The Creedal Imperative

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Overview

What if “No creed but the Bible” is unbiblical?

The role of confessions and creeds is the subject of debate within evangelicalism today as many resonate with the call to return to Christianity’s ancient roots. Advocating for a balanced perspective, Carl Trueman offers an analysis of why creeds and confessions are necessary, how they have developed over time, and how they can function in the church of today and tomorrow.

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The Creedal Imperative

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Overview

What if “No creed but the Bible” is unbiblical?

The role of confessions and creeds is the subject of debate within evangelicalism today as many resonate with the call to return to Christianity’s ancient roots. Advocating for a balanced perspective, Carl Trueman offers an analysis of why creeds and confessions are necessary, how they have developed over time, and how they can function in the church of today and tomorrow.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

“If the title of this book sounds boring to you, then it probably means you need it! Doctrinal aversion, radical individualism, unexamined subjectivism—these are only a few of the problems afflicting the evangelical church. In The Creedal Imperative, Carl Trueman wisely applies his vast historical knowledge to offer a remedy for such deficiencies. This book is especially important for so many believers whose Christian life, like mine, grew out of the soil of vibrant experience with insufficient doctrinal moorings. And beyond merely correcting errors, the lessons here have great potential for protecting the church, reinvigorating our cherished beliefs, and fostering greater unity in our worship. I’m grateful for Carl, and I’m grateful he wrote this book.”
C. J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

“It is commonplace among many church leaders to dispute the need for confessions of faith on the grounds of the supreme authority of the Bible. In this timely book, Trueman demonstrates effectively how such claims are untenable. We all have creeds—the Bible itself requires them—but some are unwritten, not open to public accountability, and the consequences can be damaging. Trueman’s case deserves the widest possible hearing.”
Robert Letham, Director of Research and Senior Lecturer in Systematic and Historical Theology, Wales Evangelical School of Theology; author, The Holy Trinity and Union with Christ

“Herein is a truly inspiring vision, that churches be freed from the vapid, the fickle, and the dysfunctional by a deeper enjoyment of the faith we have received. Trueman has shown that use of the creeds is both necessary and beautifully enriching. Informative and compelling, this book has what it takes to do great good.”
Michael Reeves, Theologian-at-Large, Wales Evangelical School of Theology

“I know of few people better equipped to write this book. As both a scholar and a pastor, Trueman combines his expertise as a historian with some important biblical observations to make a convincing case for The Creedal Imperative. This book will prove to be immensely useful in today’s ecclesiastical climate.”
Mark Jones, Senior Minister, Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church; coauthor, A Puritan Theology

“Trueman, again, has given us a stimulating book. He manages to demonstrate the relevance of creeds by showing how new the old ones are. The book is not only a must-read for those who stick to creeds without knowing why or those whose creed it is to have no creed, but for everyone who tries to practice the Christian faith.”
Herman Selderhuis, Professor of Church History, Theological University of Apeldoorn; Director, Refo500, The Netherlands

“This is an engrossing survey, sparklingly contemporary yet eruditely historical. But it is also an urgent wake-up call, which, if heeded, would deliver Evangelicalism from its current isolation, shallowness, and confusion—and from the autocracy of private empire-builders. Informative, readable, and stimulating all at once.”
Donald Macleod, Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology, Free Church of Scotland College

“In its creeds and confessions, the church affirms its allegiance to the God of the gospel and commits itself to think, speak, and govern its life in ways shaped by the gospel. This lively books, full of vigorous argument and biblical good sense, tells us why.”
John Webster, Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Aberdeen

“Trueman states that creeds and confessions are both necessary for the well-being of the church and are, in fact, required by the Bible. His arguments are wide-ranging and include biblical exposition, lessons from church history, and modern cultural factors that may be unconsciously influencing one’s view of the issue. In addition, there is the typical Trueman humor and odd examples sprinkled throughout the book. In the end, I agree with him and will require this book for my seminary course on creeds.”
Robert J. Cara, Chief Academic Officer, Hugh and Sallie Reaves Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary

“The apostle Paul once told Timothy that a minister was to be kind, able to teach, patient, and gentle (2 Tim. 2:24). In The Creedal Imperative, Carl Trueman demonstrates that he is not only able to teach the Word and how it has come down to us throughout history, but also how to do so with kindness, patience, and gentleness—precisely the qualities that are needed to convince in our creedless, ahistorical, and shallow age. As one whose entire ministry of preaching, teaching, and writing has been taken up with the Word as confessed in the great creeds and confessions of Christendom, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.”
Daniel R. Hyde, Pastor, Oceanside United Reformed Church, Oceanside, California; author, God in Our Midst; Welcome to a Reformed Church; and Why Believe in God?

