In Favor of Confessional Christianity
The following is an excerpt from a presentation given by Christy Waulk on March 9, 2018, at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, in the Doctor of Education program. The excerpt is offered in support of increased use of the confessions and catechisms for discipleship in churches and families. At Baylight, we are concerned about the rate of biblical illiteracy in our churches today, and the effect it has on counseling. We consider the confessions to be an historically effective tool for the building up of mature believers, beginning at the earliest of ages.
While the modern-day church seeks to formulate new action-focused discipleship programming, biblical illiteracy continues to rise, leaving Believers – both new and old – feeling inadequate in their abilities to communicate what they believe and why they believe it. As their frustration mounts, many people will discontinue their evangelizing and discipleship efforts, and some will leave their faith altogether when they are challenged.
While many churches will continue down the path of contemporary programs and strategies, some are steadily turning back to methods that date back to the early church of the New Testament. From the church’s earliest developmental periods, through the nineteenth century, creeds, confessions, and catechisms were compiled and utilized as concise statements of faith that could easily be memorized and recalled in times of need.
These statements, especially in today’s culture, can be used as valuable building blocks for multiple aspects of the Christian life, such as maintaining a Christ-centered view of Scripture, engaging in apologetic discourse, opposing heretical teachings, and counseling.
The Scriptures and church history reveal that seeds of faithful doctrinal instruction are necessary for the growing of Believers from the inside out; lives that are not only moral, but progressively transformed into the likeness of Christ describe the telos, or goal of biblical discipleship.
Catechisms, creeds, and confessions as effective discipleship tools are a matter of church history, promoting an array of Christian concerns. As these tools have been pushed aside for other methodologies perceived as superior [because they are considered] experiential, biblical literacy among Christians has rapidly declined. Fortunately, in many homes and churches, confessions are returning.
The desired result surpasses that of children and parents who simply regurgitate facts they know, but disciples who more profoundly know why they believe what they believe.
The destination of a confessional and catechized plan for discipleship thus becomes families and church bodies who enthusiastically and confidently live out their shared faith, and proclaim with assurance the Lord they love.