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The Creedal Imperative Paperback – September 30, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; 1 edition (September 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433521903
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433521904
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“If the title of this book sounds boring to you, then it probably means you need it! Doctrinal aversion, radical individualism, unexamined subjectivism—these are only a few of the problems afflicting the evangelical church. In The Creedal Imperative, Carl Trueman wisely applies his vast historical knowledge to offer a remedy for such deficiencies. This book is especially important for so many believers whose Christian life, like mine, grew out of the soil of vibrant experience with insufficient doctrinal moorings. And beyond merely correcting errors, the lessons here have great potential for protecting the church, reinvigorating our cherished beliefs, and fostering greater unity in our worship. I’m grateful for Carl, and I’m grateful he wrote this book.”
C. J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

“It is commonplace among many church leaders to dispute the need for confessions of faith on the grounds of the supreme authority of the Bible. In this timely book, Trueman demonstrates effectively how such claims are untenable. We all have creeds—the Bible itself requires them—but some are unwritten, not open to public accountability, and the consequences can be damaging. Trueman’s case deserves the widest possible hearing.”
Robert Letham, Director of Research and Senior Lecturer in Systematic and Historical Theology, Wales Evangelical School of Theology; author, The Holy Trinity and Union with Christ

“Herein is a truly inspiring vision, that churches be freed from the vapid, the fickle, and the dysfunctional by a deeper enjoyment of the faith we have received. Trueman has shown that use of the creeds is both necessary and beautifully enriching. Informative and compelling, this book has what it takes to do great good.”
Michael Reeves, Director of Union and Senior Lecturer, Wales Evangelical School of Theology; author, Delighting in the Trinity, The Unquenchable Flame and Rejoicing in Christ

“I know of few people better equipped to write this book. As both a scholar and a pastor, Trueman combines his expertise as a historian with some important biblical observations to make a convincing case for The Creedal Imperative. This book will prove to be immensely useful in today’s ecclesiastical climate.”
Mark Jones, Senior Minister, Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church; coauthor, A Puritan Theology

“Trueman, again, has given us a stimulating book. He manages to demonstrate the relevance of creeds by showing how new the old ones are. The book is not only a must-read for those who stick to creeds without knowing why or those whose creed it is to have no creed, but for everyone who tries to practice the Christian faith.”
Herman Selderhuis, Professor of Church History, Theological University of Apeldoorn; Director, Refo500, The Netherlands

“This is an engrossing survey, sparklingly contemporary yet eruditely historical. But it is also an urgent wake-up call, which, if heeded, would deliver Evangelicalism from its current isolation, shallowness, and confusion—and from the autocracy of private empire-builders. Informative, readable, and stimulating all at once.”
Donald Macleod, Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology, Free Church of Scotland College

“In its creeds and confessions, the church affirms its allegiance to the God of the gospel and commits itself to think, speak, and govern its life in ways shaped by the gospel. This lively books, full of vigorous argument and biblical good sense, tells us why.”
John Webster, Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Aberdeen

“Trueman states that creeds and confessions are both necessary for the well-being of the church and are, in fact, required by the Bible. His arguments are wide-ranging and include biblical exposition, lessons from church history, and modern cultural factors that may be unconsciously influencing one’s view of the issue. In addition, there is the typical Trueman humor and odd examples sprinkled throughout the book. In the end, I agree with him and will require this book for my seminary course on creeds.”
Robert J. Cara, Chief Academic Officer, Hugh and Sallie Reaves Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary

“The apostle Paul once told Timothy that a minister was to be kind, able to teach, patient, and gentle (2 Tim. 2:24). In The Creedal Imperative, Carl Trueman demonstrates that he is not only able to teach the Word and how it has come down to us throughout history, but also how to do so with kindness, patience, and gentleness—precisely the qualities that are needed to convince in our creedless, ahistorical, and shallow age. As one whose entire ministry of preaching, teaching, and writing has been taken up with the Word as confessed in the great creeds and confessions of Christendom, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.”
Daniel R. Hyde, Pastor, Oceanside United Reformed Church, Oceanside, California; author, God in Our Midst; Welcome to a Reformed Church; and Why Believe in God?

“Today there is a challenge to the authority of the church including the authority of Scripture. The Creedal Imperative speaks to the necessity of creeds and confessions, which tend to save us from attempts to privately interpret the Scripture. Trueman demonstrates how creeds and confessions are strategic checkpoints, intended not only to enable us to express our beliefs, but also to keep us from misunderstanding God’s truth. Properly used, creeds and confessions, under the authority of God’s Word, enable us to hear God’s voice—they are our speaking what we understand God has spoken to us in Scripture. For those who maintain, ‘We have no creed or confession but the Bible,’ this book is a must-read. For those who understand the place of creeds and confessions in the life of Christian faith, this book is also a must-read. It is all about understanding God’s truth. I commend Trueman for his careful demonstration of clear exegesis, sound theology, understanding of church history, and, consequently, his ability to understand the times in which we live. You will be blessed by this book.”
Charles H. Dunahoo, Editor, Equip to Disciple Magazine; Former Coordinator, PCA CEP; Chairman, Westminster Theological Seminary Board of Directors; author, Making Kingdom Disciples: A New Framework

“Though it might sound a bit hackneyed for a book commendation, this is a book I would love to have written! Carl Trueman’s case for what he terms ‘the creedal imperative’ of the Christian faith is spot-on. Trueman not only identifies but also deftly rebuts a number of traditional as well as more recent objections in contemporary culture to creeds and confessions. On the one hand, he shows the untenability of the ‘no creed but Christ, no book but the Bible’ position of many evangelical Christians. And on the other hand, he defends the use of creeds and confessions that summarize and defend the teaching of Scripture without supplementing Scripture or diminishing its authority.”
Cornelis P. Venema, President, Professor of Doctrinal Studies, Mid-America Reformed Seminary

About the Author

Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is the Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Ambler, Pennsylvania. He was editor of Themelios for nine years, has authored or edited more than a dozen books, and has contributed to multiple publications including the Dictionary of Historical Theology and The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology.

