A big part of our culture—in both the world and the church—turns its nose up at the idea of a creed, confession, or any other expression of tradition. In the world, the spirit is one of “progress,” moving into the future without any respect for the past. It’s an un- or anti-history attitude. Similarly, the spirit of our age is anti-authoritarian, throwing off any authority that would try to limit or even influence the individual’s personal views, values, and allegiances.
Sadly, there is a similar spirit in the church today. This anti-creedal and anti-history attitude is expressed in many different ways and through many different sorts of practices. But, it is well summarized by a few popular slogans.
“No creed but Christ!”
“No book but the Bible!”
“We serve Truth, not traditions!”
These kinds of statements sound really good, don’t they?!? They almost sound like they fell out of the pages of the Bible. We all want honor Jesus, the Bible, and God’s revealed, inspired Truth as the ultimate authority in faith, life, and doctrine!! As good as it all sounds, though, these sorts of statements are seriously flawed, as are the assumptions behind them. Consider just a few points.
“NO CREED, BUT...!” Is a Self-Refuting Statement!
A self-refuting or internally incoherent statement is one that contains a self-contradiction. So, whether in theory or practice, the claim that is being made cannot be consistent with itself. For example, “I can’t read English!” If you read that claim out loud, then you were making a self-refuting statement, because you DID read it and it WAS in English! “I never tell the truth” is another example of a self-refuting or internally incoherent statement someone might make. If this claim is true, then you shouldn’t believe it, because the one making it never tells the truth, so it can’t be true. However, if it is untrue, then it is false and still unbelievable. The “NO CREED, BUT...” claims have the same problem; they too are self-refuting. But, how?
The fact is, “No creed but Christ,” is itself a creed!!!
If a creed is defined as (1) a brief authoritative formula of religious belief; or (2) a set of fundamental belief(s), then it is obvious that the “No creed, but...!” is a creed in and of itself. For some, it is the most fundamental doctrine of all.