THE CREEDS- Introduction
Many churches recite creeds during their worship services, others don’t. What are the creeds, and are they really important?
THE CREEDS- A Long History
The term “creed” comes from the Latin word credo, and means: “I believe.” The most famous creeds were forged by the early church. But the Old Testament also contains what could well be considered creedal statements as well. A good example would be the Hebrew Shema which is found in the Old Testament (Deut. 6:4), “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God — the Lord is One.” Now in the New Testament there are several passages which can be considered to be creedal statements. A good example would be 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “For what I received I passed on to you, that Christ died for our sins, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day.” In fact here we have a clear example of the biblical base for the creeds, not to mention a good summation of the message of the Christian faith.
THE CREEDS- Important Christian Creeds
As I mentioned earlier, the formal creeds were developed during church history. They are, by the way, the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Creed of Chalcedon. These creeds were written with very specific purposes in mind. First and foremost, they were written to refute heresies that had arisen in the church. For example, the Nicene Creed was written to counteract the dangerous Arian heresy. This heresy denied the full and unqualified deity of Christ. Secondly, the creeds also provide a very positive affirmation of what we as Christians hold in common. The Athanasian Creed, for example, affirms the truth of the Trinity, Christ’s Incarnation, Ascension, second coming, and the final judgment. So it’s not a bad idea to teach the creeds to our children and to reinforce them in church.
THE CREEDS- Subject to Scripture
A quick note of caution: Although the creeds summarize biblical truth, they were written by imperfect men, and thus they are subject to the last court of appeals, that is, the canon of Scripture. Creeds are valuable because they summarize biblical truth, but unlike the Bible, they are not inspired. To know them is fantastic, but not mandatory — to know Scripture, however, is a divine imperative.On the creeds of Christianity, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.