Need for Creeds
J.V. Fesko has written a book titled The Need for Creeds Today: Confessional Faith in a Faithless Age. This book is published by Baker Academic.
As a confessional Christian who holds to the Westminster Standards, I can say that I simply love this book! Fesko, in my opinion, has convincingly shown why the church needs creeds and confessions and the benefits that they bring.
This was a nice and short read that packed a powerful punch. In 5 short chapters and 120 total pages, Fesko has shown why so many Christians have undervalued (or worse yet, completely opposed) creeds and confessions, and why we need to recover a confessional Christianity today.
The first chapter is Fesko’s biblical defense of creeds and confessions. There is nothing new or earth-shattering in this chapter if you’re not new to this topic, but for those who are considering this for the first time, it will certainly get you thinking. I love that he began the book with a Scriptural defense of confessions! This in itself will probably surprise many of those who cry out “no creed but the Bible” (ironically, a creed in itself).
Chapter two looks at many of the historic Reformed confessions (1500-1700) and shows how these different confessions written during different eras exhibit the same substance in their content. As time would go on and further challenges became manifest, the confessions would elaborate and expand on their statements.
Chapter three dealt with the causes of deconfessionalization. Fesko works through skepticism, war, the Enlightenment, Mysticism and Pietism, and Individualism have impacted the church’s view and use of confessions. To sum up this section, Fesko mentions that “part of the blame for the collapse of confessionalism lies within the church itself.” He goes on to discuss how war and lax theologians (in the practice of church discipline) weakened confessionalism “from within”. He then says that “Enlightenment notions of autonomy, skepticism, and mysticism weakened confessionalism from without.”
Chapter four is about the benefits of confessions. Fesko brings up how confessions benefit the church by “distinguishing between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, maintaining boundaries for a diversified orthodoxy, and codifying the historic witness of the church.” He does an excellent job of spelling out how these individual items are able to bless the church that holds to confessions of faith.
Fesko ends with an incredibly wise fifth chapter that provides a great warning to those who do hold to confessionalism. He says this: “Confessions and piety must always go hand in hand. The words of our confessions must rise off the page and take on the flesh of concrete acts of Christian virtue--of faith, hope, and love. Otherwise, our confessions become tombstones of a dead tradition rather than testimonies of the church’s living faith in our triune God.” Like I said, very wise words!
Fesko has written a wonderful book that I hope all Christians would consider reading and digesting. J.I. Packer has said that the American church is 3,000 miles wide and half an inch deep. We need to value the very doctrine that we believe in from the holy Word of God! For these reasons, I highly commend this book to you. Tolle lege, take up and read!
Interview with Dr. Fesko is located at this link: