CREEDS, CONFESSIONS, and CATECHISMS
As Baptists, we embrace the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura, which means that we hold to Scripture as the final authority in matters of faith and practice. However, this does not mean that we cannot benefit greatly from the writings of the Church through the ages. Creeds and confessions, as faithful summaries of Scriptural truth, have been invaluable to Christians for millennnia. And catechisms (books full of questions and answers about faith) have been utilized for discipleship by Christians of many diverse traditions, including Baptists. Below are some of the most important historical faith documents to our tradition:
- The Apostles’ Creed - One of the first statements of Christian belief, the Apostles’ Creed is based on the earliest baptismal formulas and represents the central doctrines shared by all Christians of all stripes.
- The Nicene Creed - Adopted in AD 325 by the First Ecumenical Council and revised in AD 381, this creed has been an important document to Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant churches. The creed was originally written to correct Arianism, a heresy which taught that Jesus was a created being, and not God in the flesh.
- The Athenasian Creed - This early 6th Century document lays out the doctrine of the Trinity and the dual nature of Our Lord.
- The Canons of the Council of Orange - The Synods of Orange were held in AD 441 and AD 529. The document that came out of the Council refutes the dangerous false teachings of a man named Pelagius, which were popular then and remain popular today—namely, the idea that man is born innocent, without original sin, and can therefore choose good and choose God without God’s grace first freeing us from sin and removing our spiritual blinders.
- First London Baptist Confession - In 1644, seven English Baptist churches came together during a time of unrest and persecution to lay down their doctrine. The result was the London Baptist Confession of Faith.
- Second London Baptist Confession - In 1677, a better and more complete confession was drafted, drawing heavily from the Westminster Confession of Faith. In 1689, when the persecution of Baptists in England ended, this 2nd London Baptist Confession was officially endorsed by a large representative body of Baptist congregations.
- Spurgeon’s Baptist Catechism - A catechism built from the Westminster Shorter Catechism and the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, with notes and additions by C.H. Spurgeon.
- Keach’s Catechism - One of the earliest Baptist catechisms, drafted in 1677 to clarify and explain the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith.
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