Authority of Our Creeds and Confessions

Authority is the right to give orders, make final decisions, and enforce individuals to obeying decisions and orders. Often authority is passed down through family lineage or given to one that is tested to meet the qualifications of leadership. As we have discussed in the past creeds and confessions are statements of faith and beliefs that unite individuals together through a proclamation of common ground. The question then becomes where the authority of the creeds and confessions come from? There can be an argument that can be made that the authority comes from the church.

The church developed the creeds and confessions we have today. The churches authority exists because, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven upon the rock that the church is built that hell should never prevail.[1] The church then ordains individuals who are faithful to leadership levels who then become shepherds of flocks. These shepherds unify to determine what the laity actually believe. In the beginning, the authority rested with the Roman Church saying that it was the teacher and mother to every church that existed.[2]  However, after the protestant reformation, The Westminster Confession of Faith states that it is man’s chief end is to glorify God through obedience to the Word of God.[3] Therefore, the protestant church proclaims that authority is the Word of God. Thus, all authority of the creeds and confessions must come from the Word of God. This means that God puts the authority into the creeds and confessionals that the church creates. Then how does the church make a decision on who has the authority on how much pay the electrical company or even what to post on social media?

The Word of God gives guidelines on how individuals should spend their money and how they should act with one another but does not get into the fine details of the everyday life decisions everyone makes. Thus, the relationship must be more direct and personal. Confessions must unit smaller groups while creeds unite many smaller groups together. The authority might be separate but equal. For example, in the Thirty-Nine articles of the Church of England, was not applicable to those Anglicans that can from Europe to the United States.[4] Thus, American revised the Thirty – Nine articles to better suit the American government and beliefs. While the Church of England and the Anglican Church both follow the authority of the creeds established in the original church the confessionals are different because they are set up to represent the individuals in their community and the life God has provided them. However, this still does not answer the question of the authority to make the day-to-day decisions in our lives that we will confess and believe.

This leaves only one place for the authority to come from in the creeds and confessions. It must reside in the hearts of sheep that sit in the pews. In the Shema, it states “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” These where the word God spoke to Moses to deliver to the people of Israel. It then continues on to instruct people through its generations the prayers and traditions that are found in the Torah.[5] This one line makes a direction connection between you and the Lord. Thus, it becomes a personal investment and understanding making it easy to teach and to understand.[6]  The decisions and actions you take in the day-to-day life must glorify and honor that God is one Lord. So the question then when faced with a decision to make comes does this honor and glorify the one Lord? Therefore, creedal and confessional authority is based on the people that implement them into the church. It is implemented through the organization of church life, regulation of their worship, administer their organization, staff their programs and pay their bills.[7]  Thus, the authority of the creeds and confessions rests on the individuals who implement the ins and outs of the church. Therefore we are each the authority of the creeds and confessions. We guide and instruct ourselves with others like ourselves to serve and honor the Lord.

 

[1] Matthew 16:17-19, KJV.

[2] Pelikan, Jaroslav. Credo: Historical and Theological Guide to Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003. 280.

[3] Ibid. 281.

[4] Ibid. 323.

[5] Deuteronomy 6:4-9, KJV.

[6] Pelikan, 331.

[7] Ibid. 245.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s