Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Confessions & Creeds

(Here’s a question that a Facebook friend offered to me. I have probably “over answered” it, but it got me going. Oops.)

Question: “Do confessions and creeds have a place in the New Covenant?”

If “confessions” means written and formatted apologies to be recited as if the recitation alone accomplishes something eternal, and if “creeds” means formatted and recited statements of faith toward the same end, then probably not…but maybe.

If “confessions” means a truly biblical statement of faith in the totality and finality of what Jesus accomplished for us and to us by the cross and resurrection, then I think there is certainly room for that kind of confession. It won’t move God to do anything more than He has already done for you, but there’s a good chance it will move you into clear thinking about what He has done for you, and result in Spirit produced life and peace. “…the mind set upon the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6), so turning your thoughts to Him who lives in you and how He has made you His happy home is a great thing to do. It’s the best exercise. If a “confession” about the perfect sufficiency of Christ for you gets you to enjoying and knowing life by the Spirit of God, then I’m all for it.

Also, if a “creed” is only a statement tacked upon a wall that is supposed to gain mental acceptance and allegiance by the people of a local church body, and which then strategically galvanizes them into following directions or commands set by the pastors, leaders, administrators, etc., then I am wary in a big way. Big. There’s a lot of damage that can happen to people in that, specifically those who disagree in any way with the creed. They can be made to feel rebellious, not saved, dangerous, un-learned, stupid, and will not long survive in that gathering. I have met more than a few so abused.

However, if a “creed” is something that works in the same way that a good “confession” does (see above), then I’m for it. In other words, if it awakens the Spirit born, new creation person, and if it provides for what God has done and is doing, then I’m cool. For example, “I have a God-given want to assist people to know Jesus in such a way that they become so enamored with Him that knowing Him defines their days and channels their efforts.” What do you think of that? Pretty good, I think. It works for me. It’s mine. I long ago discovered that God made me to know Him, and from that knowing to assist people to the same. I can’t help it—it’s His work in me—and I’m happiest when that’s going on. See? I have a healthy creed. So it’s not a pledge to get people to obey God, please God, work for God, get favor with God, or a pledge to get people to save the world for God—here’s how. I have found that danger thrives whenever someone like me specifically defines and judges for a group of people “the pledge” and the “here’s how.” It’s unhealthy.

However, it is healthy if it’s a statement that announces the goodness of God, as well as what He is doing because He is so good. As I have written in the Introduction to my book (God’s Astounding Opinion of You):

“I believe the current work of God is centered upon the theme found above (Matthew 11:28-30), with the immediate benefit being a happy bunch of God-enamored Christians—it’s what God is doing today. While works for God are important, the work of God in His people should thrill us so much that we become crazy about and gladly dependent on Him. And that’s what life is like when you find Him in you as well as around you. The great joy you find will certainly produce sincere works for God, but that’s not God’s first goal—it’s the result. Works for God are a by-product of grace-filled believers who cannot contain the wonderful, deep urgings and desires of the Spirit living within.”

So if either a “confession” or a “creed” helps people to know and enjoy God, then that’s great. Otherwise, avoid it, as you would tooth decay. It will rot you.

I hope this helps.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:33 PM

    In the denomination I grew up in, confession was all about getting God to talk to you again after you had sinned. After all, isn't that what "fellowship" really is--relating to each other. This whole issue of confessing to restore fellowship (along with legalism, of course) is what drove me away from the "God" who was presented in my denomination. After all, if ALL of my sins have been forgiven and nothing can separate me from the love of God and He never leaves me nor forsakes me and He is faithful when I am faithless, then tell me again, why is God giving me the cold shoulder?

    This view of God makes Him out to be petty, fickle, and downright abusive. In short, THIS kind of confession is a boat load of crap!

    Since then I've learned what "confess" really means (to agree with God), and this kind of confession is very healthy, even essential. After all, why woudln't we agree with God about EVERYTHING--including the complete and total forgiveness of all of our sins and a right relationship with Him based on and sustained by Christ's work on the Cross (not my ability to remember and agree).