Monday, April 23, 2018

Baptists and Creeds

Baptists, especially Southern Baptists, have a reputation of being anti-creedal ("No creed but the Bible!"). This perception, common among Baptists and non-Baptists alike, does not reflect the truth about Baptists historically.

Defenders of creeds and confessions in Baptist life point to early Baptist documents such as the Orthodox Confession of 1678 which states, “The three creeds, viz. Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s creed, and the Apostles creed […] ought thoroughly to be received, and believed. For we believe, they may be proved, by most undoubted authority of holy scripture, and are necessary to be understood of all Christians […] according to the analogy of faith…” Baptists accept these creeds, not on their own authority but on the authority of Scripture [which] the creeds faithfully articulate. ....

.... The Alabama Baptist, the news journal of the most “southern” of Southern Baptists, had this to say about creeds in 1879:
A religion without a creed is like a building without a foundation, like a government without a polity...Christianity is a failure if, after two thousand years, it has established no system of principles that may be formulated into a creed...A Christian preacher without a creed is first one thing, and then another, and ordinarily is nothing in the end. A church without a creed is nothing better than a club instituted with no higher purpose than occasional enjoyment and entertainment...It is true that Christianity is more than a group of doctrines; but it is no less true that the doctrines of the Word [the doctrines laid out in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds] are the seeds of life and virtue; that without them we cannot worship acceptably.