thereby objecting to the import and use of historic creeds and confession within the church, Parsons points out that “the church’s historic creeds affirm that Scripture alone is our final authority.” Further, “the church’s creeds and confessions do not stand as authorities over Scripture but rather serve as affirmations of Scripture’s authority for all of faith and life.” Thus, Parsons notes, “Creeds themselves are authoritative only in that they are subordinate to and derivative from the only divine authority, namely, the inspired and inerrant Word of God.”
Moving forward, Parsons helps believers understand the necessity of creeds within the church by examining the usefulness, foundation for, and purpose of creeds and confessional statements. Dispensing with the notion that doctrine merely is divisive, Parsons plainly states that creedal statements guard against heresy, provide sound doctrinal summary and instruction, and give Christians a rallying point of unity around the truth of Scripture.
The strength of this book lies in it mixture of brevity, substance, and engagement with historic and contemporary scholarly voices. While targeted at the person unfamiliar or relatively new to the creeds of the Christian faith, Parsons’ God-given ability to write clearly will serve as a helpful primer for those desiring to understand and appreciate the historic confessions of the faith; also serving to give the person familiar with the subject a framework for clear and practical explanation. I highly recommend it!
Read inside (PDFs): Sample Pages
*The publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review, provided a copy of the aforementioned title. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.