Creeds-a bit more

baptistry-ancient

OK, I just wanted to say a little more about creeds today before moving on. I want to be clear on what they are and what they are good for.

As we said earlier, creed come from the Latin credo which means “I believe.” Church historian J.N.D. Kelly says that a creed is “a fixed formula summarizing the essential articles of the Christian religion and enjoying the sanction of ecclesiastical [church] authority.”

Or we may say that creeds set forth the basic beliefs of the church that have been handed down from the earliest times, what the New Testament calls “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 3).

These are the essentials. In bite-size forms.

The earliest creeds are arguably found in Scripture itself with the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4–“Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” Many scholars believe Paul recites an early creed when he summarizes the facts “of first importance” in his letter to the Corinthians: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he¬†was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to the apostles and many others.” And in early baptisms and eucharists, the simple creed of “Jesus is Lord” was recited (1 Corinthians 12:3), which in the original language people knew to mean that Jesus is in fact God.

After the age of the apostles, the church possessed what is called “the rule of faith” or “the tradition” which was simply brief summaries of essential Christian truths, or “an unwritten set of beliefs passed down from the apostles and taught to Christian converts.”

Creeds were used back in the day to publicly confess belief in Jesus Christ, especially at baptism. It was a helpful summarizing of what you were really agreeing to in solidarity with many others before. I like how Justin Holcomb sums up that creeds are not in opposition to Scripture:

“Creeds aren’t dogmas that are imposed on Scripture but are themselves drawn from the Bible and provide a touchstone to the faith for Christians of all times and places.

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