Unpacking ‘No Creed but the Bible’

“In short, one purpose of confessions is to provide a “form of sound words,” to borrow Paul’s phrase, that sets forth, in brief, important biblical truth.”

(Carl Trueman) Many Christians from non-denominational evangelical backgrounds may well have heard the phrase “no creed but the Bible” at some point. Perhaps a pastor has used it while preaching or somebody has used it at a Bible study or in conversation about what Christians are supposed to believe. As a statement it is concise and clear. But the key question is, Is it a faithful and useful principle for guiding how we as Christians think about Christian truth and authority?

Before offering some criticism of how the principle of “no creed but the Bible” is sometimes used, it is first useful to understand what important truth those who use it are rightly trying to protect. That truth is the unique authority and sufficiency of the Bible as the source and criterion for Christian doctrine. This scriptural principle is something that is rooted in the Reformation when the Protestant Reformers asserted that many of the claims of the medieval church—for example, purgatory, indulgences, and the elaborate theory of transubstantiation—not only lacked warrant in Scripture but were arguably inconsistent with scriptural teaching. They were inventions or speculations of a church that claimed access to a tradition of Christian truth that was independent of the biblical revelation. View article →


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