Book Review: The Creedal Imperative


This might just be the best book I have read all year.  It’s that good.

It is a very timely book about a seemingly ancient subject (the creeds and confessions of the church).  We live in a day when knowledge of the creeds and confessions of the Christian church is at an all-time low.  Some of that ignorance is caused by neglect (i.e. the failure of the churches to utilize the creeds in worship and instruction), but a lot of the ignorance in our day is sadly of the willful variety.  Many in our churches are all but openly hostile to the use of creeds and confessions – they simply reject them out of hand.

There are many (far too many!) Christians in our day who acknowledge ‘no creed but the Bible.’  As Trueman ably demonstrates, this is truly nothing but pious-sounding nonsense.  Everyone has a creed (even if not articulated or written down for posterity) because everyone believes something.  A creed or confession is simply a statement of belief, however minimal or far-reaching.  He notes that “even those churches and Christians who repudiate the whole notion of creeds and confessions will yet tend to operate with an implicit creed” (p.15).  Good point.

In this book, Trueman shows us the need, history, and usefulness of creeds and confessions.  He also explains the biblical basis for creeds. (This section alone is worth the price of the book.)  He writes,

To claim to have no creed but the Bible, then, is problematic: the Bible itself seems to demand that we have forms of sound words, and that is what creeds are. (p.76)

This book is not exactly light-reading, although it is not really all that long (197 pages).  That being said, it is well-worth the time and effort required to read it.  As a bonus of sorts, Trueman sprinkles in a healthy dose of wit and irony throughout. (More than once I found myself nearly laughing out loud.)

In my humble opinion, every pastor should read this book.  Anyone who is even thinking about becoming a pastor should read this book.  The subject matter is that crucial, and Trueman’s treatment of it is that helpful.

If you want to better understand why we have creeds and confessions, why we need them, how they are subordinate to the Scriptures, how they have developed over the centuries, and how they are inestimably useful for the health and well-being of the church (and so individual believers as well), I would highly recommend this book to you.  It could be the most important book (other than the Bible itself, of course) that you read all year.

You can order a copy here: The Creedal Imperative


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