Why Should the Church Confess Their Theology?Posted: October 14, 2010
HT: Notes taken from a Creeds Class at PRTS
To openly testify of the unity in the doctrine of the church.
Already in the days of the reformation it became clear that one of the most effective means to show the unity of faith was to make use of confessions ands creeds. The churches would send each other their creedal statements. In this way the unity of the spirit can be experienced, as we read in Eph 4:3. To promote this unity we make use of confessions.
Forefathers from the very onset of the reformation felt these matters.
Already Calvin saw the need of this statement of unity in the faith. In his preface to the catechism of Geneva he states:
“In this confused and divided state of Christendom, I judge it useful That there should be public testimonies, whereby churches which, though widely separated by space, agree in the doctrine of Christ, may mutually recognize each other. For besides that, this tends not a little to mutual confirmation, what is more to be desired than that mutual congratulations should pass between them, and that they should devoutly commend each other to the Lord? With this view, bishops were wont in old time, when as yet consent in faith existed and flourished among all, to send Synodical Epistles beyond sea, by which, as a kind of badges, they might maintain sacred communion among the churches. How much more necessary is it now, in this fearful devastation of the Christian world, that the few churches, which duly worship God, and they too scattered and hedged round on all sides by the profane synagogues of Antichrist, should mutually give and receive this token of holy union that they may thereby be incited to that fraternal embrace of which I have spoken?”
At the Synod of Armentiers in The Southern Netherlands 1565? it was decided that all elders and deacons would sign the Belgic Confession. At the Synod of Pentecost of 1565 in Antwerp this article was decided upon that at every synod all the delegates shall make a public confession of their faith to state the unity of faith and also to ascertain if something needs to be added to this confession or not.
At the Synod of 1571 in Embden it was decided that in order to promote the unity in the doctrine we decided that all the delegates shall sign the Confession of faith as well as the French confession. The same in Alkmaar 1573 and in 1574 at Dort Provincial synod. Guido de Bres himself underscored the apologetic motive of the Confession, the churches saw in this confession a banner of unity.