Creeds, Manuals, Disciplines & Etc.
Dennis C. Abernathy
Pine Mountain Valley, Georgia
As we look around the religious world, we find all kinds of creeds, disciplines, manuals, and catechisms. All of these teach or set forth a particular doctrine for a particular church. Most all of these churches claim to follow the Word of God as their guide or authority. To this writer, this seems to be one of the biggest absurdities in denominationalism or creedism or whatever you choose to call it. Let me explain (or try to!!).
The New Testament was given by the inspiration of God, and is sufficient to furnish the man of God unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17). (By this, we are not saying that the Old Testament was not inspired, but we simply, in this lesson have under consideration the New Testament.) It is for the whole world (Mk. 16:15). This is the message we are authorized (the only message) to use in converting sinners (Mk. 16:15-16; Matt. 28:19-20). The word of God will endure forever (Lk. 21:33). We will be judged by it in the last day (Jn. 12:48). The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). James says it is able to save one's soul (Jas. 1:21). Paul said it did save the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:1-2). Any man who preaches another gospel (perverts the gospel) or adds to or subtracts from it, or abides not in it, stands accursed and has not God (Gal. 1:8-9; Rev. 22:18-19; 2 Jn. 9-11).
Now we might ask, unto what can a creed furnish a man that the Scriptures do not? If they teach more than the word of God they teach too much. If they teach less than the word of God they do not teach enough. If they teach the same as the word of God they are not needed.
Human creeds, manuals, and etc. are not inspired, but the word of God is (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:13). They are not perfect, but the word of God is (Jas. 1:25; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). They do not meet the needs of the whole world, but the word of God does (Mk. 16:15). They have to be revised or up-dated every so often, but the word of God does not (Psa. 119:89). We will not be judged by creeds, but by the word of God (Jn. 12:48). They teach many things contrary to the word of God therefore, they stand condemned (2 Jn. 9-11). They cause division in the religious . world, and are condemned (1 Cor. 1:10).
Dear reader, the only creed the Christian or church of Christ knows is the New Testament. Therein is found the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. It needs no revision. What about your creed? Can the Baptist say he takes only the Bible, when he has the Baptist manual? Can the Methodist say he stands in the word of God when he has the Methodist discipline? Can the Seventh Day Adventist claim the Bible as the only source of light when they have their church manual, and their lesser-light prophetess, Ellen G. White? The same can be said of the Pentecostals, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc., and on and on we could go. But this one thing is sure: the Baptist manual will make a Baptist if adhered to, the Methodist discipline will make a Methodist, the Seventh Day Adventist manual will make a Seventh Day Adventist, and etc., but rest assured that the New Testament will make a Christian every time.
Last of all, let me say that I have never talked to many who even agreed with their own creeds and manuals. They are willing to be governed by them, but when faced with what the Bible says, they all of a sudden don't remember what the creed says and are willing to give up the creed on that point for argument's sake. Many also, don't even know they have a creed that governs them or the organization of which they are a part. Isn't it wonderful that the New Testament does not have to be patched up, propped up, and covered up like that?
I offer only one solution. Go back to the word of God. Rid yourselves of human creeds and unite upon the authority of Christ (Matt. 28:.18). Do you believe the Bible? Then live by it and be governed by ft. Then and only then can you give a "thus saith the Lord" for what you teach and practice.
Truth Magazine XIX: 45, p. 717