Monday, March 18, 2013
Book Review of Creedal Imperitive by Carl R, Trueman
by Carl R, Trueman
Reviewed by Clint Walker
Lately, I have been teaching the Heidelberg Catechism in Sunday School. It has been a good experience, even if it is a little slow paced. We are almost done with the first half of the Sundays that the Catechism covers, and we have just finished the section that overviews the Apostles Creed. So, I was intrigued to check out Carl Trueman's Creedal Imperative.
The book I received began with a large number of endorsements from several pastors and scholars. Although nearly all of them come from a Calvinist perspective, the list was impressive. This kind of book is needed within the neo-Calvinist version of the Reformed movement, as well as conservative ecumenical movements as a whole.
Creedal Imperative starts out by addressing the concerns of Christians who believe that having a "creed" or "confession" as an authoritative document for faith and life is unbiblical. I thought this was a well-reasoned and graceful way to approach the issue. To give your opponents the first word.
Trueman then goes on to argue for creeds and confessions by telling the story of such documents from a number of perspectives. He uses historical, devotional, theological, and practical rationale to argue in favor of a confessional Christianity. I have to say, it is hard to argue with his points.
Where I have a problem with creeds and confessions is when we elevate them to the level of Scripture. Creeds and confessions are good guidelines, but they are still fallible. They should be considered guides for churches as theological benchmarks, but we should always be open to the fact that though creeds and confessions contain biblical teaching, they are not in themselves inerrant or inspired.
Having said all of that, it would be wise for many churches to hold up historic creeds and confessions as statements of faith rather than a statement of faith drafted in the last 20 years. The creeds and confessions have theological and historical gravitas that some newer statement often misses.
Furthermore, it is about time we honestly admit that Calvinist/Reformed doctrine is founded on creeds and confessions. Many Baptists (of which I am one) have attempted to claim the Reformed tradition as our own, and yet remove the theological tradition from its confessional roots. Trueman adds a needed corrective.