Carl Trueman has some wise words about creeds and confessions:
The fact that I am a confessional Christian places me at odds with the vast majority of evangelical Christians today. That is ironic, because most Christian churches throughout the ages have defined themselves by commitment to some form of creed, confession, or doctrinal statement. This is the case for the Eastern Orthodox, for Roman Catholics, and for Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican Protestants. Some streams of Baptists have also had confessions; and many independent churches today that may not think of themselves as confessional have brief statements of faith that define who they are and what they believe.
Furthermore, as I shall argue later, even those churches and Christians who repudiate the whole notion of creeds and confessions will yet tend to operate with an implicit creed.
Despite this, it is true to say that we live in an anticonfessional age, at least in intention if not always in practice. The most blatant examples of this come from those who argue that the Protestant notion of Scripture alone simply requires the rejection of creeds and confessions. Scripture is the sole authority; of what use therefore are further documents? And how can one ever claim such documents have authority without thus derogating from the authority of Scripture?
I do want to make the point here that Christians are not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who do not; rather, they are divided between those who have public creeds and confessions that are written down and exist as public documents, subject to public scrutiny, evaluation, and critique, and those who have private creeds and confessions that are often improvised, unwritten, and thus not open to public scrutiny, not susceptible to evaluation and, crucially and ironically, not, therefore, subject to testing by Scripture to see whether they are true.
Anticonfessionalism among evangelicals is actually closely related to their putative rejection of tradition. For many, the principle of Scripture alone stands against any notion that the church’s tradition plays any constructive role in her life or thought.
Carl R. Trueman, The Creedal Imperative (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012; Kindle ed.), KL 153 – 162; 165 – 171.
I’m a Baptist, so here are some creeds and confessions I’ve found particularly helpful (the last two are not from the Baptist tradition, but are still extraordinarily useful):
- 1833 New Hampshire Confession of Faith
- GARBC Articles of Faith
- 1689 London Baptist Confession
- The Belgic Confession (rev. 1619)
- The Second Helvetic Confession (1564)