Vol.VII No.XII Pg.6
February 1971

Why Oppose Creeds? (3)

Robert F. Turner

This is the third in a series of quotes from Against Creeds, a sermon by J.M. Trible, published 1892 in a book called Tribles Sermons. RFT


1. Creeds. as defined in what has been said already, are without warrant or authority in the word of God.

There is no appointed authority of interpretation, but every child of God, every servant of Jesus Christ, has the right, and consequently the obligation, to interpret the meaning of Scripture for himself. (Acts 17:11; Lu. 1:1-4; 2 Pet. 1:13-15; 3:1-2 rft)

I do not wonder that the ablest apologists and advocates of the creed would restrict within very narrow limits the right of private judgement. Their course is logical and inevitable. Indeed the only logical defense of creeds, as it appears to me, is to say, (1) either that the priest has the power of interpretation entrusted to him as his exclusive prerogative, as the Romish Church does say or do, or (2) that God raised up and inspired special men in different ages of the church to formulate creeds and deliver to his people the authoritative interpretation of his word, as some Protestants hold. One thing is plain, there is no logical defense of creeds consistent with the divinely guaranteed right of private judgement. Sooner or later either that or the creeds must go overboard.

2. Creeds... tend to set aside and make void the word of God, and substitute for the commandments of God the traditions and interpretations of men... I will not speak of the obvious errors which they contain, and which. so far as they are received, must annul the divine truth... If they were all true I should still oppose them. Because in any case they serve to divert attention from the truth and fix the mind and thought of the church upon what is at best a mere interpretation of the truth... It also accomplishes the perversion of that sacred Word... Every man who subscribes to a creed promises virtually to read the Bible in the light of that creed; to construe its meaning according to this human and fallible statement of doctrine. This checks all independent investigation and makes him trim down his own apprehensions of truth to suit the authorized standard. That cannot but result in the perversion and sacrifice of truth

. . It must be charged against creeds that they tend to arrest the progress of thought in the minds of those that accept them. It is true that we are to have no new revelations of truth; the faith has been once for all delivered to the saints. He that adds to it or takes from it shall do it at his peril. But mans apprehension of the truth should enlarge from age to age. We are exhorted to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Now the effect of the creeds is to put a period to progress, to stunt or stay the growth of knowledge, to make the impression that God has no more light to break from his Word than that which the creed reflects... They would surround the church with a Chinese wall forbidding either the egress of error or the entrance of truth.

(Page 8, for more on this subject.)