Why Creedal Churches outperform their cliche’d critique

There is always tension between what people say and what people do. “Talk is cheap”. The weakness about a blanket condemnation of “creedal church” is “where is the non-creedal church” that supposedly outperforms the “talk is cheap” communities? The answer is that the non-creedal church is contained by the creedal one. Nearly any surveying of the church (nearly 100% creedal) reveals that many folks don’t know much creedal theology, are resistant or bad about it. Some churches have tried “no creed but Christ” but then implicit creeds always emerge and govern. Why? I think it is because of how language and actions co-relate. Language is a form of communal orientation by which a community figures out what governs in theory even if in practice it’s terribly messy.

If this weren’t the case why would it be the case that survey after survey reveal that as a group people who participate in “organized religion” outperform those who don’t on some basic moral and altruistic behaviors. That data is really old, strong and clear. It is because the creeds offer a structure for a community and those community dynamics can then help individuals perform better by status, mutual accountability, and all the kinds of ways that communities help people BE better people rather than be governed by the whims of our individual quirks.

There seems to be a symbiotic relationship between word and deed where word creates community and community helps individual performance.

Even when a community works hard a resisting creed, such as the Quakers lets say, then practice itself begins to govern as a creed and in order for that practice to be propagated they almost always use words.

The most “successful” churches if judged by longevity and popularity are all “creedal” leading me to the conclusion that although the impulse to say “talk is cheap” can be noble (we all want Christians to ACT like their Savior) most people seem to require words and the communities that they create and give identity to.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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