- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Crossway; 1 edition (September 13, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1433521903
- Crossway Books
- Westminster Books
According to Trueman, the burden of this book is his belief that creeds and confessions are vital to the present and future well-being of the church. So, in a way, the reader finds Trueman throughout the book anticipating and rebutting objections to the books burden, especially the “No creed but the Bible” folks. Professor Trueman alerts his readers that he teaches at a confessional Presbyterian seminary and is an ordained minister in a confessional Presbyterian denomination, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
The book contains six chapters, with each sort of building on the other. Professor Trueman’s writing style is an acquired taste. The reader will do well to anticipate this. Every so often, Trueman throws in an illustration or two, from either his British background or his current American context.
After addressing what he terms the enemies of creeds and confessions in chapter one, a very good chapter, I might add, professor Trueman lays the foundations for creedalism in chapter two. He begins this chapter with the subheading “The Adequacy of Words,” and after moving through other noteworthy subheadings, Mr. Trueman concludes with “A Form of Sounds Words,” essentially making his case here for the burden of his book from 2 Timothy 1:13, favoring the King James Version rendering. Along the way, he argues forcefully, “Anyone who claims to take the Bible seriously must take the words of Paul to Timothy on this matter seriously. To claim to have no creed but the Bible, then, is problematic: the Bible itself seems to demand that we have forms of sound words, and that is what creeds are” (p. 76). He then adds, “Paul is at the very end of his apostolic career. Indeed, the time of the apostles is coming to a close, and he needs to set in place structures to maintain true teaching in the postapostolic world” (p. 77).
Once the reader gets beyond chapter two, “The Foundations of Creedalism,” which I believe is the key chapter, the rest of the book falls into place, as each chapter, though taking a form of its own, draws on the previous, especially chapter two.
Appendix: Revising and Supplementing Confessions
I found this appendix instructive for several reasons. First, there is always that temptation to reconstruct the past based on new developments. For example, many object to the line “He descended into hell” in the Apostles’ Creed, and so they either reword it to fit their theology or exclude it altogether. Professor Trueman advises caution in any attempt to revise or supplement creeds and confessions (p. 193).
Second, when any revision must be done, professor Trueman argues that such must be done, not by an individual, but by the church (the reason is explored in chapter two, “The Foundations of Creedalism,” under the subheading “The Church as Institution”) and “specifically by those in the church charged with ensuring the soundness of her teaching, that is, the elders” (p. 192). On this note, it is interesting to note that Mr. Trueman doesn’t argue for a sole pastor leadership of the local church but a capable body of elders.
Though you may not be a confessional Presbyterian or stand in the Reformed tradition, or may even be suspicious of creeds and confessions, setting aside these differences for the moment and giving The Creedal Imperative a read, may help you to appreciate the place that creeds and confessions occupy in church history, dating back to the postapostolic Rule of Faith, Apostles’ Creed, etc.