In my previous post, we have tackled the need for testing the spirits to see whether they are from God or not. The first test that we have to do according to Apostle John is the creed test— what do they believe?; what are they teaching?
Is it consistent with Apostolic doctrine (Galatians. 1:8-9)?
Is it in harmony with previous revelation (Acts 17:11)?
In our text, John was addressing a particular Christological problem in their day—“a combination of elements, including emerging Gnosticism, docetism and Cerinthianism” (Craig Blomberg, The NT Definition of Heresy, JETS Mar. 2002). This is the reason why he laid down a Christological test.
Yet John does not intend here that the creed test will only be Christological. There are many other things that the Bible lays down as essential tenets of the faith. One helpful tool for this matter is Robert Bowman’s A Biblical Guide to Orthodoxy and Heresy (Part 2: Guidelines for Doctrinal Discernment).
The suggestion of Bruce Demarest and Gordon Lewis is also worthy of consideration. They stressed the importance of using provisional authorities like confessions of faith and historic Christian creeds:
“when new in the faith. Like young children under the authority of their parents, Christians wisely depend rather heavily on their received traditions… They function as authorities until we have been able to check out their faithfulness to Scripture for ourselves” (Integrative Theology, Vol.1)