Dr Trueman was in Australia recently for a series of talks on his area of church history (available ptc.vic.edu.au/resources/ptc-media). His message was that we should never lose sight of these documents. So do you know them? The Apostle's Creed? The Westminster Confession? The Baptist Confession?
Every heretic has his Bible passage
The creeds and confessions are documents that have stood the test of time. They point to the Bible as the supreme standard for a Christian's faith. They provide a proven template for the way we read the Bible. It is often said, "every heretic has his Bible passage." Even the cults point to the Bible with their proofs.
The difference is that the creeds and confessions give a framework to view the Scriptures. So when a group deny Jesus as divine then we can point to the Bible and its historic interpretation through documents such as the Nicene Creed or chapter eight of the Westminster Confession (Jesus).
Another important use of the confessions is to help people focus on what matters: the gospel and the way it is spread. For example, if someone comes to church in a yellow suit and red tie you can query their taste in fashion but is it a gospel issue? The confessions don't address fashion. But if someone comes to church and queries Jesus as fully God and fully man you can point to the Bible and its historical interpretation through the confessions as a defence.
No Creed but Christ?
Even for those who deny the importance of creeds or confessions stating they need no creed but the Bible there are problems. Someone might ask what is the Bible about? Or, who is Jesus? The answer given is automatically a personal confession statement. And worse than that it is a private confession that is not subject to any external critique for error or refinement. The minute people use a term like "trinity" you point to the legacy of the creeds and confessions as central importance. Everyone has a confession.
The beauty of the Protestant confessions is that they have been publicly stated, critiqued and sit in subordinate support of the Scriptures.
Trueman's application is to study the Bible. And as a tool to grow in your knowledge read the great creeds and confessions of the church. They provide a rich history of the central issues of the faith and the things we hold dear.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and pastor of mooraboolchurch.org