Ministers and laypeople of the Protestant Church of Christ,
You often profess pride in your lack of a creed, but you utilize a creed-like mantra as both a statement of belief and a disparaging commentary on Christians who do confess a creed. “No creed but the Bible”, however, does not communicate the self-affirming Restorationist wish for “biblical Christianity”; what it does is offer a proof of how, in itself, the Catholic Church is more plausible, more reasonable: Christian.
“No creed but the Bible” is a creed! It is a statement of faith that the Bible – however interpreted – contains the body of doctrine that provides the necessary knowledge for accessing the means of salvation. Your stated belief portrays a dependence on, an acknowledgement of, a subordination to, a conduit of truth – truth that is, of course, subject to the private interpretation of any person who proudly professes the creedless creed. After all, “creed” means “belief”. A person who has no creed has no belief. In other words, the mantra is a never-ending circular justification of one’s own belief. Put differently, the Protestant Church of Christ’s “creed” (its “belief”), is, “We believe what we interpret the Bible to mean”. More accurately, it means, “What we believe is what we teach.”
So, there is no real dependence, acknowledgement, subordination to any conduit of truth that comprises the mantra’s weight; it is the reliance on oneself that creates and completes its creedless creed. And while disparaging those in “the religious world” who admit to a creed, the Protestant Church of Christ fails to acknowledge God.
Where the Protestant Church of Christ firstly believes in its interpretation of the Bible, the Catholic Church of Christ believes in God – as evidenced by the Creed’s very first line. It begins with, “I believe in one God.” Catholics believe in God, Catholics pursue God through the means He intended: Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, prayer, and graces. The Protestant groups’ beliefs begin not with God, but with a pursuit of knowledge gleaned from His written word only.
Should a member of the Protestant Church of Christ not wonder how her group is “the early Church” when the early Church was incapable of conceiving or minding the modern mantra? Should she not question her model when she is unable to find an example of a New Testament Christian who could even understand the mantra?
Christianity begins with Christ. The Church begins with Christ. Restorationism, however, begins with a creedless creed centered around the self.
The Creed provides unity and identity. People who visit the Catholic Church of Christ do not need to read the minds of any Church leader to learn what the Church believes; the Creed is available to everyone. Members of the Church all confess – some more sincerely than others – to the same one Creed. The Creed is not Scripture; it is a confession of faith. (Remember, “creed” means “belief”.) Like the Creed, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is not Scripture; it is an explanation of the Creed, it is the Church’s exegesis (its interpretation) of the Scriptures. All Christians have a creed, whether it is written down or not. The Church has the responsibility to declare the gospel, to explain it, to make it accessible.
The Protestant Church of Christ’s creedless creed creates confusion. The “Bible only” means nothing because the “Bible only” means anything; people see different things in the Scriptures. Today, more traditional members of your communities are concerned about some influential members who are advocating a newer approach – a newer tenet of your Faith: that Baptism is not for the remission of sins. Both Protestant Church of Christ positions can be derived from “the Bible only”, but both cannot be correct. And, of course, both camps would insist that “the Bible only” is their Rule of Faith.
The Protestant Church of Christ will inevitably become more divided, and the world will not be able to point towards a provably authentic Protestant Church of Christ. “No creed but the Bible” has undermined your groups’ quest for “biblical Christianity”.
The Creed – the Creed that has served to provide unity and identity for centuries – states, “We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.” If a Catholic states otherwise, she is clearly not representing Catholicism, and the world knows it. And if anyone is confused by the Creed’s simplicity, the Catechism is organized to explain it in further detail. Thank God for a Church that has not been orphaned, for a Church that understands that through the Church, not the “Bible only”, the manifold wisdom of God might be known (Ephesians 3:10). Thank God for a Church that confesses the same one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:5) for the remission of sins.