Myth 2. Doctrines only became true after they were written in creeds.
Let me explain by quoting popular emergent church leader Rob Bell from his best selling book Velvet Elvis:
“This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that ‘Scripture alone’ is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is . . . (Bell then goes on to say) When people say that all we need is the Bible, it is simply not true” (p. 67-68).
So Bell thinks that the Bible didn’t exist before the church voted on it. Is this true? John Macarthur had this to say:
When various councils met in church history to decide on the canon (and canon means books that are inspired by the Holy Spirit) they did not vote for the canonicity of the book but rather recognized, after the fact, what God had already written. The councils were formed to formalize what they already knew. They were also necessary because of all the fakes that were getting around at the time (taken from The Macarthur Study Bible).
Another great example of this is the first two articles of the Together For The Gospel (T4G) statement of Affirmations and Denials (what you get when Thabiti Anyabwile, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, John Macarthur, CJ Mahaney, Al Mohler, John Piper, and RC Sproul bang their heads together):
Article I: We affirm that the sole authority for the Church is the Bible, verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible, and totally sufficient and trustworthy. We deny that the Bible is a mere witness to the divine revelation, or that any portion of Scripture is marked by error or the effects of human sinfulness.
Article II: We affirm that the authority and sufficiency of Scripture extends to the entire Bible, and therefore that the Bible is our final authority for all doctrine and practice. We deny that any portion of the Bible is to be used in an effort to deny the truthfulness or trustworthiness of any other portion. We further deny any effort to identify a canon within the canon or, for example, to set the words of Jesus against the writings of Paul.
The last part of that statement would not have been written 10 years ago. But with new false teaching that appears through history, we are forced to respond to it. Using Jesus' words against Paul doesn’t suddenly become wrong because we added it to our doctrine statement.
Here’s another quote from Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis where he says that the doctrine of the Trinity:
“emerged in the several hundred years after Jesus’ resurrection” (p. 22).
Rob Bell is talking about the Athanasian Creed which was written in the fourth century AD. What Rob Bell is saying would be like me saying that nobody thought terrorism was wrong until September 11 2001 because that is when we first see all these new anti-terrorism laws appearing. But we know that flying a plane into a building was always wrong. We just never needed to write it down until it actually happened. So too with the Trinity. It is what Scripture always clearly taught and was always understood – they didn’t need a creed until a lot of the heresies about the Trinity started being taught. So just like anti terrorism laws were written in response to 9/11 so the Athanasian creed was written in response to false teaching that was happening concerning the Trinity.
Truth 2. The Christian creeds never invented anything new – they are a wonderful gift to us confirming what true Christians have always believed during church history.
The subject of the Trinity leads me to my third myth which I will discuss on Friday: Myth 3 - The Trinity can be illustrated by water, ice, and steam.
Go On To Part 3
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Weekend A La Carte (5/25)
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