Should we have statements of faith?
There’s been a lot of debate about whether statements of faith are valid or not. Take this quote from theologian LeRon Shults:
Jesus did not have a “statement of faith.” He called others into faithful relation to God through life in the Spirit. As with the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, he was not concerned primarily with whether individuals gave cognitive assent to abstract propositions but with calling persons into trustworthy community through embodied and concrete acts of faithfulness.
I get part of his point. Intellectual assent is not enough. But why create a false antithesis? Surely right belief and right action are both important. The prophets called God’s people back to covenant faithfulness, and that covenant was based on certain beliefs about who God is and what he had done in their history. It involves understanding and action.
John Frame seems to make sense here. He says that it’s not enough to say we just believe Scripture, because that doesn’t really distinguish us in any meaningful way from others – including cults.
We must tell people what we believe. Once we do that, we have a creed.
Indeed, a creed is quite inescapable, though some people talk as if they could have “only the Bible” or “no creed but Christ.” As we have seen, “believing the Bible” involves applying it. If you cannot put the Bible into your own words (and actions), your knowledge is no better than a parrot’s. But once you do put it into your own words (and it is immaterial whether those words be written or spoken), you have a creed. (The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God)