Published on February 28, 2014 by Igor Mateski

Crossway, 2012 | 208 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

About the Author:

Carl R. Trueman (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is professor of Historical Theology and Church History and vice president for academic affairs at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Ambler, PA.


This book is Carl Trueman’s defense of the propriety and usefulness of historic Christian creeds and confessions in the life and worship of the church today. The argument is that the use of these by the church today is not only consistent with a conscientious adherence to the sufficiency and sole authority of Scripture but in fact endorsed by the biblical writers and necessary to the church’s well‑being.

Those who claim to have no creed but the Bible, in fact, have creeds of their own, even if they are not publicly displayed and, therefore, open to public scrutiny. Christians are not divided between those who have creeds and those who do not; they are only divided between those who acknowledge a known creed and those who do not. Trueman’s purpose in part, then, is to unmask this false disjunction. We all embrace tradition, whether or not it is acknowledged.

Chapter 1 provides an analysis of certain aspects of our cultural milieu that militate the use and the viability of creeds and confessions. The suggestion is not that all who oppose creeds are simply overly influenced by this culture but that the possibility is real in any given case.

Chapter 2 establishes the biblical warrant and precedent for creeds and confessions, examining matters such as the qualifications and role of church elders and the implications of such Pauline expressions and concepts as Athe form of sound words and the faithful sayings of the Pastoral Epistles.

Chapters 3 and 4 provide a history of creeds and confessions from the ancient church (chapter 3) and the time of the Protestant Reformation (chapter 4), demonstrating a continuation of the apostolic precedent. These documents were produced for the objective, positive statement of the content of Christian doctrine as well as for polemical and pedagogical use.

Chapter 5 presents the doxological origins and usefulness of the creeds and confessions of the church, emphasizing this continued value for the church today.

Chapter 6 explores several aspects of the continued value and usefulness of creeds and confessions in the church today.

Table of Contents

1  The Cultural Case against Creeds and Confessions
2  The Foundations of Creedalism
3  The Early Church
4  Classical Protestant Confessions
5  Confessions as Praise
6  On the Usefulness of Creeds and Confessions
Appendix:  On Revising and Supplementing Confessions
For Further Reading

Trueman summarizes his intent:

I want to make the case that it is at least arguable, based on Scripture, that the need for creeds and confessions is not just a practical imperative for the church but is also a biblical imperative” (p.19).


Chapter 1
The Cultural Case against Creeds & Confessions

So deeply affected are we by the dominating culture in which we live that we are often unaware of the shaping influence it has on our opinions, outlook, and thinking. That certain forces in our culture, inimical to creeds and confessions, have led some Christians to oppose their use seems undeniable.

The following presuppositions must be true in order to sustain the supporting case for the use of confessions.

1.  The past is important, and has things of positive relevance to teach us.

2.  Language must be an appropriate vehicle for the stable transmission of truth across time and geographical space.

3.  There must be a body or an institution that can authoritatively compose and enforce creeds and confessions.

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The Creedal Imperative

Crossway, 2012 | 208 pages

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