Customer Reviews

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Very well written and thought provoking.
The Creedal Imperative by Carl R. Trueman presents a biblical, historical, theological, and practical case for creeds and confessions.
George P. Wood
If one is frustrated and confused with their weekly circus, a good start towards a remedy would be to read this book.
R. E. Spooner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Richard Sugg on October 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is quite timely for me. As a member of a non-confessional conservative denomination (Southern Baptists), I have seen how a lack of a confession ultimately hurts the members. Al Mohler was recently interviewed with Peter Lillback and commented that before long, only confessional denominations will remain - the rest will be swept away by a cultural tide.

Trueman does a great job of not making an apologetic for Presbyterianism per se, but much more of the need for a body to have a written standard of beliefs subordinate to Scripture. He draws examples from Anglicanism, Baptists, as well as Presbyterianism. He grounds the need for a confession in Scripture ("a form of sound words") and demonstrates confessionalism in the history of the church.

Ten bullet points on a website is fine for a parachurch ministry, and the Baptist Faith and Message is a mile wide and an inch deep (my assessment, not Trueman's). However, the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689 is an example of what Trueman sees as necessary part of a healthy church body.

By the way, if you'd like to hear him expand on some practical implications on this and other related topics, he gave an excellent talk at Together for the Gospel 2012. It can be found at (look for his name under "Speakers" - the topic is "Why the Reformation Isn't Over").[...]
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bill Barto VINE VOICE on February 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Creedal Imperative is an accessible and enjoyable defense of the need for creeds in Christian churches. The book is really an extended essay against the notion that a church can have "the Bible and the Bible alone" as its creed. The author notes that the New Testament itself refers to teaching and creedal formulations that are external to the Bible, undercutting the "Bible alone" argument at its base: if the Bible is open to extra-biblical summaries of the faith, how can a church that purports to rely upon the Bible for its doctrine reject them? The author also observes that the early church as well as the Protestant reformers used creeds as summaries of right belief. In one of the most interesting chapters in book, the author argues that much liturgy and worship practices have a creedal component to them, and that reference to recognized creeds in worship ensures that non-orthodox strains are limited or eliminated. The final chapters of the book are also fascinating in their descriptions of the proper uses of creeds in relation to church membership, discipleship, congregational leadership, and ecumenism.

All that being noted, the book has its shortcomings. There is definitely a polemical aspect to the work; for example, creedal skeptics are not just wrong, but their arguments are "specious" (almost once per chapter, it seems). And the reader does not really get to see the argument against creeds articulated in any objective fashion. The only real argument against creeds is offered not from a Christian viewpoint but from that of post-modern society. There is also a repetitive feel to the text that may stem from the fact that, as the author notes in his dedication, "many of the ideas in this book were debated and refined" in a series of monthly "table talks.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Shane Lems VINE VOICE on October 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the history of the Christian church creeds and confessions have had a significant role in the lives of God's people around the globe. Yet many modern Christians are stepping out of line with the historic Christian church by abandoning creeds/confessions and looking upon them with scorn and disdain. The question then is this: what should Christians think about creeds and confessions?

Carl Trueman answers this important question in "The Creedal Imperative." His task is a noble one and, in my opinion, he handled it well in this book. In just under 200 pages, Trueman gives a wise, biblical, and balanced apology (defense) for the necessity and benefit of Christian creeds and confessions. The book flows in this order: 1) the sources of modern antipathy for creeds, 2) the foundations of creedalism and the early church, 3) the confessionalism of the Reformation, 4) confessions, confessing Christ, and praising God, and 5) the usefulness of creeds/confessions.

The book is well written, straight-forward, and to the point (as a side, the book is not really aimed at new Christians; it is probably written at the college level and is for more mature Christians). I'd recommend this book for those of you who question the importance of creeds/confessions, for those of you who may have strayed from creeds/confessions, and for those of you who are confessional but need a refresher course on being confessional. This book refutes the notion that creeds are "paper popes," and explains the relationship of creeds, Scripture, and tradition in a biblical, Reformation way.

In summary, this is a much needed resource on the subject of creeds and confessions in the Christian church today. In an age where culture is pulling the church away from Christ and his Word, creeds and confessions help us resist culture's pull, stand firmly in the Word, and remain centered on Christ alone.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stanislao Esposito VINE VOICE on May 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed the book. Not an easy read but certainly an engaging one. The topic is so timely chosen: in a society that pushes for "everything goes" and churches everywhere that reduced the whole Gospel to "every thing goes," the topic of Creeds seems to be so politically incorrect. Yet, the author develops the argument quite logically and, what intrigued me the most, he did by looking at current cultural trends (like technology, etc.).

The shortcoming of the book is that the author seemed to have "sabotaged" his whole argument when he looks at both Catholic and evangelical theology - one is wrong (because he said so) and the other is weak (because he said so). I feel he just missed the boat there and stopped arguing with the same acuity he used before. Sad! But the book will stay on my bookshelf - the challenge to take a new and in-depth look at Creeds still remains valid.
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More About the Author

Carl R. Trueman is Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary (PA). He is the author of a number of books, including John Owen: Reformed Catholic, Renaissance Man (Ashgate, 2007) and Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative (P and R, 2010).

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