I can remember - as an intellectual atheist - regarding creeds, dogmas, articles of faith and the like, as encapsulating exactly the kind of absurdity which demonstrated the wrong emphasis and irrelevance of Christianity.
This is, indeed, almost a cliche among those who are 'spiritual but not religious'.
Such people are not against Christianity; but only want from it the aesthetic side - the divine intoxication of music, robes, rituals - perhaps monasticism conceptualized in a guru-like way.
So why are creeds and the like - formal, explicit statements - things which Christians 'must believe'.
Why must Christians believe these things?
One answer is that:
The creeds describe the structure of reality
Christians must acknowledge reality - because reality is truth.
Christians must not only acknowledge reality, but live by reality.
Knowing reality is one thing; but Christianity is the understanding that reality is about us specifically, as individuals - so the creeds give us the reality of the whole of creation, and our own place in it.
This is why the creeds (etc) have moral implications: morality is living in accordance with the nature of reality.
So it is the creeds which describe truth, and relate truth to virtue; subtract the credal elements from Christianity and you are left with an almost wholly aesthetic religion - which is the 'Christianity' of many modern spiritual intellectuals (such as I used to be).
Aesthetic, non-credal 'Christianity' has one 'pleasant', or self-gratifying, attribute - which is that it makes no demands on the adherent. It is simply a resource for living - like the arts, therapies, entertainments.
But - on the other hand - non-credal/ aesthetic 'Christianity' leaves the adherent isolated in his subjectivity; solipsistic; without conception of the structure of reality and without any relationship between his living experience and the objective universe.
Thus non-credal 'Christianity' leaves the fundamental problem of modernity untouched - I mean alienation; detached, lonely subjectivity without external meaning or purpose - all being arbitrary, labile. Nihilism.
So, intellectuals need utterly to reinterpret the meaning and function of explicit creeds, dogmas and other statements.
They are revelations of reality; not laws-which-we must-obey-or-else.
Of course creeds are also laws-which-we must-obey-or-else - but only because they describe the structure of reality and our place in it.
And if we do not understand or reject reality and our place in it; this will naturally have bad consequences - how could it be otherwise?
Hence the 'or else'.