I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
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.
Many of the world’s Christians use the Apostle’s Creed as a vehicle for confessing the faith. Of course we live in an age when some question whether the ancient formulas of the creeds are able to adequately express contemporary belief. Is there value in this critique?
My answer to the question of whether the creeds have value for us is a resounding, ‘Yes.’ And here is why I believe this to be true.
First, the creeds remind us that the Church is far more than a group of like-minded individuals. The creeds point the Church to what God has done for the salvation of the world. They are not, first and foremost, expressions of personal piety. The creeds point us to events, to the mighty acts of God. In this respect the creeds are objective statements fit for every time and place.
Second, the ongoing confession of the creeds are like the links of chain which bind Christians to the historical continuity of the Church. The radical, sectarian elements in the Church who disavow the creeds and discount their connection with the wider Church, run the risk of losing the faith itself. The creeds bind us to one another in a common confession across the generations.
Third, the creeds are biblical. That is to say, they reflect the faith proclaimed in the Scriptures. In this respect, they are not man-made as some would claim. The language of the creeds is drawn from Holy Scripture and, therefore, that same language invites us to examine the Scriptures. The creeds send us to Scripture and, ultimately, to Jesus Christ.
Fourth, the creeds do provide the individual believer with language rooted deeply in the gospel, language which must be continually unfolded and re-examined so that our indiviual and corporate confession of faith may be made with an honesty and integrity rooted both in the Church’s long history and the demands of the present.
In a sermon from 1535 Martin Luther commented on the Apostle’s creed with these words. “Neither we nor the early fathers invented this confession of faith, but just as a bee collects honey from all kinds of beautiful flowers so is the Apostle’s Creed a finely constructed summary of the whole of Scripture, the writings of the beloved prophets and apostles, for the benefit of children and all Christians.”
For the next couple of weeks I will be commenting on each of the articles of the Apostle’s Creed. Come along. For these ancient words ring with new life. How could they not? They point us, after all, to the Living God and all He has done for us in Jesus Christ.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”