point of contact
FROM the OFFICE of the PRESIDENT of WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
What’s your creed?
The church isn’t the only one with creeds. In fact, everyone has a creed—politicians, activists, the LGBTQ+ community, lobby groups, school boards. They may not know it, but they have a creed. You’ll even see them posted in front lawns and on the backs of cars. A creed is simply a system of beliefs we carry into our waking hours. Creeds are unavoidable. Those who claim they don’t have a creed are either ignorant of it or aren’t being honest with themselves. The question isn’t, “Do you have a creed?” The question gets at something much deeper: To what does your creed unite you?
Creeds draw people together; they unite diverse communities. Just as the church can unite around its confessional statements to the glory of God’s Lordship, factions in the world will unite around their own creeds—usually in praise of man’s autonomy or some set of principles that are patently unbiblical.
Why do I bring this up? We live in times where historical wisdom is suspect. People tend to praise the present and look down on the past. And yet the past is the treasure trove of wisdom. It’s not only where God’s revelation unfolded—culminating in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ; it’s also where Christians have turned to find clear and biblical summaries of their faith: the Nicene Creed, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism. These historic confessions by faithful believers still guide and direct us today. The past doesn’t just shape our present; it informs our future. And it unites us around something or someone, shaping us in the process.
The past doesn’t just shape our present; it informs our future.
Of course, many people in the broader world would not subscribe to historical creeds of the church. In fact, scores likely haven’t even heard of them. So, why talk about them in the context of public theology? I might answer that in a single word: unity. In a world torn asunder with political activism, cultural clashes, and warring authorities, Christians need unity more than ever. And while Jesus prayed for our spiritual unity in his High Priestly Prayer (John 17:11, 21), we have ways of expressing that unity in doctrine. With one voice, we can gather and affirm the truth that God has revealed about himself.
That’s why I spent so much time editing Reformed Standards of Unity: The Historic Statements of Faith Confessed by the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches. Think of them as a gathering place for God’s people. In addition to this beautiful cloth-bound hardback version, we created a database to encourage the study of confessions by the whole church: standards.wts.edu. We long for the church—one body of believers with Christ the Lord as our head—to revisit her biblical identity as expressed in these creeds.
We hope you’ll take advantage of this collection of creeds and read them with family, friends, and church members. Our creeds unite us to the one Christ, Lord over all.
While we’re on the topic of public theology, I’m excited to announce a few new videos available in our new series, Christian Answers to Hard Questions. These short videos with Westminster faculty members dive into the toughest questions our society is asking. Have a look at the following episodes with Rev. Dr. Alfred Poirier. And share them with friends!
In Christ, to whom we are united,
Peter A. Lillback, President of Westminster Theological Seminary