In worship last Sunday, we said together the Apostle’s Creed. Between now and the Day of Pentecost on May 28, different creeds or affirmations of faith will be included in each Sunday service. Some churches do every week, but I tend to include this in the worship service much less frequently. I do, however, like to do this during the season of Easter. This is a great time to remember the church’s historic confessions used by congregations worldwide and across the centuries.
A creed, also known as a confession of faith or a statement of faith, is a declaration of the shared beliefs of a community of faith. It puts the core principles together concisely and memorably.
The earliest known creed in Christianity is simply “Jesus is Lord” found originated in the writings of the Apostle Paul. One of the most widely used Christian creeds is the Nicene Creed, first formulated in AD 325 at the First Council of Nicea. The creeds are intended to capture key beliefs based on the Gospels and the letters of the New Testament. The creeds provide a framework for understanding what it is we hold to be true and also those things we do not hold to be true. A shorter version of the Nicene Creed came to be called the Apostles’ Creed.
Adam Hamilton likes to explain that the Creeds serve something like the operating system for the church. Just like a computer or smartphone has an operating system to run, the creeds provide a framework on which we operate as the church, sort of the foundational building blocks. When we say these words together, we affirm our beliefs with many who came before us.
One of the reasons that I don’t always include a creed in the worship service is that the creeds don’t give a full picture of what we believe as Christians. For example, they don’t say much about Jesus’ teaching. They don’t talk about God’s grace. They tend to give the impression that following Jesus is mostly about giving your assent to these statements rather than loving God and loving our neighbor.