“Today there is a challenge to the authority of the church including the authority of Scripture. The Creedal Imperative speaks to the necessity of creeds and confessions, which tend to save us from attempts to privately interpret the Scripture. Trueman demonstrates how creeds and confessions are strategic checkpoints, intended not only to enable us to express our beliefs, but also to keep us from misunderstanding God’s truth. Properly used, creeds and confessions, under the authority of God’s Word, enable us to hear God’s voice—they are our speaking what we understand God has spoken to us in Scripture. For those who maintain, ‘We have no creed or confession but the Bible,’ this book is a must-read. For those who understand the place of creeds and confessions in the life of Christian faith, this book is also a must-read. It is all about understanding God’s truth. I commend Trueman for his careful demonstration of clear exegesis, sound theology, understanding of church history, and, consequently, his ability to understand the times in which we live. You will be blessed by this book.”
Charles H. Dunahoo, Editor, Equip to Disciple Magazine; Former Coordinator, PCA CEP; Chairman, Westminster Theological Seminary Board of Directors; author, Making Kingdom Disciples: A New Framework

“Though it might sound a bit hackneyed for a book commendation, this is a book I would love to have written! Carl Trueman’s case for what he terms ‘the creedal imperative’ of the Christian faith is spot-on. Trueman not only identifies but also deftly rebuts a number of traditional as well as more recent objections in contemporary culture to creeds and confessions. On the one hand, he shows the untenability of the ‘no creed but Christ, no book but the Bible’ position of many evangelical Christians. And on the other hand, he defends the use of creeds and confessions that summarize and defend the teaching of Scripture without supplementing Scripture or diminishing its authority.”
Cornelis P. Venema, President, Professor of Doctrinal Studies, Mid-America Reformed Seminary

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433521904
  • Publisher: Crossway
  • Publication date: 9/30/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 631,680
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 5.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is the Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Ambler, Pennsylvania. He was editor of Themelios for nine years, has authored or edited more than a dozen books, and has contributed to multiple publications including the Dictionary of Historical Theology and The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 11

Introduction 12

1 The Cultural Case against Creeds and Confessions 21

2 The Foundations of Creedalism 51

3 The Early Church 81

4 Classical Protestant Confessions 109

5 Confession as Praise 135

6 On the Usefulness of Creeds and Confessions 159

Conclusion 187

Appendix: On Revising and Supplementing Confessions 191

For Further Reading 199

Index 201

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  • Posted March 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    In a post modern time, the Creedal Imperative is really a pre mo

    In a post modern time, the Creedal Imperative is really a pre modern work, for it argues that the historic Christian faith is linked by common creeds, passed down through the ages. The audience for this book is largely western evangelical Protestants who either are unaware (which is common) or even dismissive of the creedal strength of the Christian faith. The author takes seriously the objections of those who do not use creeds to develop their theology, and considers common arguments against them. His primary audience should certainly feel understood.




    Trueman, an Orthodox Presbyterian pastor, and historical theology professor at Westminster Seminary, writes in a witty, historically informed way, that seeks to challenge and ultimately strengthen the reader. While he does write from a perspective regarding creeds, of historic Reformed theology, his basic goal is to get the reader to understand and comprehend the importance of how much personal faith and the church is driven by adherence to creeds.




    The Biblical foundations for creeds, their role in developing and protecting the early church, and their fleshing out in the Reformation time period are considered at length. Perhaps the book's strongest chapter deals with how creeds, things often casually dismissed as dry and at times faith stifling are very useful for the Christian believer to praise and worship his Creator, in conjunction with fellow saints. The practical purposes of creeds in the day to day life of a local church and believer are considered as well.




    Living in an age, where even many conservative Christians are dismissive of answers to questions that have been answered by the faithful seeking, through the years, I do think this book is necessary for the broader Christian community. It takes concepts, that too often get relegated to the academy, and makes them useful to the local church officer, teacher and member, and this work should help them all live their faith more intentionally and gratefully.

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