The church I attend is credal - we regularly recite together concise statements of what we believe to be true about God, about Christ, about salvation, about the church. In worship, it often looks like this: The liturgist asks, "Christian, what do you believe?" And we (the congregation) respond in unison, "I believe..." Often, our reply is the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed.
You may wonder, why would a church recite a creed as part of their corporate worship? Isn't it enough to just say we believe in Jesus? Well, creeds serve a couple of very useful purposes. First, creeds express concisely just which Jesus we believe in, and what it is we believe about Him. Since the days when Christ walked this earth, there have been false messiahs. Many churches today who claim to be Christian preach a Jesus very unlike the Jesus presented in Scripture. The Bible tells us that the demons themselves believe, and tremble - but these same demons do not tell us the truth about Christ. Creeds allow us to profess the truth, as a body, in the company of many witness.
Confessing a creed together also serves to remind us of the essential doctrines of our faith, those things which bind us together in the body of Christ. We may disagree on the mode and application of baptism, or on whether we should sing psalms or hymns, or on the type of dress appropriate for worship...but we do agree on these foundational things expressed in the Apostles' Creed. These essential doctrines unite us and give us the framework in which to examine and discuss our differences in a way that glorifies Christ.
Also, creeds wake us up to the insanity of this faith we profess. As fallen creatures, we Christians become numb to the glory of the Gospel. We think too little of the majesty and holiness of God. We presume upon His grace. We begin to take for granted God's mercy. We fall under the delusion that we can be Christ's, and still be like the world. Speaking the Apostles' Creed sounds a pistol crack in the dull fog of our sleepy, lazy faith.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. Tell that to your college Biology professor and see if he takes you seriously next class meeting!
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary....(What? You're kidding me! Virgin birth...yeah, right. What have you been smoking?)
...he suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. (Are you saying you believe in an actual, physical resurrection? This is some really crazy stuff. Jesus died and then he came back to life - right. I thought we were past the age of fairy tales. Haven't all the so-called miracles been explained away by science?)
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead. (I thought God was supposed to love everybody. What's this talk about judging people? Anyway, everyone knows, when you're dead, you're dead. The end.)
Yes, I DO believe all these crazy things. And it's good for me to say so out loud, in the company of witnesses - in the hearing of the man standing beside me; in unison with Stephanie, attending church miles away in Millington; along with Chuck, ministering in north Africa; with Carol, who stands already with the saints in Glory. Camille, what do you believe?
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
I really do.
3 weeks ago