“The things in which churches differ are matters of indifference. Never should we quote Scripture in support of our denominational positions. If the confessions of our Church should teach a certain doctrine on the basis of the Scriptures, and another denomination rejects it and opposes to it a doctrine which is the reverse of it, then both should be considered as right, or perhaps better, as doubtful, because back of the confessions stands truth as an unknown quantity. This would be about a fair interpretation of what people now mean by “broad.” Churches so broad are, after all, practically churches without a creed. Now let us ask the question: What is the danger of a church without a creed?
“Such a church is a playground for all kinds of teachers. The members of such churches do not know where they stand and what preaching they can expect in their pulpits. One simply cannot tell into which of the great variety of isms and errors a church without a creed may fall. The errors in the direction of false subjectivism or unsound enthusiasm1 are so many. Word and Sacraments as means of grace are despised, and all is expected of an immediate influence of the Holy Spirit. So much undue emphasis is laid upon man’s free will in spiritual matters and upon his doings as a condition of salvation that the doctrine of divine grace is lost…
“A danger especially threatening a church without a creed, or, let us say, a church that has no appreciation of the doctrinal principles of its creed, is liberalism or rationalism: a teaching that rejects everything that cannot be perceived by man’s reason. No amount of piety that may permeate a congregation at a given time would prove a sufficient safeguard for the future against rationalistic influences. Here church history has given us an object-lesson. The pietistic university of Halle was the first to open its doors to rationalism when that movement swept Germany in the eighteenth century. The father of rationalism, Semler, professor in Halle, who spent a long life in the work of undermining the Christian faith, was at the same time a pietist, and, for instance, never neglected family worship. There is a point where pietism and rationalism can meet on a common ground. This common ground is indifference to the confessions of the Church, indifference to doctrine. Men with real interest in the creed of their church are never rationalists.
– Neve, Juergen. A Brief Review of the Augsburg Confession. 1914
Enthusiasm: Ecstasy arising from supposed possession by a god. (Am. Heritage Dict.) Or, the belief that the Holy Spirit works apart from the Word. ↩︎