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Christian Creeds

posted May 12, 2015, 1:01 PM by First Baptist

I had a few questions about our recitation of the Apostle’s Creed two Sundays ago, especially with the part of the creed that says “I believe in the holy catholic church.”


The word catholic (small c) means universal; it is not an endorsement of Roman Catholicism. Since the creed is hundreds of years old, I didn’t want to change the wording to suit our sensibilities. Instead, I think we should seek to understand the meaning of the words stated in the creed.


A creed is “a statement of the shared beliefs for a religious community in the form of a fixed formula summarizing core tenants.” Our own Statement of Core Beliefs, which we revised in 2012, is a type of creed.


There have been a number of creeds throughout Christian history. I Corinthians 15:3-7 was probably an early creed that Paul included in his letter to the Corinthians.


Other major creeds include the following:


1)      The Apostle’s Creed – 1st or 2nd century (known as the Creed of Creeds)

2)      The Nicene Creed – 4th century (perhaps the most famous creed)

3)      The Chalcedonian Creed – 5th century

4)      The Athanasian Creed – 6th century


Creeds were typically formulated in response to false teaching that existed in the Church at the time.


For example, the Apostle’s Creed was mostly a response to the heresy of Gnosticism. The Gnostics didn’t believe in the humanity of Christ, so the creed really emphasizes that Jesus was (is) fully human.


The Gnostics also believed that the deeper things of God were reserved for a select few, thus the response “I believe in the holy catholic [universal] church.” The point is that the deep things of God, the deep truths of God, are for ALL believers.


Finally, the Gnostics believed that ignorance, not sin, was humanity’s main problem. They also denied the idea of our physical, bodily resurrection. To counter this, the Creed says “I believe in the forgiveness of sins” and “I believe in the resurrection of the body.”


We must remember that creeds or statements of faith are not on par with Scripture, but nevertheless, they can be extremely helpful in keeping us from doctrinal error.


Pastor Dan